Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Meaning of Baptism

Baptism is like a wedding ring: they both symbolize transactions. A wedding ring symbolizes marriage, just as baptism symbolizes salvation. A ring does not make you married, nor does baptism save you. And is a person doesn’t have a ring, you can almost assume that they are not married. In NT times, if a person was not baptized, you could almost assume that they were not believers. And so baptism is a symbol of salvation and should not be taken for granted.

Ray Stedman tells how a pastor once related t0 him the occasion of preparing to baptize a young girl in a beach-front gathering. He told of how he wanted to make certain she understood what baptism meant. As he questioned and talked, he noticed that his hand cast a shadow on the sand.

He said to the girl, "Do you see the shadow of my hand on the sand? That is not my hand, but the shadow of my hand. The hand is the real thing. When you came to Jesus, when you turned from your sin and believed in Jesus, that was the real baptism. You were joined to Him, and what happened to Him, happened to you. Jesus was alive; then He died, was buried, and then He rose from the dead. And that is what happened to you when you believed in Him.”

He pointed to the shadow on the sand and said, “When you go down in the water and are raised up again, that is a picture of what has already happened.”

The girl immediately caught on and said, “Yes, that is what I want to do because Jesus has come into my life!" So water baptism is a picture, a symbol worked out for us, to teach us what has happened to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus.

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