The Commitments of Baptism
The commitments of baptism! Do you know what commitments you make to God when you make the decision to be baptized into Christ? The commitments are many and very significant!
Many people view baptism as a church formality with very little personal significance. Others view baptism as a denominational ordinance that is a culminating step of church membership. Still others look upon baptism as a rite of passage into adult religious privileges and responsibilities. Vast numbers remember nothing about their baptism for it was a ceremony performed for them when they were merely an irresponsible baby in their mother’s arms.
The Bible views baptism in far different terms. It is a deeply meaningful act, voluntarily chosen by a repentant believer, that carries with it many serious implications and sober commitments. When a person comes to Christ, he places his faith in the crucified and risen Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ (John 3:14-18, 36; Romans 3:24-25). He repents of all of his sins and turns away from all that displeases God (Acts 2:38; 3:19, 26). When he is baptized in this context, what does this really mean to his life? What commitments are found in this step of faith? Let us discuss some of them.
(1) The Commitment to die to sin.
When a person responds to Jesus in faith, a deep spiritual work occurs in his life. His heart, soul and mind are very much involved in his baptism. Thus, baptism is not merely an outer physical act, but especially a spiritual event. Paul asks, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). When one is baptized into Christ’s death and his own death, what happens in is own inner being? Paul answers: “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (vv. 6-7). The apostle says that our “old self” (the person we were before coming to Christ) is crucified with Jesus and “our body of sin” is done away with!
If you have been truly baptized into Christ, this is what happened to you! The person you used to be has died! Your old self was crucified! You “died to sin” (Romans 6:2) and “died with Christ” (Colossians 2:20). What does this mean? It means that you must no longer sin. Sin was your former “master” but now God is your “Master” (Romans 6:12-13, 16-22). Paul explains, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). He further says, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (6:14). In summary, the person you used to be has been crucified and you are now dead! Your have also crucified your sinful flesh and are crucified to the world. You must never go back and live for sin, for the flesh, for lustful desires, or for the world any more! Baptism means that you must renounce your former lying, cheating, profanity, laziness, sexual immorality, anger, greed, materialism, and every other sinful attitude and act. Baptism means that you are dead to all of these elements of your past sinful life.
(2) The Commitment to live for God and His will.
Not only does baptism mean that you died to sin and the world, but you also are now spiritually alive in Christ Jesus! When we arise from baptism, we are to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul says, “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11). Read all of Paul’s explanation in Romans 6:1-23. When we are baptized into Christ, we henceforth “serve in newness of the Spirit” and are “joined” to Christ to “bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:6, 4). We are “raised up” with Christ from the burial of baptism (Colossians 2:12), so that God “made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (v. 13). In baptism we commit ourselves to live a new life in the power of the Holy Spirit! We are committed to living a holy, pure, devoted, earnest, and whole-hearted life of service and sacrifice for the Savior who bought us for God and His glory! We are new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17)—new people who eagerly read God’s word, pray to the Father, sing spiritual songs, walk in honesty, and live with new and holy aspirations!
(3) The Commitment to live a repentant life.
When the people on the day of Pentecost wanted to know how to be forgiven of their sins, Peter replied, “Repent, and each of you be baptized 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). When people are baptized, they give evidence that they are repenting of their former life of sin. Repentance means “to have a change of mind and heart” that issues in a change of life. This is why John’s baptism was called “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Not only does one repent of past sins, but he commits himself to future repentance as well. Thus, John said, “I baptize you with water for repentance” (Matthew 3:11). We must live a life of repentance, continually turning from sin as we discover it in our life, and continually turning to God our source of life, guidance, and meaning.
(4) The Commitment to obey Jesus our Lord in all He taught.
When Jesus departed from His apostles, He commanded them: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). When a person is baptized into the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, he commits himself to “obey everything” that Jesus has commanded us to keep (NIV). We commit ourselves to be a disciple who obeys the Lord in all that He and His apostles taught. Do we consciously seek to obey the Lord in everything or are we careless in our submission to our Savior? Regretfully, most people who profess to be Christians fail to take seriously the requirement of absolute obedience to Jesus as Lord. Jesus asked the penetrating question, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). We must express our love for the Lord and faith in Him by obeying Him without compromise, without apology, and without excuse (John 14:15, 21-24; 1 John 5:2-3; James 2:14-26).
(5) The Commitment to live in community with genuine baptized believers.
How did the people on Pentecost respond to Peter’s command mentioned above? The record says, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). When people repented and were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, they were “added” to the body of people who believed in Jesus and were walking as Jesus commanded. The very next verse informs us: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (v. 42). We further read, “All those who had believed were together and had all things in common” (v. 44). These repentant baptized believers shared with each other (v. 45), worshiped with each other (v. 46), ate with each other (v. 46), rejoiced in the Lord together (vv. 46-47), and lives in continual fellowship (v. 42; 4:32). Paul explains that our baptism in the name of Christ means that we are to be “made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” with all others who have been baptized into Christ and are living holy lives in Him (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 12:12-14; Galatians 3:26-29). It is true that in this age of religious confusion and apostasy even among professing followers of Jesus, we may not find the fellowship we desire in our area, but this should always be our prayer and desire—to live in close and loving relationship and fellowship with others who have been truly baptized into Christ Jesus.
(6) The Commitment to be transformed inwardly.
God not only forgives, redeems, reconciles, and justifies us when we come to Christ, but He works a deep spiritual work in our hearts to conform us to Jesus’ own character. This is why we are called “saints” or “holy ones.” This literally means we are “set apart” or “separated” for God and His will. Paul says that we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are “renewed” in the spirit of our mind and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:23-24; Colossians 3:9-10) and are to walk like Jesus walked (1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Corinthians 11:1). Baptism is the very beginning of the work of God in our life to transform us inwardly into the character and likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ! When He returns in glory to take us to Himself, the transformation will be completed by His resurrection power and grace (1 John 3:1-3).
Have you experienced a genuine baptism into Christ? If you have, then you committed yourself to the foregoing aspects of a new life in Christ. You committed yourself to die to sin, to live a new life in Christ, and to live a repentant life that is increasingly transformed into Christ’s likeness. You committed yourself to submissively obey the will of God in everything and to live in close fellowship with other genuinely saved believers in Christ. Your baptism is not merely a single event but an event with far-reaching and even eternal implications. Let us open our eyes to see all that Scripture reveals about baptism into Christ and share these truths with others! If you failed to be baptized as Scripture reveals, please consider God’s will for you to repent and be baptized yourself (Acts 2:38-41)!