The importance of baptism

Baptism is a topic frequently spoken about in the church. We know that it’s a part of our faith and something we are all encouraged to do, but many people don’t understand the importance of baptism or the symbolism behind it. 

What is baptism?

Christian baptism is the act that expresses an identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. As you are first immersed in water, it symbolises Jesus dying on the cross and being buried in the tomb, and as you are raised from the water, it symbolises Christ rising from the dead. Baptism is the public profession of faith and expresses our new life in Christ. 

Does the Bible talk about the importance of baptism? 

The Bible frequently speaks about baptism and through a range of verses we can begin to understand why it’s so important. First, we know that baptism was commanded and ordained by Jesus. Jesus commands the church in Matthew 28:19 to “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.” Baptism was also something that Jesus did at the start of His ministry which we read about in Matthew 3:13-17. Given that Jesus was baptised himself and commands us to do this as Christians, it’s clearly a weighty act.

We also see in Romans 6:3-4 that baptism unites us with Christ. The passage reads “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Through faith in Jesus we are united to Christ, but the baptism is the public symbol of the union. It’s important because it portrays the spiritual work that was done when we came to Christ; our old self is put to death and we are raised with Christ as a new creation. 

Another key verse we can look to is Mark 16:16 which reads “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Many read this verse to mean baptism is essential for salvation, but this view point goes directly against other passages that affirm that belief alone is sufficient for salvation (John 3:18, 5:24, 12:44-50 20:31). Baptism is rather a response to salvation. It’s the powerful, public declaration of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Again, we see two key passages in Acts that affirm the importance of baptism. The first verse in Acts 2:38 is well known in the church, and reads “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Here, we see the message of repentance and baptism preached by John the Baptist. In preaching to the crowd, he urges them to be baptised for the forgiveness of their sins and prophecies about the coming Holy Spirit. A few chapters later in Acts 22:16 we also read “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Given that baptism was such a key part of his message, it’s clear that as Christians today, it’s still incredibly important for us to do. 

Does baptism save me?

There is no passage in scripture that says that baptism is essential for our salvation. To add baptism as a requirement for our salvation is to add good works to the finished work of Christ on the cross, and goes against multiple passages in scripture that talk about faith alone for salvation. Baptism is a very important step in our Christian walk and is encouraged out of obedience, but to add baptism as a step for salvation would make Christianity works-based. To add this to the gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient for our salvation and that we must work and be obedient to perfect our faith.

Multiple verses clearly tell us that it is faith alone in which we receive salvation, including:

  • John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
  • Titus 3:5 “5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

Want more? 

If you’re interested in more about baptism and it’s impact on my life, make sure you check out our podcast episode “How baptism changed my life.” In this episode, we are discuss baptism and what the Bible says about it, why it’s so important, some common misconceptions, and 3 major ways baptism changed my life.

    Written by gracebuckman

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