The Importance of Believer's Baptism
THE IMPORTANCE OF BELIEVER'S BAPTISM
Salvation is found in Jesus Christ and His finished work alone. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, for God's glory alone. Baptism doesn't save, it is an outward symbol of our inner faith.
Why is Believer's Baptism so Important for Christians?
First, because Jesus says it is (Matthew 28:18-20). If you're a Christian you need to be baptized in obedience to Christ. Second, because Christ's Church has always practiced believer's baptism (Acts 2:40-42). We want to see you getting baptized if you are a Christian who has never been baptized because if you do not get baptized you are not obeying God. It's not our command or something that we just made up. We are, at Christ's command in Matthew 28:18-20, to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded. Believer's baptism is something Jesus instructed us to practice. Third, because obeying Jesus' commands is expected and enabled by God (John 15:10-14). If you're an unbeliever we call you to faith and repentance. If you're a believer we call you to faith, repentance, and obedience.
Why do Believers Wait So Long or Never Get Baptized?
I am not sure how or even when things started trending this way, but it is decidedly the default position for many evangelical churches. Several factors contribute in keeping baptism under the radar. First, churches have downplayed the importance of obedience. It isn't popular to preach repentance and obedience. We are too concerned about making people feel comfortable and coddling people's wishes and desires. It's increasingly common today to celebrate sin rather than confessing and forsaking it. Second, churches have downsized the importance of church membership. A knee jerk reaction to an antiestablishment mindset and ignorance of what the Bible teaches on the subject has caused many churches to ignore the clear indicators of known, committed, and engaged membership in a local body of believers. Third, churches have downgraded the importance of baptism. Even in churches where Holy Spirit inspired repentance and obedience is preached and taught, there is often minimal exposure to baptism and rare encouragement to be baptized. We have been remiss and have been wrong to leave this out.
What Level of Commitment and Understanding is Necessary for Baptism?
This is the point which causes confusion for a lot of people. Many people get baptized when they are younger and as they grow older they get more committed to Christ and wonder if they were even saved when they got baptized the first time. Upon a person's profession of faith in Christ and desire to be baptized, we should baptize them. What we need is due diligence in making sure that we are baptizing people with a valid Christian testimony. We need to be much more careful in our examination of baptismal candidates. A person should be able to clearly explain the gospel and how Jesus has changed their heart and saved them. They need to be convinced that they are truly a Christian and upon that assurance enter into the waters of baptism. This can become especially tricky when we are dealing with our children, in that it is hard to know their hearts. But that is the same with adults as well. We must leave it in God sovereign hands. You never know the true condition of a person's heart and you must trust that they are being led by God's Spirit. In the end, only God knows who truly belong to Him (2 Timothy 2:19).
Why do Unbaptized Believers Need to Be Baptized As Soon As Possible?
The reason is simple: Because disobedience to Jesus is never blessed by God. As stated previously, God expects and enables obedience. We have done the body of Christ a great disservice by downplaying baptism so much that we lead people to think it is just something you do if you feel the urge. Instead of asking whether people want to be baptized we should be letting them know they need to be baptized. It is a first step of worship and obedience. It is the heart's glad response to receiving the gospel of the grace of God in Christ. It is the joyful obedience of a new believer. Acts 2:41, 8:34-38. So if you are a believer and you have not experienced that joyful obedience, do it as soon as you can.
Are you convinced yet? I hope so. If so, what should you do?
1. Sign up now to be baptized on 12/21/14 at Grace. Register your interest online or call the Grace office (714) 633-8867. If you belong to another church talk with your pastor or an elder and let them know that you want to be baptized in obedience to Christ.
2. Read "Baptism Basics" for a more in-depth discussion of what baptism is all about.
3. Invite unbelieving friends and relatives to your baptism where they will hear your testimony of the Gospel grace of God in your life.