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What does baptism mean to Christians?

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Baptism is a very important ritual to any believer in Christ Jesus. Different denominations have different teachings about baptism. Some believe that through baptism all our sins are washed away.

While others believe baptism is a way of exorcism from evil spirits. Others believe that it is a prove of one obedience in acknowledging the salvation that one has received.

The word baptism from the Old Testament meant a rite of washing with water which was religious for purification and consecration.

In the New Testament the scriptures states that baptism doesn’t save because we get saved by faith alone when believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross.( Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore baptism becomes a public declaration of the faith in Jesus Christ that one has obtained.

It is unfortunate that some still practice baptism as a tradition handed down from the Old Testament and not according to the New meaning in the New Testament.

A clear meaning of baptism in the New Testament is seen in the ministry of John the Baptist. When John is sent by God to usher in the coming of the Messiah. Those who were baptized are those who had accepted his message.

Therefore the type of baptism that John the Baptist had was called “the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. Meaning that those who were baptized had faith that their sins would be forgiven by the coming of the Messiah. Therefore this baptism represented the repentance and later forgiveness of sins that comes by faith in Christ Jesus.

Why is it important for a believer to get baptized?

Water baptism identifies one with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

When one enters the water to be baptized, it is symbolic of one’s death to the power of sin meaning that from that day onwards sin should not have dominion over him anymore. He is then identified with Christ’s burial.

When we enter the waters of baptism, we’re proclaiming the gospel message. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and lives again. By joining in baptism, we’re identifying ourselves with Him. Romans 6:4 says we have been buried with Him through baptism into death.

We’re now dead to the power of sin. Being raised up out of the water expresses our new life in Christ and our union with Him. And just as Jesus Christ was raised from death and lives forever, one is also identified with the newness of life that is in Christ Jesus.

This means that after baptism no one should continue living in the old life that he used to live but in the newness of life. Water baptism is therefore a type of circumcision where one cuts himself from being dominated by the sinful nature.

Water baptism is an act of obedience to God.

No one is ever forced to be baptized, it comes after one has heard the gospel and then willing turns away from his sinful life and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Obedience is involved when one turns away from his sinful nature and submitting control of his life to God. It is an act of surrender of giving the Lord control over your life.

When Peter stood up to preach the gospel in the book of acts chapter two, we see the people who were listening cut to the heart and immediately ask Peter what they were required to do.

Peter explains to them that they need to repent and everyone be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. ( Acts 2:38).

Water baptism is an act of public declaration of one turning away from sin.

After one has heard the gospel and believed, he instantly gets born again, his spirit is regenerated and now he is a new creature in Christ Jesus.

But if you observe the new believe from outside you cannot see any changes that have taken place. Therefore for people to know that one is now born again and a new creature in Christ Jesus, he must undergo water baptism.

Therefore water baptism is an outward confession of an experience that has happened inside a born again believer. This water baptism enables fellow brethren to be accountable to each other.

Scriptures on baptism.

There are several scriptures found in the Bible concerning baptism.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.( Galatians 2:20)

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,( Romans 6:4-5).

There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,( 1 Peter 3:21)

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.( Colossians 2:11-12)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.( Mathew 28:19-20).

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