The following is to help explain the importance of following the Lord Jesus Christ in water baptism. My prayer is your questions be answered and you will be filled with hope in your decision to be baptized. – Jason Rowland
On November 14, 1982, at the age of 9 years old, I was baptized at my local church. At that age, all I wanted to do was get into the water and swim. I loved Jesus and I was a pretty good church boy attending church since I came from my mother’s womb. Yet, at that age, I was more interested in getting into the big bathtub at the church than being baptized.
My life between the ages of 9 and about 18 was difficult; those were the crazy and tumultuous years. Physical and family changes occurred. My parents divorced when I was 14 and from then until I graduated high school the life I knew before no longer existed.
I always had a desire to be in church and attended churches all over the place. But finding the right one was difficult. From the time my parents divorced, I was disillusioned with church, life, and family.
In my senior year of high school, my church attendance plummeted until the spring of that year. Easter was coming, and I needed to be in church because every good church boy goes to church on Easter. Right?
I attended a church that was recently started in the new campus around the corner from where I lived. On that Easter morning in that very church, I committed my life to Christ and made Jesus Lord.
In 5 months I would be heading to college and was struggling at that time because I was already feeling the tug of wanting to do more for Christ. At the beginning of summer, the church planned to have a baptism in a church member’s pool. I was determined to be baptized again. I needed to be baptized again – at that moment. It was my second and last baptism.
Jesus was so real to me. My life was renewed. Often, people ask if they should be baptized again. Theologically and scripturally, there is no need to be baptized more than once. But I am one of many who for various reasons got baptized twice. I did so because something inside me changed; it was different from the first baptism. I was raised to life and was experiencing the abundant living Jesus said I would receive when He came into my life.
Let’s visit the ancient path of baptism. 200 years before Christ, a man by the name of Nicander gave a recipe using the word baptiso. Baptiso is the Greek word from which we get baptism. Baptiso actually means to wash with water, to dip, to immerse, plunge, plunge under or submerge. Nicander wrote a recipe using the cucumber. It instructed the user to take a cucumber and baptiso it in vinegar. The baptized cucumber would change to a pickle.
The word baptiso was also used in another term regarding dying cloth. It said if you had a piece of cloth, and you were to baptiso (baptize) the cloth, it would change from one color to another, never to return to its previous color.
Thus, baptism is a ceremony Jesus asked us to do as an expression of an outward, visible sign of the inward and spiritual divine grace. A person is usually baptized after he/she accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in the presence of the church body. It is a public proclamation of the inward things that have taken place in your life of faith. Baptism is one of the two required acts Jesus instructed believers to do; the other one is communion.
The second time I got baptized, I made a public proclamation in front of everyone present that something inside of me was different. Although I was baptized in a pool often used to have fun, dive, and jump, this act was not the same. The last couple of months prior to my baptism, I experienced the Jesus I never knew as a child. I had an encounter with the Jesus I had learned about in Sunday school. I learned about the Jesus to whom my mother prayed for my salvation. She wanted me to give my life to Christ. You see, I was a rebellious, awkward, crazy and out-of-mind teenager. But finally, I met my Savior and Master, Jesus Christ, and I gave my life to Him.
I didn’t know what to do when they said we were going to have a baptism; I didn’t know if I should be baptized again given the fact I had already been baptized. I asked my pastor, “Can I get baptized again because inside of me something is so different?” I’m glad he said yes! I chose to be baptized again for the last time and publicly stand with Christ.
We constantly stand with people, businesses, and organizations all the time. On my car, you can see there’s a little sticker which says, “I love my church, livingwaters.tv.” I put it on the back because I publicly stand and love my church.
Last year for Super Bowl XI, all of the Atlanta metro area rallied behind our dirty birds, the Atlanta Falcons. The entire area was decked out in black and red. We stood firm and hard but in the end, the loss brought many tears as the Falcons lost to the Patriots in one of worst defeats in history.
You may stand with Nike. Maybe, you stand with Ford or Chevy cars or an NFL or collegiate team. We always make public statements that we are standing with something or someone. You may stand with your child because he or she is an honor student at an elementary school or middle school.
When Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, He wasn’t baptized behind a bush so no one could see. He was baptized in the most public place. At the Jordan, was a centralized source of commerce and social activities. Some may have been there washing clothes while others frolicked in the water. On the other hand, some may have been fishing and gathering food for their businesses or families. When Jesus was baptized, He chose a most public place.
Outward Proclamation of an Inward Conversion
The Bible says: “You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself through Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).
Baptism is an outward expression or proclamation of an inward conversion showing you belong to God. You worship God. You are a son or daughter of God. You are not your own but clothed with Christ and belong to Him. Why do we get baptized publicly?
Jesus said, “That whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge Him before My Father in Heaven, but whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown Him before My Father in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32). We do it publicly because inwardly, something happened.
