Summary: Why is baptism so important? A look at what baptism is not, and what it is. It changes your life!
Every so often the pastor of the church I was attending would ask me: “Are you ready for baptism Gregg?” To which I would always reply: “Pastor, I was already baptized when I was a baby! Why do I need to be baptized again?” To which he would look at me and just smile.
If there ever was a mind game, this one left me puzzled for quite some time. Why is he always asking if I was ready for baptism. Why couldn’t he just accept that fact that I was already baptized as a child... and that should be enough. Yet, it continued to play in my mind. Man, that preacher was good ... but little did I realize that it just wasn’t the preacher ... it was the Holy Spirit moving in my heart and mind ... gently pushing me to a greater understanding as to what Baptism was really all about. The end result is that I did get baptised a few months later ... and during that time I began to understand why John, Jesus, and the other apostles shared this message ... “Repent, and be baptised.”
Scripture: Acts 16: 29-34
In order to fully understand why baptism is so important, one must first understand what baptism is not.
1. Baptism is not a requirement for salvation.
When I was born, my parents were attending a church that was very traditional and conservative. As I grew up I began to appreciate the things that went on before and during the worship service.
One thing that happened before the service was the “Breaking Of Bread” or the celebration of the Last Supper - Communion. In this church communion happened every Sunday, however, it was not for everyone ... it was only for those who had met 2 qualifications. Salvation and Baptism. Both Kenny and I had been saved ... we knew Jesus was in our hearts ... but we had not taken the last step ... baptism.
My friend Kenny and I would sometimes talk about this event. We would go to church with our parents and they would make us sit in the outer circle while our dad’s and mom’s sat in the inner circle ... when the bread and cup were passed around they would take it, but us kids could not take it ... even though we understood what it meant. You see we had not given a testimony of salvation and baptism.
Then one day my buddy Kenny got baptised ... how he got there I don’t know, but I remember going to church one Sunday and there he was in a white robe stepping into the big bath tub on the stage and then being dunked. I thought that was kinda funny, but I never talked about it with him until the next week when we got to church and there he was ... in the inner circle ... and so I wanted to go sit beside him, but I was told I couldn’t. He took communion, but again I was left out ... what a bummer. When I asked him about it later he simply said that he had gotten saved and baptised and that now he could take communion.
In my little mind I began to think that I wasn’t really saved ... because I hadn’t been baptised. Well, let me tell you this ... scripture does not say that you have to be baptised in order to be saved.
Jesus when he spoke to Nicodemus simply said “unless a man is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Jesus when he spoke to the adulterous woman simply said “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He did not tell her to be saved and get baptised ... he simply told her to stop sinning.
Salvation is a gift ... a gift that is given by God through Jesus ... it is the blood of Jesus that washes away the sin and cleanses us ... not the water of baptism.
2. Baptism is also not a pre-qualifier in order to get into heaven. In other words baptism is not a requirement or a guarantee for getting into heaven.
So often I will hear of churches that will publicly declare that salvation is not enough ... but you need to be baptised in order to qualify for heaven. No baptism ... no guarantee that heaven is yours. How sad ...
In some faiths they practice child baptism ... as an act that is required so that a child can be guaranteed heaven from that time on .... and then when tragedy hits and a child dies without being baptised it is devastating to the parents who then feel the child is lost. How tragic that religions put such fears into people, and teach a doctrine that is not even a part of God’s teachings.