Read: Romans 6:1-14 & Psalm 103 & 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 & Matthew 28:19
I know baptism is a tricky subject. It seems like an extra step or another hoop to jump through. But baptism is not just something we are commanded to do (Matthew 28:19). Baptism itself is an act of worship in the life of a Christian. Psalm 103:11-12 (ESV) says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”
Baptism is not only obedience, it is a celebration!
Christ died and was buried so that “we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4, ESV). When a person is lowered into the water, it symbolizes the burial of Jesus, and when that person is raised from the water, it symbolizes Christ’s resurrection, without which we would not be saved (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
When you stepped into salvation, you crossed from death to life. Jesus does not just change lives, He raises lives. Jesus defeated death once and for all and His death gave you and me the possibility of being separated from our sins forever! “For the death He died, He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:10-11, ESV). Jesus’s resurrection allows me to spend my eternity with Him, because His death separated my sins from me. That’s worth celebrating!
Has there ever been a time when you said “yes” to Jesus, but “no” to baptism because it was too public?
Considering Matthew 28 and Romans 6, is baptism a next step that you need to take?
Frequently Asked Questions about Baptism
#1 – What about Infant Baptism?
The Bible teaches us that “Baptism is not a removal of dirt from your body; it is an appeal to God from a clean conscience.” (1 Peter 3:21NLT) Throughout the New Testament, only adults were baptized. The reason is because the act of baptism represents a life that has been changed by God and reflects the decision of the person to follow Jesus. Infant baptism speaks more to the parents’ faith than it does of the child’s, and that is not the purpose of baptism. The command of Jesus to be baptized is about your personal relationship with God. So we believe that a person need be of an age that allows them to make the decision personally to obey Jesus in this act.
#2 – What is an appropriate age for baptism?
“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then 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.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”
While the Bible does not address a specific age that is a minimum requirement for baptism, the real issue is really one of the heart. The passage quoted above gives us the requirement for baptism. It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with the condition of a person’s spiritual condition. A person who understands that Jesus is the Son of God and has made a decision to follow Jesus is the perfect candidate for baptism. The age of the person is dependant on their ability to understand what they are doing in baptism. This could be at the age of ten for one person and at 14 for another. We believe that a person seeking to be baptized must understand what baptism is and know why they are entering its’ waters. This cannot be an issue of religious duty or parental pressure, but instead a spiritual conviction resulting from a living faith in Jesus.
#3 – Who Should get Baptized?
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Every follower of Jesus is commanded to be baptized. This is not simply a good idea or a great suggestion. It is a command of Jesus. It is a symbolic act of our desire to follow Jesus by identifying with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection through water baptism. The Apostle Paul wrote concerning baptism…
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
(Romans 6:3-4 NKJV)
Baptism is our identification with Jesus and the outward symbol of our inward commitment. If you are a follower of Jesus and have asked Jesus to forgive you of our sins, then your responsibility is to obey Jesus by being baptized.
#4 – Do I have to be baptized immediately after my conversion?
There are some groups that teach you must be baptized immediately after praying to receive Jesus or you are not truly a Christian. I do not believe the New Testament supports this view. Certain people in the New Testament were baptized immediately. Those that responded to Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 were baptized at the moment of their conversion. In other instances, such as in the case of the Apostle Paul, who was converted on the road to Damascus, was not baptized for at least three days when his sight returned to him. The point is that baptism does not have to be immediate, but it should not be left to the backburner either. If you have decided to follow Jesus, then follow His example and be baptized.
#5 – Does it matter where I am baptized?
Churches over the ages have used a myriad of venues to conduct baptisms. Formal baptisteries, rivers, oceans, lakes, streams, swimming pools, Jacuzzis, and bathtubs have all been used to baptize those that wish to obey the Lord in this act. I believe all of these venues and many more are valid. The issue is not how “holy” the water is, but how sincere the person entering the water is. If a person gets married on the beach and not in a church, is their marriage still valid? Of course it is! You could get married in a zoo and it would still be valid
because we understand that the issue is not the location, it is the condition of the heart and the sincerity of the faith that is being professed.
