To Bathe or Baptize?



Why should anyone get baptized? What is the difference between taking a bath and getting baptized? Is baptism just an old, outmoded form of religious practice that is no longer valuable to modern life? Well, baptism is indeed old but definitely not outmoded. Baptism has been used for millenniums to demonstrate a change of a person's heart and character. Primarily, Christians are baptized because Jesus commanded it (Matt. 28:19, 20). But why?

Because baptism is done differently by different denominations, religions and cults, baptism is largely misunderstood by most people today. The word ‘baptism’ is from the Greek word baptizo meaning ‘to immerse’. The Greeks used it to describe a cloth being plunged into a dye to change its color. In the Bible it was always used of a repentant believer making a public statement of conversion.

Because conversion is spiritual and invisible to the eye, baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward work of God.

Baptism pictures:

1.   Dying with Jesus to your sin—being submerged in the water . This is telling everyone that you believe that you have died to your old self and no longer want to follow in the ways that you were formerly walking in.

2.   Rising with Jesus to new life—coming up out of the water. This is telling everyone that now that you have died to your old self, the new self has been created by Christ and is living a new life.

3.   Declaring public allegiance to Jesus—leaving the water to follow Him. This is telling everyone that as you leave the water you are leaving the 'grave' of your old self, now with a new nature changed by Jesus to walk in a new way of life.

I was raised as a Lutheran and was sprinkled when I was young as an infant and that was referred to as my 'baptism'. But when I got older I realized that I couldn't find that anywhere in the Bible. I realized that sprinkling does not accurately picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and was not done by Jesus or the apostles. And because I could not repent of my sin as an infant I could not make a salvation choice therefore eliminating the need to be baptized because I was not changed by Jesus yet.

So, once Jesus changed my heart and I saw what the Bible said and why it said it, I got baptized as a sign of my love and devotion to the One who gave it all for me and set the standard for how to live my life.

Just as an aside, although not baptizing infants, most churches do provide baby and child dedications which are meaningful times of blessing parents and children as Jesus demonstrated (Matt. 19:13-15).

Bathing just washes the outside but baptism demonstrates that you have been washed on the inside!