The Gospel Made Visible

The Significance of Baptism

It appears that baptism has lost its importance in the church today. But for the early church baptism was a matter of considerable significance. Why? Baptism was more than a metric used to measure church growth or to publicize what we did in church today. Baptism was more than an obligatory next step. Rather, it was an obedient response to Christ’s commands. Throughout the New Testament, there is an underlying assumption that all Christians have been baptized (Rom. 6). This practice was rooted in Jesus’ specific command in making disciples (Matt. 28:19,20). Jesus defines what disciple making is: teaching them to observe all that He said and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  So, the church is commanded to do this for all disciples. The significance of making disciples of all nations includes baptizing them.

The Sacrament of Baptism

In his Institutes of Christian Religion, John Calvin describes two distinct marks of the church: true preaching of the Word and proper observance of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). Observing baptism and the Lord’s Supper correctly begins with understanding their practice and purpose. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are limited to followers of Christ only. Baptism is once for all and the Lord’s Supper is ongoing and regular. When one partakes in the sacraments, it is more than a personal, individual experience. Rather, the sacraments are a proclamation of a divine story and belonging to a covenant community, the church.

The Story of Baptism

Baptism tells a divine story. It is the story of Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-4), a story where God and man are reconciled through Christ. It is a declaration of a life transformed by the grace of God. Baptism tells the story of what Christ has done in your life. It proclaims that you were buried in Him and raised to new life through His work, in the church and to the world (Col. 2:12). You are symbolically washed clean, declaring the old man is gone and the new has come. In addition, baptism not only serves a sign of what has happened, it is also a seal of assurance. That does not mean baptism saves us. Simply, baptism assures us and stirs up our faith. J.I. Packer puts it likes this, “As the preaching of the Word makes it audible, so the sacraments makes it visible. And God stirs up faith by both means. Sacraments, therefore, function as a means of grace on the principle that literally seeing leads to believing.”

What’s Next?

Are you ready to be baptized? If so, let us know and we’ll follow up soon to discuss and to schedule this wonderful step of obedience.