What is baptism?
After we have repented and solely put our trust in Jesus Christ as our savior, redeemer, and as Lord, we desire to follow him in life unto obedience. In Acts 2:36-38 the apostle Peter is speaking to those who have just believed and been convicted in their hearts of their sins. He tells them to repent and be baptized.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
To be baptized is an act of obedience to the Lord and Christ that they had just believed in. Baptism is an outward confession and testimony of the inward confession going on in the heart of a sinner who has just repented.
Romans 6:3-8 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
When the Lord calls us to obedience, this is one of the first things he requires of us. To openly show this world(or at least one other person as in the case of the scripture I site next), whom we belong to at that point. We can see in Acts 8:35-39, that a man that Philip had preached Jesus to, immediately desired to show his devotion to the Son of God by obeying him into baptism.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”
Also, to be baptized is not a tradition or sacrament we go through to join or associate ourselves with a specific church organization or person. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:12-15 says:
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
Question to ponder on….if baptism is a confession of faith and a purposeful act of obedience, then how can one be an infant and supposedly be baptized? If we truly follow the Lord, then we need to consider everything that we hold so dear and be willing to lay it down. Especially something that comes from the work of men, to try to appease God to get us entered into his kingdom. A baby cannot make that act of obedience, much less believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ which it can’t possibly comprehend.
Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Baptism in and of itself is not island; it is just a start and part of the overall life of being a disciple, a continual learner. It is not just a rite of passage into heaven, but is a beginning or a small step in the long walk of obedience.
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Jesus is our example of obedience. The Father was pleased in his Son who was right and just and would be that perfect acceptable sacrifice given for us; how much more will it please him to see that his children walk in obedience.