A Brief Look at Christian Baptism

The Risen Lord Jesus Christ commands His followers to be baptized. Through this symbolic act the believer is identified with the Lord and His Church. Baptism is a symbol of new life in Christ, a seal of the covenant of grace, and a sign of the forgiveness of sins. Water is an outward symbol for the inward work of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is for those who have repented and believed on the Lord Jesus.

The origins of Christian baptism are found in the Old Testament. The Law of Moses dictated ceremonial washing for priests chosen to serve (Leviticus 14.8,9). John the Baptist, and the first disciples of Jesus, performed such ceremonial washings as a rite of repentance (John 3.22-26). This pre-Christian baptism was preparatory, intended to lead a person to faith in the Messiah (Luke 7.29,30, Acts 19.1-7).

After His resurrection the Lord Jesus instituted Christian baptism, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.18-20). The qualification is discipleship – following Him. This text describes baptism as a rite of initiation and “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” is the continuation. Baptism should be done early in our discipleship; obeying his teaching keeps one faithfully following that path “to the very end of the age.”


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