Christianity Explained, 6 - Baptism
Here is the Sixth part of the Christianity Explained study in a question-verse-answer format as described in the introduction.
Someone asks the question, and someone then reads the bible verse, ideally aloud, to then discuss the answer between them - the written answer is only read afterwards to tie together.
Every new Christian needs to be baptised as soon as possible, ideally straight after becoming a Christian. A good example in the bible is when Philip was explaining the gospel to Eunoch whilst travelling in a chariot; he became a Christian and they stopped the chariot to baptise him in some water that they saw (Acts 8:35-39).
Baptism comes from the Greek Word ‘baptizo’ which signifies the dyeing of a garment from one colour to another, and being fully submerged in the dye in order to accomplish this. It’s what you call ‘immersion’ baptism, as in someone goes fully under water for a short while and back up again.
Usually you have baptism pools in churches to do this with one or two people standing to help people quickly go under, but then more importantly soon back up again. It’s a bit like being in the shallow end of a swimming pool, and although people usually stand and pivot backwards with the water, there can be easier ways like sitting on your knees and bending forward onto the water.
Whatever method it is, it’s fully under the water, and also only for adults or youth who have already made a decision to become a Christian. There’s lots of examples in the New Testament of people being baptised, including Jesus Himself;
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him." - Matthew 3:13-15
“Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." - Acts 8:13
Question - Who Did Jesus Says Needs to be Baptised?
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" - Matthew 28:18-19
And Jesus mentions that all new believers must be baptised as part of his famous Great Commission telling the disciples what to do just before he ascended back into heaven.
The important thing to realise about being baptised is that it doesn’t actually make you a Christian; that’s already happened,however, this is an important step to then show that and obey what Christ told us to do.
It’s a kind of mark for a whole new life as a Christian following Jesus Christ, and a good comparison is a wedding. This is a special day that firstly expresses publically before God and people that two people are now getting married; they have already met and will love each other, the wedding day is just expressing the love that is already there.
And secondly, they are committing their lives to each other for evermore, so their future married life is a whole new chapter together; the wedding day is the important first day celebrating this.
Of course a wedding is all about a different romantic love, whereas with God it is a different love, but a similar principle in that we’ve already received salvation from Jesus Christ, and we’re now expressing it to everyone, and committing the rest of our lives to Him.
Question - What Must You Do Before Being Baptised?
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." - Acts 2:38
There are two important halves to baptism, the first being when you go under the water. This represents your old life and sins that you have now repented of.
Christ then says that these sins and old ways are now gone, which He dealt with and paid for when He died. So this immersion is symbolising this burial of old ways by believing and accepting Christ’s sacrifice when you first become a Christian.
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin." - Romans 6:3-7
Question - What Have You Received When You Become a Christian?
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." - John 5:24
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." -2 Corinthians 5:17
The second half is when you come back up from the water, which represents your now new-life ‘in Christ’ and receiving everlasting life. This came about by true belief in Christ through His Word after repentance, and then being ‘born again’ as a new person from the inside out.
Question - What Does True Faith Then Require?
“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” - James 2:18-20
This baptism doesn’t actually make you a Christian or give you faith, but expresses it and puts your newfound faith into action to show that it’s real.
After you have been baptised then you’re now committing to walk rightly and to follow Christ. We have a good-conscience, and God blesses your act of obedience just like two people seeking God’s blessings on their new married-life on their wedding day.
Question - What Do We Feel Towards God After Baptism?
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" -1 Peter 3:21
We will have a peace and clear conscience after being baptised, and therefore, it's important to walk rightly, seek God in His Word and prayer, and have good supportive fellowship with close Christian friends for the immediate days and weeks afterwards.
There is also another Holy Spirit baptism that needs to then follow, separate to this first water baptism. Whilst the first one is done to symbolise your salvation, where you’ll have then already received the Holy Spirit inside of you when you become a Christian beforehand, this second one gives permission and asks Jesus to express the Holy Spirit through you to now have the power to live out all that Christ has called you to be.
Ideally these two water and Spirit baptisms are both at the same time, as soon as possible.
Question - As Well as Baptism by Water, What Else Are We Baptised With?
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” - Matthew 3:11
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” - Acts 1:8
Finally, just on the practicalities, make sure you enjoy the day. Baptism services at church are one of the best you’ll come across, as in you’re seeing and hearing real-life stories of people becoming Christians and how their lives have now changed for the better.
Wider family and friends are often there, and you can soon work around practicalities of what clothes to wear and how to get dry afterwards.