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What Is Baptism?

Justin Warns

Justin Warns

Discipleship Director

Since the very beginning when first-century mission preacher John the Baptist baptized followers of Jesus on the banks of the Jordan River, the act of baptism has been a fundamental element of the Christian faith. While most people can agree that baptism is a holy and important part of our faith, many people are left with questions.

At Kensington Church, we believe taking the plunge is a significant step in a person’s spiritual journey. This proclamation of faith is celebrated publicly a couple of times a year during church services or at special baptism events to support and celebrate this faith milestone.

I still have the picture that was captured the day I got baptized, hanging in my office only a couple feet from where I’m writing. On my right was my spiritual mentor who invested much of his time, effort and wisdom to help me grow in my spiritual journey. On my left was one of the first friends that I had that showed me what it means to follow Christ. And surrounding that moment are some of the most important people in my life who encouraged me throughout my spiritual journey of discovering who Jesus was and is in my life. It is one of my favorite days of the year to celebrate because I remember how significant it was in my life.

justin baptism

We have the opportunity celebrate baptisms at Stony Creek Metro Park on August 4. If you are feeling the nudge but still have questions, read on!

What baptism is not

Baptism is not how a person becomes a Christian. You became a Christian the moment you made a decision to place your faith in Jesus. If you do not get baptized, you are still a Christian because your salvation does not depend on good works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Why is baptism important?

Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, he gave one last command known as the Great Commission. He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 19-20). Of all the things Jesus could have said before leaving the earth, he emphasized that those who make a choice to believe and follow him should be baptized. Baptism is an act of faith and obedience to the command and invitation of Christ. Baptism is also a significant moment that we get to experience with friends, family, faith community, and in our own relationship with Jesus.

What is the meaning of baptism?

Baptism is a symbol of Christ’s burial and resurrection. Our entrance into the water during baptism identifies us with Christ’s death on the cross, His burial in the tomb, and His resurrection from the dead. Colossians 2:12-14 summarizes the meaning of baptism perfectly:
“Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”

Why should I consider getting baptized?

Jesus himself was baptized in the Jordan River! He was not a sinner, yet he humbled himself in obedience to identify with us and give us an example to follow. Mark 1:9-11 recounts “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”

baptism celebration

When should I be baptized?

We’re all on a spiritual journey in life, and we’re all at different places on that journey. If you believe God the Father loves you so much that He sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, and if you commit to pursuing full-devotion to Jesus in all areas of your life, then you are ready to be baptized! If you’re not there yet, then baptism is not the right step for you to take at this point in your spiritual journey—and that’s OK! Everyone’s faith journey is unique and different. If you are still wrestling with questions about your faith, try an Alpha class or arm yourself with knowledge through resources like RightNow Media.

If I’m not baptized, can I still go to heaven?

Some people think they must get baptized in order to qualify for heaven. If you believe this to be true, consider the story of the crucifixion in the Bible when Jesus was being crucified between two thieves. One of the thieves continued to mock Jesus while the other said to him, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). This criminal was placing his faith in Jesus when he was only hours away from death. Jesus answered him in the following verse, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Baptism was not necessary for the thief to get to heaven. Your salvation is based on placing your faith in Jesus!

How does Kensington baptize believers?

Different churches baptize people in different ways. Some sprinkle water, others pour it over a person’s head. At Kensington, we practice baptism by immersion, which means your entire body goes under the water. The reason we do this is because the Greek word for baptism is baptize, which literally means, “to dip or immerse.”

Take the plunge!

If you’re ready to make the outward expression of your inward reality, register here.

Still have questions about baptism? I’d love to chat with you. As a Discipleship Director at Kensington, I love talking with people who are asking tough questions about their faith. You can email me at [email protected].

-Justin Warns, Central Discipleship Director

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