Baptism is a gift God gives to believers. What is baptism? In baptism, physical water and God’s spoken Word work together to create or strengthen the gift of faith that’s in a person’s heart.

What is Baptism?God knew humans needed a tangible, defined, concrete way to connect is to what is holy. Those ways are what the church refers to as the “means of grace”. The three ways God connects with you in a clear, defined way are His Word (the Bible), Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper (Communion).

What are Sacraments?

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are referred to as “sacraments” which literally means a sacred act. Sacraments involve physical objects – water, bread, wine. Through these means, the Holy Spirit connects you to God by strengthening your faith, forgiving your sins, and dwelling in you. (Note: In the Catholic church, they have a slightly different definition of sacraments and have 7 sacraments.)

Sacraments are defined by these 3 things:

  • Commanded and instituted by Jesus
  • Combines the Word of God with a physical element
  • Imparts the forgiveness of sins

God can work any way He chooses, but He promises to work, connect with you, and give you His grace through these means.

What is Baptism?

Baptism is not an arbitrary ceremony that God demands of you because he likes to impose obligations. Baptism is a gift that God gives to you. At baptism, you receive faith in Jesus, complete forgiveness, and the assurance of heaven.

Romans 6 tells us that believers are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. That means that at baptism you now have the power of the redeeming work of Jesus at work in your life.

If there is ever a time that you doubt your faith, remember your baptism.

Throughout his life, reformer Martin Luther continued to go through times of doubt, depression, and anxiety. He had crisis of faith so severe that he would suffer from frightening visions of Satan attempting to usher him into hell.

Luther combated this fear with reminders of his baptism. He placed a large plaque in his room that said, “Remember Your Baptism.” When Luther’s bouts of anxiety were at their worst, he would say to himself again and again, “I am baptized!” Luther understood that God’s work in baptism is bigger than any doubts or fears you feel.

If ever you doubt your faith, look back on your baptism day as a reminder of God’s saving work – living and active in your life.

Should Infants Be Baptized?

One of the most visible differences between Christian denominations is their practice regarding infant baptism.

Some churches baptize infants, others do not. Which one is right?

Both sides of this issue face challenges. The Bible does not clearly say, “baptize infants” and does not clearly say, “do not baptize infants”.

The answer to this issue lies in what you learned earlier in this series about the work of the Holy Spirit. (See more here: What is the Holy Spirit Doing in Your Life?)

If you believe the Holy Spirit works faith in the heart of a person, then you also believe the Holy Spirit can and does work to produce faith in every person at baptism – including infants.

If you believe that each person must decide to come to faith, you probably see baptism as a public showing of the faith already at work in you. Churches that practice only adult baptism teach that faith comes through intellectual comprehension of the gospel and a free will decision to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Baptism follows that decision as a public witness of faith.

In churches that teach faith comes only by the work of the Holy Spirit, baptism is a miraculous way faith is imparted on any person. Hearing the gospel and having the Holy Spirit work through your intellect is certainly another way of coming to faith, but again it is through the power of the Holy Spirit, not human work.

Churches that practice infant baptism often celebrate Confirmation at a time when a young person is old enough to fully grasp the fundamental teachings of faith and publicly witness that faith. Confirmation means a confirming of the faith that was received at baptism, as well as a pledge to follow Jesus in life.

Baptism is a mystery that every Christian must admit will never fully be understood. Research, learning, and pondering are valuable, but at the end of the day you will find that accepting with child-like faith that which God commands (but we cannot fully understand) brings peace.

Getting to Know Jesus Online Bible Study

As we continue through our study of the book Getting to Know Jesus, we learn about the sacraments and baptism.

Much discussion takes place in our Getting to Know Jesus Facebook group. Come and join us there for new discussion weekly. (Bonus: The author joins us in the group, too!)

While you are welcome to join in the discussion no matter what, I encourage you to purchase the book and read along for maximum benefit. You can purchase the book Getting to Know Jesus here in print or Kindle version.

Getting to Know Jesus: Using the Six Core Teachings of the Bible to Grow in a Deeper Relationship with JesusGetting to Know Jesus: Using the Six Core Teachings of the Bible to Grow in a Deeper Relationship with Jesus

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