The subject of baptism is a basic Christian teaching that is not often dealt with in a typical devotional. During many years of public ministry, I have encountered numerous believers who have never been baptized. Many would give a clear testimony of their love and commitment to Christ but have never taken the time to get baptized. So in this devotional I want to address the importance of believer’s baptism.
Why is Baptism important?
Baptism is commanded in Scripture as an act of obedience. One of the last commands Jesus gave the disciples before his ascension to heaven was to make disciples and then baptize the new believers. (Matthew 28:19). When Peter preached to the large crowd on the day of Pentecost, it is recorded that 3,000 believed on Jesus and were immediately baptized.
Baptism was the practice throughout the New Testament when new converts believed on Jesus as the only way to heaven.
What is the purpose of Baptism?
Baptism has always been one of the key indicators that someone has believed on Jesus and His finished work on the cross for their salvation. Baptism has nothing to do with salvation but it is an indicator that one has believed and committed their life to Christ.
Baptism is an outward act of an inward decision. It is a public declaration that someone is confessing their faith in Christ. Baptism doesn’t save us but it merely tells the world who we now intend to follow.
Here in North America baptism is an accepted form of religious activity and even socially acceptable. But in some countries public baptism means a death sentence. Years of ministering in regions where there is open hostility toward Christians has brought a new reverence toward believer’s baptism.
One interesting thing with a Muslim or a Hindu who becomes a believer, the family rejection usually occurs when they are publicly baptized. It’s a public statement that they are committing their life to a new God and leaving the old god behind. I have spoken to many of these converts personally, and baptism is the event that fosters personal persecution. It is telling the community and family I have cut the ties with my old false god and I am now following the one true God.
Talking with and observing these committed followers of Jesus firsthand have reminded me of the importance of making a public declaration of our faith through baptism. I am now more convinced than ever that the devil will do whatever he can to prevent a believer from baptism.
What will Baptism do for use?
It will give you peace and a sense of relief that you have obeyed God.
It will help you deal with pride. Pride is one of the most hindering aspects of submitting to baptism. By submitting to public baptism you are humbling yourself and making yourself vulnerable. The Scripture says, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He shall exalt you.”(1 Peter 5:6)
It will allow you to be an example to others who are watching you. Social scientist teach that every person influences at least five people at any given time. Those who are leaders will influence many more than that. It says to others, I am willing to admit that I have the need of God in my life and I am willing to make a public statement that I am giving my life to Him.
It will get you in the game. Most fence-sitters are never committed enough to make any difference in their lives or in the lives of those they influence. There is a consistent factor that I have observed; Believers who procrastinate about baptism never fully get in the game. Remember, God chooses to use those who are fully obedient.
Who should be baptized?
The obvious answer is those who have never been baptized since they trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is interesting to note that most all of those who trusted Christ in the New Testament were baptized immediately. Baptism was something that was practiced soon after salvation to new converts.
What about those who were baptized as an infant? Infant baptism is more of a dedication of the baby’s life; it is not believer’s baptism. How can an infant profess his faith in Christ when he can’t even communicate?
Secondly, those who may have confessed Christ earlier in life and were baptized but as they got older they strayed from serving God. Does that mean that the earlier baptism is no good? No, it does not, but when someone has strayed from the Lord for years, re-baptism helps them to ink down that re-commitment to serving God.
I have re-baptized many people over the years not because they had to be re-baptized but because they had strayed from the Lord so long, the re-baptism helped them seal that re-commitment. Of all those I re-baptized not one has ever said they regretted the decision, but all were glad that they took that step.
Thirdly, baptism is for those who have major doubts about a commitment they made years earlier. I have met those who made a decision to follow Christ when they were a young child or a teenager, but nothing really changed in their life. Now that they are older, they get assurance of their salvation and sense a need to seal that commitment by baptism.
Baptism is a foundational truth and very basic to becoming a productive and obedient follower of Christ. If it is something you are contemplating then I hope this has been a helpful reminder. If not, perhaps this will be a refresher that the Lord will use to help you encourage someone else.