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