What is Baptism?

What is Baptism?

Are you or your children considering getting baptized? Maybe you have been a believer for a long time but haven’t ever undergone baptism, or you might be a new believer interested to learn what this ordinance is all about. The following section from Living Hope’s new booklet ‘Preparing for Baptism’ will help you understand its meaning and significance. 

What is baptism? Let’s start with a robust definition.

Baptism is a deeply symbolic act, whereby believers demonstrate faith in the Triune God and their union with Christ. By going under the water, believers identify with the death of Christ to wash away sins, and by coming up out of the water they identify with Christ’s resurrection from the dead to walk in new life. 

Let’s take a closer look at this definition. 

  1. It is a deeply symbolic act. Similar to the Lord’s Supper, Jesus took an everyday act (in that case, eating a meal) and infused it with deep spiritual meaning (Matt. 26:21-25; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). In baptism, Jesus takes the act of physical washing and gives it deep spiritual meaning: we are washed clean of our sins!
  1. Faith in the Triune God. Christians believe that God is Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus commands believers to be baptized in the name of the triune God (Matt. 28:19). This reminds us that we are identifying with the God revealed in the Bible, not a vague concept of a god we’ve created.
  1. Union with Christ. By faith we are ‘connected’ to Christ. We are in him and he is in us. Through this connection to Christ, we receive all the blessings of his saving work. We now belong to Christ and are part of his kingdom. 
  1. Wash away sins. We are united with Christ in his death, meaning our old life of sin is crucified with him. The penalty for all our sins has been paid. We are washed clean of guilt before God and are pure in his sight. We baptize by immersion (completely under the water) partially to demonstrate that we are fully clean before God.

    Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
  1. Walk in newness of life. We are united with Christ in his resurrection. Just as Christ rose from the dead, so do we, both now and in the future (for more on the future bodily resurrection, see 1 Corinthians 15). From now on our lives are patterned after Jesus and in obedience to him (see Romans 6:6-11). And when Christ returns, we will have a bodily resurrection. 

With all of that in mind, here is a simple definition to consider:

Baptism is the way believers show that they belong to God by faith in Jesus, and that they have forgiveness and new life in him. 

Baptism is a way a believer says to everyone…

  • ‘I have faith in Christ.’ He is my Savior, Teacher, and King!  I trust him to make me right with God.
  • ‘I belong to God.’ He is my Creator and Father. He loves me, and because of Christ I get to be with him forever and receive all his good promises.
  • ‘I am forgiven of my sins.’ I am a sinner, which means I disobey God. But God has rescued me from the punishment I deserve and forgiven me for all my sins in Christ. 
  • ‘I have new life.’ God has given me eternal life. I live with God and for God, now and forever. 

Does that describe you or your children? If you are interested in being baptized at LHC, we encourage you to reach out to one of our elders to set up a time to meet. 

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