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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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To be baptised is to be dipped in water or have water splashed over you by a church leader. It is an acknowledgement of having repented of sin and having received Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Baptism is the initiation ceremony of entering the Christian church. Though it is a physical action it is associated with a spiritual reality. It is like signing on the dotted line of a contract, a declaration by three parties, God by His Holy Spirit, the one being baptised and the church who baptises. It affirms that the person involved has come to faith.
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Baptism is publicly saying yes to God. It is a process that has been connected with following Jesus since the very beginning of the Christian faith.
Jesus had people baptised by His disciples when He was ministering on earth. Baptism existed in Judaism as a means of bringing people into the Jewish religion. John the Baptist introduced a Baptism for repentance to Jewish people wanting to make a new start with God. In this way he prepared the way for Jesus. After His death and Resurrection Jesus gave this command in Matthew 28
Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,* baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
At the time when John the Baptist was baptising people Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith also went to be baptised. Matthew 3.
Matthew 3:13-17 13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to talk him out of it. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?"
15 But Jesus said, "It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.*" So John agreed to baptize him.
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened* and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy."
Originally Baptism was always to submerge a person in water while declaring, “I Baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This was later developed to include sprinkling water to enable those who were too sick to be baptised. Then in some churches the sprinkling became the accepted norm.
A further development has been the baptism of infants. The basis for this is to maintain a unity within both families and communities. In this form it is understood that the child is not making a promise to commit to Christ, but others speak on the child’s behalf with an expectation that through upbringing they will later make the commitment themselves.
In some churches the act of Baptism is the point at which God receives a person and they receive the Holy Spirit, in other churches Baptism is a declaration that a person has made a commitment to Christ and is a Christian.
A sacrament is a physical action that is linked to a spiritual reality. The most readily understandable sacrament is marriage. Through promises made before witnesses, a couple become one person before God. The sacrament of Baptism is a physical action that links to the spiritual reality of becoming a Christian.
When one agrees to go into the water with someone to be baptised there is a question presented - Am I committed to this? Just as signing on the dotted line is a simple action with potentially huge ramifications, so Baptism is saying yes to Jesus and all that comes with Him. Paul teaches on Baptism. Colossians 2 and Peter in 1 Peter 3:20-31.
Colossians 2:12-13 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.
1 Peter 3:20 God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.*21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from* a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Over the ages teaching about Baptism in churches has moved around. There have been times when it was considered so important that salvation was dependent on the action. There have been times when it is considered optional. Two examples have significance. The Philippian jailor, because it shows a group being baptised. Cornelius because he was Baptised after conversion.
Acts 10: 44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message.45 The Jewish believers* who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too.46 For they heard them speaking in other tongues* and praising God.
Then Peter asked,47 "Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?"48 So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.
Acts 16: 29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.30 Then he brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household."32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
Page appears in Bible Explorer titled - Baptism
WHAT IS BAPTISM?