By Pastor Tim Becker
Baptism is one of the steps to faithfully follow Jesus. Jesus commanded his followers to go and make disciples of people from every nation. And he said that baptizing them and teaching them his commands was how to do that (see Mt 28:18-20). Many of us treat baptism as an optional part of being a disciple. Jesus doesn’t see it as optional.
What is baptism? Baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. The inward reality is that God has so changed a person that they are now repenting of their sins and are trusting Jesus to save them from the penalty of those sins. The inward reality is that a person now has saving faith in Jesus. The inward reality is that a person’s sinful nature has been buried with Christ and they have been raised with a new, forgiven, and Spirit-empowered nature that lives for God instead of for the sinful self. Romans 6:3-4 says it like this, “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.”
Baptism is a picture of this work of God saving a person. In addition to baptism being a picture death and new life in Christ, it is also a picture of cleansing of our sins. First John 1:9 expresses this, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our sins are cleansed by Jesus on the cross and we make this ours when we repent and trust him. Baptism does not cleanse, but it pictures the cleansing that Jesus does.
Who is baptism for? Baptism is for those who are already repenting of their sins and living out faith in Christ. Baptism does not save anyone, but it is required of those who are already saved. To be ready for baptism, a person must understand the gospel and be living in light of that. This is what a disciple is: a person who understands and lives out the gospel. So, baptism is not really about “getting wet,” but about growing as a disciple of Jesus.
Are you ready for baptism? If you’d like to step toward baptism, we will help. If you are a minor, we will have you work through some preparation materials with your parents. For adults, we are planning a baptism preparation process that includes a one-time class as well as some personal discipleship with Pastor Tim.
We’re planning a baptism in August this year at our Worship in the Park service. If you are not yet baptized and are interested in learning more, please contact us soon.