So you’re thinking about baptism? Want to know what it means or if it’s for you? You’ve come to the right place.
Maybe you’ve recently come to believe that Jesus actually was God. Or you’re pretty sure He really came back from the dead and wondering what to do with that. Maybe you’re trusting him in prayer or with your money for the first time. Or perhaps you’re just checking out what baptism means at a time in life where some sort of fresh start seems good.
Whatever the case, way to ask the question to find out if you’re ready.
Baptism is much more than you might think, so it’s worth the time to consider what it means and whether it’s right for you. Below are some questions to help you do just that.
Most simply, baptism is the act every Christian goes through to show their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior - it says, “I know my sin separates me from God. I believe Jesus died to save me and get me back to God. I want to receive that sacrifice and follow Him.”
It’s important to say that it isn’t your baptism that saves you. It is the grace of God that gives you a new life—not a physical act. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” If you are thinking about getting baptized, then the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, drawing you to Jesus! This is the grace of God at work.
Baptism is a moment of celebrating, receiving, joining, and deciding to live permanently in this free grace. If we are ‘in Christ,’ then we are a brand new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Baptism is an expression of the old you dying away, and the new you coming to life (Romans 6:3-4). The Bible says your eternal life in Christ is lived, sustained, and ruled by grace, powered by the Holy Spirit. Pretty sweet deal.
Getting baptized announces your belief to the world that you’ve been saved by that grace through faith in Jesus. It marks your commitment to living that new life united to Him and his Body—the Church—here on earth. In many ways, it’s very similar to a wedding. Baptism shifts someone’s identity, declares a changed legal status, makes a public announcement, and celebrates a connection that is permanent. Baptism is our moment to mark the beginning of an entirely new life. Here’s more of what baptism means:
Baptism means you believe Jesus died for your sins and, literally, physically came back to life. He’s the Son of God, your Savior, and the only way to be reconciled to God.
Baptism declares that grace has made you new and put you in right-standing with God: condemnation, shame, and guilt are completely washed away. (You heard me—you don’t have to feel them anymore! They’re gone!)
Baptism is a promise to continually turn away from sin (something called repentance, Eph. 2:1–10; Col. 2:11–14) and says that you commit to pursuing increasing holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 3:21).
Baptism unites you to all believers as one global, invisible body of Christ (the Church) across all times and geographies (1 Cor. 12:13, Gal 3:27), and initiates you into the care of a visible piece of the Body in a local church. (That means you need to tangibly connect to one, be known there, and engage.)
Baptism is (and always has been) the marking of a true follower of Christ.
Baptism is only Christian when it recognizes God as Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
Baptism isn’t optional for believers. Jesus Himself commanded us to baptize all new disciples. If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are commanded to be baptized (if you’re still considering faith, then great, we will figure that out below!).
The last words of Jesus to his own disciples about their mission here on earth were in Matthew 28:19-20 “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” This is an ancient act that every Christ-follower from the time of Jesus onward has done out of its significance and in obedience to Jesus.
For some of us, the question about whether or not to get baptized has an extra layer of complexity because we were baptized as a baby or child. I get asked all the time, ‘if someone was baptized before, can/should they get re-baptized as an adult?’ My answer is: you should get baptized whenever you truly came to faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel. (No matter how simple the understanding!) If you did that at age five and got baptized, then there is no need to be re-baptized. If you (like me) were first baptized prior to actually having faith in the gospel of Christ, then yes, you should be “re”-baptized.
If you’re asking yourself whether or not to be re-baptized, the first question for you is: Do YOU receive your first baptism as authentic? Or do you reject it as I began to do? If you receive it as the expression of authentic faith, then there is likely no reason to be re-baptized. But if you reject it, then you should consider the questions here and pray about whether you are ready now.
Think you’re ready? The first thing to do is to pray! The Holy Spirit will compel us towards baptism. (I remember sitting in church on a Sunday morning feeling kinda nervous, thinking over and over, “I should get baptized again. I should get baptized again.” That was definitely the Holy Spirit pulling me along!) Ask God to answer your question about whether it’s time. Baptism was His idea, so He’ll gladly lead you there. Also, consider the following things to talk through with someone who’s been following Jesus for a while:
- Do you believe that Jesus was a man AND God and lived a sinless earthly life?
- Do you believe that your sin makes you guilty before God?
- Do you accept that, apart from the grace of God drawing you to Jesus, you’d be eternally, spiritually dead?
- Do you believe that Jesus died on a cross as the payment for your sin?
- Do you believe that Jesus, literally and physically, rose from the dead?
And do a gut-check on things that tend to make a big difference in the thriving life of a disciple:
- Are you ready for all people in your life to know that you’re a follower of Jesus?
- Are you willing to make time in your life to connect with other believers?
- Are you willing to do something only for the sake of being obedient to God?
- Are you willing to turn away from any sin you’re currently aware of? (Knowing there is help, time, and grace for you as you walk away!)
- Are you willing to try to obey the teachings of Christ even if you don’t like some?
- Are you willing to start reading the Bible?
- Are you willing to step into a new identity as fully as you can—realizing you’re a son of God equipped to become like Jesus through the Spirit?
If you’re thinking about getting baptized, then this prayer is for you!
Father, I know you are at work in the lives of all of your children. I know you won’t lose ANY of the people called to you in Christ. Please make the right opportunity for baptism clear to whoever is reading this article. Thanks for the way You draw us to you. Keep pursuing us with Your Spirit until your grace wins us over. You’re good to come get us and bring us to you. Amen.
Visit crossroads.net/baptism to sign up to be baptized.