WHAT DOES WATER BAPTISM MEAN?
Water baptism is the outward expression of the change that has taken place in the life of a believer. It shows the world that the old self is gone and that the new creation has come to be.
Romans 6:1-7 gives us a vivid illustration of just what water baptism symbolizes:
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
There are two sides to baptism shown here:
1. Death to sin and the old life
This is represented by going down into the water. We see this idea of death to sin throughout Scripture:
- Romans 6:6-7, 11-12, 14
- Romans 8:10
- 1 Peter 2:24
Romans 6:6-7 says that our old self was crucified with Christ - His crucifixion became part of our history. Why? So that our sin nature should be done away with - we no longer have to be enslaved to sin.
Dying to sin does not mean that we never face temptation or struggle with sin again. Romans 7 gives a great example of a great man of God, Paul, who still struggled with sin. It does mean, however, that we are no longer defined by our sin and our sin does not control us.
2. New Life
New life is represented by the coming out of the water, having been washed clean.
- Romans 6:4
- 1 Peter 2:24
The Christian experience is about more than just the forgiveness of sins, but a transformed life. When someone is raised out of the water it shows the world that not only is the old self done away with, but the new self has come into existence.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Am I still a Christian if I do not get water baptized?
A: Yes. Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8, Acts 16:30-31), so baptism is not an issue of salvation. It is, however, a step we take in obedience to the Word of God and a declaration of our faith.
2. Can Infants be water baptized?
A: We believe Scripture is clear that baptism is the “next step” after making the decision to give your life to Christ. Being that an infant cannot make that decision, baptism should be reserved for those able to decide to follow Jesus.
3. When should I get water baptized?
A: Scripture is clear that baptism is the outward display of your faith, so it should always occur after a person experiences salvation. How soon after is not directly mandated, however numerous examples occur in Scripture of baptism being the immediate result of salvation, thus occurring quickly after the salvation experience. (see Acts 2:38, 41; 16:29-33; 8:35-38)