What is Baptism? And Why Should I Do It?

Following Blog Post by Greg Sund

Once upon a time, there was a young man, who we will call Greg .... Greg Sund.  He was wretched and sinful and wicked, but still God pursued him, because God is good.  In 2001, by God’s grace, Greg was saved and gave his life to Christ.  Greg had been born and raised as a Catholic but had walked away from the Catholic church in college.  He had been baptized as a baby, but had no recollection of consenting to this.

Years later, around 2006 or 2007, Greg was reading through and studying the book of Acts.  And he noticed something.  A pattern.  It seemed that as the early church was getting started, a person would profess faith in Jesus Christ’s atoning death and in His resurrection, and then that person would be baptized.  And so, Greg was convicted.  It seemed after further study of the New Testament, that baptism was something that professing believers are called to.  All the theological details of why, how, when, were still a little foggy, but nonetheless, Greg felt God’s call to be baptized .... again. 

And so, after moving to Bellingham, WA and joining a church that cares about baptism, he was baptized in Lake Whatcom in 2009. 

Yes, this story, is in fact my story.  I have since this time learned a lot about baptism, and so I am writing this to help you (my church family) better understand what baptism is and what it is not. 

Redeemer is a church that holds God’s word as the ultimate authority for how we are to live as follower’s of Jesus.  And so we look to the bible to answer any question one might have about baptism.  So what does the bible tell us?  First of all, it tells us that baptism is a big deal.  A very big deal.

So, why should one be baptized? 

Romans 6:3-4 tells us that baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection: “Do you know that all of us who have been baptized with Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”. 

Colossians 2:12 says you were “buried with him in baptism in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

So here in Romans 6 and Colossians 2 we have a clear emphasis on baptism as symbol of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection.  There is also biblical reference to baptism as an expression of the cleansing and purification from sin (see Acts 22:16), but the primary emphasis seems to be on dying and rising.

Okay, but why else should one be baptized? 

Because Jesus commanded his disciples to go and to baptize, “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” (Matthew 28:19).  Jesus recognized baptism as so important that he included it in the Great Commission!  If you are a follower of Jesus, this is your purpose statement for life, and step 1 involves you yourself being baptized.

Okay, but what does baptism do? 

Well, first of all it does NOT determine your salvation.  Jesus told the dying thief on the cross “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  Just as baptism was not a prerequisite for salvation for the thief, neither is it for you.  We hold to the doctrine of justification by grace through faith as expressed in Galatians 2:16.  But those of us who have committed our lives to obedience to Jesus Christ, are also called to be baptized and to baptize others as an outward expression of our inward regeneration. 

Who should be baptized? 

We at Redeemer hold to the doctrine of “Believers Baptism”.  This means that only those who are able to give a believable profession of faith should be baptized (see Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 10: 44-48, Acts 16:14-15, Acts 16:32-33 and 1 Corinthians 1:16).  All of these passages follow a pattern of one receiving His word, THEN being baptized.  There are many who hold to other views in this particular area, most notably the paedobaptist view.  For those believers and those churches who hold to this view, we still love you and would never argue that you are not saved.  But we as a church ask anyone who desires to be baptized to be able to give a believable profession of faith before taking the plunge, because we believe this pattern is most consistent with scripture.

So, what happens when I get baptized? 

Baptism is a means of grace for the believer and for the local church.  The public act of confessing Jesus as Savior brings joy and blessing to the believer.  It also increases our faith and increases our experiential realization of death to the power and love of sin in our lives.  As well, it increases our experience of the power of new resurrection life in Christ that we have as believers.

Baptism also blesses the local church.  It gives additional assurance of union with Christ to all believers who are present, it is an occasion of celebration in Jesus for the church, and the Lord gives us baptism to strengthen and encourage our faith for every believer who witnesses this. 

And the ultimate reason why we get baptized is this:  baptism brings glory to God.  We are a people who delight in God and who who delight to see Him magnified and the act of baptism does exactly that, it magnifies the goodness and glory of God as expressed through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is much more that I could say about baptism, but I suspect if I go on, you will stop reading. So, if anyone has questions about baptism or would like to talk about getting baptized, please don’t hesitate to contact your GC leader or one of the elders or deacons of Redeemer.

To God be the Glory!