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What does the Bible say about Baptism?

Many people have asked about the need for baptism as part of their Christian lives. In fact, those who were baptized as infants or small children often will ask if they need to get “re-baptized.” That and other questions are addressed. Keep reading.

1. What is baptism?

Water baptism is a picture of something which already took place in the heart of the believer the moment he/she was saved. It is the outward showing of the believer’s inward faith. To use a simple illustration, a police officer’s uniform doesn’t make him a policeman; he wears his uniform because he is a policeman. It’s the same way with baptism. Baptism doesn’t make you a Christian, but you are baptized because you are a Christian. In a way, baptism is like putting on your Christian uniform. It demonstrates in a public way that you have committed to the Lordship and authority of Christ, trusting in Him alone for the forgiveness of your sins. This is why we do not baptize infants at our church. Baptism needs to be a decision the person makes on their own— when they see it is as the next step of obedience to our Lord. Which leads to the next point—

2. Why get baptized?
  • It is clearly commanded by Jesus.

Matthew 28:19-20 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

  • It demonstrates the new life in us.

When a pastor baptizes someone, he usually says something like: “Buried in the likeness of His death—raised in the likeness of His resurrection.” Water Baptism is also a visual picture of what has happened to us. We have died to our old way of thinking and living and are raised to walk in a new way of life, a Christian life. That is why it is by immersion, not sprinkling. We identify with Jesus through this experience. When we are baptized, we say to the world, “I am a follower of Jesus Christ.” This can only be done when the person is able to make this statement of their volition.

“For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead” Colossians 2:12

  • It is the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many have asked why Jesus needed to get baptized— which He actually answered when John the Baptist asked Him that very question. Note Jesus’ response in Matthew 3:15;  “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In essence, Christ was identifying with the very sinners He came to save.

He continues on in Matthew 3:13-17 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”

3. Who should be baptized?

Every believer. The Bible makes it clear that baptism is called BELIEVER’S baptism.

Why? Because people have to believe first:

  • After they received the Word, THEN they were baptized (Acts 2:41).
  • We find that they believed, THEN they were baptized (Acts 8:12, 36-37).
  • It is plain to see that those who believed received the Holy Spirit, and THEN they were baptized (Acts 10:43-44, 47).
  • When the Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:30-34).

Paul did not tell him to be baptized to be saved. His baptism came AFTER his believing.

Who then should be baptized? Only those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:8-9.

4. When should we be baptized?

The Bible teaches that water baptism follows shortly after spiritual baptism (the new birth). This occurs after we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Scripture shows that this was the first act of obedience to God after salvation.

A great example of this is the Ethiopian eunuch, sitting in his chariot—reading the Bible;

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.  Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What stops 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. Acts 8:35-38

If God is calling you to take this next step, Island Christian Church will be holding a beach baptism at Robert Moses State Park on Sunday at 6 pm. For more information and registration, Click here. If you’d like to further discuss being baptized or have additional questions, email us at info@islandchristian.com.

Pastor Joe Garofalo

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