The hymn came to an end. That’s my cue, I realized, clutching a printed copy of my testimony. Barefoot and wearing a swimsuit under a heavy blue robe, I calmly stepped down into the water in a tub behind the stage at my church.
My pastor told the church my name and shared a few words about baptism then gently pushed me closer to the microphone. To my surprise, I wasn’t as anxious as I’d expected I would be. I had always seen baptism as “that scary event in the future,” but now that I was actually doing it, I felt a strange sense of peace.
I read my testimony out loud, content to have my eyes glued to the paper rather than the congregation. Then I handed my glasses and testimony to my pastor, who handed them to a lady behind the scenes. He had me kneel and, as I’d been told he would, lifted my hand to my nose to plug it before he carefully dunked me underwater.
“In the name of the Father…” Splosh! “In the name of the Son…” Splosh! “And in the name of the Holy Spirit.” Splosh!
I’ll never forget the day I got baptized. It has been nearly three years now. I became a Christian years before then, but getting baptized was a huge milestone in my journey of faith. Baptism is an important step in a Christian’s walk. For most, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We should never underestimate the significance of getting baptized.
Why Get Baptized?
Why should we get baptized if we’ve already been saved? As an introvert, I would never do something as intimidating as standing in front of my church and getting dunked for fun. (And my church would have people read their testimonies in front of everyone before their baptism, so that made it seem especially scary.)
But I got baptized, despite how daunting it looked, for mainly these two reasons:
1. It is a command. (Matthew 28:19)
I’m kidding, but seriously—the fact that God commands anything should be enough to make us take it seriously. If you have trusted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you won’t go to hell for not being baptized, but we should genuinely want to obey Him just because we love Him.If you have trusted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you won’t go to hell for not being baptized, but we should genuinely want to obey Him just because we love Him. Click To Tweet
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 3:21)
2. It is a way we express we’ve been saved.
Baptism symbolizes coming to faith. It is a public way of showing we are Christians and not ashamed of it. Although baptism doesn’t save us, it is a symbol of being united with Christ, of putting off the old self to put on the new self.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
Why not be baptized? There really is no legitimate reason not to get baptized if you are a Christian. God commands it and it is an expression of faith in Him. That’s why I did it.
Come to Faith First
However, if you are not a Christian, you should come to faith first. I believe baptism is for true believers. If you come from a Christian family and haven’t been baptized yet, it is likely your church believes this too. In the Bible, hearing the good news, believing, and repenting always come before baptism. This verse, for example:
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:38)
So, if you are on the fence about repentance, you should probably wait. Baptism will not save you if you have not been saved.
But if you are planning to be baptized, I have another few pieces of advice for you.
Don’t Worry, Pray Instead
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)
I know that verse is quoted a lot, but seriously, don’t stay up all night thinking about possible ways details of the baptism can go wrong.
Your pastor knows what he’s doing, and he (or some other person) will tell you what to expect. The only hiccup in my baptism was that I tried to stand up when I was supposed to stay kneeling in the water for the prayer afterward. Except for that, I was prepared for all the other details.
And remember, this is a happy event! Baptism is a celebration that you’ve been born again, so it’s like a birthday party, not a funeral. It’s ok if people laugh, and it doesn’t matter in the long run if you mess up.
Be sure to pray! Thank God for His work in your life because that is why you are doing this in the first place. He deserves all the credit.
If you’re feeling nervous, pray for peace when the big day comes. I prayed for this, and God listened! He definitely helped me when the time came.
“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
It’s About Christ, Not You
One thing that is very easy to forget is that baptism is not all about you. You’ll be in the spotlight, and people will congratulate you, and maybe even give you flowers, but all the glory goes to God. You are not getting baptized because you are special or brave or good, but because Jesus died for you. Keep Christ centered in your thoughts.You are not getting baptized because you are special or brave or good, but because Jesus died for you. Keep Christ centered in your thoughts. Click To Tweet
Baptisms are also a good opportunity to invite unbelieving friends and family who would not normally come to church and share the gospel with them. It’s a good chance for you to “shoot two birds with one stone” by caring for other souls at the same time.
In the words of Ananias to the newly-saved Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)