The Three Facts of Baptism
Baptism tells people you are a Christian — it does not make you one.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Years ago, a woman named Beverly came home from two-and-a-half weeks’ vacation to find a stranger living in her house! The stranger had broken in with a shovel, ripped up the carpet, and replaced Beverly’s pictures with her own. She had the electricity switched over to her name and moved in with her dog. She was even wearing Beverly’s clothes when she was arrested.
Just because someone is living in a house doesn’t make it theirs.
Just because you and I are in church doesn’t mean we’re in Christ. We can be faithful attenders, serve, give, teach Bible studies, and preach sermons, but still be lost spiritually. And we can be baptized and just get wet. Many people think that baptism makes them a Christian.
So, what does the Bible teach?
The risen Christ said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Peter exhorted the Pentecost crowd, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). With this result: “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
When Peter met the Gentile Cornelius and his family, “Then Peter declared, 'Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?' And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10:46-48).
Paul wrote to the Romans, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we, too, might walk in the newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4).
Fact one: Baptism follows faith.
In the Great Commission, “make disciples” precedes “baptizing them.” At Pentecost, “those who received his word were baptized.” The Ethiopian heard the gospel before he was baptized by Philip (Acts 8:34-38). Cornelius received the Spirit before he was baptized; Lydia responded to the gospel before she was baptized (Acts 16:14-15); the Philippian jailer responded to the gospel before he was baptized (Acts 16:29-34).
Fact two: Baptism is for anyone who comes to Christ.
Children can be baptized, if they have trusted in Christ. With the Philippian jailer, after Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house,” they baptized them (Acts 16:32-33). Crispus “believed in the Lord, together with his entire household” before they were baptized (Acts 18:8). Anyone who is old enough to be a “disciple” (Matthew 28:19), who has chosen to follow and obey Jesus as their Lord, is old enough to be baptized. But he or she must come to Christ first. No other requirements exist.
Fact three: Baptism is by immersion.
“Baptize” comes from the Greek word “baptidzo” which means “to dip.” It is found in ancient literature to describe the act of dipping a cup under water, or washing clothes. It simply means to “immerse.” After Jesus was baptized, “he went up from the water” (Matthew 3:16). According to Paul, we have been “buried with him (Jesus Christ) in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God'' (Colossians 2:12).
What does all this mean to us today?
Baptism is an act of obedience, following Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And it is a public proclamation of our faith so that others can follow our example in trusting Christ as their Lord.
If you have not asked Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and become your Savior, you need to make that decision today and then be baptized. Baptism tells people you are a Christian — it does not make you one.
It took very little courage for me to be baptized on a Sunday while in high school. It took a great deal of courage for me to make public my faith in high school on Monday. It still does.
I think of a teenage girl I saw baptized in Malaysia. Her father told her if she was ever baptized as a Christian, she could never go home again. So, she brought her luggage to her baptism.
Used with permission by Global Media Outreach from Jim Denison. You can read Jim’s full article here.
Pray this week:
Lord, help me to live out during the week what I learn from the Bible in church on Sunday. May my water baptism, my words, and my life declare that You are indeed my Savior.
When did it cost you something to make your Sunday baptism public on Monday? There is no greater privilege, responsibility, or joy.