A Deeper Meaning Of Baptism

Pastor James Newby and his wife baptizing their son

One common argument that I will continue to hear churches stand on is believers’ baptism over infant baptism. Now, I do understand the reasons for each side, but I also notice that many non-denominational churches who stand on believers’, also make it a point to admit in their theology that they don’t quite get the whole gist of what baptism is really all about.

For example, many will say that baptism is only an “outward symbol” of our “inward decision” to know Christ. The website of a church that I read recently stated: “Water baptism is a public declaration of our faith in Christ and our commitment to follow Him. It is an outward and symbolic act that affirms and celebrates an inward commitment of trust in Christ.” They also explain that the reason Jesus was baptized was “not for the forgiveness of sins, but to ‘fulfill all righteousness,’ i.e. to complete and affirm an inward righteousness by an outward act of obedience.”

So I have a question:

If baptism is only an “outward symbol”, then why does it matter if somebody was baptized as an infant or adult?

Think about that for a moment, because if baptism was more than an “outward symbol”, then I could understand their concern. But if it’s only “outward”, then why would it matter how old somebody is when it’s done?

Remember in John 3 when Jesus was talking with Nicodemus? Jesus said that one can’t even SEE the Kingdom of God unless they’re “born again”, or born from above. So by this, we already know that there’s a great importance to being baptized. However, Jesus wasn’t talking about a symbolic act of rebirthing, but an actual act, attained through baptism. Understand, when we’re dunked or sprinkled with water, yes, it “symbolizes” our death to sin (as a watery grave: drowning), and coming up “symbolizes” being born anew/again/from above, as a new creation in Christ. But notice, I say “symbolizes” because we’re not actually drowning in the water, yet we are actually (spiritually) dying to our old self, as well as being reborn (born again, born from above) – that is actually happening. And at that time, God “actually” clothes us in holy, spiritual garments, and “actually” sets us apart for His glory. Otherwise, why would it be so important to do? Why would being able to see the Kingdom of God be prevented if it was simply a symbolic, outward act?

Now, we’ve all heard the term, “blood is thicker than water”, right? It’s often used when explaining something that has to do with supporting family. But in the sense of God’s family, I’ve come to recognize (by the suggestion of an old, former seminary professor) that water is actually thicker than blood, for as Christians, we’re united into the Body of Christ through the water of our baptism. Yes, we’re saved by the blood of Christ, but we’re united in the water of our baptism. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Christ forgives us, and He seals the deal in baptism. So you see, baptism is so much more than a simple “outward symbol” of our “inward” faith in Christ – it’s a uniting into the Body of Christ – an entrance into the family (and Kingdom) of God.

2 Comments

  1. The meaning of baptism is both simple and complex at the same time; baptism is certainly "a truth", but for some folks, I hope it won't get in the way of knowing, believing and trusting in "THE truth" (John 14:6–"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'").

  2. If you believe that baptism gives you salvation, you baptize children. If you believe baptism

    symbolizes the salvation we have by faith, you baptize professed believers. 

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