What is Baptism?

 In Baptism, Church Practices, Questions, The Church

What does it mean to be baptized? The word “baptize” comes from the Greek root word “baptizo” which means to immerse in something. It is quite fascinating that when a new believer is baptized, because they are literally and figuratively immersed in the grace and new salvation given through the cross of Jesus. When lifted out of the water, the new believer has a new responsibility to observe Christ’s teachings, particularly the Great Commission. The Great Commission, as taught in Matthew 28:19, is threefold: go make disciples, baptize them, and teach them what you have been taught.

Baptism gets its meaning and its importance from the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in our place and for our sins, and from his triumph over death in the resurrection that guarantees our new and everlasting life. 
-John Piper

This quote illustrates that:

  1. Baptism is only important because of Jesus’ sacrifice
  2. Baptism is a symbolic gesture we’re commanded to partake in
  3. Baptism does not save you

Baptism is only important because of Jesus’ sacrifice

Piper’s quote shows the importance and symbolism of baptism, but also the power and justice which comes with the cross. The distinctions and opinions about baptism are entirely dependent on Jesus’ death and resurrection. Without Jesus’ actions on the cross, baptism has no value. Baptism is about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

Baptism is a symbolic gesture we’re commanded to partake in

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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
-Matthew 28:19

Upon his ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded his disciples to make more disciples. Jesus called them to teach the words that he taught them and then to baptize them. Jesus instructed an immediate call to action after one confesses faith. After the disciples go and make more disciples, they are instructed to qualify the new believers faith through an action. This action is baptism.

Baptism does not save you

To be clear, salvation does not depend on baptism. Baptism is a command of Christ and it is important to remember that it is purely symbolic. Baptism is a symbol of faith, grace, and the power of Christ. Although it does sound harsh, if you are a believer and you have not been baptized, you are directly disobeying one of Christ’s final commands, so get baptized! It is often referred to as “an outward expression of an inward reality,” and Scripture commands us to partake in this action which displays our belief in Jesus.

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