Pastor.(Dr.) Varughese Philip: +91 9886039506 / 8095795955 / 9449611317
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Water baptism is one of the rites commanded by Christ and incorporated into the faith community, the church. It has been a controversial issue in the history of the church. Jesus’ command in the Gospels, Apostles’ practice in the book of Acts, and its theological significance in Epistles laid the foundation for the doctrine of Water baptism. Its importance and relevance lie in the meaning, mode, management, motive, and mystery characteristics.
Water baptism is a public declaration of identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Identity shows who we are, what we are all about, and where we are going in life. Risen Lord commanded baptism before His ascension (Mt.28:18-20). Apostles baptized the believers ‘into the name’ of Jesus, which stresses the association into the account of Jesus (Acts 8:16). Paul gives the theological significance; the spiritual identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:6). ‘Cross’ stands for the Gospel (1Cor. 15: 3-4, 2Tim. 2:8) and to ‘crucify with’ (Gal. 2:20) indicates metaphorically of water baptism. Further, it illustrates the meaning of water baptism as a public declaration of identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection. The emergence of the believer from the water of baptism represents resurrection, and baptism and resurrection are correlated ideas. Furthermore, this identification is distinct from John the Baptist’s baptism of repentance (Mt.3:11).Jesus identified with the sins of Israel through baptism of repentance (Mt.3:13-16). Public declaration of the identity is the key concept of spiritual development.
Water baptism is a commitment for an intimate relationship with Christ. Intimacy means taking the risk to become close to someone and allowing that someone to step inside your personal boundaries. Jesus commanded to baptize ‘into the name’ of Trinitarian God (Mt.28:19). It shows a commitment to follow and keep intimacy with the Trinity. Likewise, apostles believed that water baptism brings a person into the realm of Christ’s lordship and power (Acts 22:16). Peters’ invitation to take baptism ‘into the account’ of Christ indicates the ownership and authority of Christ in life (Acts 2:38). Similarly, for a total surrender to the lordship, a public confession of inner faith with mouth and expressed through baptism is essential (Rom. 10:9). Furthermore, water baptism is a pledge (1Pet. 3:21), a commitment to Christ for the intimacy. It is the vow before Christ to keep the promises, remain faithful, and permit Christ to cleanse the conscience by the power of resurrection. It requires trust and water baptism is a commitment for it.