Baptism’s Message to Others

Written by Drew on January 13th, 2011

There is no question that baptism benefits the person who is being baptized.  “Baptism…now saves you,” says Peter, “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).  Jesus himself said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16).  When we obey the Lord’s command to be immersed in water, our old, sinful lives are buried, our souls are brought into contact with the saving blood of Jesus, and we are raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4).

The benefits of baptism to the person being baptized are clearly worth discussing, but there is more to consider.  Have you thought about what your baptism can do for others?

Whereas faith and repentance comprise the internal process of conversion in the soul, baptism and confession make up the external side of that transformation.  Baptism is visible evidence of what is going on in the soul of a person who has come to believe in and give his life to Christ.

Many well-known evangelists have spiritualized away baptism, emphasizing the internal process of conversion and denying the necessity of baptism.  Baptism, they argue, is an outward work and therefore can be excluded from God’s plan of salvation.  Works of men, after all, cannot justify sinners (Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9).

First of all, baptism is not a work of men.  Baptism comes by the “powerful working of God” (Col. 2:12).

That being said, there is a perfectly good reason why God requires something as physical and external as baptism before he will restore the soul of a sinner.  Baptism is an important testimony of faith.  It is a statement of the genuineness of conversion and membership in the body of Christ.

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he left his disciples with the Great Commission: “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” (Mt. 28:19-20).  Why did he demand that his disciples baptize believers “in the name of” the Godhead?  According to H. Leo Boles, the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit denotes the combined authority of the Godhead.  When you’re baptized in this manner, your baptism is brought into actual subjection to divine authority.  This says, “From now on I am not my own.  I belong to God.  I am replacing my will with his.”

Not only does baptism proclaim an exchange of the wills, but it also marks one’s entrance into the body of Christ.  When the multitude in Jerusalem on Pentecost were baptized, they were “added” to the church (Acts 2:41, 47).  Paul said, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” (1 Cor. 12:13).  Without baptism, there would be no public statement of membership in the church.

Believers are baptized to answer God’s request and receive their own salvation.  But there is also a sense in which they are baptized for others—baptism is an important testimony of faith.  Have you communicated your submission to God and membership in the Lord’s body through baptism?


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