Have you ever seen someone get baptized? What does it mean? I’ve watched baptisms at various churches and each one is different. Some baptize babies and others baptize people who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Some baptize by putting water on the head and others baptize by full-immersion dunking in what looks like a tub or pool. What’s the purpose of baptism? Is it necessary? Today we’ll find out.
Baptism is not required to get into heaven.
The truth is that we don’t have to be baptized. And being baptized as an infant doesn’t guarantee our salvation or have any bearing on how we’ll choose to live our life. That’s why Bible-based churches don’t baptize babies. They may have a ceremony to bless and dedicate children, but baptisms are a celebration of a person’s decision to offer their life to Jesus.
John the Baptist was the first person we know of who baptized others. He stood in the Jordan River in Israel and many people came to him. Why did John the Baptist call the people of his day to baptism? It was a sign of repentance. Initially, baptism represented turning back to God and asking Him to wash away their sins.
John the Baptist also baptized Jesus as fulfillment of prophecy.
John baptized with water. But Jesus came to baptize us with the Holy Spirit. When John saw Jesus, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Jesus came to wash us clean of sin once and for all. And He offers the gift of the Holy Spirit. That means that when we ask Jesus to come into our life, He comes into our heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s through faith in Jesus that we have access into heaven. It’s through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we share life with Him and know that He’s with us. Always.
So what does baptism with water mean today?
It means that we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, our Savior, and that we want to celebrate our faith through baptism. It means that we’re turning our sins over to Him and asking Him to wash us clean. It means that we’re ready to follow Him into new life because we know we can trust where He’ll lead us.
In baptism, we’re submerged in the water to signify Jesus’ death for our sins and the death of our old life. We’re then raised up out of the water to signify the resurrection of Jesus and the eternal life we now share with Him.
We’re saved by faith, not baptism. But baptism in water is like putting on beautiful new clothes.
As believers, baptism is our way of showing family and friends that we’re now different. We’re united with Christ. We’re excited. We’re celebrating our heavenly inheritance. We’re on a journey to new life. We’re putting on Jesus like a fancy new coat. Talk about some awesome threads!
When I was in Israel, I had the honor of a re-dedication baptism in the Jordan River. Each of us wore a white robe over our bathing suit and we looked like a gathering of angels celebrating the beauty of baptism. Lives were changed. New threads of Christ were donned. How humbling to be baptized in the same river in which Jesus was baptized 2,000 years ago. He was there with us on our baptism day, and I will never forget it.
If you haven’t been baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ, I encourage you to put on the beautiful new clothes of a life surrendered to Christ. Baptism doesn’t have to be in the Jordan River to be special. It will be special because you’re there in the water with Jesus.
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” Galatians 3:26-27 (NLT)
May I pray?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of eternal life that You give freely to anyone who believes in Your Son, Jesus. And thank You for the baptism of the Holy Spirit given generously to those who seek You. Lord, we don’t have to be baptized in water, but we know it pleases You when we show our desire to be united with Christ. Encourage those who haven’t been baptized as believers to stop waiting for a “special” time. May we all put on our beautiful threads of new life. Amen.
Q4U: Have you been baptized as a believer in Christ?