The Great Commission states that we are to make disciples and baptism them. This is intended to be the first act of discipleship for new Christians. So it is clear that we are supposed to be baptized as Christians. But there is a lot of confusion about what baptism is and is not.
1. Baptism is not an “optional symbolic gesture”. Rather, it is the ceremony that initiates you into the new covenant and the community of faith. This is why it is ordered, not merely recommended, by Jesus.
2. Baptism is not “magic”. Many people hold the view that baptism literally washes away sin and saves you in a very direct way. But God is not a god of technicalities. Baptism is commanded, but it is not salvation itself. We know that the thief on the cross was not baptized and yet Jesus assured him that he would be saved. Some people have repeated baptism in the hopes of washing away sins that have occurred since the last time they were baptized. It is our faith and our relationship with God that saves us, not the act of baptism. The Bible instructs us to be baptized only once (Eph. 4:4-6).
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
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