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Why Do We Baptize?by Duane Mabee on September 15, 2022
This weekend, we will baptize two individuals which prompts the question, “What is baptism and why do we practice it?”
The simple answer to why we do it is that the Bible tells us to. Those who turn to Christ for salvation are instructed to repent and be baptized, (Acts 2:38). The mission Christ gave the church includes the instruction to baptize new believers in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matt. 28:19). Baptism is a step of obedience that Jesus expects all of His followers to take. Can you be saved and not be baptized? Yes, but you can’t be obedient and voluntarily remain unbaptized.
So, we practice baptism because God told us to, but what does it mean? Hansen and Leeman say, “Through baptism, we declare, ‘I’m with Jesus,’ while the church affirms, ‘This person is with Jesus.’” That’s a key part of what baptism is all about. It is the believer in the water declaring to the world that he or she belongs to Christ, and it is the church gathered around the believer declaring their agreement.
There is an additional element to baptism, however, which is well understood in much of the world but often overlooked by American believers. Baptism is a declaration by the believer that they are renouncing all other religions and all other approaches to being right with God. It is that piece that angers Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim families when a family member receives Christian baptism. They know that baptism cuts all ties between that believer and his or her former religion. The same holds true for us. Baptism is a declaration that we trust Christ and Christ alone for salvation, and we renounce all other attempts to be right with God including other religions and our own self-effort.
Baptism doesn’t save you. It is an act of worship because you have been saved by the only One Who is able to save. Baptism declares that Christ, and Christ alone is worthy of our worship and devotion. Baptism declares that you have surrendered everything to Christ because He is worth following, regardless of the cost.
That’s why we practice baptism.