“In obedience and command of our Lord and Savior, I baptize you…”
These are words that I heard at least once a month throughout my childhood. My grandfather was Southern Baptist pastor and, over the past few days, his words have been playing through my mind — words that have come to mean more and more over time. The words that he chose totally describe was baptism is: an act of obedience.
“Repent and be baptized…” Peter uses these words in Acts 2:38. This reminds us of Jesus' instructions. Baptism does not equal salvation, but baptism is a command. Jesus was baptized. He chose to be an example first in what he has asked us to do. Jesus was, is, and will always be our salvation, and he participated in baptism, too. (Matthew 3).
I have been able to watch many baptisms over my life, and I know that each one testifies of a person’s decision to follow Christ. I think my favorite part is watching someone’s face as they are brought up out of the water. Pure joy! Why shouldn’t it be? It is a picture of our salvation — our sins being buried with Christ, our rising to walk in new life with him.
I thought it would be interesting to share the thoughts and feeling of other believers on baptism. These are just some of the responses I received on the subject. I hope they resonate with you, as they have with me.
"I think the act of baptism is, of course, to show obedience, but the symbolism is for our benefit — to better understand what God is doing in us."
"Someone has been saved by accepting Jesus to be the Lord of their life. This Christian wants to be baptized to follow the Lord by a symbol of burial of their sins and rising to walk in a new life with Jesus!"
"It's an outward expression of what's taken place inwardly between you and God. A command from God. For the people too afraid or embarrassed to do it, I think of Luke 9:26: 'Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.'"
"Being baptized was very life changing, because it was the start of a new life in the right direction. Instead of living life to live it, there is now a purpose, an eternal goal and life that comes with being baptized."
"I think Baptism is a foundational step in a Christian's life. It was so important to Jesus, that he gave of the very limited time of his ministry to set that example for us. For me personally, I look back on it as an outward expression of the inward desire and decision to put my trust in Jesus."
"All things new."
"It's one thing to ask God for his forgiveness. That's private and personal. The game changer is when it's public, in front of people and all out there. It brings a higher level of accountability."
"Dying to your old self and being born again."
"You don't do it to be saved. You do it because you have been saved."
"You're baptized after you accept Jesus. You are professing your faith in Christ to the world by being baptized. You are showing you've been saved."
"It's an outward expression of an inward change. Totally submitting our life — submerged, buried, covered with the blood of Christ who is life, the living water."
You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.
— Deuteronomy 13:4
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
— 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5