Baptism in the New Testament meant the dramatic and symbolic act of being completely immersed in water. What did it mean and why did Christians see it as an essential response to Jesus Christ?
In the years before Christianity people who converted to Judaism were ceremonially washed . When John the Baptist called people to repentance he baptised them as a sign of cleansing and renewal. Jesus was baptised by John to identify with the people he had come to save.
Through the New Testament baptism became accepted as the normal first step following conversion.. The apostle Paul said to the Philippian jailer; "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptised …" (Acts 16:31).
After we have put our trust in Jesus and been born again the first step of discipleship is baptism.
If you trust Christ you will have respect for him and will be eager to obey him by being baptised. But baptism only means something if you have new life in Christ.
The Symbolism of Baptism
If you haven't seen a baptism watch a video. It's dramatic!
The water makes the cleansing symbolism clear. When we put our trust in Christ he "cleanses us from all unrighteousness." Our "filthy rags" are washed white as snow. So a serious bath is an obvious symbol!
Death and Resurrection
Becoming a Christian means your old, sinful life dies. Baptism is like a funeral where we bury the dead. That's much easier in water; we bury you in water.
New birth and new life are an essential part of the Christian life. So we soresurrect you out of the water as a symbol of your resurrection with Christ.
Part of the Church
Now you are alive with Christ you can live for him. An important part of your new life in Christ is being with the community that he lives with, the church. So baptism becomes symbol of you entering the church to live your new life with God's people.
Reasons To Be Baptised
Jesus commanded: baptise and be baptised
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:18-19)
Baptism identifies us with Christ
The Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word ... Peter declared, "Can anyone withhold water for baptising these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 10:44-48)
Baptism symbolises the death of an old life and the beginning of a new one
All of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death … 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. If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his … if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him … consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:3-11)
Baptism is the first step of discipleship
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)
Baptism identifies us with the church
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 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. (Colossians 2:11-12)
Who Should Be Baptised
If you are born-again, if you are committed to Jesus Christ and are ready to be committed to a local church then you are ready to be baptised! Staines Baptist will gladly baptise you and walk with you through your new life in Christ.
Baptism means that you are committed to Jesus Christ who has saved you and given you new life. Are you serious about following Jesus, making tough choices and doing brave things? Are you ready to honour him above everything; more than family, career, and personal comfort?
Baptism means that you want to be part of the local church where there are Christians that you can meet with and be committed to. The New Testament is clear; if you are serious about Jesus then you have to be serious about Jesus’ people.
You should only be baptised after careful thought. That doesn't have to take a long time. Baptism means most if it is right at the beginning of your new life.
Even if your Christian life started sometime back you can still be baptised if you want to publicly declare your commitment to Jesus and his church.