Study Guide: The Betrothal Ceremony

Sunday July 18, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus orders us to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the betrothal (similar to “engagement”) ceremony in our relationship to Christ.

Extended Summary:

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).

Reflection Questions:

  1. Read each of the supporting texts. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. How is this message different or similar to the way baptism was taught in other churches you may have attended?
  3. Read Romans 6:1-11. How does this passage help us understand the meaning of baptism?
  4. Is there anyone in your group who has not been baptized and is ready to do that? If so, consider participating in the baptism ceremony coming up on Sunday August 1st.