Why be Baptized?
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who
commands His followers to be baptized. As He was about to ascend to His
Father, Jesus commented "All authority in heaven and on earth has been
given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
(Matthew 28: 18-20)
Jesus set an Example
The command of Jesus is
reinforced by His own example in being baptized Himself. Despite John the
Baptist's protestation, Jesus insisted on being baptized.
Jesus said "Let it be so now;
it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness". Jesus did
not agree to be baptized with a view to washing His sins away. Rather in
baptism He took His first step to the cross by identifying Himself with us
in our sinfulness.
Declaring a Union with Christ
Baptism is a dramatic way of
declaring your solidarity with Jesus. The only thing needed is a large
quantity of water! Even today in warmer climates people are baptized in
rivers, lakes and ponds - although in Britain it is more common for a
baptistry to be used.
Spectators at a baptism are
asked to imagine that the water is like a watery grave. So when a person
is submerged under water, they identify themselves with Jesus who died and
In most Baptist Churches as you
are baptized you will be taken backwards into a horizontal position as in
a coffin. Then, like Christ, you will symbolically rise up from the dead.
Paul (Romans 6:4) describes the
newly baptized as rising to live a new life. As you go under the water,
you will be declaring your resolve to die to your old way of living, and
as you rise from the water, your resolve to follow Christ's example.
Questions People Ask Coming From Another Church Tradition
if I was baptized as a child?
Many people who turn to Christ
have already been "baptized" as a small child. If this applies to you, you
need to decide whether your "baptism" was Biblical and remains meaningful
for you today. Baptists believe that baptism without faith is not the
baptism of the Bible.
if I have been confirmed?
If at your confirmation service
you meaningfully confirmed the promise made on your behalf by your
godparents, then some Baptist churches will welcome you into membership on
your profession of faith. However, the same argument still applies. The
New Testament knows only one baptism, the one baptism in which by faith
Jesus is confessed as Lord.
Some Practical Questions
old do I have to be to be baptized?
Baptists practice believers'
baptism, not adult baptism. For this reason Baptists have avoided trying
to set a minimum age.
about the laying on of hands?
Many Baptist Churches are
bringing back the old Baptist practice of accompanying baptism with the
laying on of hands. This custom has its roots in the New Testament where
we find the apostles laid hands on their new converts to symbolize the
gift of the Holy Spirit.