by Pastor Ben Holden
At Berean, we celebrate the ordinance of baptism at each of our FaithFamily Celebrations. We take baptism seriously. It isn’t something that “gets you into heaven” or makes you a Christian. It is simply a public declaration to the church body (and the world) that one has turned to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior through faith and repentance. In Matthew 3 we see Jesus Himself being baptized, showing us what He has asked us to do to publicly identify ourselves with Him and with the church body.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked us to declare our decision to follow Him in this way? Why do we have to get wet? Why do we have do it in front of the church? Why not just gather people together and share it with a microphone? Why not wear a t-shirt, get a tattoo, or just update our social media profile? The reason is that Jesus wanted His death, burial, and resurrection, and the fact that we have been washed of our sin and are now a new creation in Him to visually be on full display.
Baptism is incredibly symbolic. It is a beautiful picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It shows that we have died to our sins and our old way of life and are now alive to a new life in Jesus. How does it do this?
First, we baptize with water. Water is symbolic of being washed clean. Just like we use water to take a shower or a bath to clean ourselves of dirt and filth, we have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus. His death counts as our death. Therefore, our sin has been payed for and is no longer attached to us. Do the baptism waters actually wash us of our sin? No, but they are symbolic of what the washing we have experienced in Jesus.
Next, the fact that we go under the water (we call this baptism by immersion) is also intentional and symbolic. It demonstrates that Jesus died on the cross (going backwards into the water), was buried (under the water), and rose again (coming up out of the water) giving us the hope and promise of eternal life in Him. When we are baptized, we are showing others what Christ did for us: He died, was buried, and then conquering death, rose again to new life. By Him doing this, we now can have new life in Him. He is the only way for our sins to be washed away and for us to be in a right relationship with God.
It also represents the fact that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, counts as our death, burial, and resurrection. Our sin has been justly dealt with and is attached to us no more. We are a new creation because of what Jesus did for us. When we respond to the gospel through repentance and faith in Jesus, we are a new creation, and we both show and declare this as we come out of the water.
Lastly, it is important for us to do this in the witness of the church body of believers (we call it our FaithFamily). If baptism is to be a public profession and is a picture of what Jesus did and what that means for us, then others need to be able to see it. It is also a way for us to publicly identify ourselves with Christ and His church. By the church body seeing one do this, they are witness to this profession of faith and can welcome them in as one of their own.
Wow, what a incredible thing! Jesus could have asked us to just stand up and tell people, but He asked us to physically bear witness to who He is, what He did for us, and who we are in Him. What a beautiful picture! That is why we take baptism seriously and celebrate every person who comes out of these waters. In Christ we are forever changed!
Parents, let me encourage you to talk about this with your children. Make sure you take them to a FaithFamily Celebration and let them witness believers being baptized. It is a great opportunity to disciple your child and talk about what is taking place and the truth of the gospel. And better yet, if you haven’t taken the step of believer’s baptism, there is no better way to show them what it is all about then to follow in obedience to Jesus and be baptized.
We love walking through the baptism process with people at Berean. Why? Because it isn’t just a bunch of people getting wet. It is a beautiful picture of who Jesus is, what He did for us, and people going from death to life.