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Foundation Topic

What Is Baptism?

Baptism is a public expression of a new identity. It’s a celebration Jesus commands each of his followers to experience. It is a symbol to the church and the world, and a gift of God to the individual.

Related Topics
What's on this page?

Gaining a new identity

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change.
The believer shows that he or she is a child of God.

Theme Verse
MATTHEW 28:18-20 NIV

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Short Content

What Is Baptism and Why Does It Matter?

Genuine excitement seldom goes unannounced. If something significant happens in your life, you tell someone.

Often our greatest announcements in life are tied to our identity. Birthdays, engagements, marriages, promotions, baby announcements, all say something about who we are. We’re a teen now, or an adult, or a fiancé, or a wife, or a dad, and the list goes on.

In our age more than ever, it seems like everyone waves one flag or another—sometimes literally. We’re great at proclaiming who we are. We trumpet what’s important to us. And what we choose to identify with says something about what we value.

Something really exciting has happened to every believer in Jesus. So God commands that every believer in Jesus announce it to the world through baptism, because baptism tells a story and serves as a blessing to God’s people.

When God saves you from your sin, the most significant thing in your life happens. Jesus does something incredible for you: he gives you a new identity.

The Bible calls it “new birth” (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3; James 1:18). God now identifies you as a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:7), names you a “child of God” (John 1:12), and tells you that you “belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6; Galatians 5:24). You have a new heart, a renewed mind, and God’s companionship through the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 1:13).

You are considered a citizen of the kingdom of light, rescued from the kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13). This kingdom is now your eternal destiny, the King your greatest delight, and his kingdom goals your sole pursuit.

If this change truly happened in your life, you will be excited. Fundamentally, your entire identity has changed. You are a whole new person according to God’s Word—the old you is considered dead and gone. The new you is the you that will exist forever.

It would be absolutely unnatural to leave this unannounced.

Jesus knows this, and he commanded that we tell the world what he has done for us in a symbolic act—baptism.

Baptism is being totally immersed under water and coming out of it again, in the name of the God of the Bible: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Baptism is the very first thing Jesus asks us to do when we begin following him. So for genuine Christians, baptism isn’t an option. It’s also not a light matter.

In places around the world, followers of Jesus are often put to death shortly after this public act. Even in safer places, such spiritual flag-waving may bring on ridicule, cause loss of relationships, or hatred by people who don’t believe in Jesus.

But friend, the safest place you could be is soaking wet, identifying with Jesus, because Jesus says, “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32 ESV).

To belong to Jesus Christ is the greatest identity anyone could ask for, because Jesus is the greatest treasure worth the loudest trumpeting.

What better thing to get excited about? What better thing to proclaim?

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FROM THE EDITOR

Please Note

People often describe themselves as credo-baptist or paedo-baptist. Credo-baptists believe it is biblical to only baptize believers in Jesus old enough to confess their faith, while paedo-baptists believe it is biblical to baptize infant members of Christian households. This is one of those matters the Bible leaves to our conscience. Our team, our resources, and genuine Christians all around the world include people from both convictions. For now, this page focusses on “believer’s baptism,” because we assume that those who come to this page have recently come to know Jesus and thus questions about infant baptism may not apply to them. In a later phase, we will address infant baptism, and the biblical grounds for why many practice it.

What Is Baptism?
Definition

What Is Baptism?

Baptism is a believer’s act of publicly committing him or herself to Christ and his people by being immersed in water.
Video: 2 Min
by J.I. Packer at Crossway

Praise & Worship

Come to the Water

by Matt Maher, John Foley, and S.J.
Video: 12 Min
by Alistair Begg at Truth for Life
Verse
Acts 2:37-39 ESV

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Article: 10 Min

How Baptism Changes Our Status

Contributed by Our Friends at Crossway

Why Baptism?
Video: 5 Min
by Dustin Maust

Folk | Country Gospel

The Love of Jesus

by Jeremy Zeyl
Article: 12 Min

The Exodus and Christian Baptism

by David C. Smith at The Village Church

Messages: 36 Min

Baptism

by Colin Smith

Hymns

There Is A Fountain

by Shane & Shane
Quote

Baptism does not save a person,
but Jesus means for his saved individuals
to publicly identify
with him and his people.
It’s one piece of how his citizens become official.
It’s how they wave the flag.

Verse
Romans 6:1-4 NIV

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 

Image

If you confess
with your mouth
that
Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart
that God raised him
from the dead,
you will be saved.

Romans 10:9 ESV

Folk | Country Gospel

The Good Confession

by Andrew Peterson
Verse
Colossians 2:11-14 NLT

When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 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. 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. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.

Video: 2 Min

Hymns

Nothing But the Blood

by Christ For The Nations Worship feat. Hannah Holland
Should I Get Baptized?
Article: 12 Min

3 Good Reasons to Be Baptized

by Bobby Jamieson at Crossway

Image

For as many of you as
were baptized into Christ
have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:27 ESV

Praise & Worship

Grace Like Rain

by Todd Agnew
Quote

To submit to baptism in this way is the
first step of an obedient life,
and it is a token then of
our commitment to be
obedient to Jesus in everything.

Contemporary

Dive

by Steven Curtis Chapman
Video: 2 Min
by David Platt at Radical
Verse
1 John 5:2 ESV

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

Video: 5 Min
Article: 7 Min

Baptism and Persecution: The Cost of Following Jesus

by Nik Ripken at World Help

Quote

Getting wet is the easiest command
Jesus gave us to follow.
It only gets harder from there.

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