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Water Baptism

Water Baptism

You’ve decided to follow Jesus. Somehow, because of a strategy that is both baffling and divine, His message of hope and everlasting life found you and compelled you to respond. This newfound closeness you have with the Maker of the universe will soon take on a whole new dimension of significance as you begin to fathom the incomprehensible: He gave His life so that you could live. Let the journey begin.

Jesus made it very clear that one of the first steps in following Him is to be water baptized. He told His followers:

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
MATTHEW 28:19-20

A disciple is someone who follows Jesus and believes He is the only Son of God who was crucified on a cross—thereby making a way for sinners to be forgiven from the wages of their sin (death)—walked out of His grave three days later and ascended to heaven. If you’re following Jesus and believe these things, you are a disciple.

He stressed the importance of water baptism, saying,

Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved…
Mark 16:16

Water baptism, then, is very important for any disciple of Jesus. Like you.

What does water baptism mean?
Just like Jesus was buried in a tomb and came back to life, water baptism represents the death and burial of the sin in your life and your rebirth as a Christian. It’s a physical indication of what has already taken place in your heart.

A Holy Defiance

Water baptism signifies a holy defiance over the sinful nature that once controlled you. It symbolizes the new godly nature you received at the very moment you decided to follow Jesus.

A New Identity

Water baptism indicates that you identify with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. It means you’re recognizing the astonishing significance of Jesus, the perfect and sinless Son of God paying for the wrongs of the world by being put to death on a cross and buried in the ground, and yet, rising from the dead three days later. It means you recognize that, because of the price that was paid for your eternal life, you’ve become a new person with a new life.

A Change Of Heart

In the Old Testament, worship and obedience to God was made evident by outwardly visible virtues such as burnt offerings and circumcision. Because Jesus paid the price of the forgiveness of sins and made a way for mankind to walk with God, New Testament evidences of following God are the internal virtues that affect the human heart such as the fruits of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22) to name a few. Since you cannot show someone your heart or how it is affected by these internal virtues, water baptism serves as the outward expression that your heart has been changed and deeply affected by this newfound closeness you have with God. It illustrates a discarding of your old sinful heart in exchange for a new heart restored by Jesus’ love.

A Desire To Obey

When you willingly respond and make this step, it’s proof that you want to follow and obey Jesus, an outward expression of what you’ve decided in your heart.

Who should be baptized?
In order for baptism to have significant spiritual meaning in your life, you should have already experienced the full transformation of deciding to follow Jesus by repenting of your sins, having faith that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, and wanting to obey Him no matter what.

Repenting Of Sins

Repentance doesn’t mean you feel sorry or convicted of your sin (although these things will probably happen when you sin). Instead, repentance means you reject your sin; it involves turning from sin and asking God to forgive you and wash your sins away. Repenting of sins, then, is part of following Jesus.

Having Faith

Faith in Jesus Christ is what defines a Christian. To have faith in Him is to solidly believe—to have a deep sense of conviction—that He is the Messiah, the Son of God who came to rescue the world from sin and death. Faith, then, is what makes us aware of God’s promises of hope and happiness on earth and eternal life with God in heaven.

Some other commonly asked questions

What if I was baptized before?

This depends on whether you were a Christian at the time of the baptism. If you were a Christian, there is no reason to be baptized again unless you want to be baptized again after not having lived as a Christian for a long season. If you were baptized before you became a Christian, you should be water baptized again.

What about sprinkling?

The biblical definition of baptism shows that total immersion was the mode of water baptism instituted by Jesus. Sprinkling has become a “tradition” in many churches, but it doesn’t accurately reflect what Jesus told His followers to do. In some instances, where handicaps and other needs apply, we are able to accommodate the individual in water baptism.

What about infant baptism?

No instance of infant baptism was ever recorded in the Bible. Because an infant cannot repent and have faith as described in the Bible, there is no benefit to the child who is baptized. It is better for a child to grow and mature until he or she can fully understand the significance of baptism and make an authentic decision to be baptized.

Alternatively, we offer child dedication services. This is a time for parents, friends and family to dedicate themselves in raising the child to serve the Lord. This is a special and holy ceremony.

Is water baptism mandatory?

The thief who hung on the cross beside Jesus on the day of crucifixion is evidence that salvation is assured without being water baptized. His conversation with Jesus took place as he was dying and, though the man had no chance to be baptized, Jesus promised that he would be in heaven that day. Clearly, however, baptism is a deeply meaningful event in the life of the Christian. Though it isn’t mandatory, it is an act of obedience and a very fulfilling event which every believer should experience.