Water Baptism : Going Public
Updated: Jan 8
We are having a water baptism service for our Eagle River, Rhinelander and Westboro locations at Hodag Park in Rhinelander August 19 . Let us know if you desire to make this step in your relationship with Jesus and go public!
Baptism is something that seems to bring up a lot of questions in people’s lives. What is it? Do I need to do it? One thing Matthew 28:19-20 talks about is how we as Disciples of Christ are to go into the entire world baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Great, so what does that mean?
Basically, water baptism doesn't need to be complicated. It is the outward expression of an inward decision. It is not the water ceremony that saves you, Jesus does. Baptism is the celebration of our salvation in Jesus! But lets look a bit deeper at baptism.
When we look at the Book of Acts we find several stories of such activity happening in the early Church.
Acts 2:41 the day of Pentecost
8:12, 8:38 Philip baptizing
9:18 Paul's conversion
10:48 Cornelius household
16:15 Lydia the merchant
16:33 Paul and Silas’s jailer and house
18:8 Jewish leaders
These give us instances of baptism but still don’t give us the necessary why or what happens in baptisms. The greatest story of a baptism happened in Luke 3:21-22 and Matthew 3:13-17 when Jesus was baptized by his cousin John. This gives us a great model of baptism and as we look at others Scriptures they give us a clear understanding of what happens.
The word used for baptism in the Bible was a very common one that meant to immerse, plunge under, and submerge. It is what we do to cucumbers to make them pickles, we baptize them in the brine. That is the simple answer to how we baptize people, we immerse their whole body in water. We have taken this Greek word literally.
But what is spiritually happening when you get baptized in front of your friends, family and other onlookers? Here are a couple things we find in Scripture.
#1. You are making a public stand for Christ.
Galatians 3:26-27 “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.”
Just like putting on the jersey of your favorite team you are clothing yourself with Christ. You are united with Him. You wear the same colors when you publically declare that you are a follower of His. You don't change your shirt several times during the game but you wear the Jersey throughout the game. This can be hard sometimes especially when things are going bad. You want to take your clothes of Jesus off and try something new but in baptism you are making a public statement of your allegiance.
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the most public gathering around. People went there for their drinking water, to wash their clothes, to cool off on a hot day, and to go fishing. Everybody gathered there.
Matthew 10:32, “Whoever acknowledges me before men I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven but whoever disowns me before men I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”
We are ultimately making a public statement that we are….
#2. Being baptized into Christ’s Death
Romans 6:3-4;6-7 “Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
Our old self is dead. Your old nature dies in the water grave of baptism. It is the burying of one’s past sins. That old sin that used to grip you has no more power over you. This is hard because we want to relive our pasts and use that as our excuse for not moving forward in our lives. Whenever your old sinful life comes back and reminds you of what you did you can say, “you’re dead!” You were buried with Christ in baptism. And besides it is really weird to listen to dead things.
And glory to God, through baptism you are….
#3. Raised into new life.
Romans 6:4 “Just as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life, a totally new life in Christ.”
You are going to be raised out of the watery grave into new life. You are different now as the Holy Spirit of God is active in your life. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead raises you from the death of sin. We have a new life now to live out the commandments that Jesus spoke of while here on the earth. This new life is now empowered through this public declaration of baptism.
One note of warning.
The Greek word for baptism was also used for the process of dyeing garments. I once thought I could dye a polyester shirt even though I was told repeatedly that only cotton could be dyed. I thought I could take a garment that wasn’t able to accept the color of dye and force it into the fabric. It didn’t work and everyone laughed.
Just like in my experience, we need to prepare ourselves for the water of baptism and it has nothing to do with our clothes. We need to prepare our own spirit to except the water of baptism into the fabric of our life. We can prepare ourselves for baptism by:
Accepting the free gift of Christ's salvation of our sins and choosing to be a follower of Him. If we don’t do this, we are just getting wet in front of a crowd.
Spending time in His Word and read the stories of baptisms so you are not surprised when a truly spiritual moment happens.
Be prepared to share your own story of your past and how you want this moment to declare publically that you are a follower of Christ and how you wish to die to your former self and be raised to a new life in Christ.
Baptism has symbolic meanings but at its core it is a deeply spiritual event and encounter that every follower of Christ is asked to partake in.