The Meaning of Water Baptism
Sometimes when someone asks about water baptism, he
And therefore he should get baptized. While
both of these statements are true, they
do not explain the meaning and reason for water baptism.
Most Christians get baptized without ever
understanding what it really means.
- Jesus did it and so should we.
- The Bible says, "Those who believe and
be baptized shall be saved."
The Meaning of Water Baptism
baptism is really not for God to see that you are committed to Him --
your heart more than you know it yourself.
It's really for everyone else to see that you have accepted
your savior and committed yourself to God.
Why is that
important? One's relationship with God
is a personal relationship, and so why care about whether others know
it's easier to understand water baptism if we compare it to a wedding
ceremony. The bride and the groom love
each other and are committed to each other, and they both know that. But if their commitment is not known by
others, there will be problems such as:
Water baptism is a public
declaration of your faith in and commitment to Jesus, whom you have
accepted as your personal savior and Lord.
It's something for others, the devil, and yourselves to see. It's a memorable event because it's something
that is witnessed by others who share your commitment and joy. It, however, is only meaningful if it's truly
reflecting your faith and commitment.
- Acceptance of each other's family
members as being part of their family.
- Temptations from other single men or
- Criticism from others who see their
relationship as illegitimate.
- Not being able to enjoy the rights of
a married couple.
philosophical terms, water baptism is neither a necessary nor a
condition for salvation. This means:
So why bother with water baptism at all? It's
easily to see what it means if you don't
get baptized. Those who understand its
basic meaning and have a chance to get baptized but decide to not do
- If you don't have a chance to get
baptized, but you have sincerely committed yourself to God, you will be
saved. Example: the thief on the cross.
- Getting baptized won't save you. Your faith and commitment to God allow you to
be saved. Example: someone who doesn't
believe in God gets baptized just so he can marry a Christian girl.
- Getting baptized is a step in the
growth of your faith and commitment to God. It
certifies your faith and commitment, but it does not create your faith
or commitment. It won't guarantee that
your faith and commitment will be long lasting. That's
something that you'll have to work on for the rest of your life.
Both of these violate the teachings of the Bible, and that's
not good. But whether the deliberate
choice of not getting baptized would invalidate your salvation is
that I do not know.
- Knowingly disobeys one of God's
commands about getting baptized after believing and accepting Jesus.
- Not confessing your faith before other
people and the devil.
The Symbolisms in Water Baptism
things in the Bible, there are symbolisms in water baptism. Water baptism is really a burial.
The water is a symbolism for the soil. When
we accept Jesus and commit our lives to
him, we are symbolically crucified with him and our old selves -- the sinful men -- died with him.
Our whole body being immersed in water is the
burial ceremony. But our faith in Jesus
means that our new selves come out of the grave with Him.
We are new beings in Christ. That's
represented by our bodies coming out
of the water (becoming un-buried). So
the water baptism process symbolically represents our death and
Disputes about Water Baptism
differences of opinion about the requirements for water baptism and the
water baptism. Catholics believe infants
can be baptized. I do not believe infant
baptism has any real meaning because the person being baptized can not
the choice about his faith and commitment.
A wedding ceremony of two babies does not mean they love each
other -- they
don't have any idea what love and commitment are. Remember,
faith comes before baptism. Baptism
without faith in God is meaningless
and has no effect.
Christian, most notably Lutherans, practice water baptism by sprinkling
drops of water on the person. Later
groups, starting with the Baptists, believe that it should be complete
immersion in water. The Greek word that
became "baptism" is "baptizo," which means "to
immerse." Nowhere in the Bible is
sprinkling mentioned as a form of baptism.
Why is this a big deal? Not
practicing immersion makes one less likely to understand the meaning of
-- death to sin, resurrection to new life in Christ.
It's also a violation of God's command.
may have become a practice when the church began to practice infant
they don't want babies to be fully immersed in water because babies
know how to hold their breath and so they may drown.
Some speculate that sprinkling became a
practice because when Christians were being persecuted by the Roman
Empire, they had to hide in tombs and could not conduct
baptism in rivers. No matter what the
original reasons are, there is no reason to practice sprinkling anymore
rejects infant baptism.
baptized in someone's swimming pool. The
owner's young nephew began to swim in it right after the water baptism
finished. Does it matter?
Only my faith in God matters. And
part of my faith in God is shown in us conducting water baptism as it
described in the Bible. Living in a free
country with abundant resources, there's no reason why I would be doing
baptism any other way.
This lesson is developed by
George Huang. Got a question
or want to publish this lesson? E-mail
Last updated: March 27, 2005