What is the Meaning of Baptism? Well, let’s take a look at what Peter preached on Pentecost. He told the people in Acts 2:38 to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” At that time, over 3000 people responded to his command, and since then baptism has been regarded as the initiation rite for anyone desiring to become a Christian.
The word “Baptize” comes from the Greek verb “Baptizo,” which means to immerse, go under, or sink. Cold water was favored over warm water back during the earlier Christian rites. If water was scarce, baptism could be performed by pouring water over a person’s head in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
All of this was done for purification which was an Old Testament tradition. Some thought of it as a spiritual bath so that Christians could be sanctified and justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (Reference 1 Corinthians 6:11) In I Peter 3:21, the word says, “The like figure whereunto even Baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” Then Paul speaks of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt as a Baptism “in the cloud, and in the sea.” (Reference I Corinthians 10:2)
For early Christians the ritual of Baptism took on its most sacred meaning when it was associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus, becoming a symbol of the victory over spiritual death and the passage to a new life. Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you have been Baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Paul then reminds us that “So many of us were Baptized into Jesus Christ were Baptized into His death?” (Reference Romans 6:3) In this chapter we understand that we were identified with all Christ accomplishments. His death forever broke sin’s control over us. In verse 4 and 5 it goes on to state, “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 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.”
Water Baptism should be practiced by every Christian after conversion. Paul reminds the Romans of Baptism’s symbolic significance. It’s represents REDEMPTION, HOPE, and A NEW LIFE.
~~~My Personal Experience with Baptism~~~
“Next Saturday evening at 7 p.m. we will be Baptizing all kids 13 and older,” I heard an elderly lady announce. It was a general calling for all of those who had not been Baptized to prepare to do so, but as a child, I didn’t understand the meaning behind it all. All I was told was that if you believed that Jesus was the Son of God you had to be Baptized, but the truth of the matter was fear took over my body. What would happen to me? What if they keep me under water too long? I didn’t want to be the first candidate to die while being Baptized! I was stressed and afraid! The week leading up to the event was a difficult one. I didn’t sleep or eat much, and before I knew it I was standing in a line with a white robe on awaiting my turn to be submerged! I felt like crying, but I held it together. The pastor put his hand over my face, and a deacon helped take me under as the pastor quoted some scriptures. I really couldn’t tell you what he said. Everything sounded like “waaa whoop whoop whoop waaa.” Yeah, a scene taken from Charlie Brown. As I went under the water, I held my breath and prayed that I wouldn’t die. When I was brought up the elders in the church were clapping and shouting, and I found myself excited too, but for very different reasons. I was glad it was over, and I was still alive! So yes, my first experience with Baptism wasn’t very good. I don’t think it’s a good idea to force kids to be baptized in the manner I was. That was a scary situation. That’s why at age 18, I decided to get Re-Baptized. I had studied the Word of God and understood what it meant. Of course my second experience was amazing. I cried tears of joy, and I was so thankful to Jesus for allowing me this great opportunity to live and walk as a new creature. The Holy Spirit was present, and there was indeed a move of God, a real life change. Because of my experience I thought there had to be others out there who may need to reevaluate their experience with Baptism and possibly do it again. At any rate, I pray you have a clearer understanding of what it means to be Baptized. God bless you!