The Meaning of Baptism
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:4-6).
Baptism symbolizes the believer following Christ into His death, burial, and resurrection. In baptism the breath is suspended as in death then, comes the burial in water and resurrection from the watery grave to a new life in Christ. When raised from the water, the person begins breathing again – a complete likeness of resurrection.
To keep these important acts alive in the minds of Christians until the end of time, Christ instituted baptism by immersion as a memorial of what He did for us. There is no symbolism of death, burial, and resurrection in other forms of baptism (ex. sprinkling, pouring, etc.). Only the mode of immersion fulfills the meaning of Romans 6:4-6.
The great difference between Christianity and other religions is simply the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. When a believer accepts Christ, the old life dies and the Lord promises to forget all our sins! Not only that but He offers to help us overcome every sinful habit in our lives (1 Corinthians 15:57; Philippians 4:13).
Public Confession of Faith
While the Bible teaches that we are justified by faith and grace alone (Ephesians 2:8; John 1:12; John 3:16), baptism is the means by which a person makes a public confession of his faith to the universe. Thus, it is an outward testimony of the inward change in a believer’s life. The apostle Peter taught that repentance goes hand in hand with baptism. He said, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Jesus stressed the necessity of baptism for salvation. He said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). And just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus instituted Christian baptism as an ordinance for the church: “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 29:19-20).
Christian baptism is simply a symbol and does not in itself have any divine grace. Unless a person believes in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9) and repents of sin (Acts 2:38; 19:18), baptism can be of no benefit to him. From these facts it is obvious that infant baptism is without meaning as far as child’s salvation is concerned. Baptism can be meaningful only when a child is old enough to have faith and repent of his sins.
In His service,