This morning is an exciting time of celebration as we learn about what water baptism is and put it into action! For those getting baptized, I would like to congratulate you as you’ve not only accepted Christ’s salvation, but are also being obedient by this act declaring death to your old self and ways as you walk into a new life lead by His Spirit!
What is baptism?
The word for baptize in the Greek is the word baptizo, which literally means to immerse or submerge.
There are two different baptisms that we find in scripture; water baptism and the fire baptism of the Holy Spirit. This morning our focus, of course, is on water baptism. We find people being baptized in scripture with John the baptist, the cousin of Jesus, water baptizing people in the Jordan river. He proclaimed that he was preparing the way for the coming savior by calling all to repent and to be forgiven of their sins.
For this reason, we water baptize individuals when they first put their faith in Jesus as well as situations where one turns away from their faith and recommits their lives to Him.
Mark 1:4 (NLT)
John the Baptist was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
We find in Luke 3 that Jesus Himself, as an example for us, came to be baptized by John. Here we also learn of the second type of baptism that we find in scripture; the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus received them both simultaneously, and you may as well.
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
As John the Baptist explained, water baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. It is a way to show others the change that has happened inside of us. As we fall back in submersion into the water, we symbolize the death of our flesh and our old selves and we rise out of submersion to symbolize that we have risen to life by His Spirit as a new creation – cleansed and righteous in God’s sight.
We normally immerse or submerge our bodies into water for the purpose of bathing; washing the dirt off so that we are clean. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3 that we water baptize not for the removal of the dirt from our bodies, but as a pledge of a clear conscience toward God. Again, it is a pledge showing to others of our salvation – that our sins have been forgiven and our conscience is now cleared.
Since baptism is symbolic of a conscious decision that one has made to place their faith in Christ’s salvation, we choose to baptize only those old enough to make this decision and do not baptize infants. We do, however, encourage parents to have their children dedicated as we see in scripture, which is a commitment on behalf of the parents to raise their children in the Lord.
Why do we baptize?
Jesus not only did so Himself, but also commanded that we do it! We also see baptism occurring on a regular basis throughout the early church as individuals gave their lives to Christ.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
What should one expect to have happen when being baptized?
The experience of each individual’s baptism varies. Some may feel nothing different than being wet, some feel the strong presence of the Lord around them, some feel a sense of refreshing and newness, some physically feel the weight and burden of their sins being washed away. No matter what feelings you may experience, know in faith that by your faith in the blood shed by Jesus and His resurrection back to life, that you have been cleansed of your sins and are a new creation in Him.
How do we baptize?
For those choosing to be baptized today, you will:
1. Descend the steps into the baptismal
2. I’ll ask if you have placed your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins
3. You’ll agree and I also encourage you to share a short testimony of your salvation
4. You’ll cross your arms over your chest and we’ll place our hands on your back and arms
5. I’ll baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
6. You’ll lay back into the water
7. We’ll lift you up out of the water
8. You may share a short testimony again at this time if you’d like
9. Ascend the steps to exit the baptismal