What’s the Big Deal about Baptism?
One of the exciting aspects of EFCCL is that we have so many people from various backgrounds in our church. This keeps things exciting and challenging all at once. In this blog, I will attempt to clarify why baptism is such a big deal at our church.
First of all, the original Greek word in the New Testament (for our English word “baptism”), is the word baptizo, which was a common word used in a number of contexts. For example, it was used for someone drowning, or for a ship sinking, or for a garment being fully immersed in dye. It’s interesting that this is the word the Holy Spirit used to describe the practice the church was to adopt in the first century. The closest English synonym we have for the Greek word baptizo is “immersion.”
So what’s up with baptism? The answer boils down to one word: obedience. Jesus commands Christians to identify in the waters of baptism. Since the word itself means “to go under,” baptism means to be covered over with water (in a lake, baptismal tank, river, pool etc.). The Bible teaches that baptism by immersion is a public announcement that a person has committed their life to Jesus Christ. In this sense, is it similar to a graduation ceremony in high school or college. The ceremony itself does not make the person a graduate.
The ceremony is simply a time to publicly declare what has happened behind the scenes—namely, that a person has undergone four years of education. No one would say that the public act alone was the reality. The reality had occurred behind the scenes! Likewise, baptism is a time to declare that something important has happened, and that “something” is surrender to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Bible never commands us to be baptized to be saved. Rather, baptism is commanded of us once we have become a Christian! Listen to how clearly the Bible sets forth the order: repentance first, then baptism.
“Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38).
“Those who accepted his message were baptized . . .” (Acts 2:41).
“When they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God…they were baptized” (Acts 8:12).
The pattern throughout the New Testament is: 1) private commitment and then 2) public announcement. Jesus always calls a person to go public once they have made a commitment to Him, and the first step in going public is that of baptism. That is why I believe the Bible teaches “Believers Baptism” (actually it is technically “believer” baptism, in the singular) and not “Infant Baptism.”
Probably one of the most exciting aspects of our baptisms are the live testimonies of believers as they share how they came to know Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus and have not been baptized, it’s never to late to be obedient!
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor