What is Baptism? Who is Baptism For?

September 15, 2021

With 56 baptisms happening this past weekend (to the glory of God!) and even more planned for next weekend, I thought it would be good to cover the 2 most basic questions about baptism. First, what is baptism, and second, who is baptism for?

What is Baptism?

Baptism is a physical sign of a spiritual reality. It is the public declaration of our salvation. We are saved by putting our faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He paid for our sin on the cross and through faith, we can join him in the newness of life. This is the spiritual reality that baptism pictures physically. We go under the water to signify our old life dying and come out of the water to signify our new life in Christ. In this way, we put the Gospel on display. In baptism, we are very much identifying and displaying what Jesus did to save us. Romans says it like this, Romans 6:3-4  “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.”  

Who is Baptism For?

Baptism is for anyone who becomes a follower of Christ. If we trust Jesus for salvation we should get in the water as a declaration. One pastor I know said it like this, “baptism is the declaration of faith.” At Mercy Hill, we take this seriously. When we put the call out for people to get saved it is almost always coupled with an opportunity to be baptized. I am not saying we never raise hands or fill out cards, but baptism is really the way a new believer comes forward. Baptism should be the first step of obedience in the life of a new believer.

Baptism should be the first step of obedience in the life of a new believer.

The pages of the book of Acts are filled with this testimony. Take Lydia for example, Acts 16:13-15  “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well…” 

In sum, baptism is a public declaration of someone’s faith in Jesus. It is a little bit like putting on the uniform because you are excited to be on the team. Can someone be on the team without wearing the uniform? I guess they could. But the better question is, why would anyone want to do that? Or take another example of marriage. Can someone be married without wearing a wedding ring? Of course. But when most people find the love of their life, they are overjoyed to display their marital status to the world. Baptism is a little bit that way. So, if God has been working in your life over the last few months and has saved you, don’t delay your baptism. Or if he saved you a long time ago, but you were never baptized, don’t wait any longer. The time for obedience is always now. You can let us know about your decision or get in touch with someone by contacting us here.

-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)

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