Ceremony of Change
We go through many ceremonies in our personal lives and attend the many ceremonies of others; for example, graduations. Graduation is a public ceremony to show to your family and friends you have ended one season of your life and now you’re going into another be it college, career or the professional world.
Another ceremony is marriage, which is a public declaration that you have ended the season of singleness and you are starting life joined to somebody else.
Can you imagine graduating with no ceremony? Can you imagine getting married without a ceremony – even in the courthouse? Ceremonies are meaningful and powerful. Something happens and everyone can feel it. Yet, nothing really happens except a ceremony that signifies it. It is powerful because it signals the end of one thing and the beginning of another.
When you are baptized, it’s signifying the end of your life without Christ and the beginning of life with and in Christ. It marks the end of a life without God and your entrance into a new life – the abundant life. Now you’re being raised to life. Life has entered you through salvation; your baptism is an outward proclamation of your inward conversion.
You are also baptized into Christ’s death. Paul said to the Romans:
“Or don’t you know that all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were, therefore, buried with Him through baptism and to death” (Romans 6:3).
John the Baptist was baptized into repentance, but Jesus was baptized into His own death. During baptism, a person goes under the water and is brought up out of the water to signify the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is outwardly showing you are identifying with Christ, being clothed with Christ, and like Christ. You have died, buried the old life of sin and you are being raised to a new life.
Paul said to the Romans:
“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” (Romans 6:6).
A humorous but true story about immersion in water is the baptism of Sam Houston, the late great Texas Ranger after whom the city of Houston, Texas is named; he was baptized in a river. A crowd was gathered and someone yelled, “Sam, your sins are washed away!” Houston replied, “God, help the fish!” When you are baptized, your old self is buried. Coming up out of water is your new resurrected life in Christ.
We should no longer be slaves to sin; those who have Jesus Christ in their lives have died and are free from sin. Does that mean you’re never going to sin again? No, but you are free from the punishment of sin, the guilt of sin, and the condemnation of sin. Jesus Christ is Lord of your life; you’re clothed with Him and delivered from sin. Sin can no longer bind and enslave you because Christ has come to set you free – you are free indeed in Christ.
Start Right Here At Baptism
Your story is different from mine but the Holy Spirit wooed us all to Christ. He convicted us and is turning our mess into messages. When you accepted Christ, you were raised to life. Jesus Christ became your Lord. Your public proclamation of an inward conversion through baptism shows you no longer live on your own but Christ lives in you.
As I prepared to go to college, my life was rededicated to Christ. I was baptized one month and went to the university the next. I was no longer living; it was Christ in me. I had an open communication with God.
Jesus showed me things. He pulled and prodded me using my talents, gifts, skills, and abilities for His glory. I was not my own anymore. I didn’t belong to myself. I did not belong to my parents. I didn’t belong to the university or my own personal dreams. I belonged to Jesus Christ because I was buried and resurrected in Him using water as a symbolic gesture of my new life.
Can A Person Never Be Baptized?
The last thing that Jesus said as He turned to His disciples was:
“Go out in all the world and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Many usually ask if they can be Christians and never be baptized. The answer is yes. Yet, I always respond by asking why we should not get baptized when our Master was. Furthermore, the last thing He said to us was to go out into the world and baptize others in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Be baptized. Your baptism is a part of your message. It is your first message to those around you of your new life. It is part of your story God is writing and you are the central character. When you go down in the water and you come back up, it will be a public confession and proclamation that Jesus has done something in your life. It is the outward expression of what God is doing in your life right now. You are raised to life.
A cucumber is interesting, isn’t it? In a salad or on a sandwich, it is a cucumber. Yet, if you baptize it in vinegar, it comes out as a pickle – never to be called a cucumber again, only a pickle. It’s the same with baptism. I can’t explain it. I don’t think there’s anything really scary supernatural about it.
Just as there is nothing supernatural about graduation or a wedding except the outward expression that something has changed. Isn’t it something how you can be at a wedding ceremony, look at a bride and a groom and all of a sudden, they’re different from when you saw them before the ceremony? Something is different.
Maybe, folks want to see a different person on the job. You are saved. You are going to heaven. What would happen to your life if you personally made a public proclamation of that inward conversion?
Perhaps, you are considering getting baptized soon. Maybe you’re like me and God is doing something new in your life. You want to make a public stand to demonstrate to whom you belong and who you serve. This time, you know it is right. Be baptized.
Invite family and friends to your baptism. Go public. Remember, Jesus took us in our mess to create messages. Your baptism and your public act is part of your message. My prayer is that as family and friends see your public act of r symbolic transformation, they will also see your spiritual transformation and be drawn to the same God you worship – Jesus Christ.
Contact your pastor or church today to be baptized. I celebrate with you on your acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. Now, let’s celebrate publicly with your church family as well as your personal family and friends what God means to you! God bless you.