Why Baptism Matters

Years ago, I made a commitment to lead First Baptist Church according to the teaching of the New Testament. This means that we emphasize and encourage baptism as an essential aspect of a life of obedience to Christ. I also made a commitment to give the church the reasons why we do things the way we do.

I am writing about baptism because I hope you will trust Christ with all your heart and prayerfully consider following Him in baptism. Jesus submitted to baptism and commanded the church to practice it as well.

Without denigrating other churches which practice differently, I want to give the New Testament teaching about baptism. This is also my understanding and theology of baptism. It’s in a nutshell (like the size of a peanut) but I hope that you will find this discussion helpful and meaningful.

While some Baptists claim that we go all the way back to John the Baptist, Baptist groups really started springing up in large numbers in England and on the continent in the 1500’s and 1600’s.  In my mind, the rise of churches that emphasized baptism by immersion after salvation coincided with the printing press. After the printing of the Bible into the language of the people and as they were able to read the Bible, people began to adopt the practice of the New Testament about baptism.

The practice of the New Testament can be summarized in the following points.

First, when people came to faith in Christ, they were baptized. The baptism came after their conversion. This was the common practice in the New Testament. Of course, they were following the example of Jesus who was baptized by John the Baptist to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). They also followed the command of Jesus to go to the entire world, making disciples, and baptizing them (Matthew 28:18-20).

Second, the word baptism means “to dip.” Those baptized in the New Testament were immersed in water.

Third, baptism in the New Testament marks the believer as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is an outward sign of an inward commitment and life change. I want to be quick to point out that neither baptism nor its mode is a means of salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Fourth, Baptism is an identification with Christ, both in his death and in his resurrection (Romans 6:1-4). Our baptism in some sense even pictures the death and resurrection of Christ as the believer is buried under the water and raised from the water. Through Christ’s work, we “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

I pray that you will take seriously the demands of Christ for salvation and baptism and that you will follow Him for all of your life.

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  1. john meyer
    Aug 20, 2011

    hey dr. bailey. i always tell people that it is their wedding ring with Christ. when people see our wedding bands, they know we are married. they may not have been there when we made that commitment to our spouse, but they know by looking at our finger that there was a time and place when we promised ourselves to them and now we belong to them. baptism says to all who observe it that you may not have been there when i committed myself to the Lord, but there was a time and a place when i promised Him that i would follow Him forever. As you said, like the wedding ring, It is a sign that i belong to Him. enjoy reading your blogs. take care and keep preaching and teaching the truth of the word!

  2. waylon
    Aug 20, 2011

    John, thanks for blessing our readers with your comment. Your analogy should help many people understand part of the significance of baptism. The wedding ring helps us see the meaning for ourselves.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. — Psalm 19:14 (NIV)