Baptism is one of the most disputed subject matters within the denominational world. Many denominations claim that the act of baptism is”an outward sign of inward testimony”as if a simple confession in front of others would not accomplish the same thing.
One would have to ask: why would God have me do useless rituals that serve no real purpose?
Before we attempt to answer this question in this blog, we will first take a look at Christ’s example.
While Christ’s baptism is recorded in the first 3 gospels. Let’s examine Matthew 3:13-17: 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
In looking at verse 13 in the passage above let’s interject the notion of “baptism as an outward sign of an inward testimony.” Why would John utter the words: “I need to be baptized by you” if baptism was just a simple ritual? This statement alone suggests that it was not a ritual. In fact we can clearly see from his statement that John recognized that Christ was superior to himself.
What should certainly peak the interest of the reader next is the fact that Christ then uttered the words: “let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness”. To those who have shut off their minds to accepting all truth from God’s word, this would be useless babbling or “Jesus talk”. However, the answer is clear: Christ lead by example and never asked anyone to do something that he wouldn’t do himself regardless of whether he personally needed the activity. The sign of a true leader.
Baptism was clearly a step toward being in right standing with God. In fact after Jesus completed the act of baptism we can see in verse 16 that the Holy Spirit then came upon him. We see this same process for Christians in Acts 2:38 when Peter is addressing a crowd of people on the Day of Pentecost: 38 Peter replied, “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.
Baptism is a Step in the Process of Fulfilling All Righteousness
The only reason why Christ did not do step 1 in Acts 2:38: “Repent” is because he knew no sin to repent from: 2 Corinthians 5:21. However, he confirmed this with the pharisee, Nicodemus, when he stated in John 3:5: 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
The spiritual rebirth process begins when one first repents (turns away from sin) and is obedient by being baptism (there is nothing in the water itself. However, baptism is an act of obedient spiritual faith which removes sin). Confessing ones sins without the act of baptism results in sins remaining.