Baptism worship ideas

Baptism is a physical ritual mandated by Jesus through which God acts to nourish, sustain, comfort, challenge, teach, and assure us. A richly symbolic action, the celebration of baptism stirs our imaginations to perceive the work of God and the contours of the gospel more clearly. Baptism also signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism by John. Almost every instance of baptism in Acts is linked in some way to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christians find their identity in baptism. Baptism marks us as members of the body of Christ and adopted children in God's family. Some churches believe that baptism is an expression of one's personal faith in Christ. Others believe that baptism is a declaration and promise from God that the baptized person is included in God's family through Christ. In either case, baptism marks us as members of the body of Christ and adopted children in God's family.

What does the Bible say about baptism?

Baptisms bookended Jesus' life and ministry. At the end, before he ascended, Jesus commanded the disciples to "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" (Matt. 28:19).

Following this, the pattern through Acts and the whole New Testament was for converts to be baptized almost immediately after believing in Christ (Acts 8:36; Acts 10:47; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33).


Baptism was already practiced by the time of Jesus as an act by which proselytes were inducted into the Jewish faith community. It signified repentance and the washing away of moral impurities. Churches that baptize infants defend the practice on the basis of God's covenant promises in the Old Testament and on how these promises are interpreted in the New Testament. Peter declares on Pentecost, "Repent and be baptized every one of you. . . . The promise is for you, for your children and for all who are far away" (Acts 2:38–39). Many see this as an indication that these Jewish apostles applied the principle of the covenant of circumcision to the new covenant sealed in baptism—namely, that children were included (Genesis 17:12, Colossians 2:11–13). The many household baptisms of Acts are also seen as support for infant baptism.

How do you know yourself to be a [child] of God in fact as well as in name? Because I am baptized in the name of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (John Calvin, from his Strasbourg Catechism)

Adopted and united as children of God

At Jesus' baptism three remarkable things happened: the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove, and the Father spoke: "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased" (Mark 1:10–11). These three actions describe the heart of the meaning of baptism: grace from heaven, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and adoption as sons and daughters in Christ.

Cleansing of sins and new life in Christ Jesus

Jesus joined John in the wilderness and was baptized by him, the man who had promised One would come after him who would "baptize . . . with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8). Though John was reluctant to baptize Jesus, Jesus insisted it must be done to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). By undergoing this baptism of repentance, Jesus was identifying himself with the sinful humans he came to save. John the Baptist practiced "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 3:3) at the Jordan River. People flocked to the wilderness for this physical sign of new life. Jesus spoke of his death on the cross as "the baptism that I am baptized with," linking his baptism in the Jordan with the baptism of his death, by which he would redeem believers (Mark 10:38–39).

After his great Pentecost sermon (Acts 2), Peter declared what his audience should do: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Clearly, baptism is the outward sign of the inner reality of faith and new life in Christ.

Baptism assures us of our inclusion in Christ and of our salvation. Peter says "baptism . . . now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21; see also Hebrews 10:22). Paul also links baptism to Christ's death with the renunciation of sin. Because we are baptized, we are to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4).

Paul emphasizes that baptism unites us to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. "Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). In this sense, baptism is like a drowning and a resurrection. The old self, dominated by sin, dies in Christ, and the new self, dominated by the Holy Spirit, rises in Christ.

The symbolism of water

While baptism is primarily a New Testament action, there is a great deal of water symbolism in the Old Testament. From the perspective of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 3:20–21), Noah's ark pointed to baptism. Paul (1 Corinthians 10:2) saw Israel's exodus through the Red Sea as a sign of baptism. In the Mosaic Law, various kinds of impurities and uncleanness were removed by ritual washing (Leviticus 13–15). In Ezekiel, washing with water is a sign of spiritual renewal (Ezekiel 36:25).

Remembering our baptisms

One's view of the baptism of infants and young children depends on one's general view of baptism. If baptism is an act of commitment and dedication on the part of the believer, it doesn't make sense to baptize before one is able to make such a commitment. If it is a declaration and promise by God, infants even before they come to faith may be baptized.

Because baptism is in most cases a once-in-a-lifetime event, and because those who were baptized as infants don't remember their baptisms, it is important to regularly preach about the meaning and purpose of baptism as the key to one's identity and purpose as a Christian.

Churches that regard baptism primarily as an act of commitment and dedication on the part of the believer generally allow for more than one baptism because one might feel a need to rededicate oneself to Christ. Churches that regard baptism as primarily a declaration by God of belonging through Christ see it as a once-in-a-lifetime event that may be looked back upon and trusted for assurance and recommitment.

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