Doing ONE 2 ONE, the chapter on baptism was the most challenging for me to share when I started making disciples. What does it mean for someone to be water baptized? In this continuation to our Back to Basics series, we give tips on sharing about water baptism.
When one of my Ates in church shared with me about water baptism, she told me that we needed to go through it as soon as we were done. She was sharing stories from the Bible where people would get water baptized as soon as they got saved.
I was scared to death because the only body of water near us was a pond in the middle of Carabao Park in U.P. Los Baños—and she wasn’t only going to sprinkle me with water the way I imagined it. She was going to dunk me in filthy water. I made up excuses about why I couldn’t go through it and noticed too late that my normally stoic friend was laughing silently.
Looking back to it now, I realized that the reason I panicked so easily was because I didn’t really understand what water baptism was about and why it’s so important in following Jesus Christ. It probably wasn’t my friend’s fault. Maybe I was too distracted by my grades or my crush or my next hangout at that time.
So, what does it mean for someone who has decided to follow Jesus Christ to be water baptized? Here are two things about water baptism that we can emphasize as we share about it:
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Romans 6:1–4 (NLT)
Water baptism symbolizes our personal decision to turn to God and repent of our old ways. It represents our acknowledgement of our own sinfulness, our inability to save ourselves from it, and our need for a Savior. It signifies our willingness to put our faith on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross instead of on our own efforts to be good and righteous.
Alongside the decision to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is also a decision to die to our sinful ways, so we can be raised again to a new life. This means we surrender our independence so that we can be united with Him. This means we yield our worldview to the truth of God’s word. We rely on the Holy Spirit and ask for grace to live in obedience to God. We are no longer our own but God’s, so we live to honor Him. We are no longer alone; God is with us, so we can rest in the truth that He carries us through trials and challenges. We no longer strive to take control and be self-made; God is our Father, and we can trust in His good, pleasing, and perfect will for our lives.
Just as accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a call for the individual, so is the decision to go through water baptism. However, becoming a follower of Jesus Christ and being united with Him also means that one has become part of His body, the Church. When Jesus Christ called us to Himself, it was also a call to community.
We are designed to walk this faith journey with others. In Acts 2:41, those who received the gospel that was preached through Peter were baptized and were added to the community of believers. Solidarity with church community does not mean we have to agree about everything or that we are always together. You can read this article to understand what it means to be part of a church community!
Water baptism highlights the truth that when Jesus Christ called us to follow Him, it was primarily a call to a relationship with Him that overflows in to our relationship with others. The sacrament of baptism reminds us that we are no longer our own but His, and that is such good news! We are no longer orphans, we are never alone, and we need not rely on our own selves to “make our way in the world.”
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
Galatians 3:26–27 (NLT)
Our Back to Basics series:
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