Understanding Baptism

“Those who believed and accepted his message were baptized.”
- Acts 2:41

Common questions

Does the practice of baptism puzzle you?  If so, you are not the only one.  It is a short ceremony packed with a lot of meaning, so it’s easy to miss the significance of being totally immersed in water after you take the step to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord.  Perhaps you can relate to these common questions:

  • If I was sprinkled as a child, do I still need to be baptized under water?
  • Does getting baptized make me a Christian?
  • Is baptism a requirement for being accepted by God?
  • What’s the point of being completely immersed in water?

The truth is, baptism isn’t as complicated as it might seem at first glance.  Baptism is primarily a public statement of your decision to follow Jesus.

What is the Meaning of Baptism?

Baptism symbolizes two essential truths of your faith in Jesus Christ:

1. What Jesus did for you.

He died for your sins, was buried and came back to life. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

2. What has happened to you and in you as a result of trusting in Jesus.

You died to your old life, are buried in baptism and raised to live a new life in Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:3-4)

Baptism doesn’t make you a Christian; only your faith in Christ does that. 

Think of baptism like a wedding ring.  It is the physical symbol of the committment you have made in your heart.

Who should be baptized and when?

Every believer in Christ should be baptized.

Those who believed and accepted His message were baptized... (Acts 2:41)

But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ.  As a result, many men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)

Baptism should happen as soon as possible for every follower of Jesus.

Those who believed were baptized... that day! (Acts 2:41)

Then Philip began with the scripture and told him the Good News about Jesus.  As they travelled along the road, they came to some water, and the man said, “Look, here is water!  Why shouldn’t I be baptized right now?”  Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  The man answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  So they went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Acts 8:35-38)

If you are a Christian and haven’t yet been baptized, there is no reason to wait.  It easy to find an excuse to postpone, but obey God and be baptized at the next possible opportunity!

Following Christ's example

When you get baptized, you are following the example of Jesus.  Before starting His earthly ministry, Jesus showed His devotion to God through being baptized by immersion.

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.  But John tried to talk him out of it.  “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”  But Jesus said, “It could be done, for we must carry out all that God required.”  So John agreed to baptize him.  After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.  And a voice form heaven said, “This is my dearly loved son who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Later, The apostles taught that all who accept the message of Jesus and invite Him into their lives should follow Jesus’ example of baptism.

Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38)

Why baptism under water?

Baptize literally means to “dip under water.”  Being immersed and then raised up from the water symbolizes a burial of your sinful self and your resurrection to new life.  Immersion is important for these reasons:

  • Because that’s how Jesus was baptized.

After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened... (Matthew 3:16)

  • Every other baptism in the Bible was by immersion.  Here’s one example.

... then both Philip and the man went down into the water and Philip baptized him.  When they came up out of the water... (Acts 8:38-39)

The founders of major denominations agree:

Martin Luther: “I would have those who are to be baptized to be entirely immersed, as the work imports and the mystery signifies.”

John Calvin: “The word ‘baptize’ signifies to immerse.  It is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church.”

John Wesley: “Buried with Him, alludes to baptizing by immersion according to the custom of the first church.”

Scriptures for further study

Taking the step of baptism

Your salvation was made secure the moment you believed in your heart that Jesus is the Lord and you agreed verbally to this by asking Him to come into your life and forgive your sins.  Baptism is a next step of obedience and an illustration of what God has done for and in you.  

Before becoming a Christian, you were dead in your sins, now you have been given life and raised to walk in God’s ways.  That’s something to celebrate!

If you’re ready to take the step of baptism, here’s what you can do:
  1. Contact a Hope Church pastor by calling 817.535.5555 or emailing baptism@hopechurch.com
  2. Sign up for our next baptism class at hopeinsider.com/baptism
  3. Check the “baptism” box on yourConnections Card at the Sunday service

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized.  And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)

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