Baptism – More Than an Event
As Baptists, there are several things that I believe we get right about Christian baptism. New Testament baptism was always for those who personally embraced the faith through belief and repentance. While I respect those traditions who baptize infants, I remain, and will always remain firmly convinced that believer’s baptism is the New Testament norm. Furthermore, immersion was the mode practiced by the New Testament and early church. In contrast to sprinkling or pouring, immersion is the most faithful to the original Greek word used in the Scriptures, baptizō - meaning “to dip.” Perhaps even more importantly, immersion is a richer symbol representing dying and rising with Christ.
But as Baptists, we’ve also had our weaknesses in our baptismal theology – at least in practice. We’ve tended to consider Christian baptism as a necessary step of obedience (it is) and a public declaration of our faith (it is that, also). But that is where we’ve often stopped. But such an understanding isn’t nearly deep and rich enough to capture the full meaning of what the New Testament teaches about baptism.
The Apostle Paul taught a baptismal theology that impacts the believer’s life every day: “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 6:4). Today, we will baptize four people. But you will be brought into the experience as well as we “remember our baptism” together. The new reality of the baptized life as taught by Paul gives us power for living in victory over sin. It doesn’t matter how long ago you followed Christ in baptism. It was more than just an event. It is the new reality in which we are to live.