Is It Necessary To Be Baptized?
First, we need to consider the example of Jesus Christ. He, along with many others, came to John the Baptist to be baptized. Jesus, even though he never sinned, considered it important to be baptized. By doing so he set an example of obedient humility. If Jesus, the sinless Son of God, humbled Himself by allowing a sinful man to baptize Him, we need to ask ourselves what’s stopping us from being baptized.
Any hesitance we might have as to the importance of baptism should be weighed against our desire to please our Lord. He clearly expects it as a part of our believing and becoming children of God. If we wish to please Him, we will not be interested in the hypothetical question, “Can I be saved without being baptized?” For Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
Who Should Be Baptized?
After Peter had preached his soul-stirring sermon on the Day of Pentecost, his audience asked: “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven” (Acts 2:37b, 38). Belief and repentance are part of the spiritual preparation necessary before baptism.
Every person who has repented and believed in Christ is ready to be baptized. This is someone who has realized that their sin separated them from God. They have given up all efforts to reach God through good works or religious activity. They have concluded that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for their sins is the only thing that can bridge the gap between them and God. And they have decided to trust Christ alone for their salvation. If you have come to that point in your spiritual journey, then you are ready to be baptized.
Does Baptism Wash Away Sins?
The question is often asked, “Does the water wash away our sins when we are baptized?” The Bible certainly speaks of baptism washing away sins; and it would seem that baptism is the means of that washing, as stated in Acts 22:16. However, the passage indicates that the washing away of sin happens as one calls on the name of the Lord. Placing trust in Christ by calling on His name is in agreement with other scriptures which speak of the means of removing guilt.
Baptism symbolizes washing sin away, but the actual removal of sin is accomplished by God forgiving the believing, repentant sinner because of his faith in the death of Christ on the cross for our sins.
The scriptures teach that the blood of Jesus washes away sins, and baptism symbolizes that washing. The removal of sins depended on the death of Christ, for He “freed us from our sins by His blood.”
Am I Baptized "into a church"?
No. You are baptized into "the" Church (as in the Body of Christ, not a particular church). Our Statement of Faith on Baptism states: "We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness." What this is basically saying is that when someone is baptized, they are being baptized as an expression of their faith in Jesus Christ, not as an initiation or acceptance into our particular church. When we baptize someone, we do not think of it as the person is baptized "a Nazarene". They are baptized as a Christian; as a follower of Christ.
Spiritual Preparation for Baptism
What spiritual preparation, if any, should we make before baptism? After Peter had preached his soul-stirring sermon on the Day of Pentecost, his audience asked:
“Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven” (Acts 2:37b, 38).
Belief and repentance are the essential spiritual preparation necessary before baptism. The primary spiritual preparation necessary is the fact of our repentance and decision to become a follower of Christ. When we believe in Christ, repent of our sins, receive Christ as our Lord, and commit our lives to Christ, then we are ready for baptism.
When Should I Be Baptized?
As soon as you have believed. “Those who believed were baptized that day!” (Acts 2:41). Does this mean it has to be immediately? No, what the Bible is trying to teach is that baptism should follow your decision to become a Believer. But it also means there is no reason to delay. If you wait until you are “good” enough, you will never feel ready for baptism. The New Testament examples show that people came to faith and were baptized as soon as possible. After Paul was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, and was converted, he heeded the admonition of Ananias, “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his [Christ’s] name” (Acts 22:16).
What Do l Wear?
Clothes you don’t mind getting wet! If you wear white, be sure to wear something appropriate underneath. A bathing suit under your clothes would be fine. You will also want to bring a towel.
What’s Involved in the Baptism?
Since baptism is the public profession of your faith in Christ, it is best if each participant is prepared to either share their story of trusting Christ to be their saviour or to have it read during the baptism service (you can ask anyone you’d like to read your story, or the pastor will read it for you on your behalf). These stories or testimonies play a significant and meaningful role in the service. Believers are encouraged and given cause for celebration, and people exploring Christianity and contemplating committing their lives to Christ are challenged by the spiritual journey of others.
In order to help write “your story” describing how and when you decided to trust Christ, feel free to use the following questions as guidelines.
Our Lord was baptized and He commissioned His followers to go into all the world, preach the gospel, and baptize believers. In obedience to this commission, the disciples called the people to repent and be baptized.
When we are baptized, we express our belief in the death of Christ as the atonement for our sins and we indicate our own hope in being resurrected from the dead as Christ was raised from the dead:
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection (Romans 6:4, 5).
Do you sincerely believe in Christ and in His death as your atonement for sins? Are you repentant? Are you ready to bury the past and begin a new life? Then the question you need to answer is: What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name (Acts 22:16).
More Questions and Answers!
Pastor Jon Twitchell has written answers to the following questions concerning baptism:
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