There have been many moments in my marriage so far where I have been proud of my husband, but one of the greatest moments was when I witnessed my husband baptize the young man he had been discipling.
On Easter Sunday, this young man read his testimony, proclaiming how—amidst the many voices of schizophrenia—it was the voice of Jesus Christ that brought him out of darkness and radically changed his life. As my husband lowered this man into the water and brought him back out, our church erupted in cheers and wiped away tears. Even though I was proud of my husband for playing a part in this young man’s journey with Christ, what mattered the most was witnessing Christ’s work of salvation in this person’s life. His baptism declared the beauty of Christ’s amazing grace.
So if you are curious about baptism or are wondering what it is, below is a brief explanation of baptism.
What is baptism?
Baptism is an outward demonstration of the inward transformation of the gospel. We are first introduced to baptism in the New Testament when John the Baptist baptized those who repented from their sin (Matthew 3:4–6).
Jesus Christ Himself was baptized, even though He was without sin, to demonstrate His obedience to God and declare His Spirit-filled mission to cleanse people from their sin once and for all (Matthew 3:13–17). After Jesus’s death and resurrection, Jesus commanded His disciples to make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). We see the apostles obeying this command in the book of Acts. For example, after Peter proclaims the gospel to the Jews, he declares “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). We see in the following verses how three thousand people accepted Peter’s gospel message and responded with baptism.
The Bible teaches us that baptism points to the washing away of sins, being adopted and united to Jesus, and being included among God's people. The waters of baptism represent the life-giving waters of Jesus Christ who has cleansed us by His blood. I love the words that I’ve heard many pastors declare as they lower someone into the water and bring them back up: “Buried in the likeness of His death and raised to walk in the newness of life.” These words are almost word-for-word for what Paul says in Romans 6:4–5.
Just as Jesus died and was raised from the dead, our Savior has brought us out of the depths of sin and raised us up to live a new life in Him. Therefore, baptism is a visual representation of the work of Christ in our lives.
It’s important to note that different denominations of the Christian faith have their own convictions of what baptism should look like and when it should happen. However, the method of baptism should not be something that creates conflict among believers. Even though we may share differing opinions on baptism as believers, what should remain at the heart of baptism is the gospel, which is the saving work of Christ that brings us from death to life. And baptism is an opportunity to declare this great work.
That Easter Sunday, through this young man’s baptism, our church was reminded of the power of the gospel. The wonder of Christ’s resurrection that we had gathered together to celebrate became even more wonderful to us because of this event. In turn, we were encouraged to remember Christ’s saving work in our own lives. His baptism pointed us to the greater reality that we all share as brothers and sisters of Christ: that because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, each one of us has been brought from death to life and will enjoy the blessings of our salvation together forever.
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