It was a great joy to baptize one of our members on her 10th birthday last month! It is so wonderful when a person comes to believe in Jesus Christ – who he is and what he has done for us – and wants to make a public profession of that faith.
In New Testament times, baptism so quickly followed conversion that the two were considered part of one event. Baptism is not the means by which we enter into a relationship with Jesus, but it is closely associated with the repentance and faith that makes such a relationship possible. This is why, when people are baptized, they publicly declare that they turn to Christ, repent of their sin and renounce evil – and they proclaim that they believe and trust in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The water implies washing, demonstrating that although our sin makes us unclean, God will make us clean when we accept that Jesus took the punishment we deserve for our sin on the cross.
The 39 Articles tell us that baptism is a sign of new birth and that those who “receive baptism rightly are grafted into the church; the promises of forgiveness of sin and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Spirit are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.” Jesus himself, at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel, both commands us to baptize and tells us what it means: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 18-20) So a baptized person should be a follower of Jesus – who has been taught to obey his words!