The Church has two ordinances that Jesus commanded us to do until he comes again. The first is the Lord’s Supper that Jesus instituted at the Last Supper in Luke 22. Jesus took the bread and broke it, portraying the way his body would be broken for us on the cross. Then he took the cup and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood,” Luke 22:20b. The blood of Jesus is the only way for our sins to be forgiven. Communion is the picture of the Gospel, the good news that Jesus died for our sins, for us to be made right with God through repentance of our sins.
The second ordinance is Baptism, and just like communion, it is only for those who truly know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Baptism is often confused and misunderstood.
Why should someone be baptized?
Because your pastor tells you? Because your parents tell you? Get baptized to be saved? None of these are reasons to be baptized.
Baptism must take place after someone has given their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord. We get baptized because the Lord Jesus instructed his followers to be baptized. As Jesus was preparing to leave his disciples, he gave them the Great Commission. Matthew 28: 19 to 20 reads, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus told his followers before he ascended into heaven, that they must go, keep on going and make followers of Jesus, proclaiming the good news of the Gospel. As people all over the world respond to the Gospel and become followers of Jesus, they are to be baptized. We baptize them, teach them, and send them to go and win others for Christ.
Baptism is a public testimony of what has taken place in your life.
Some people wait to be baptized until they feel “ready enough,” some people wait until they are a “better Christian.” These are both lies from the enemy to prevent us from moving forward in obedience to Christ.
Baptism is dipping a person under water in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to symbolize on the outside a spiritual change on the inside. It is a declaration of dying to our old life, being buried with Christ and being raised to new life in Christ. Romans 6:3-4 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Colossians 2:12 declares, “Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
Baptism is not when you are saved, it is a testimony, a witness to others of what has already happened through faith in Jesus Christ.
Baptism is a step of commitment, publicly testifying to faith in Christ, a commitment to walk in newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, what will Baptism do for Me?
Water baptism will not cleanse me from sin, make me a new person, or give me eternal life without faith in Christ.
Water baptism is a symbol and a beautiful picture. As we are baptized, we are publicly testifying to a faith in Jesus. In Luke 9:26 Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Baptism is the picture of Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I believe that Baptism places a special seal of God’s hand on your life. As you walk in obedience, God begins to lead you in ways you have not experienced before.
We read in Joshua chapter 4 that God had the children of Israel place large stones as memorial stones to the faithfulness of God. In a similar way, the day we are baptized is a memorial stone, it is a day we can look back and be reminded of the commitment and public declaration we made of the faithfulness of God and our faith in Jesus.
Baptism doesn’t make people perfect; we still struggle and wrestle against the flesh and fight the battle that we are reminded of in Ephesians 6. However, baptism is a giant step in our walk with the Lord and the process of becoming more like Christ.
Have you publicly testified to your faith in Christ?