Baptism is a symbolic act for those who have decided to follow Jesus; it is an ancient and sacred practice that the church has been celebrating since its inception. Thankfully though baptism is not weird or scary. Actually, it is just a public declaration that your life has been changed by God. The symbolism of baptism is deep and beautiful; if a picture tells a thousand word story, baptism proclaims a thousand word message. That message is simple: the old me is dead and gone, and the new me is alive because of what Jesus has done. Thus, Baptism is symbolic of life and death, or better yet, Christ's death and our new life.
Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ came to earth to live a perfect life and die a brutal death for our sins. By doing this, Jesus acted as our substitute - doing what we could not. Once we decide to follow Jesus, He asks that we make that decision public by following his example and being baptized. The picture being presented is that the old person (the sinful, God-hating, and unforgiven person) is buried completely in the water. Then, the new person (the redeemed, God-loving, and completely forgiven person) is raised to a new life made possible by Jesus.
It is important to know that baptism does not begin or end the salvation process. In other words, baptism doesn't provide salvation; only faith in Jesus can save anyone. However, that doesn't make baptism unimportant. In fact, baptism is extremely important for the following reasons:
- Jesus, Himself, was baptized.
- The earliest followers of Jesus were baptized.
- The early church preached about (and required) baptism.
- God commands baptism in the Scriptures.
If you have any further questions about baptism, we invite you to take our Introduction to Church Membership Class where we discuss this practice in more detail.