Baptism is one of the most meaningful moments in the life of a disciple. Unfortunately, various perversions have caused many to deny its necessity and significance in salvation and regeneration. Christ’s Apostles and Prophets repeatedly and beautifully point to baptism as a keystone element to Christian living. Until we appreciate the nature of baptism, we cannot live a full life in Christ.
We should take a moment to reflect on what baptism is before talking about its life-changing significance. A few elements are critical for a genuine, Biblical, Christ-ordained baptism.
- Baptism literally means an immersion or submersion in water. Sprinkling or pouring of water does not qualify.
- Baptism is for sinners–adults who are responsible for, able, and willing to repent of their sins with faith in Christ (Acts 2:38).
- Baptism is the moment a person comes “in[to] Christ” (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:11-12). The Bible does not approve of baptisms into a church, nor is baptism a ceremony conducted after someone supposedly comes into a relationship with Christ through some other mode.
- Baptism is meaningless without confessed faith in the grace of God provided through the Gospel of Christ (Acts 8:35-40; Ephesians 2:8-10).
That’s what baptism is. But what is the significance for those who have been baptized into Christ? What does (or could) baptism mean for you?
#1 Baptism means your sins are washed away. (Acts 22:16)
When the Apostle Paul recounted his conversion from sinner to saint, he said he was told to “Arise, and be baptized.” Why? “And wash away your sins, calling on [Christ’s] name.” Before coming into Christ you are a sinner, condemned, apart from God’s gracious, life-giving presence. But once you come into Christ at baptism, you are graciously afforded forgiveness by His blood (Acts 2:36-39). He washes away your sins. You have a fresh start, a clean slate. Since you are baptized into Him, you constantly have access to forgiveness when you sin (1 John 1:5-2:2) So many people struggle with guilt, but those who are baptized in Christ no longer are chained down by the sins of their past. All of that has been washed away in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb.
#2 Baptism means you have a new life. (Romans 6:1-11)
Baptism isn’t just the moment you get off the hook for past misdeeds. Baptism directly affects your daily living. Paul explains that baptism is the moment a person is buried with Christ (sharing in His death) and raised up with Him (sharing in His resurrection life). Baptism is a reenactment of the Gospel and as such it orients the character and behavior of disciples. Once you have been baptized into Christ it makes no sense for you to continue to live like the world, carrying out the sinful deeds of the flesh. You have taken on Christ and immersed your life in His. Baptism means you have a new life, and you should live like it!
#3 Baptism means you are part of God’s Family. (Galatians 3:24-29)
More and more today people are burdened with feelings of isolation and loneliness. Baptism into Christ provides a life-changing basis for relational confidence because those who are baptized have the most important relationship any person could attain. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Anyone who wants the love of the Father in Heaven and His Family can have it. Everyone who has been baptized into Christ already does.
#4 Baptism means you are freed from the world. (Colossians 2:11-3:4)
It is the natural gravitational pull to let your worldview, daily mentality, and behaviors to be captivated by the world. Sometimes we see nothing that separates us from all the evil around us. Baptism is the demarcation line that reminds and assures us that “you have been raised with Christ…your life is now hidden with Christ.” You don’t have to be enslaved to a corrupt world if you give your life to Christ in baptism.
#5 Baptism means you are saved. (1 Peter 3:21)
Sins washed away. A new life and renewed lifestyle. A place at the table in God’s holy family. Freedom from the evil and destruction of the world. Like Peter said, “Baptism now saves you.”
If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, dying with Him in baptism is a necessary starting point (Matthew 16:24-26, 28:18-20). What’s holding you back? Let Him take over your life and give you an even better one than you could have ever lived on your own.