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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

What is the Meaning of Baptism, and Why is it necessary?

Updated: Jan 9

So, you’ve gotten saved. Jesus has radically changed your life and saved you from your sins. Now, you’re starting to hear about this next step called baptism. You probably know it involves getting in water, but what makes it such a big deal? Why is baptism important? Why should you get baptized? Read Matthew 28:18-20 to see what Jesus had to say about baptism:

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”

So, the clearest reason you should get baptized is because Jesus said so! Jesus’ final words to his followers, or disciples, was that they should make more disciples, baptize them, and teach them God’s commandments. This means that if you’re serious about being a follower of Jesus, you’ll be serious about inviting other people to follow Jesus, getting baptized, and doing what He says. John 2 records Jesus’ first miracle of turning the water into wine. In the account, Mary asks Jesus to do the miracle then looks at the servants and says, “Do whatever He tells you.” For the Christian, those are words to live by. “Do whatever He tells you.” Really, it’s key to our happiness, peace, joy…to a fruitful life. If we can simply live our lives surrendered to the idea that we’re going to do whatever Jesus tells us, we will enjoy His blessing.

What is the meaning of baptism?

Baptism symbolizes our death and resurrection with Christ

Why is baptism important? What, exactly, does it do? Read Romans 6:4 to see what the Apostle Paul had to say about the meaning of baptism.

"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."

Paul says that baptism is symbolic of being buried with Christ in His death and raised with Christ in His resurrection. When you got saved, you died to your old life and were brought to a new life in Christ. In John 3, Jesus called it being born again. He said, “If you want to see the Kingdom of God, you must be born again.”

Obviously, Jesus wasn’t talking about being physically reborn. If you’re a Christian, you’ve been born again, but you’re still the same age. No doubt, your attitudes and desires have changed, but you still look the same. You didn’t actually turn into a baby again. The work that Christ did in your life was on the inside. It’s a spiritual work.

Just like you can see the effects of the wind but you can’t actually see the wind, you can see the effects of someone who has been spiritually reborn but it’s not something you can physically see. Baptism is an outward symbol to everyone looking on of what Christ did on the inside. It’s a public testimony that you have died to your old life and have been raised to walk in newness of life.

What does being baptized mean?

Baptism is an outward sign of an inward work. That means another important reason to be baptized is because it is a public testimony to the world that you are a follower of Jesus. Read Acts 2:41 to see what happened when Jesus’ disciples followed His instructions.

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

The early church grew by leaps and bounds as literally thousands of new believers testified publicly about their new life in Christ through baptism. For the early church, it was illegal to be a Christian, so it came at quite a risk to publicly testify that they were a follower of Jesus. In fact, early Christians were imprisoned, tortured, and persecuted.

Hebrews 11:35-38 tells us, “Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated —of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Your life may or may not look exactly like it did for the early Christians, but there might be challenges for you too. Are you willing to join this band of brothers and sisters “of whom the world was not worthy” and boldly proclaim to the world that you are a follower of Jesus?

How to Learn More About Baptism

Check out the Baptism Challenge. I don't offer this as a stand-alone Bible study, but I'd encourage every small church pastor to get this for their congregation before your next Baptism Sunday.

Baptism Challenge Workbook

Speaking of Baptism Sundays, I have a post all about how to plan a meaningful one. And if your church doesn't have a baptistry, then how about building your very own portable baptistry?

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