Believers’ Baptism

This article looks at the significance of baptism for those who have trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior. There are several baptisms in Scripture, among others John’s baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are specific characteristics related to each one. Yet sadly I feel that often the only time we hear believer’s baptism mentioned is at a baptismal service. While it is always good to witness a public baptism, it has far more meaning than just a one-off experience. It surely affects believers as they go on to live their lives for the Lord. Let us consider what believer’s baptism is.

A Divine Command to be Obeyed

In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus said: “All authority is given to me in heaven and on the earth, 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 things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” Far too often those who get saved are left to eventually seek baptism. Yet, every time it is mentioned in Scripture it follows immediately after conversion. The responsibility given to the disciples was to teach that baptism is not an option but a command to be obeyed. Have you been obedient to it?

An Example to be Followed

Acts 2:41-42 says: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” The vast majority of those who heard Peter’s first gospel address rejected his message; however, what an outcome when 3000 responded. They immediately baptized each one and all who subsequently believed the gospel were to follow their example. These new believers were putting their lives on the line as it meant instant opposition, persecution, and possible martyrdom. Each one baptized was making a definite choice, understanding they were committing to follow the Lord. Too often parents or friends push it, but this is a very personal decision one must make on their own. Have you followed the example given?

A Public Testimony of Faith

As the gospel was publicly preached and shared privately it was having a tremendous effect on those who heard it. As the minister of finance to the Ethiopian queen was reading Isaiah 53 while traveling home from Jerusalem, Philip the evangelist used that very Scripture to point him to Jesus (Acts 8:26-39). When they came to some water the eunuch asked: “What hinders me from being baptized?” Philip said: “if you believe with all your heart, you may.” He said: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So, they both went down into the water, and he was baptized. You will notice the mode of baptism was by immersion based on a personal confession of faith. Read Acts 9:18, for another case in point. Have you publicly confessed your faith by being baptized?

A Personal Commitment to Christ as Lord

In Acts 16:16-34, we find one of those outstanding conversions for us to consider. The apostle Paul and Silas were taken by an angry mob to the magistrates who placed them in a Roman prison. The magistrates commanded the jailor who was in charge to beat them. He used rods inflicting many stripes, putting them in the inner prison with their feet in stocks. Can you imagine how they must have felt and yet they began at midnight to sing praises to God and the prisoners heard them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, and all the doors were opened. The chains that bound the prisoners were broken, yet not one tried to escape. What a miracle! The jailer was about to take his own life but came to Paul and said, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was simple: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” No doubt listening to them sing he would have heard of Jesus for they were singing about Him. He took them home and washed their wounds. What a transformation! Then Paul spoke the Word of the Lord to those in the jailor’s house and they all believed. Immediately they were baptized, committing themselves to live for the Lord who saved them. Have you?

A Powerful Challenge

Romans 6:1-8 gives a serious challenge to those who are already baptized. Paul says: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” He goes on to answer his own question: “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.”

He brings it to a conclusion by saying: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (vv. 11-12).

The great truth presented here is that baptism is a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection. In it we state that we are no longer living the old life but are embarking on an entirely new life altogether. Throughout the epistles we are constantly challenged as to which life, the old or the new, we are living. May the Lord help us to be true to our baptism. While it is a one-time experience, its truth must be lived out every day until our Lord comes again.

The Answer of a Good Conscience

Finally in 1 Peter 3:21, when speaking of the flood waters in the days of Noah the apostle says: “that water is a picture of baptism … not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (NLT) How is your conscience today? Are you convicted about baptism? Why not yield your heart and soul today and obey God’s Word by being baptized. Then you will have a good conscience, and hopefully a desire to be a daily witness for the Lord.

What Baptism Does Not Do

Baptism does not make us a child of God. Instead, we are saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism does not make you a member of the Church. That also occurs when we receive Christ as our Savior, with the Holy Spirit immediately baptizing us into the Body of Christ, the true Church of God. Baptism does not take away our sins. That was done by the Lord Jesus on the cross. Baptism does not add to or take away from our salvation. Baptism does not bring us into a covenant with God. It is by faith we enter a new eternal covenant which the Lord gives to us through His death on Calvary. Baptism does not fit us for heaven; this is secured for us when we are saved. Finally, the water in which we are baptized is not holy nor has it been blessed. All it will do is make you wet. However, the principles it symbolizes are for a lifetime.