Baptism is a public, symbolic act of identifying yourself as someone who believes in Jesus and who belongs to His church. When you are baptized, you are going public with your faith.
There’s a very interesting story in Acts 19 that really makes this point clear.
It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus and found some disciples. He said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we haven’t even heard about a Holy Spirit." And he said—now look at this—into what then were you baptized?" And they said "Into John's baptism." Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." —which is exactly what I said a few minutes ago—and—When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:1-5
So the apostle Paul is traveling to Ephesus, and he comes across some people who had heard John the Baptist preach. They were convinced that what John was saying was true, and they believed his message that Messiah was coming. John baptized them—and then they spread across the Roman Empire telling people what John had been saying—"Repent—turn from your sins—get ready—the Messiah is coming."—and they were baptizing people INTO that message and into that community of faith.
A person isn't saved when he or she is baptized, and a person isn't saved because he or she is baptized— it is simply a symbol on the outside of something that has already happened on the inside... an outward profession of an inward confession.
Like a wedding ring—baptism is an outward sign of a deeper reality. This ring doesn’t make me married—it’s a way to SHOW that I am married. Baptism doesn’t make me a Christian—it’s a way to SHOW people that I am a Christian—that I’ve become a Christian.
Baptism is not about joining the church—it's not about some age or stage in life—it's not about your church’s faith or your friend's faith or your parent's faith—baptism is about your personal faith—it’s about YOUR decision to follow Christ and live as a part of His people.
It's about YOU being at a point in your life where you know you’ve trusted Christ—and knowing that you’ve trusted Him—you’re willing to say to friends and family—"I'm ready to go public with my faith.”
That’s what baptism is really about, and that’s why it matters!
So one more time—Why do we baptize people by dunking them underwater? Because that‘s what the word means, and that’s how the word was used in ancient times both in and out of the church.
And—why do we baptize people after they have believed in Jesus? Because Jesus commanded it and the early church practiced it as the first way of going public with YOUR faith—not your parent’s faith or your church’s faith—but YOUR personal faith in Jesus. Baptism is nothing more than that—it’s nothing less than that. Looking to take your next step by publicly proclaiming your love for Jesus? Follow this link!
*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.*
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Written by Charlie Boyd