The Importance of Baptism

Being a Baptist, you might think that I think that baptism is important.  If so, you are exactly right.  Recently I was in a church and watched as a young man was being baptized and again I was moved by its beauty and its significance.  Through the years, I have participated in hundreds of baptisms.  The wonder of the simple, yet amazing act came to life before my eyes anew and afresh.  I was reminded of how important baptism is.  I thought about titling this article “The Top Reasons Why Baptism Is Important,” but simply because of the lack of space, I am just going to mention three reasons why baptism is of importance. 

First — it was important to Jesus. When Jesus came to John to be baptized, it was not just by chance or by accident or an afterthought.  When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to Him and wanted to be baptized by him, it was not to wash away His sins for He had none, but according to Jesus, it was to show what He would do to take our sins away.  He would die, be buried, rise from the grave for you and for me.  For as Jesus said it, it was to fulfill all righteousness.  What He was speaking of, of course, was the amazing substitutionary death in our place that He would die on a cross and be buried and rise triumphantly the third day. 

John said to Jesus that he was not worthy to baptize Him, in fact, he was not even worthy to loose His sandals, but this was really big.  For baptism was important for all of us and for Jesus to signify the redemptive act itself in our behalf.  So it was that the sight of a believer following Jesus being baptized, buried beneath the water, and raised to walk in newness of life was a significant thing.  From that, you and I begin to understand that to the Savior Himself, baptism was important. 

Second — it was important to me.  From a personal standpoint, after I had accepted Christ and was saved, it was several weeks before I was baptized.  Our church did not have a baptistery and so arrangements had to be made with a neighboring church for us to go over and use their baptistery to have baptism on a Sunday afternoon.  Many in our church joined there in the middle of the afternoon to see not only me and to participate with my baptism, but others who were following Christ in baptism.  It was a wonderful experience for me.  For decades at every baptism that I have seen or participated in, I have reflected on my own baptism.  Not just as an experience of getting wet in the pool, but recalling what Jesus had done for me to pay for my sins and give me life. 

I think about it – how significant it is to be baptized and for it to be separated from the time I accepted Christ by several weeks.  I knew that I was saved and going to heaven if I were to die then, but on that Sunday afternoon, it was my blessing and privilege to personally show in my own life what Jesus had done for me – His death, burial, and resurrection.  It was vivid to me then; it is still vivid to me today.  I realized even then and even more so now that what Jesus did in baptism, I have the privilege of doing also and people are able to see a living, visible presentation of what Christ has done to save me.  It was and is important to me. 

Third — it was important to others.  On the day of Pentecost when 3,000 people came to know Christ, they were baptized.  What an incredible event, and it continued all through the book of Acts until this day.  You see baptism is a vivid picture, a living moving picture, of what Christ has done for each of us.  It is a beautiful expression of our testimony that Christ has given His life for me, was buried and rose again, and lives in me.  Buried with Him in baptism, raised to walk in newness of life.  That single beautiful step of obedience in following Jesus speaks to other people — to our family, to our friends, to our family of faith that meets at the church, and maybe a hardhearted unbeliever who is seeing that amazing moment. 

Through the years as a pastor, I can recall people who were in our services when we had observed the ordinance of baptism and they had never seen a baptism.  For those of us who have seen hundreds or thousands of them, we lose the sensitivity of the wonder of seeing this take place.  Their comments, these first time observers, opened the door for a conversation that invariably would lead to the presentation of the Gospel, the good news of the living Savior, who indeed had given His life for all of us, was buried, then conquered death. 

I will never forget a man who was attending our church.  He was in his 70s.  He had never seen a baptism and after the service was commenting to me that was the first baptism he had ever seen of someone being immersed.  He, though he was attending our church and could tell you about when he had met Jesus as his Savior, had never been baptized and was gently but obviously making light of us baptizing there in the service.  I asked him if anyone had ever explained to him what the picture of baptism was.  He said not really and since that was the first one he ever saw, I walked him through the wonder of what he just saw that evening.  It was several weeks later that he came to me and said, “I just can’t get that out of my mind.  I just feel like the Lord wants me to do that.”  I had the privilege of baptizing him because he had seen someone baptized and wanted to picture that to the world with his own body, with his own life.  Baptism is important to Jesus and to me and to others.  Mark it down; baptism is important!

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Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer