Day 21: Baptism | The Church of Eleven22 (2024)


I was 12 years old when I made my profession of faith at summer camp. When I got home from camp and told my parents, I knew baptism was the next step. I didn’t really think about it being a choice or decision outside of accepting Christ into my life. It was just the next step to take!

Me and a couple friends all made the decision to follow Christ that same week of camp. And we were all baptized a few weeks later in the Cowpasture River in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. We gathered at the riverbank and one by one, slid down the muddy entrance into the water.

The pastor had handkerchiefs ready for each of us to hold over our noses. He was also baptizing his own daughter that day, my best friend. He put his arm across the front of my shoulders and told me to cross my arms over his and to hold on. And then he looked at me and said, “Who is Jesus?” I said, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior” Then he said, “I baptize you my Christian sister In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost!”

And I was fully immersed in that cold mountain water for just a second, but it seemed like forever! When I came up, I saw my parents first, smiling ear to ear. When I walked up the muddy, slippery bank, The deacons helped pull me up, and the deaconess’s embraced me with a warm towel, a big hug and a huge smile on their faces. I loved when we celebrated baptism services down by the river.

It was special, peaceful and meaningful.

There is one thing that is required for salvation. The belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A question that gets asked a lot is, ‘Do I have to be baptized to be saved?’ But, whether or not you have to be baptized shouldn’t be the question. But if I had to give an answer based only on salvation, I would say no. Baptism is not the requirement for salvation. But based on evidence through Jesus’s teachings we should all 100% be baptized as believers. So why? What does baptism mean for us and why is it so important? I have 5 points that I hope will help everyone understand the importance and meaning of baptism.

Baptism is an outward expression of our faith.

Baptism is an outward symbol of the inner transformation that occurs when we become followers of Christ. But it is not the baptism that saves you. The act itself is not the thing keeping you between Heaven and Hell. We know this from the scriptures repeatedly saying that it is not our works that save us, but it is faith in Christ alone.

Romans 3:28 says that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Romans 5:1 says that since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The outward expression of baptism shows the world that we have made that commitment to follow Him.

Baptism is not what saves us.

Probably one of the most significant moments in the bible that tells us baptism isn’t required for salvation is when Jesus talks to the thief on the cross. In Luke 23:42-43 the thief says to Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise”.

With those words, we know that it is through faith alone that the thief on the cross was saved. The circ*mstances there tell us that it was solely through faith in Jesus and not by his actions. His actions, to that point, were sinful, he was a thief among other horrible things, I’m sure! If he was hanging on the cross beside Jesus it had to be bad, whatever he did. He was condemned to hell, and he knew it. But instead of hurling insults at Jesus like the other thief was doing, he admitted that he deserved to be on that cross and that Jesus didn’t deserve it.

He outwardly professed that he knew Jesus was sinless and perfect, paying for other’s sins. And in that instant, he was saved. Not by any works or rituals. Only by his belief and acceptance in Jesus. It was physically impossible for him to get down from the cross and be baptized but that did not keep him from eternal life with Christ.

Baptism symbolizes our union with Christ.

“Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptizedinto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just asChrist was raised from the dead bythe glory of the Father, we too might walk innewness of life.” — Romans 6:3-4

Baptizo in Greek literally means immerse. When we are baptized, we are immersed under water, symbolizing the death and burial of our sins just as Jesus died for our sins and was buried. We then come up from the water. This symbolizes the resurrection of our new body, born again and made clean through the blood of Jesus, just as Jesus was resurrected from the grave. Baptism is a symbolic observance of our covenant to God.

We know that a wedding ceremony doesn’t make you married. Neither does the wedding ring. But does that mean you don’t have to have a ceremony or wear a ring? Every little girl has dreamed of the perfect wedding, so you better have a ceremony. And your spouse would definitely say you absolutely better wear a ring!

Because it is a symbol for the world to see that you belong to one another. And just like that ring signifies the covenant you made with your spouse; baptism signifies the covenant we have made with God. So instead of asking “Do I have to be baptized?” I think you should ask “Why wouldn’t I get baptized?”

Baptism is commanded by Jesus.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Although we know that baptism is not what saves us, Jesus commanded the church to make disciples and baptize them teaching them to observe all that has been commanded. I believe there is great significance in the phrase when Jesus says, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.

As disciples of Christ and as a church body, we have a responsibility to teach and to observe what He has commanded. When we observe something, like a birthday or a holiday, it means we recognize it, we honor it, and participate in it. Jesus commanded the same for us as believers to observe baptism as a very important step in our faith journey.

In Acts 22:15-16 Jesus says to Paul, “for you will be a witness for him to everyone of whatyou have seen and heard.And now why do you wait?Rise and be baptized andwash away your sins,calling on his name.’”

In Acts 22, we see Paul literally stopped in his tracks, blinded by Jesus, and transformed from a murderer of Christians to probably one of the most significant disciples and witnesses of Christ in all of history. Jesus tells him what are you waiting for? Go get baptized, Go get yourself cleaned up and ready to start your ministry. Jesus included baptism in those instructions for Paul to ready himself for his journey. So, Jesus considers baptism a significant step in our faith journey.

Baptism is for believers.

“And to the one who does not work butbelieves in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” — Romans 4:5

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” — Acts 13:38

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16

The Bible tells us over and over that it is through faith that we are saved. Faith cannot come from anyone but us. We can’t get faith through another person; it doesn’t work that way. I hate rollercoasters. I always have.

Just because my friend says the rollercoaster isn’t scary doesn’t mean my fear of it is going to go away. I have to believe it myself in order for that fear to go away and get on that rollercoaster. Just like my fear of rollercoasters can only go away if I believe that it is safe and it won’t harm me, no one else can put my faith in Christ for me.

Baptism comes after the decision is made to follow Christ. An infant doesn’t have the ability to make that decision and act on it alone. If your parents had you baptized, they were doing a good thing according to that tradition. And you, getting baptized now as a believer, does not nullify what your parents did. You are ratifying it.

We do child dedications at 1122, not to give them their salvation, but we commit to raising our children in a gospel centered home and partnering with the church to raise them up knowing who Jesus is so that they will one day, on their own, make that decision to follow Him.

Baptism classes in our church are a big deal because it is important that every person wanting to be baptized understands that the baptism isn’t what saves us, but it is a symbol of our union with Christ and our faith in Him.

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, obviously it wasn’t because he needed to be saved. He is the Savior. He was without sin. In Matthew 3:15 Jesus says to him “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus said it was fitting for us to fulfill ALL righteousness. He was talking about baptism and the gift of baptism. It is fitting for us to participate in baptism to fulfill all righteousness.

When Jesus came up from underneath the water that day, something happened. Matthew 3:16-17…immediately he went up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him, 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The act of Jesus’s baptism was not one of necessity. But it was a public declaration of His fulfillment of all righteousness. When Jesus was baptized, we don’t know for sure if the crowd all witnessed the Heavens opening and the Spirit of God descending like a dove on Jesus. I believe they all saw it.

We know that John the Baptist saw it according to John 1:32I saw the Spirit descended from heaven like a dove.” So, the heaven’s open and the Spirit descends on the Son, and the Father says that he is pleased with him! Father, Spirit, and Son, in that moment, working in complete harmony to reveal the promise of salvation to the world.

Jesus took that opportunity to meet humanity where they were, in all of their sin, even though he had no sin. It is another beautiful example of Jesus entering into the dirt and grime of our lives because of his unconditional love for us.

There is transformative power in baptism and the symbolism of washing away our sins and coming up with a new body that has been cleansed by the blood of Christ. If Jesus who had no sin thought it was important enough for him to be baptized, in order to show everyone, the significance of baptism, then how much more important is it for us, in all of our sin and mess, to publicly make our faith known? Baptism is an expression of our faith and Christians should all be eager to take that next step.

We are all God’s creation. You don’t have to believe that for it to be true. It’s just true. But in order to receive salvation, we must repent of our sins, admit we need a savior and believe that Jesus is the only way to an eternal life with God. Baptism is the celebration of that decision to follow Him. It is a beautiful symbolic gift that we get to take part in.

God thank you for the gift of salvation. Thank you that by our faith alone we are saved. God, let us always take the beautiful gifts, like baptism and count them as precious to us. Let every new life that springs from that water feel the transformative power of your Holy Spirit, changed forever. Amen.

Day 21: Baptism | The Church of Eleven22 (2024)
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