Should I Think About Being Baptized?
First – What is water baptism?
Simply stated, water baptism is a “symbol of identity.” When we put you under the water and bring you up out of the water, we are symbolizing the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The act does not make you a believer and the water does not take away any sin. We’re giving a live-action picture of what already has taken place – a symbol that tells a story.
Second – Who should be baptized?
The answer, again, is basic. A person who has accepted the Gift of God’s Grace – Salvation – is a candidate for water baptism. In Acts 8:26-40, Philip visited with an unbeliever who wanted to know Jesus Christ. He helped him connect the Old Testament promise with the recent events of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The seeker responded to the story of Jesus with a request to be baptized. They stopped their traveling and did the baptism. We can conclude that the requirement for water baptism is that you have personally believed in the One Who died, was buried and rose again – for you!
Third – Why should I be baptized?
If you would put this question directly to Jesus, I believe He would respond, “Because I asked you to do this.” If we questioned Him further, I wonder if He might add, “You have accepted My Grace – why would you not want to be identified with Me through this symbol?” There are many specific evidences of obedience that I need to see developing in my life experience. Some are more difficult than others. Baptism seems to be one of the less difficult ones. I simply do the obvious by being baptized.
Fourth – When should I be baptized?
You will find debate on this one. Some very young children have trusted Jesus as their Savior, but we question having them baptized until we believe they can understand the meaning of symbolism and the significance of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Sometimes classes are required ahead of baptism – the goal is to have some understanding of the maturing spiritual life that God intends. In reality, I believe baptism can follow any time after an individual evidences assurance of personal salvation through Jesus Christ – apart from any human effort to accomplish or secure that relationship.
Fifth – Is baptism in water a requirement to complete my salvation?
NO! There will be people in heaven who were not baptized in water, and there will be people who have been baptized in water – perhaps several times – who will not be in heaven! It is a symbol – it is not salvation.
Sixth – If I have been a believer for years but have not been baptized by immersion, why should I do it now?
I relate to that question very well, because I believed in Jesus while quite young, but I was not baptized until an adult. The longer I waited, the more I questioned the need for it. I believe the answer lies in the fact of obedience. Jesus did not indicate that His “I.D. mark” (water baptism) would need to be dropped if considerable time passed after we were saved. In my situation, it was very meaningful – also humbling – to be baptized many years after I was confident that I am God’s child. Obedience always brings joy to us and honor to God.
Seventh – Are water baptism and membership at WVBC connected?
You can be baptized in water at WVBC and choose not to become a member of this church. In order to become a member at WVBC, you must be baptized in water. We have a number of persons who have followed their Lord in the waters of baptism who have chosen not to become a member of WVBC. Personally, I see baptism as an act of obedience. I can find Jesus including this in His directive (Matthew 28:16-20). I do not find a statement from Jesus that says to join a church. I think it is a great idea, and I wish more people would join our membership, but I believe baptism is the higher priority.
– Pastor Bill