Baptism is only about the forgiveness of sins – or is there something more than this?
In the Bible there are many stories of people being baptized. But what is the purpose of baptism and what is its meaning for our Christian life?
What is baptism?
Baptism is an act in which a Christian is immersed in water to symbolize the end of a way of life, and the beginning of something new.
The Bible first mentions baptism in relation to John the Baptist. This was under the old covenant, when baptism was performed to receive forgiveness of sin. “I indeed baptize you in water for repentance; but he who comes after me, whose shoes I am not worthy to wear, is more powerful than I; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. “ Matthew 3:11. With the establishment of the new covenant, because of the death of Jesus on the cross, now baptism is more than the forgiveness of sins – it is a covenant to live the life of a disciple before God.
Peter compares baptism with the flood in Noah’s time. 1 Peter 3: 18-21 The Bible says about the time of Noah: “And the LORD saw that the wickedness of men was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” Genesis 6: 5. Just as the waters of the flood put an end to evil in the Old Testament, in the New Testament baptism represents the end of living an egocentric life doing my own will and the beginning of a new life doing the will of God.
Who should be baptized?
A person who has made a commitment to give his life to follow Jesus, be obedient to the Word of God and live a new life is a candidate to be baptized. Such people have repented, and want to be free from their sin.
This was the case of the Jews, who had crucified Jesus, when they heard Peter. ” When they heard this, they were heartfelt, and said to Peter and the other apostles: Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37. It was these whom Peter exhorted to be baptized. Verse 38.
Like the Jews mentioned above, today there are many people who mourn their sins and who have proposed living a life pleasing to God. Although it is evident that a certain maturity is needed to make such decisions, an adequate attitude in the heart is the main criterion for deciding to be baptized – at any age. Jesus’ own words to his disciples confirm the need of many to be baptized: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28 : 19 There are no references in the Bible about infants being baptized.
What does baptism mean for my life?
Although Christianity consists of a hidden life with God, baptism is an external act in which we affirm our desire to follow Jesus on this inner path.
Paul explains how we should live this new life: “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized in Christ Jesus have been baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him to death by baptism, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. “ Romans 6: 3-4.
This “death” that Paul mentions is a death to my old life, where I choose to stop living according to my human nature and sinful tendencies. To begin to walk in “a new life” by being obedient to the commandments of God.
Being baptized does not free us from temptations, but we can, as the writer of Hebrews declares, overcome temptation as Jesus did: “Because we do not have a high priest who can not sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in all according to our likeness, but without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, in order to obtain mercy and find grace for the opportune help. “ Hebrews 4: 15-16.
We can live the rest of our lives doing the will of God, just like Jesus: “Therefore, entering into the world he says: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not want; But you prepared me body. Holocausts and sin offerings you were not pleased. “Then said I, Behold, I come, O God, to do thy will, As in the scroll of the book it is written of me. ‘” “ Hebrews 10: 5-7.
With such a purpose in mind, God will open his Word to us, so that we can run in the way of his commandments. This new life will produce in us that we reap the blessings of God instead of the consequences of sin.