I was baptized in a swimming pool at a fancy resort in the Philippines. Tiki umbrellas swayed in the breeze, love songs lulled from the shrubbery, and glistening tourists sipped Mai Tais in the sun. It was a far cry from the days of John the Baptist. My pastor, a Filipino church planter, asked if I had given my life to Jesus. When I said that I had, he smiled. “Upon this profession I baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried with Christ in baptism,” he plunged me under the water, “raised to walk in newness of life.”
There was a smattering of applause from my family and the twenty or so church members gathered around. (The tourists were unmoved. Literally.) Our church had arranged to spend the day at the resort, playing, picnicking, and baptizing. Later, I would dive back into the very same water for a rousing game of chicken with my siblings. But for one sacred moment, that water meant more to me than kicks and giggles. It was symbolic of cleansing and regeneration. It was the means by which I was publicly identifying with Christ and observing the ancient rite of baptism.
What is Baptism?
In graceKIDS! we often liken baptism to a wedding ring. If you take off a wedding ring (or in the case of Pastor Clint Harrison, my husband, lose it within weeks of receiving it!) it doesn’t mean you’re no longer married. Baptism doesn’t make you a Christian any more than wearing a ring makes you married. Both are symbols of a covenant that has already taken place. Just as a ring is a sign of your commitment to another, the sacrament of baptism is a sign to the watching world that you have surrendered your life to Christ. It’s a public profession of a private decision to follow Jesus.
Why Should I Be Baptized?
There are three primary reasons to be baptized. First, Jesus commands it. After the resurrection, Jesus commissioned the disciples with a cause the church still champions to this day: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Consistently in Scripture, baptism is tied to belief. When someone believes in Jesus, they follow Him in baptism (Acts 8:12-13, Acts 2:41). It is the first step of obedience after giving your life to Christ.
Secondly, Jesus did it. Once upon a time, Jesus got in line to be baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Matthew 3:14 says that John protested, “I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus responded, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” As Christians, we’re baptized to follow His example.
Finally, baptism demonstrates that we are believers. Being plunged beneath the water is symbolic of dying to our old way of life. Being raised symbolizes the resurrection of Christ, which enables us to live as new creations. In this way, baptism illustrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12). To obey Christ in baptism is to declare that we are true believers, and we belong to Him (I John 2:3).
How Do I Sign Up for Baptism at Grace?
You can sign up for baptism here! Someone from your campus will contact you with details. Our next baptism is the weekend of November 16 and 17.
What Can I Expect on the Day of Baptism?
No need to pack your resort wear, we baptize right at our campuses! Bring a change of clothes for your baptism. You will be given a special Grace shirt to wear, and there will be a towel ready for you. We also have photographers at each of our campuses to capture the special moment. Don’t forget to invite friends and family to celebrate with you! People are impacted deeply by baptism. Watching one another take a next step toward Christ emboldens us to take next steps of our own.
How Do I Know if My Child is Ready to be Baptized?
Our team at Grace has put together a wonderful resource to help parents discuss baptism with their kids. You can download it here: https://discovergrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/BaptismGuide_online.pdf. Additionally, one of our gK! leaders would love to talk to any children interested in baptism.
Looking back, I wish I had gotten baptized sooner than I did. Despite giving my life to Christ as a child, I was fifteen years old before I followed Him in baptism. There were lots of things that held me back—seasons of doubt and struggle in my faith, the fear of standing in front of a crowd, and the procrastination that always reasoned, “I’ll just do it next time around.”
For me, it wasn’t my first step of faith after salvation. It should have been, but it wasn’t. It came many steps down the road, but thanks be to God, He graciously led me to obedience. If you, like me, have dragged your feet for one reason or another, don’t delay any longer. Today is a great day to say “yes” to Jesus.