What’s baptism and why does it matter?

Foundations of Faith, Day 5

Listen to this – read by Andi and Brian Hale

When you think of “baptism,” what comes to mind? If you said “dunking someone in water”—you’re not wrong! Many churches have different approaches to baptism, but the ultimate purpose of baptism is to outwardly express an inward change. It is both a symbolic expression of faith and an act of obedient surrender and repentance, which is why it’s the natural next step someone takes after they make a decision to believe in and follow Christ.

This public act allows us to identify with Christ’s death and resurrection, repent from the way we used to live, and celebrate the new, eternal life we have because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

But even before Jesus came to earth, God symbolizes His ability to redeem people and make them new by having them pass through water. It happened to the Israelites as they crossed the Red Sea, and again when they crossed the Jordan River. It occurs to Naaman the leprous commander in 2 Kings who is healed once he dips in the Jordan River seven times. (And these are just a few examples!) In each of these instances, God prophetically showcases His power and glory by using water to illustrate His ability to cleanse, heal, restore, and redeem.

When Jesus comes, He publicly confirms His commitment to God through baptism. And by doing so, He also foreshadows what will happen when He dies for humanity and arises from the dead three days later. So when we take part in baptism, we are choosing to live like Jesus by following His example. We are choosing to let God redeem and heal us by dying to our old selves and allowing Him to raise us up to a new life.

Baptism matters because it’s something that Jesus exemplified, and commanded His disciples to do. So as you process what baptism means to you, look for opportunities to bring others along with you. Talk to them about what it means to follow Jesus, and consider inviting them to take part in the act of baptism.

Here are some questions you might want to ask…

Do you believe you need Jesus?

What does believing in Jesus mean to you?

Do you believe that Jesus died for you and rose again?

What does following Jesus look like?

How have you asked God to forgive you for your past mistakes?

Have you invited Jesus into your life?

Action Step:
Take a few moments today to cultivate discussions about faith with other people who are in different places in their walk with God. Then, reflect on which of these Plan days you would like to explore more, and use the YouVersion Discover feature to find more resources and verses around that topic.

Then Moses reached out with his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right and on their left.

Exodus 14:21‭-‬22

So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan, with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who were carrying the ark came up to the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the ark stepped down into the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), then the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

Joshua 3:14‭-‬17

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man in the view of his master, and eminent, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but afflicted with leprosy. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “The girl who is from the land of Israel spoke such and such.” Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothes. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” But when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to keep alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” Now it happened, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why did you tear your clothes? Just have him come to me, and he shall learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots, and stood at the doorway of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away, and he said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will certainly come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the site and cure the leprosy.’ Are Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, not better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants approached and spoke to him, saying, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, in accordance with the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

2 Kings 5:1‭-‬14

But Jesus, answering, said to him, “Allow it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *allowed Him. After He was baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and settling on Him, and behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:15‭-‬17

John responded to them all, saying, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the straps of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people. But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him regarding Herodias, his brother’s wife, and regarding all the evil things which Herod had done, Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:16‭-‬22

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18‭-‬20

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