Unlocking the importance, meaning and application of baptism
Baptism is an enormous part of Christianity. It is mentioned frequently and seriously throughout the New Testament. While most Christians agree on its importance, we vastly disagree on its meaning and place within our teachings. Is baptism a symbol of what has begun changing in you or does it actually change you? Is it a ritual of sprinkling or is it a complete immersion in water? Should babies, children and adults be baptized? What are we supposed to be baptized into? The Bible seemingly tells us two different things. Is it just into the name of Jesus or is it into the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit”? With all of the questions surrounding baptism it is no wonder that there is so much confusion in finding clarity. The good news is that if we pay close attention to biblical history and context we can find answers that are sensible and scripturally sound!
Did you ever wonder what the average person in Israel thought when John the Baptist showed up and started baptizing people to show their repentance for their sins? In all of Jewish history, this kind of thing had never happened before. Suddenly this wild and rough looking guy shows up saying they were all sinners and needed to repent. Why did the people respond? Why did they go along with being dunked in water as a way to show their desire to turn towards God?
Even though baptism was not part of their heritage, ritual washings of various kinds were. The commands behind these washings were simple. The people need to be cleansed of actual dirt and disease as a preparation for being acceptable to be able to stand before God. Baptism, therefore, was built upon some very familiar Jewish practices. In our podcast we focused in on the likely origins of Jewish baptism...and that does two things. First, it clarifies the "why" of water immersion, and second, it provides sound reasoning on the all-important question of baptizing infants and children.
This question is one of the most difficult to handle. The divide on this issue is almost as old as Christianity itself and leads to all kinds of fundamental differences. Some say the ritual of infant baptism was based upon the rite of circumcision given as far back as Abraham. Their point is that it shows us a belonging to those promises given to Abraham himself. Others say that interpretation is a serious misrepresentation of scriptural intention and symbolism. Who is right?
Check out our February 18, 2019 podcast, “How Many Baptisms are there?” for a clear answer. We deep dive beneath the surface on this issue to find what the Scriptures really teach regarding baptism. We also address questions and Scriptures that reveal if baptism is a symbol, who or what we should be baptized into. We even look into Jesus’ own baptism. Did you ever wonder why he was baptized – he had no sin to repent of! Baptism, once we truly understand it, really comes alive!
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