Today we will celebrate the baptism of two believers. But why is it important that these two young ladies should be baptised?
Firstly, one of the reasons why it is important for Christians to be baptised is because Jesus commands it. Just before Jesus goes back to heaven after being raised from the dead he commands his disciples: ‘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’ (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians are supposed to be taught to obey Christ’s commands, and one of the commands is that people are baptised when they become Christians. So when Christians get baptised they are being obedient servants to God.
Another reason baptism is important is because it is a public testimony from the new Christian to other people that they are now a child of God. In the New Testament baptisms are usually very public events – often the baptism itself was done in a public place such as the Jordan River. When someone becomes a Christian, it is through baptism that they can tell many people what has happened to them: they have repented of their sins and believed in Jesus death for them. They are no longer considered unrighteous and dirty before God, but righteous and pure. For Christians to see another person baptised means that they can now hold that new Christian accountable as a Christian. While for non-Christians, it gives them the opportunity to ask the new Christian what has happened and find out about the good news of Jesus Christ.
But I also want to be clear that you do not get baptised to be saved. Some people think that if you are not baptised you cannot go to heaven. But the Bible is clear that no act of obedience, including baptism, saves anyone from their sins. Also in the gospels we see someone who goes to heaven without being baptised – the thief on the cross. While Jesus is dying, one of the thieves says to him: ‘”Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”’ (Luke 23:42-43). Jesus says that the man is saved even though he has never been baptised. Baptism doesn’t save.
So when you see someone baptised, remember that this is an act of obedience and a witness to those present that something has happened. What has happened? They have been saved from their sins by repenting and believing in Jesus’ death for them.