Water Baptism: The Next Step of Obedience

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It’s Water Baptism Sunday!

What is Water Baptism?

Water baptism is a step of obedience that demonstrates a Christian’s devotion to Christ.

Christianity was never met to be a casual thing. We don’t just add Jesus to our way of life. Christianity is about renouncing my way of life.

Dr. Jim Denison was a missionary in East Malaysia. One day, he noticed luggage sitting next to the baptism tank. When he asked about it, he was told that the young woman’s father told her that if she was baptized as a Christian, she could never go home. So she brought her luggage with her.

Water baptism is a public declaration of our death and rebirth in Christ. It is the line, in many parts of the world, because a “casual” Christian and a real Christian. It is an outward display of an inward decision.

When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.2:11 Greek the cutting away of the body of the flesh. 12For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. — Colossians 2:11-12, NLT

Water Baptism is Jesus’ Idea

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, — Matthew 28:19, ESV

Water baptism is done after being born again. Many traditions baptize infants, but that’s not biblical water baptism. Baptism comes after the second birth, not the first.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. — Acts 8:35-38, ESV

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water baptism

Saint Philip Baptising the Ethiopian Eunuch – Aelbert Cuyp (1620–1691)

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And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. — Acts 16:31-33, ESV

You don’t have to take a four-week class to get baptized. If you have given your life to Christ, you can be baptized. We see throughout scripture that people believed and were immediately baptized.

Because you do not become a Christian through water baptism. You become a Christian when you put your faith in Christ. Baptism is not about getting saved, or becoming a Christian, or earning God’s love/favor.

Water Baptism is about Going Public

Historically, water baptism was done at the river, in public, and very out in the open. It invited persecution. It’s not quite the same in our culture, today, but it should be about declaring and going public with your faith.

That means that if you’re not living a Christian lifestyle, it also invites graceful, loving correction from the Church.

Water Baptism is Not About the Water

Communion and water baptism are symbols, like a ring is a symbol of marriage. The ring is not the marriage. If you lose your wedding ring, it does not mean that you are no longer married. It doesn’t make you married, but it shows people that you are married.

The water in baptism is not even special. We don’t bless it or pray over it. We don’t pipe it in from the Jordan River. It’s just City of Elgin water.

It’s not about the water; it’s about what’s happening to you. It’s symbolic of your death to your old life, and your resurrection in Christ.

Water Baptism is about Obedience

Can you go to heaven without being baptized? Of course. The thief on the cross next to Jesus believed, and Jesus promised that they would be together in paradise, but that man was never baptized. It’s not about the water.

Water baptism is the next step of obedience when we give our lives to Christ, but it’s not the last step. There’s always a next step of obedience. And there’s hardly ever anything convenient about the next step of obedience. 

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – Jesus (John 14:15, ESV)

Everyone has a next step of obedience to take. God works one step at a time, and we all have to take our next steps one at a time.

Sometimes we like to see the whole route; we like to see the big picture. But faith usually doesn’t work that way. We want God to show is the whole plan, but he doesn’t.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. — Psalm 119:105, ESV

God lights up our feet and our path, but not our whole journey.

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Closer

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Photo credit:
Tim Marshall

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