Let’s unpack some points you need to know about baptism as it’s described in the Bible.
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The term baptism conjures up a variety of reactions depending on your family background and church history. Were you sprinkled or dunked? Did it occur when you were a baby or an adult? What’s the purpose of baptism?
In this article, let’s explore the basics of the practice of baptism and touch on six important things you need to know about baptism as it’s described in the Scriptures.
STORIES OF BAPTISM
There are many references to baptism in the Scriptures, but one notable occurrence happens in the book of Acts. in chapter 8, Philip comes across an Ethiopian eunuch sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. Once Phillip tells him the Good News and soon after, coming upon a body of water, the eunuch asks why he should not be baptized.
This kind of public profession of faith is what we also see in the baptism of Jesus by his cousin John the Baptist, which began his years of public ministry:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
When you consider the powerful stories of baptism in the Scriptures, including the baptism of the sinless Christ, you can see that it’s more than a tradition. Learn what makes it so powerful when you explore the facts below about baptism.
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6 Important Things You Need To Understand About Baptism
1. Baptism is a proclamation of faith.
The choice to become baptized is a public declaration of faith and identification with Jesus. Because of this fact, one should make this decision as a young person or adult, but not a baby.
2. Baptism is a declaration of salvation, NOT salvation.
Getting wet never saved anyone, but everyone who genuinely is born-again wants to put on the uniform. They want to obey God. Through baptism, we obey God outwardly to reflect what has occurred inwardly.Getting wet never saved anyone, but everyone who genuinely is born-again wants to put on the uniform. They want to obey God. Through baptism, we obey God outwardly to reflect what has occurred inwardly. Click To Tweet
3. Baptism is an act of obedience.
As explained in an article by Questions God, “water baptism is an act of faith and obedience to the commands of Christ.” Jesus commands it here:
“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 28:19-20)
4. Baptism is a symbol of a new life.
The old life is buried and a new life is here — and baptism is a beautiful symbol of that miracle. Baptism is a symbol to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
“Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)
5. A baptism is different from the term “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
The term “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is referring to the supernatural indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a believer at the time of salvation. This happens before the obedient act of baptism occurs.
Depending on a person’s background and church affiliation, these terms are sometimes confusing. But in the Scriptures, the act of salvation — the indwelling of the Spirit — is different from this public proclamation of baptism.
6. Baby dedications are not baptisms.
As explained eloquently in this Got Questions? article, baby dedication is a decision some Christian parents make when they want to publicly commit to raising their kids under God’s law and dedicating them to God.
Many churches perform a commitment ceremony to reinforce this covenant between the Church, the parents, and God. This ceremony does not have an immediate impact on the salvation of the child, but it certainly connects the family and child to the body of believers.
BELIEVERS ARE PURIFIED ONLY BY GRACE
For Christians, baptism does not purify us. That comes only from the grace of God! But this command is a beautiful symbol of that grace, given to us by His work on the cross.
Learn more about getting right with God — including how we get it wrong — when you check out a video by Chip Ingram called Jesus Explains His Message.
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