True baptism and its importance
Baptism is important because it is our commitment to “a new life in Christ” (John 3:3). It demonstrates our hope in a better future of peace and perfection, and associate ourselves with God’s family in his “kingdom to come on Earth” (Matthew 6:10).
It confirms the desire for our lives to be put right, in seeking forgiveness for those things we’ve done wrong in God’s sight, and to show ourselves to be serious about a relationship with God and being committed to living his way.
This new start begins by having faith in God – he exists! He created and controls all the wonder of nature we see around us and this includes us too. (Romans 1:20) The Bible is God’s message to us (2 Timothy 3:16) about his son, Jesus Christ, our saviour and coming king (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus through his baptism (Matthew 3:13-15) committed to follow the life that God had laid out for him; to suffer a cruel death on the cross for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5) and to be raised to a new life to provide for us the way of salvation from sin and death.
This must surely touch us as it did those Peter addressed (Acts 2:22-24), and who consequently were baptised (Acts 2:41).
Our own selfless desires (James 1:14) is what nailed Christ to the cross. So we too need to “repent and be baptised” – to want to change our ways and seek a new life in Christ; to be devoted to the apostle’s teaching; to the breaking of bread and to prayer, just as those early followers of Christ (Acts 2:42).
But this all starts with a belief in Christ that leads to a heartfelt desire to make changes in our lives. To seek forgiveness and be set free from our sins is desperately important (Acts 13:38, Romans 6:18). As the apostle Paul implores us:
“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5)
It is important to be baptised in the way God tells us in the Bible. This is through a full immersion in water after proclaiming our faith and commitment to Christ. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptised in this way after Philip had explained the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:36-38). The apostle Paul also after his life changing moment on the road to Damascus, was told: “what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptised and wash your sins away” (Acts 22:16). This was their new beginning. Their desire for complete forgiveness and removal of all sins through all of their body being washed clean.
Some may think that public baptism is undignified. The Bible tells us that Naaman had this problem. He was an important man as the Syrian king’s army commander. But he had leprosy, a dreadful, debilitating, life-threatening disease, which was often used to graphically illustrate the effects of sin in life. Naaman was told by God’s prophet Elisha that he would be cured by washing himself seven times in the river Jordan. “But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy’.” (2 Kings 5:11) Naaman wanted to be cured his way. But God had directed the way. It required humility, faith and the right action. It required full immersion seven times. And Naaman came out clean and cured. (2 Kings 5:13-14) The parallels with baptism are clearly of great importance.
Another illustration given for God’s people is how Israel was saved when Moses took them through the Red Sea: “They were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2). The significance of water, baptism and salvation are all here.
The apostle Peter tells us how Noah and his family were saved from the flood and how: “This water symbolises baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience towards God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). This is the true meaning of baptism and it is why we all want to be “born again” (John 3:3).
The Bible is full of examples of people from all walks of life, in different circumstances, through a range of situations, who have sought baptism – the 3,000 converts of Peter (Acts 2:41), the families of a Roman soldier (Acts 10:47-48), a wealthy woman (Acts 16:15), the jailer (Acts 16:33) and many more.
So what about us? Do we want the opportunity of a lifetime? To commit to our Lord Jesus Christ. To know the power of his resurrection right now! (Philippians 3:10) Because the true meaning of baptism is summed up by the enormity of what has been done for us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God has shown such love, such dedication, and giving of all to save each one of us, that we might be ‘reborn’ through baptism to live forever with his Son, Jesus Christ. What an opportunity and a privilege we have been given through baptism.
Please read the Bible to know more about its exciting message. Also send for your free copy of the booklet Bible Baptism, a life-changing decision – see the free leaflets section for ordering details.
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Except where stated otherwise, scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.