I became the senior pastor of Faith Baptist Church just a few months ago. There are lots of exciting challenges and victories in pastoral ministry. One of the problems I don’t mind ever having too many of is a mass of believers who want to get baptized.
We’re having a baptism service at our church on September 9th and we’ve got a problem. Too many people showed up for the baptism class to get baptized. (Praise the Lord!) We’ll have about a dozen or so saints following the Lord’s command to get baptized. I pray for more problems like this!
Because of the number of people getting baptized, we’ve decided to have two baptism services, on September 9th and 16th. I can’t wait to hear the testimonies of how the Lord saved these people. God is so good.
I’ve had two baptism classes so far, simply to teach and remind people about why they’re getting baptized, what is means to be baptized, how Christians are to be baptized, etc.
So that begs a question: What does the Bible say about baptism?
Baptism: What does the Bible say about it?
Baptism and communion (the Lord’s Supper) are the two ordinances prescribed by our Lord Jesus Christ as visible symbols of His invisible grace. They are discernible and tangible representations of both the invisible realities of the gospel and the Spirit’s application of this gospel to our lives.
With both ordinances, believers have an opportunity to “remember” God’s goodness and grace, especially as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Both baptism and communion picture Christ’s death and resurrection and our participation in His death and resurrection through union to Him in faith.
As we enter into the waters or watch another do so, we are reminded that Christ was crucified and raised from the dead and that we too have died to the old self in order to live for Christ.
Baptism is a visual and symbolic demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that a person’s former way of life has been put to death and depicts a release from the mastery of sin.
What is the meaning of baptism?
As a symbol, baptism illustrates a number of significant realities, four of which are:
- Christ’s death and resurrection
- The disciple’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection
- The new life in which a disciple walks
- Cleansing and washing away of sin
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Why are Christians baptized?
Essentially, Christians are baptized in water for four reasons.
1. Because we want to follow Christ’s example.
- “It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” – Mark 1:9
2. Because Christ commanded it.
- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” — Matthew 28:19-20
3. Because it shows you are a believer.
- “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” — Acts 18:8
4. Because obeying Christ’s command shows you know Him.
- “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” — 1 John 2:3
How are Christians to be baptized?
By immersion, not by sprinkling.
1. Like Jesus was baptized—by being immersed in water.
- “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.” — Matthew 3:16
2. Every baptism in the Bible was by immersion.
- “So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” – Acts 8:38,39
The word “Baptize” literally means, “to dip under water.” The Greek word “baptizo” means, “to immerse or dip under water.”
Who should actually get baptized?
1. Every person who has made the decision to believe in Christ.
- “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” – Colossians 2:12
- “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Acts 2:41
- “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” — Acts 8:12
- “Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.” Acts 8:13
2. The one requirement for baptism is belief in Christ.
When are Christians to be baptized?
Answer: As soon after salvation as humanly possible! As soon as you have believed! You shouldn’t delay.
- “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” — Acts 2:41
- “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” – Acts 8:36-39
“American” baptisms vs. biblical baptisms
One of the strangest aspects about our “American Christianity” is that we often tend to get baptized years after we are actually saved. As an example, God saved me when I was twenty-two years old but I didn’t get baptized until I was twenty-four years old. Even worse, I was in seminary at the time I finally got baptized!
I was really ignorant of what the Bible taught when I got saved and I didn’t have anyone to instruct me that I should get baptized. At least not until I got to seminary! LOL.
QUESTION: What age were you when God saved you, and at what age did you actually get baptized? Tell us all about your story in the comments section below.
* Image credit: Sharolyn Newington (Creation Swap)