A Very Public Identification
This weekend we are privileged to celebrate one of the sacred ceremonies given to the church. But this is not to say that the church invented baptism. Baptism was practiced before the founding of the church. The Jews of ancient times would baptize proselytes to signify the convert’s “cleansed” nature. John the Baptist used baptism to prepare the way of the Lord, requiring everyone, not just Gentiles, to be baptized because everyone needs repentance. However, John’s baptism, signifying repentance, is not the same kind of baptism given to us by Christ, as seen in Acts 18:24–26 and 19:1–7. Christian baptism has a deeper significance.
Baptism is to be done in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit—this is what makes it “Christian” baptism. We ask those considering membership in the body of Christian Fellowship Church to be baptized in this way. When we are saved, we are “immersed” by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, which is the church. First Corinthians 12:13 says, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Baptism by water is a “reenactment” of the baptism by the Spirit.
Christian baptism is the means by which a person makes a public profession of faith and discipleship. In the waters of baptism, a person says, wordlessly, “I confess faith in Christ; Jesus has cleansed my soul from sin, and I now have a new life of sanctification.”
Christian baptism illustrates, in dramatic style, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. At the same time, it also illustrates our death to sin and new life in Christ. As the sinner confesses the Lord Jesus, he dies to sin (Romans 6:11), and is raised to a brand-new life (Colossians 2:12). Being submerged in the water represents our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. Romans 6:4 puts it this way: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Very simply, baptism is an outward testimony of the inward change in a believer’s life. Christian baptism is an act of obedience to the Lord after salvation; although baptism is closely associated with salvation, it is not a requirement to be saved. The Bible shows in many places that the order of events is 1) a person believes in the Lord Jesus and 2) he is baptized. This sequence is seen in Acts 2:41: “Those who accepted [Peter’s] message were baptized.” (see also Acts 16:14–15)
A new believer in Jesus Christ should desire to be baptized as soon as possible. In Acts 8 we see that upon understanding the gospel and baptism, the Ethiopian convert wastes no time in following the Lord’s command. At CFC we even offer a regular online class to aid believers in fully understanding what the Bible teaches about baptism. Our website will keep you informed as well as give you a way to register for this class when you are ready.
Baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Everywhere the gospel is preached, people are to be baptized. As a local church here in Indiana, it is our privilege to celebrate the unity we have with all believers in Christ, not only around the world, but throughout generations. Come prepared to celebrate with us this weekend.