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Once a person admits that he or she is a sinner and turns to Christ for salvation, the Bible says the watching world needs to know. Baptism has always stood as a kind of public test for people who have moved from being a seeker to being a believer.
Believers are those who have realized that their sin has separated them from God. They have given up all efforts to reach God through good works or religious activity. They have concluded that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for their sins is the only thing that can bridge the gap between them and God. A believer is someone who has decided to trust Christ alone for his or her salvation and has dedicated their life to becoming a follower of Jesus. If you have come to this point in your spiritual journey, then you are ready to be baptized. Just as a bride and groom tell of their love for one another through the symbol of rings, you should also want to show the world, through baptism, of your commitment to Christ.
What Exactly Is Baptism?
The word “baptism,” as it appears in the Bible, means immersion (literally, the act of being dipped in or under). The following examples from the Bible support this definition:
Matthew 3:16: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He came up out of the water.”
Acts 8:37,38: “Then Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water…”
Scriptural teaching on Baptism may be summarized as follows:
1) Baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Christ, fulfilled by those who have submitted their lives to Him.
After his resurrection and before His ascension to heaven, Jesus left these final directives to His followers:
Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ”Baptism was a very significant part of every conversion experience recorded in the book of Acts.
2) Baptism symbolizes the spiritual cleansing that comes through divine forgiveness.
In the New Testament the clear implication is that people were completely immersed, which reminds the person of being thoroughly washed and cleansed, from head to toe.
1 Peter 3:21: “…this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.”
3) Baptism symbolizes the newness of life experienced by believers by virtue of their identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
In baptism, we identify with Jesus' experience in that we are dying to our old life and the ways of sin, burying that old life of sin, and rising to live the new life.
Romans 6:3,4: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
4) Baptism provides an opportunity for believers to make a formal profession of their faith before others.
Make no mistake about it, Jesus himself commanded those who claimed to be His followers to prove it by being baptized publicly. This public act of surrender translates into a powerful witness to all who view it.
Question: What If I Was Baptized As An Infant?
Answer: In the Bible, we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told us to welcome them. But he did not tell anyone to baptize them. We believe that baptism is for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation.
If you were baptized as a infant, be grateful that you had parents who cared enough about you to set you apart for God. Because of their devotion, you have an opportunity to complete their prayer by willingly submitting to adult baptism. Adult baptism is not a sign of disrespect for what your parents did. In fact, it can be seen as a fulfillment of their prayers. Be thankful for the heritage of concerned parents, but don’t be negligent of your responsibility as an adult to make your personal pledge toward God in baptism.
Question: What If I Have Been Baptized, But Not By Immersion?
Answer: All the Greek dictionaries of the New Testament define the Greek word baptizo as immersion. The symbolism of immersion is compelling: just as a person lowers you into the water, Christ lowers you into the pool of his grace until every inch of your self is clean. Buried in a watery grave, covered from head to foot with God’s love, you are washed clean by the blood of Jesus. While scripture does not mandate how much water should be used, the immersion mode of baptism best illustrates the work of Christ and the examples of baptisms in the New Testament indicate that immersion was the mode of baptism used in the early church.
Question: Who Should Baptize Me?
Answer: Any Christian may have the privilege of baptizing another. You may want to pick one of the following: the Christian who led you to believe in Christ, or one who has had a spiritual influence on your life, or someone you greatly respect, or one of the ministers or elders of this church.