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We believe baptism is God’s promise to do something special for you.
To explain how, we should start by explaining that the word baptize simply means to wash. Like, to wash the dishes or to wash your hands. So there’s nothing magical about the word; it’s just an ordinary word. There’s also nothing magical about the water; it’s just ordinary water.
But the promises and commands Jesus attaches to baptism are anything but ordinary.
The Promise of Baptism
Jesus promised that baptism is being “reborn of the spirit” (Jn. 3:4-6), an entrance into your new life. Jesus also described it as a mark of His followers with the promise that, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16).
Early Christians talked about baptism with a lot of different images. They talked about baptism as a promise of entrance into the Church (1 Cor. 12:3). Or the promise of entrance into the family of God (Gal. 3:26-27). They saw your baptism as a promise to be buried with Jesus into His death so you could rise with Jesus in His life (Rom 6:4). Another early church leader declared baptism now saves you, with the promise of a clean conscience before God (1 Pet. 3:20-22).
These promises are why we think baptism isn’t so much what we do for God, but something that God does for us.
The People of Baptism
In the Bible, we see baptisms regardless of someone’s history, race, class, culture, or age. Any and all are welcome to come to the waters of baptism!
On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 new followers of Jesus were baptized because “the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off” (Acts 2:38-40). Baptism of the young and old wasn’t limited to that day, however. We see entire households being baptized when a parent began following Jesus (Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, 1 Corinthians 1:16). This practice of baptizing children and infants continued into the early Church, as we see in the writings of Origen in 248 A.D, Hippolytus in 215 A.D, Gregory of Nazianz in 388 A.D, and John Chrysostom, in 388 A.D.
With such great promises attached to baptism, it makes sense that Jesus would urge His Church to, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19).