Baptism is a public declaration of a person’s whole hearted commitment to be a disciple of Jesus. It’s saying to Jesus and the world “I’m all in.”
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 c.f Acts 2:41, 8:36-39). Baptism is not an optional practice. It is commanded by Jesus who died for our sins and rose as our Lord and king. He wants the world to know those who are His. Like any other command of Jesus, it doesn’t save, nor infuse special grace. It is a response of loving obedience. At the same time a refusal or neglect of baptism call into question whether a person is a true disciple. Baptism is only done once after a person has professed faith.
The greek word baptidzo means ‘to immerse” and is rich with significance. It pictures two realities:
First, it pictures the washing away of sin through repentance and faith. John the Baptist baptized thousands in preparation for the coming of Messiah calling them to repent from their sins. At baptism a person tells the world that he or she has experienced the forgiveness of Christ.
Second, it pictures the new life given to us by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Paul assumes a profound spiritual reality called Spirit baptism when we see physical baptism. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).”
Have you been baptized? It’s a command. It is a privilege and it is effective. Maybe you are nervous to be baptized in front of a crowd. Take courage! One of the few places non-Christians will eagerly hear the gospel is when a new Christian shares it at his or her baptism. It is a privilege not a punishment to tell the world you are forgiven. The church always celebrates it. If you have repented and trusted Christ don’t delay another day. Talk to your growth group leader, a pastor or elder. They will walk you through the process.