#6 – Am I not a Christian if I don’t get baptized?
Baptism is not a prerequisite for heaven, nor are we saved through baptism. The act of going into the water doesn’t save us. Jesus saved you through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. When we place our faith in His finished work, it is at that moment that we are saved.
“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 NLT)
We are saved through faith, not any works that we do.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
To believe that baptism saves us is to believe in a Gospel that our works make us right with God. That is not the case according to Scripture. Baptism does not save you, but the saved are baptized. A person that has truly decided to follow Jesus will obey Him. If one of His commands is to be baptized, then we should obey Him, not because we believe it will save us, but because we believe that our obedience please God.
#7 – Will I not go to heaven if I am not baptized?
“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43NKJV)
The thief on the cross was not baptized and yet was given the promise of eternal life by Jesus. So baptism is not required for a person to go to heaven. Yet I do believe that if the thief on the cross was told that there was new evidence and that he could go free, I believe he would have been baptized. The fact that
he did not have the opportunity to be baptized does not create an excuse for those of us who have the opportunity to obey God. A person with moments to live who calls out to God can have the assurance of salvation as this thief did, yet that should not inspire laziness or idleness in following the teachings of Jesus. Every person who has the ability to be baptized should be, not because heaven depends on it, but because it is an expression of love for our Savior who died for us. The least we can do is obey Him in this simple, yet powerful act.
#8 – Can I be Re-baptized?
On occasion, people who were baptized, but then fell away from the faith afterward have asked me this question. Their desire is not to find out if their baptism still “counts”, but if they could be baptized again and demonstrate to God their desire to follow Him. Due to the fact that nothing appears in Scripture that would forbid this act, I encourage them to do what they believe God has put in their heart. Many times, tears flow as the person enters the water and is baptized for a second time. I personally experienced this. I had not fallen away from the faith. Instead, I felt God calling me to begin a new chapter in my life by planting Calvary Fellowship. I was in Israel at the time baptizing people in the Jordan River, when I turned to the Pastors I was baptizing with and asked them to pray for me and baptize me because I wanted to obey God wherever He called me. It was an important moment in my life and one that I believe pleased God.
#9 – What if I was baptized at another church? Does my baptism still count?
Baptism is not about location, but about the presentation of my life to God in obedience to His Word. I recognize that some churches believe you must be baptized in their church for it to truly “count”, I believe that the Scriptures teach that baptism is about your relationship with God, not a local church. If you were baptized in one church and then later moved, your baptism has not changed in the eyes of God.
#10 – Do I have to live a perfect life once I am baptized?
This issue is, can you live a perfect life? I don’t think so. Besides Jesus, no person on planet has done it yet. You were not perfect prior to your baptism and you will not be perfect afterwards. Baptism is not where your sins are forgiven. Your sins were forgiven at the cross of Jesus when you placed your faith in His finished work. The Bible says, “If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” (1 John 1:8-9 NLT)
You are not expected to be perfect after your baptism. I’m sorry to break the news to you, but you will still be the same sinner who entered the water when you exit it. However, you will have taken one huge step: the step of obedience. I have learned that when I can obey God in the small things, following Jesus in the bigger issues of life aren’t as difficult. So while you will not be perfect once you are baptized, it will probably mark a time when you got serious about the things of God and your relationship with Him.
#11 – What’s the difference between water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
“For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
(Acts 1:5,8 NIV)
Water baptism is our identifying with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual empowering that is given to each believer in Jesus for works of service. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is when God gives spiritual gifts to His people so they can be His witnesses all over the earth. What type of power is Jesus referring to? The word translated “power” is the Greek word “dunamis”, where we get our English words, “Dynamite” and “Dynamic”. This power transformed the disciples of Jesus from men who were living in fear of their lives to men who were risking their lives of the sake of Gospel. How does a person receive this power? All that it takes to receive this power is to pray and ask God to empower you. Let Him know that you want to be His witness in this world and that you want to live for Him. There might not be any flashing lights and you may not have any emotional reaction at all, but watch what God does. If you ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be empowered by the Holy Spirit, He will do it!