Why Be Baptized?

Sorry about the delay – my computer has been in the shop. 

Let me move on now to my friend’s second question – “Why should a person be baptized?”

baptism2Part of my answer to this lies in my first response.  Baptism symbolizes certain things (that our sins have been washed away, that we completely identify with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and that our consciences before God are now clean).  If these are the realities of our lives, we ought to want the world to know this, and baptism is such a testimony.  In other words, baptism is a tangible declaration to the world, an object lesson, that we are Christ’s disciples.

This brings up other major reasons we should be baptized.  It is both an act of imitating Christ and an act of obedience to Christ.  It follows both His example and His command.

As to the first point, Jesus Himself was baptized by John (Matt. 3:13-17).  Now there is something unique about Jesus’ baptism, of course.  He was not being baptized to show repentance for His sins, for He Himself was the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  John even remarks on this, saying to Jesus, “I am the one who should be baptized by You!  Why do You come to me?”  But Jesus insists on being baptized, saying, “Let it be this way for now, for this is appropriate to fulfill all righteousness.”  In other words, Jesus wanted the world to see His complete righteousness, and they would not have seen it apart from His baptism.  So it is that when Jesus is baptized, God’s Spirit descends upon Him like a dove and God declares from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  So, if Jesus was not too good for baptism, even though He was the sinless Son of God, shouldn’t everyone who follows Jesus be baptized in imitation of Him?

On the second point, Jesus expressly makes baptism a point of obedience to Him, a sign that we are His followers: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matt. 28:18-20

In this passage, Jesus really gives only one command—“Make disciples.”  It might seem in English that His first command is to “Go,” but in the Greek this word is “Going.”  So what Jesus actually says is, “Going, make disciples” or “As you go, make disciples.”  And how do we make disciples?  We do two things: 1) We baptize them in the name of the Triune God, and 2) We teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded.

In other words, baptism is the first act of obedience for a disciple, a follower of Jesus.  If we will not obey Him in this initial way, then we have no right to claim we are truly following Jesus.  We cannot simply pick and choose which of Jesus’ commands and teachings we want to obey.  We must obey everything He has taught us, and baptism is step one for a disciple.

This is seen many times in the New Testament, especially in the book of Acts, where one is baptized immediately upon coming to faith in Christ.  See Acts 2:38-41; 8:12-13; 8:36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:14-15; 16:25-34; 18:8; and 19:1-5.  There are nine passages in which those who believe on Jesus Christ are baptized immediately after they come to faith.  They were anxious to demonstrate to the world that they are Jesus’ disciples.  We should be, too.

And that leads me to this concluding thought.  You have asked, “Why be baptized?”  I think the real question is this:  “In light of Jesus’ example and His command, if we profess faith in Christ, why would we NOT be baptized?”

gkr1996 posted at 2009-11-12 Category: Theological