This weekend we’re celebrating baptism. We’re so excited for those being baptized and we’re looking forward to celebrating this spiritual milestone with them. So, why do we at Mission Hills Church think baptism is an important step of faith?
Here are some things we believe about what baptism is and what it isn’t:
Baptism is a step of obedience after repentance
You’ve probably heard what has been called “The Great Commission” where Jesus tasked the church to go into the world to make disciples and to baptize believers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). In the book of Acts, we see the apostles doing just that—sharing the gospel and baptizing believers—as early as Acts 2 and in verse 41 it states that “those who believed were baptized that very day.” We’re not saying that we baptize only because Jesus told the church to, but it is one of the reasons that baptism persists as an important practice for the church and in the life of a follower of Jesus.
Baptism is an act that identifies you with Jesus
Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist, so we follow his example by being baptized (Matthew 3:13-17). Baptism also identifies an individual with Jesus in another way. The act of being baptized—going under the water and then reemerging—symbolizes Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection into new life. When we declare faith in Jesus, we put our old life of sin to death and we are raised to new life in Christ. This is the reason why Paul urges the Romans to turn from their life of sin stating, “We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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 (Romans 6:2-4).”
Baptism is a response to salvation
Baptism isn’t what saves; Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and our faith in his sacrifice on our behalf save us. Baptism is an outward symbol of the inward change that God has already done through the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s a public declaration that Jesus has saved. We should not confuse the symbol with the invisible change that has already occurred. While baptism is an action that is common and even an expected pattern in Acts, there are some individuals — like the man crucified next to Jesus — who expressed faith but were not baptized. However, like the Ethiopian man with whom Philip shared the gospel in Acts 8, those who believed seemed eager to be baptized.
Baptism is not something you need to repeat because of sin
Maybe you were baptized in the past, but you feel like you’ve messed up too badly or that you haven’t been walking with God for a while. You don’t need to be re-baptized to return to God and begin following him again. In 1 John 1:9 we find this promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” The act of baptism is not a substitute for continued confession and repentance. As you seek to follow Jesus each day, you’re going to sin, but God knew that when he saved you. God has provided grace through faith so we don’t need to try to earn his forgiveness.
If you have faith in Jesus, but have not been baptized, we want to encourage you to take that step of faith this weekend at any of our weekend services.