Why Should I Be Baptized if I'm Already a Christian?

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Why Should I Be Baptized if I'm Already a Christian?

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Why Should I Be Baptized if I'm Already a Christian?

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Do you identify as a Christian? As a follower of Jesus Christ? If you’re reading this article, there is a good chance you do. Perhaps many years ago, you realized you needed God and Christ in your life. And, being a person of action, and not just words, you decided to make some changes in your life. Changes to live more like Christ lived, responding to His call of “follow me.”

Perhaps you were inspired by what the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians. After admonishing them about the need to change Paul says this: “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20-24 Ephesians 4:20-24 [20] But you have not so learned Christ; [21] If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: [22] That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; [23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; [24] And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×
). This, along with Colossians 3, is often referred to as "putting on the new man." Emphasizing the need change our habits, and even the very desires we once had before knowing Christ.

Having made these changes, you might consider the step of baptism as unnecessary, or outdated. Before coming to that conclusion, we would be wise to see what else the Bible says about "becoming new." In Romans 6, after beginning the chapter with that familiar charge to no longer live as we once did, we read this: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4 Romans 6:3-4 [3] Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
American King James Version×
). Here, Paul refers to those who committed themselves to Christ through baptism as making changes to "walk in newness of life." This newness of life no doubt corresponds with the changes we read about in the new man.

On the surface, it might be tempting to think: “Well, I came to the conclusion that I needed to make changes without having to go through baptism. As long as I made the changes God asks of me, why do I need to be baptized?” Note what Paul says as he continues in verse 5: “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5 Romans 6:5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
American King James Version×
). This likeness of death refers to the “burial with Christ, however momentarily, in the submergence of the body under the baptismal waters” (Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, Everett F. Harrison, 1976).

In order to take part in the "likeness of His resurrection"—that is, resurrection to eternal life as Christ showed was possible—we must take part in this symbol of His death, baptism! Note too the words of Peter in Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Here, we see further reason to be baptized: for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. And of course, the wages of those sins are death (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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). Without the forgiveness of them, we face eternal death.

Consider as well Christ’s example. Even though He lived a perfect life, He Himself was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17 Matthew 3:13-17 [13] Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him. [14] But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me? [15] And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. [16] And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him: [17] And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
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). As His followers, aren’t we to imitate Him? Indeed, we are told to do precisely this in 1 Corinthians 11:1 1 Corinthians 11:1Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
American King James Version×
: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”

Following Christ requires complete and total commitment from us. An integral part of that commitment is water baptism. If you would like to discuss baptism with a minister in your area, you can find one here: www.ucg.org/congregations.

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