The decision to follow Jesus IS a personal one, but it should NOT be a private one. Jesus wants and even encourages us to let others know about our decision to follow Him. He tells us, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32, KJV).

Once we’ve made the decision to follow Jesus in private, we need to be willing to let others around us know about that choice. It’s like falling in love with someone. At first, our feelings of love are personal and private and are kept within the confines of the relationship. However, as our love grows, we begin to share our feelings with those around us. It’s a natural next step in the relationship. Why else would we have wedding ceremonies where we invite everyone we know to attend!

Even in small, private weddings, the bride and groom want everyone in the room to see the commitment they each have to the relationship and to each other, and even then we go one step further. We wear wedding rings so that everyone who sees us, knows immediately that we have made a marriage commitment.

That’s the way it should be in our relationship with Jesus. First, we make our commitment to Him in private. Then, we declare our commitment to Him in public and just like those wedding rings indicate a marriage commitment, baptism is the biblical way that we indicate a commitment to a real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41, KJV).

Baptism is an illustration or picture of two things.

First, it’s a picture of what Jesus did for us through His death on the cross. Baptism is the biblical way that we tell the people around us that we believe Jesus died on the cross as a penalty for our sin, and that we accept and trust Him for our forgiveness.

Second, baptism is a picture of our becoming a “new creation,” one with a fresh start, a changed life and a cleansed heart.

The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The Bible also says, “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” (Romans 6:4).

Being baptized doesn’t mean we are perfect. It just means we are forgiven and desire to live our lives as Jesus would want us to. It’s important to remember that there is no act or religious ritual, including baptism, that can make us clean before God. Only Jesus’ death on the cross and His forgiveness of our sins gives us the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him.

What does Biblical Baptism look like?

There are many ideas about what baptism should look like. Unfortunately, many of these ideas come from tradition or culture rather than the Bible. For instance, there is no example of infant baptism anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the practice of “baptizing” infant children began several hundred years after the Bible was written. One of the requirements of true biblical baptism is that we must confess our commitment to follow Jesus. No one can do this for us or in place of us.

Another area of baptism that has been changed by culture and tradition is the physical act of baptism itself. For example, some Christians baptize through a sprinkling ceremony. However, baptisms recorded in the Bible were conducted by immersion. The very word “baptize” is the English transliteration of a Greek word which means to dip under, or plunge under water. It is baptism by full immersion that best symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and the beginning of our “new life” in Him.

While there are many good and sincere people who practice baptism in a way different from immersion, history demonstrates that when churches or denominations change the symbol of baptism from the true biblical example, it usually accompanies a distortion in the meaning of baptism, and even in an understanding of what it means to follow Christ.

Biblical baptism is by immersion and occurs after we make a personal and private commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Baptism is a public display of that commitment to Jesus and our trust in Him to forgive our sins.

How Important is Baptism?

Baptism isn’t essential for forgiveness, but it is essential for obedience. In the book of Acts, crowds of people heard Peter share the message of Jesus and the need for a changed life. Those people asked Peter what they should do and this is how Peter responded,

“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. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39).

In another story, Philip shared the good news about Jesus with an Ethiopian. After hearing the good news about Jesus, the Bible records,

“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” (Acts 8:35-38).

In both cases, and in other baptism stories recorded in the Bible, when people chose to follow Jesus, they wanted to be baptized as soon as possible. They were forgiven by God’s grace, and their baptism became an immediate next step of obedience.

Therefore, if we delay our baptism, we either have a misunderstanding of what biblical baptism is, or, there is some measure of disobedience to God’s commands. Jesus was baptized as an example to us, His followers, that we too should be baptized.

How Can I Arrange to be Baptized?

First, you must make a personal decision to follow Jesus Christ, and accept his offer of forgiveness of your sins through his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. If you’ve made the decision to follow Christ, we encourage you to tell someone about your decision.

Second, talk with a pastor at Open Door. They would be glad to answer any questions that you may have.

Baptism is typically part of our Sunday morning worship service, but baptisms may be arranged during our other services as well. We would be excited to help you set-up a time to be baptized. Please email Mrs. Kathy Skaggs at kathy@opendooronline.com, and she will help you schedule your baptism.

Remember, life is a journey so plan to take your next step on that journey today.