Baptism

Introduction:
At Northstar, we hold baptism in high regard. It is always an amazing time of hearing stories of Jesus’ grace, celebrating and worshipping Jesus. In fact, we get pretty stoked every time someone is baptized because it is a visual picture of the stories each person tells; how they were dead in their sins and are now raised with Christ. It is the outward sign of an inward change brought about by the conscious belief in Jesus as their Savior. One of my favorite things about Baptism is hearing how the gospel sets all different types of people free and rescues them into God’s family.

Something To Talk About:
What is the meaning of baptism? It illustrates Christ’s burial and resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says: “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Colossians 2:12 adds “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Secondly, it illustrates our new life as a Christian. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” –2 Corinthians 5:17. Romans 6:4 tells us “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.” Baptism does not make you a believer – it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you, only your faith in Christ does that. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9.
Baptism Is an Ordinance of the Lord: First, “We believe the Lord Jesus commanded baptism—he ordained it—in a way that would make it an ongoing practice of the church. We find this most in Matthew 28:19-20: “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.”
Baptism is primarily about identity. We are living in an age where everybody is figuring out “who they are” and where they are going. Baptism illustrates that we best understand “who” we are by paying attention to “whose” we are – children of God.
Baptism Is for Believers Only: Baptism is an expression of faith and therefore only for believers. Individually, it is a major spiritual indicator that says I am ready to openly identify as a Christ-follower and obey Him as my Lord. But, it is more than a merely personal act. When we are baptized, we are taking a stand with other believers in the body of Christ. We are affirming our commitment to a community of faith, the church.

Questions:

  1. Read Acts 8:26-39: What do you observe about baptism and its importance from this passage? Why do we refer to baptism as a celebration?
  2. If you are a Christian, and you have been baptized when and what specifically motivated you to be baptized? Why was it meaningful? What impact did it have on your relationship with God then and now?
  3. In light of Matthew 28:18-20, why do you think baptism is so important today?
  4. If you’re holding off on being baptized because you feel it is unnecessary, take some time to examine your motives and pray for God to help you grasp His heart on baptism.

Take One Thing Home with You
Maybe you are someone who does not want to be baptized. Maybe it is because you don’t think you need to, or you don’t want to, or maybe you feel that you are a Christian, you love Jesus and you think that is enough. If you are reading this and you have either decided not to be baptized or who are simply wondering why you should, here are some good reasons to be baptized.

First, we should be baptized as a symbol of God’s grace. And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). When we repent, we agree that we are sinners who violate God’s standards for holiness. Part of the process of repentance is telling God we need Him to clean up the messes we make. Because of grace, He is faithful to do it. Baptism is a way to say to the world, “I can’t be holy on my own. I’m a sinner and I can’t stop sinning, but because of God’s grace, I can turn from sin.” Baptism is a picture of the way only God can make us pure and whole.

You should be baptized because it shows your loyalty to Christ. I like how Pastor John Piper puts it: “Faith unites us to Christ; baptism symbolizes the union. An analogy would be saying, ‘With this ring I thee wed.’ When we say that, we don’t mean that the ring or the putting on of the ring on the finger is what makes us married. No, it shows the covenant and symbolized the covenant, but the covenant-making vows make the marriage. So it is with faith and baptism.”

You should be baptized because Jesus commanded it. Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave His disciples their marching orders. These were His final words to them—the things He really wanted them to remember until His return. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19–20). Because baptism is a symbol of God’s grace and because it is a way to publicly pledge our allegiance to Him, Christ commands it for His disciples.

You should be baptized because Jesus did it. Matthew 3 tells the story of Jesus’ baptism: 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 alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16–17). Jesus was baptized. I want to be like Jesus. That is good enough for me.