Whether you’ve been following Jesus for a few years or you’ve just started to follow him, at some point you will have heard about Jesus’ command to be baptised. My objective in this blog is not to discuss the various intricacies of differing views and practices with regard to baptism. I want to lay out the three reasons why I think the Bible teaches that we should be baptised.
- Jesus did it – Matt 3
From the very start of Jesus’ ministry we see that baptism was a significant part of a person’s journey of faith. In Matthew chapter 3 we read of John the Baptist, who baptised those who responded to his message with regard to the kingdom of God.
Our practice as a church follows the model set by Jesus, and the example set by the Apostles in early church practice as seen in Acts and Paul’s letters to the churches he planted. In Jesus’ baptism we see that he is identified as God’s Son and as such he has God’s approval. Jesus was baptised to fulfil all righteousness as spoken through the Old Testament prophets. Although Jesus had no need to repent, through his baptism he identified with those he came to save, which he accomplished through his death and resurrection. So, in baptism we identify with Jesus as our saviour and hope.
2. Jesus commanded it – Matt 28:16-20
When we come to faith in Jesus having accepted his invitation to follow him, he becomes both our Lord and Saviour. Within our culture there isn’t a great desire to be submitted authority, and in fact some would actively kick against it. If you’ve come to faith you won’t have a problem acknowledging your need of a saviour from your sin, as this realisation is the very thing that brings you to Jesus. What you may struggle with is doing what Jesus says! I say this somewhat hesitantly, as you may not struggle with this at all! As a follower of Jesus your life belongs to Christ (Romans 1:6; Galatians 5:24), therefore as a demonstration of love for him and as a response to his grace in saving us we need to follow in his ways. This demonstration of love is not a fuzzy feeling or poetic words, but it is shown through our actions.
So, when Jesus tells his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples and to baptise them (in the same way John baptised Jesus by full immersion), it wasn’t the great suggestion but the great commission. Jesus fully expected new believers to be baptised. Therefore, baptism is an appropriate response to Jesus’ command and a powerful declaration that you belong to Jesus.
3. God is glorified through it – Col 2:12
So, if baptism is a response to Jesus’ example and command how is God glorified through its effects? Eugene Peterson in The Message puts the effects of baptism this way:
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country. Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. (Romans 6:3-8, The Message).
The act of baptism tells the good news message of Jesus; what we could not do for ourselves, no matter how hard we tried, Jesus did for us! Through Jesus we are brought to life through the Spirit and restored to relationship with the Father. God – Father, Son and Spirit is glorified in our obedience to die to ourselves and live for him.
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