The Spiritual Importance of Christian Baptism

The Spiritual Importance of Christian Baptism

It takes only a few minutes to be baptized but it takes the believer all the remaining years of his life to live out what it means. Baptism is simple but its spiritual meaning is most important. It is not necessary for a person to understand all of this before he is baptized, but of course it is good for him to think about these things.

The Israelites did not understand all the spiritual meaning of the feasts of the Lord, the tabernacle or the offerings. But this did not stop them from keeping the feasts and offering the sacrifices. They simply obeyed the instructions God gave them in His Word. The same is true when it comes to baptism.

God commands believers to be baptized and we should obey.

Baptism is a simple act of obedience to the Lord. It is the duty of every Christian to obey his Lord without hesitating, because a good disciple must be obedient. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If you love Me you will obey what I command,” John 14:15. Again he said, “If you know these things you will be happy if you do them,” John 13:17. Nothing can take the place of obedience to the known will of the Lord.

It is a divinely given picture of the believer with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

Baptism shows the Christian as having died in the person of Christ the One who took his place. This is an important truth. We know it is true because it is clearly written in the Word of God. Paul knew he had been put to death with Christ on His cross, so that it is no longer he himself, but Christ who lived in him. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me, Galatians 2:20.

Death is the end of a person’s life. The life lived by a person before salvation was separate from the life of God. When the believer trusted Christ as Saviour his old life ended. The old has gone, the new has come, 2 Corinthians 5:17. The believer can now say, “When Christ died I died to all that for which He died, there I count myself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” Romans 6:11

In baptism the believer shares Christ’s burial. We were buried with Him through baptism and shared his death, Romans 6:4. Burial proved that a person has died, for only the dead are buried. So going under the water is the only reasonable picture of baptism. The one to be baptized stands in the water. He allows himself to be buried under the water as a picture of his burial with Christ who died for his sins.

The believer also shares with Christ in His resurrection. He rises out of the water to show that he has been raised from death with his Lord, in order to live a new life. See Romans 6:4, 5.

So baptism has a deep spiritual meaning for the Christian. We must not be careless about it. We cannot say it is not necessary: to say so would question God’s wisdom when He commanded believers to be baptized. It is just as wrong to say that baptism is necessary for salvation. The real meaning of baptism would be lost if we were to sprinkle believers instead of putting them under the water. There is no command in the Bible to christen babies instead of baptizing believers.

A person confesses his faith in Christ openly before other people when he is baptized.

There were no secret baptisms in the New Testament. Believers were baptized before others to show that they had faith in the Lord. In the early years of the church this brought real trouble to the believer and often death. The Lord had said it would be so, John 16:33; 15:20.

– Excerpt from Believer’s Baptism by Alfred P. Gibbs published by Everyday Publications Inc. Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada.

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