Is Baptism for Me?
When I was 15 my dad was saved from a life of alcohol addiction and he took us to church where I became a Christian. That Christmas we were at my grandma’s farm and my brother Steve informed me that my parents had invited the new pastor to come over to talk to us about baptism. Being a shy kid, that was a fearful thing to me and I didn’t want to do it. Nor did I need to because I was sprinkled as a baby. I thought, “I’m good. And there’s no way I’m getting up in front of all of those people – Nuh – Uh.”
When visiting the family farm, we faithfully went to the protestant church. This week, the reverend was teaching the teenagers SS in the foyer. He was reading his quarterly and occasionally he’d ask, “Any questions.” I said, “Yes, I have a question. This new church my parents are going to dunks people when they baptize them. We don’t do that. Why?” I wanted to be able to defend my baby baptism. And I’ll never forget his answer as long as I have memory. He looked at me for about 30 seconds and said?… Absolutely Nothing! It was the most awkward 30 seconds of my 15 years of life. Oh well!
A week later in Virginia, I asked my new pastor, Bud Calvert, the same question. He opened up his Bible and he read me several verses including Romans 6. As a new Christian, I thought, “God said it and I should do it.” Pastor Calvert baptized me and my brother on the first Sunday of 1976. What joy it brought to my heart to please God!
March 1, 2020, we had our first “Baptism Sunday.” We have always baptized new Christians (and older Christians) over the last 35 years, and we would do that sometimes 2 or 3 times a month. This time we invited many to join others to be baptized. It was an exciting day to see 15 folks get baptized all on the same morning.
What is Baptism?
- Baptism is our public profession of Faith in Christ.
Baptism is a dramatization of what we believe about Jesus. It is a presentation of the gospel. The meaning of baptism comes from the death of Christ and His resurrection.
What are we portraying when a person is buried in water and comes up out of the water? Resurrection. Salvation!
Most weddings are performed before family and friends. It is a public profession of your undying love for your new mate. Baptism is our public profession of our faith in Christ.
- Baptism Demonstrates our Union with Christ in His Death and Resurrection, Romans 6:3-4
When you trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are united with Jesus. When you are united with Jesus, His righteousness becomes your righteousness. As a Christian, my faith in Him unites me with Him.
When a husband slides a wedding ring on to his wife’s finger for the first time – about 30 seconds after they have shared their vows – it is not a small thing. You are saying “This ring is a symbol that I am yours and you are mine.” This is a really big deal. A wedding ring is a great picture of baptism. Commitment! When people see my wedding ring, they know that I stood at an altar and pledged my undying love to Jodie.
Just as a marriage unites two people as one, so our baptism is a picture that our faith in Christ united us with Him. Baptism lets everybody know what I believe in my heart about Jesus. I believe He died for me. I believe He is alive and coming again.
- Baptism Reminds us that the Power of Death is Defeated
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:55, 57
When Jesus arose from the grave, He took the sting out of death. Literally the stinger of death is gone. As Christians we no longer need to fear death. It is nothing more than a doorway into the presence of God the Bible calls heaven. At the moment of death, our soul and spirit are ushered into God’s presence by His holy angels. We are not simply a spark joining a big spiritual fire. There is no soul sleep. There is no reincarnation. There is no Nirvana. At death, there is only heaven or hell.
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” 2 Cor. 5:7.
When we die, the soul leaves our body, but the real you is still very much alive. In heaven you will be consciously awake. You will have memory, Luke 16. You will be recognizable, Matthew 17.
You may be thinking, “I don’t know for sure if there is a heaven” or “I believe that when you die, you die and life is over!”
How can you know if you are right or wrong? Here’s a suggestion – let’s ask someone who died and came back to life. I mean someone who was really dead – not just 30 seconds during an operation. Someone who died and was buried, say for 3 days, and then came back to life and a whole bunch of people saw Him – like dozens and dozens, no, hundreds and hundreds of people – Say 500, I Cor. 15:6. There’s only one person that has had that experience – Jesus Christ! When Thomas saw Him Jesus after His resurrection he bowed and said, “My Lord and My God!”
One of our favorite VFBT choir songs is Mercy Tree. My eyes swell with tears every time the choir sings…. Death has died, love has won; Hallelujah; Hallelujah. Jesus Christ has overcome; He has risen from the dead.”
- Baptism symbolizes our New Life in Christ, Romans 6:4-5
See the imagery. See the symbol. We die with Christ; we are buried with Christ in a tomb of water, and we rise to new life with Christ. The key word is “likeness.” Water baptism is a picture of the Gospel.
“Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you… how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day.” I Cor. 15:1, 3-4
The word baptize “baptidzo” means to dip or immerse. The word does not mean pour and it does not mean sprinkle. All scholars agree that the early church immersed new Christians. Do you remember Philip leading the Ethiopian leader to Christin Acts 8? Philip said, “If you believe with all of your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, you can be baptized.” V. 38 “… and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
John the Baptist baptized Jesus. In Jn. 3:23 he “was baptizing near Salim, because there was much water there: they came, and were baptized.” You don’t need a lot of water if you are sprinkling. If you are only sprinkling people then 1 gallon would be plenty for 500 people.
But if you are baptizing by immersion, you need a lot of water.
- Baptism does NOT wash away sins
Salvation is a gift of God. Even though God is holy, just and righteous, He is also Loving, Kind, Merciful, and Gracious. The only way to satisfy His justice was to provide a substitute to take the penalty of our sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Promised Jewish Messiah of Psalm 22 and Isa. 53 fulfilled all of the requirements of being the perfect sacrifice.
John the Baptist boldly proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ. His death paid our penalty. Our faith in Him brings His forgiveness to our soul.
If you are not sure that heaven is your home, the good news for you is this – you do not have to get baptized to receive God’s forgiveness. Recognize your need to be forgiven.
The ABC’s of Becoming a Christian:
Admit you are a sinner.
Believe that Jesus died for you.
Commit your life to Christ today.