How Important Is Water Baptism?
When I was in tenth grade I met my friends every day on the stage of our school auditorium for lunch. My best friend was Presbyterian, our lunch buddy was Mormon and I grew up in a Baptist church. For an entire semester we went round and round over baptism.
We argued over everything; never coming to any conclusions or swaying each other’s viewpoint. We finally agreed to not discuss it any further because the rift that it caused brought more harm than good. This was because each stance was according to the doctrines in which we were raised and they didn’t coincide for the three of us. While there was truth in what was shared, we were not using the Word of God to bring finality and understanding to the base questions that were raised. The result was confusion, dissension and arguing over something elementary that every new believer should be taught, right from the beginning.
As tenth graders we were not alone in this raging baptism debate among believers. This is why understanding water baptism, what it is and why we do it, from a scriptural viewpoint is very important. Because it settles the matter once and for all in our hearts and minds. Once it is settled and established it becomes a foundational building block to understanding many other truths from God’s Word. Not only does it settle it for us but it removes the confusion of different doctrines and brings the truth to light.
What Is Water Baptism?
A friend of mine recently sent a video link from a church in North Carolina that had just completed over two thousand baptisms the previous weekend. As I watched, I noticed that everyone being baptized was wearing a shirt that boldly declared, “I have decided”. This t-shirt reflected the true heart behind being baptized as it is an act of faith. It is the process in which a person publicly announces that they belong to Christ. It is a declaration that says the old is gone and the new has come.
Baptism is an illustration for the believer. It is symbolic of the change that took place when we were born again. This experience of going under the water and coming out helps us to visualize that we have died to ourselves, our old way of life, the sin nature and have been raised again as a new creation in Christ Jesus ( II Corinthians 5:17 ). Our old self is buried and gone and we have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life ( Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12 ). Baptism is for our benefit and helps us understand the things that take place on a spiritual level at the moment of salvation. Salvation happens when we confess Jesus as Lord and trust Him to save us, accepting the gift of eternal life that is offered to us. ( John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10 ). Water baptism is the ceremony that is the natural conclusion to the conversion that has already taken place. By undergoing it we publicly demonstrate our faith in Jesus.
This is why Jesus commanded us to go into the world preaching the good news, making disciples and baptizing in His name because it is the final declaration that you belong to Christ. It is faith in action and faith always acts ( James 2:17 ). By making this declaration you are identifying with Jesus’ redemptive work. His death, His burial and His resurrection and you want the world to know. Since baptism is a command from Jesus, the next question naturally becomes; Is water baptism a requirement for salvation? In other words, do I have to be baptized to be saved?
Join Me For Part Two
Tomorrow we will look at this question and find the answer by looking at Scripture. Please join me for part 2, Is Water Baptism A Requirement for Salvation?