THE WEDDING RING
Baptism is the wedding ring of our union with Jesus. The wedding ring doesn’t save us or even make us married, faith in Christ alone does that. The wedding ring says I belong to Jesus not the world any longer. Scripture teaches us water baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward work. You bury the old you when you are put underwater in baptism, it’s a sign of burial. The person being baptized is saying publicly, “I have buried the old person, my old habits, my old life, my old lifestyle. Now I’m determining to live for Jesus Christ.” Baptism is the wedding ring for those who have been saved. Baptism in the Holy Spirit empowers believers to exalt Jesus, to live lives of holiness, and to be witnesses of God’s saving grace; we expect the Spirit’s incoming to be after the same manner as that in which He came upon believers in the days of the Early Church.
Although water baptism does not “save” you only God’s grace does through your personal faith in Jesus it has a significant role at the beginning of the Christian life. When you are baptized, it shows three important things about your Christian beginning:
Jesus specifically instructed that His followers be baptized after they had come into a saving relationship with Him. This is not merely a suggestion, but rather a command to be acted upon. In fact, beginning with the Early Church, the Christian church has practiced baptism throughout its history. Here at Hope Point, we believe that baptism is an act of personal and community obedience that sets us on the right path for growth as followers of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). Baptism indicates that we are serious about developing our relationship with Jesus, and following him fully.
We identify with Jesus Christ and his people when we are baptized. When you are physically baptized, you outwardly express the inward reality that you have now died to your old life, and are now resurrected to new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4). You identify with Jesus Christ and make a public statement that along with his people you are a true follower of His as you are baptized in His name.
Not only do we privately acknowledge our belief in Christ, but we go public with our faith, and declare the fact that we have decided to become followers of Christ. This public declaration is a very meaningful experience for us as it is a time of community celebration and can be a public witness to others who have not yet decided to follow Christ (Acts 2:41, 47). It is also a powerful time for witnessing changed lives, and for telling our stories.
As soon as you can if you have made the decision to believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:36-39). After you have trusted in Christ as your Savior and Lord, water baptism is your initiation into the Christian life and community. One of the first things you need to do as Christ’s follower is to be baptized. Don’t delay.
The biblical model given to us in the Word of God is baptism by immersion (Mark 1:1-9). Hope Point does not sprinkle baptism candidates. When you come up out of the water, it is a symbol that you are raised to newness of life. The Scripture says, “Old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” The sinful things you once loved, you now hate. The godly things you once hated you now love. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus.
The Scripture teaches this. Look at the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:35-39. When Philip explained to him the Scriptures and he accepted Christ as his Savior, they came to some water and he was water baptized. Jesus was water baptized as an example to us. Baptism is not an option; it’s a command.
We baptize new believers in obedience to Jesus’ command.
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.”
We call these verses “The Great Commission.” In them, Jesus commands His followers to take the message of the good news about Jesus into the entire world. The command to baptize followers of Jesus is a very important part of this command.
We baptize new believers because Jesus was Himself baptized by His cousin John. When we are baptized, it’s an act of following Jesus, an act of discipleship. This is what discipleship means—to follow Jesus.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
When we obey the Lord by following Him in baptism, we are following the pattern of the early church we find in the book of Acts. Acts is a historical book in the New Testament, which recounts the story of the first followers of Jesus. The following Scriptures are some of the examples found in the New Testament of Christians being baptized: Acts 2:36–38; 2:41; 8:36–38; 10:47–48; 16:30–34.
Baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, yet baptism is more than symbolic. It is a spiritually significant work of living faith, whereby we bury the “old man” (Romans 6:6). We are included in Jesus’ suffering and triumph when we first believe. When we are baptized, we are baptized into Jesus’ death and the waters of baptism become for us a watery grave. The person we used to be exists no more! The old “us” has been buried!
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
God relates to His people through covenant. When God established His covenant with Abraham, there was a sign of covenant given—circumcision. In the new covenant God has established with us through Jesus, baptism is the outward sign of our inclusion in the covenant.
In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
When God delivered His people Israel out of bondage in Egypt, they passed miraculously through the parted waters of the Red Sea. They passed through out of slavery into freedom and a new life. The chariots of Egypt were drowned in those same waters. This is a great picture of Christian baptism. When we trust in Christ, we are liberated from our bondage to sin and selfishness and set free to live the new resurrection life of Jesus. When we are baptized, we pass through the waters from slavery into freedom and our old life is destroyed much like Pharaoh’s armies.
1 Corinthians 10:1-2
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
Matthew 28:19 | Acts 1:5; 8:2-4 & 10:47-48 | Romans 6:4 | Acts 20:21 | Hebrews 10:2