‘“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”’ (Matthew 28:19 NASB)
I believe the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 demonstrate the importance and value he places on baptism. On the eve of his ascension to heaven, Jesus declared that the defining mark of his followers would be baptism.
Baptism was never intended for infants. In every New Testament command and narrative account of baptism, the requirement of faith always precedes it (Acts 2:38). There are no specific accounts of infant baptism in the New Testament. So at Life Church we love to baptise those who have personally accepted Jesus as their saviour.
But what is baptism all about?
Baptism is the overflow of a changed heart into a symbolic act. Let’s think a bit about symbols:
- A teacher writes the word LOVE on the board, and tells the children it is a symbol for a commitment of the heart to another person.
- At the top of the London Eye you drop to one knee and produce a diamond ring as the symbol of your undying love, as you propose marriage to your girlfriend.
Both are symbols, but are poles apart in significance! Baptism is a symbol of faith, just as that diamond ring is a symbol of your unending love. It’s a whole-body expression of your heart’s acceptance of Christ’s lordship!
The Bible always describes baptism in terms of total immersion. This is fitting, because what happens when you become a Christian is not just a matter of your heart, but of your whole body. It involves all of who you are (Romans 6). Since the lordship of Christ lays claim to our whole bodies, we should express our acceptance of that lordship with an action of that whole body. The action Jesus commands is baptism, symbolising our faith that we are God’s from head to toe.