Raised to Walk

What exactly is baptism, and why is it important for believers?

Why should we be baptized?

Christians ought to be characterized by obedience to Christ. However, one of His commands is often overlooked. After making a profession of faith, some believers fail to be baptized even though Scripture clearly prescribes it. Since this trend is quite common, we need to consider what God’s Word says on the subject. Let’s begin by reading Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been  given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the  Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo,  I am with you always, even to the end of the age. —Matthew 28:18–20

According to this passage, Jesus clearly intends for His disciples to be baptized and to make sure others are as well. He is not saying that baptism is required for salvation but that it follows naturally afterward.

The word baptism comes from the Greek term baptizo, which means “to cleanse, to wash, to make clean with water, or to overwhelm.” Baptizo is used 76 times in the NASB translation of the New Testament—19 times in the book of Acts alone!

From several passages in the book  of Acts, we learn two significant truths concerning baptism:

Guinness World Records lists Clarence Raymond Kannheiser as the oldest person to be baptized. His baptism took place on April 11, 2009 when he was 97 years and 53 days old.

1. It was limited to those who had believed in the testimony of Jesus Christ concerning His death, burial, and resurrection. After Peter preached his first sermon and many people believed in Christ, he told them to repent  and be baptized (Acts 2:37-38).

2. New believers were baptized immediately after being saved. For example, when Philip explained how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, the Ethiopian eunuch believed and wanted to be baptized right away (Acts 8:26-39). In the same way, Paul baptized the Philippian jailer and his family on the very night they accepted Christ (Acts 16:27-33).

 

According to tradition, Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist in an area currently called Qasr al-Yahud or “The Jews’ Fortress.” Located on the West Bank of the Jordan River, it is also the site at which the Israelites crossed the river under Joshua’s leadership and where the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven.

Reasons for Baptism

Some Christians put off baptism because they don’t know what it  means. Therefore, let’s examine what Scripture says about its  significance. Baptism is:

• Commanded by Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19). That alone is a compelling reason for every believer to be baptized.

• A public confession of our salvation experience (Rom. 10:9-10). There is no such thing as private faith for a true believer in Christ. How can we be the light of the world if we don’t confess Him  as Lord?

Baptism is observed in several different ways. Aspersion is the sprinkling of water on the head, and affusion is the pouring of water over the head. Other denominations practice immersion, which involves submerging a person’s entire body under water.

• A visual portrayal of our spiritual experience (Rom. 6:3-6). We have died to our former ways and have been raised in newness of life. Never again will we be what we were before Christ.

• A symbolic declaration of the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Being immersed in the water represents Christ’s death and burial, and coming up out of the water demonstrates His resurrection.

• An identification with the body of Christ (Acts 2:41). It shows that we’re owned by Him and are a part of His church.

“We ought to regard the sacrament of baptism with reverence. An ordinance of which the Lord Jesus Himself partook, is not to be lightly esteemed. An ordinance to which the great Head of the Church submitted, ought to be ever honorable in the eyes of professing Christians.” – J. C. Ryle

• Our personal identification with Jesus (Rom. 6:3-4). We have died with Christ to sin and as a result are now enabled to live  a new way through His resurrection power.

• A public declaration of Christ’s resurrection and our own future resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Because Jesus conquered the grave, we can be sure that we, too, will be raised to life.

According to the Scriptures, baptism is not optional for believers. Jesus was willing to identify with sinners when He was baptized by John (Matt. 3:13-15). How can we fail to identify with Him who saved us and gave us eternal life?

 

Questions

• Is anything keeping you from being baptized? What do you think the Lord would say about your excuses?

• If you have been baptized, what have you learned from this study that makes it more meaningful for you?

Related Topics:  Obedience

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What happens to my notes

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?"

38 Peter said to them, Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert road. )

27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,

28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.

29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go up and join this chariot."

30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Do you understand what you are reading?"

31 And he said, Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH.

33 IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH."

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?"

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"

37 [ And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."]

38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.

28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!"

29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas,

30 and after he brought them out, he said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 They said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.

33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,

2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,

13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.

14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"

15 But Jesus answering said to him, Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

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