What is Baptism?

Baptism is such an amazing and important part of one’s faith journey. Many Christian denominations have their own interpretation and traditions when it comes to baptism, and interestingly enough, they have developed considerable differences over the years.

Scripture makes clear references to baptism and provides a framework for why we get baptized and what the purpose of it is. This article will dig into some of the questions surrounding baptism and seeks to provide answers that are rooted in what the Bible tells us about baptism.

What does it mean to be baptized?

Baptism is a symbolic way of showing the world that a person has decided to walk with Jesus Christ and plans to walk with Him all the days of their life. References from the New Testament show that it is to be a public celebration and includes being dipped or immersed into a body or pool of water. (Matthew 3:6, Luke 3:16) Here at Westwood we refer to baptism as “an outward expression of an inward transformation.”

Why do people get baptized?

When a person decides to be a Christ follower, baptism is one of the most powerful ways to declare your faith and love for Jesus Christ. It truly is a celebration of a new life and new possibilities, where all the sins and baggage we carry are washed away by the grace of God.

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands us to be baptized on the road to our salvation, and to spread His news of love and grace to all nations. Being baptized is also about bringing oneself to do the Lord’s will and staying on the path He has set before us.

What is Baptism?

Is baptism necessary for salvation?

In scripture, baptism follows belief, and it is the belief in Jesus Christ and confession of our sins that brings salvation through God’s grace. Just the act of getting baptized only to “cover one’s bases” to get to heaven is not the teachings that we encounter in the Bible.

And though we are called to get baptized and share our faith and love with the world, it is not this act alone that brings us salvation.  The thief on the cross was not baptized, but he was saved. When being baptized, there is nothing holy about the water, river or baptizer. It is God’s grace alone that can save.

I was baptized as an infant, should I get baptized again?

Many of us have been baptized or christened as an infant and wonder if we need to be baptized again.  It’s understandable to experience some confusion when confronted with the idea of adult baptism by immersion if that was not a part of your upbringing.

Again, the New Testament shows us that baptism follows belief, so it is an active decision made in sound mind.  As infants, we aren’t capable of making the choice to be baptized or of actively deciding to do anything of that magnitude. So, it makes sense to make an intentional decision to follow Christ and be baptized again, which is exactly what many people do.

With the popularity of infant baptisms, and confusion around believer’s baptisms, this is a largely discussed topic. Pastor Joel K. Johnson, Senior Pastor at Westwood Community Church, does a great job examining this subject in greater detail in this message on baptism (also featured below.)

How do I get baptized?

As previously stated, here at Westwood, we say that baptism is an outward declaration of an inward change. If you have made a decision to follow Christ, this is an opportunity to show others that you’ve turned from your old life of sin and are taking the next step in your faith journey to publicly declare new life in Christ.

If you would like to learn more about being baptized or are interested in taking the next step to be baptized, click here for more information.