What is Baptism? What Does It Mean to Be Baptized?

What is Baptism? What Does It Mean to Be Baptized?

Dear visitor, in this article we will examine the concept of baptism from a Christian perspective. Our primary source is the Bible, the word of God.

In Christianity, we hear the concept of baptism all the time. One of the most important rituals of Christianity is baptism. So what is baptism? Where does it come from? Why do Christians baptize?

The main emphasis of Christianity is the restoration of our broken relations with God as a result of our sins, by the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross, making peace and ending our bondage to sin, and baptism is the most important expression of this belief.

Why Is Baptism Important for Christians?
But baptism is not a ritual that Christians invented out of nowhere. We know that the Bible is a whole that includes the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Covenant is to complete the Old Covenant, not to override it; Written by God, entirely by His grace. Jesus Christ, in Matthew 5, “Do not think that I have come to nullify the law or the words of the prophets. I have come not to invalidate, but to complete.” Therefore, when looking at the concept of baptism, it is necessary to look at it in the context of the covenant to preserve integrity.

 

From the very first chapters in Genesis, Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, sin against God, and fall short of God’s glory; The relationship between God and man is broken. This is both mental and physical trauma. The heavenly and the earthly are separated. This affects not only our relationship with God, but our entire life; It even affects nature. Because without God there is no life. Life cannot continue without the Holy Spirit active in creation. The Holy Spirit, active in creation, moving on the waters, shaping creation, leaves the world because of sin. Because God is holy, and where there is sin, there is no God. The creator God, who was with his creation, was separated from his creation.

But God had a plan. God is always sovereign in every way. That’s why he wanted to mend this great cosmic separation. This plan began thousands of years ago and culminated in the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross. While we were enemies of God for our sins, His plan was reconciling us to Himself and one another, in Jesus Christ and His atonement on the cross. God’s holy love, unchanging since creation, would prevail, and everything would be renewed again. The power of His divine grace would cleanse us of our sins and their consequences.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. So that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

In fact, baptism represents God’s reconciliation with man, his deliverance from bondage to sin, and his giving of new life.

What Is the Origin of the Word Baptism?
The word baptism comes from the Ancient Greek word Bap’tizo or Vap’tizo (βαπτίζω), meaning “to immerse in water or liquid.”

The Hebrew word for baptism comes from the word Mikveh (מִקְוֶה), and interestingly, the word Mikveh first appears in Genesis. While describing God’s creation of the universe and the world in Genesis, in verse 10, he called the dry area ‘Land’ and the collected waters ‘Sea’. God saw that it was good”. “The collected waters” are expressed by the word mikveh. Mikveh later appears as a very important ritual in Judaism. Today, Mikveh is called the area where rainwater is collected in synagogues and is an important place for purification rituals. According to the Holy Law, people who are unclean are cleansed by entering this water.

The Concept of Baptism in the Torah (Old Testament)
In the Old Testament (Torah), water has a symbolic function. To understand the essence of the phenomenon of baptism, we must understand this symbolization well. We must know that God is immutable, God does not make mistakes, God does not give up. Therefore, what God will say next never contradicts what he first said. God had a plan from the beginning: to be with his creatures. Therefore, in order to better understand God’s plan, we must view events as covenants.

Water and Holy Spirit
Water has a very important spiritual aspect in the Bible, in the Torah, in Genesis, and elsewhere. For example, the very first verse of Genesis writes: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The ground was empty, no landforms; was covered with vast darkness. The Spirit of God was moving over the waters.”

The Holy Spirit is God’s power in creation. He is active in all creation and He shaped creation.

Water and the Covenant
In chapter 9 of the Genesis book in the Torah, we see that God judged the world with water in Noah’s Flood. With Noah’s flood, the majority of living things perish and God makes a new creation. After the Flood, God makes a covenant with the creatures on earth. According to this covenant, God promises never to judge the world by water again. Here, the concepts of water and covenant go hand in hand.

After Noah’s flood, the world is corrupted again by man’s sin and people are building the tower of Babel. This time God is destroying the tower of Babel and pushing people apart. Soon after, God makes a covenant with Abraham and promises him that he will bless his descendants. In fact, the real foundation of our faith is laid in this promise that God gave to Abraham.

Water and Salvation
In the Exodus chapter of the Torah, the culmination of God’s glorious work to free the Jews from slavery in Egypt, according to God’s promise to Abraham, is the liberation of the Jews from Egypt by crossing the Red Sea under the leadership of Moses. Here, the Red Sea is divided in two by the intervention of God, and the Jews pass through it and get rid of the Egyptians.

The Concept of Baptism in the Bible (New Testament)
We first see the concept of baptism in the Bible in John the Baptist. He was calling the people to repent and be baptized, preparing them for the coming of the Messiah. The Kingdom of God was drawing near, and the people needed to be ready for it. This was necessary in order to repent, be cleansed of sins, and accept new life.

When Jesus Christ himself was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus Christ in the form of a dove and God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am pleased.” Through the water we see the union of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the Bible, repentance and baptism are always worked together. Repentance is not just acknowledging that an individual is a sinner. Besides, he makes a decision. The individual accepts that he or she is on a wrong path and decides to follow God’s path. Thus, baptism symbolizes changing one’s way.

Speaking of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John, John gives a testimony when he sees Jesus approaching: “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ offered his life as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, as clearly stated in the Bible. Through this sacrifice he cleansed our sins and the consequences of our sins; freed us from bondage to sin. In this way, we are at peace with God and with each other.

Then we see a theme in the Old Testament. According to the covenant God made with Abraham, he delivers the Jews from Egypt, from slavery. The Jews escape from slavery by crossing the water (Red Sea) and then arrive at the foot of Mount Sinai. Here Moses leaves his people and ascends Mount Sinai and returns with the Law 50 days after their liberation from Egypt.

God’s Promise and Baptism
Likewise, we see a similar theme in the New Testament. He delivers us from the bondage of sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, again in accordance with God’s covenant with Abraham. Jesus Christ is resurrected after 3 days and ascends into the sky, similar to the way Moses ascended Mount Sinai. Jesus Christ commands his disciples to wait in Jerusalem. Similarly, the disciples expect Jesus Christ to bring the new law down to them from heaven, just as the Jews expect Moses to bring down the Law from Mount Sinai. 50 days after the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, Jesus Christ this time not with a law in his hand like Moses; but the Essence of the Law, the Truth; that is, he is sending his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who moved over the waters that covered the earth in the early stages of Creation. This time the law is not engraved on a tablet, but in the hearts of those who follow Jesus Christ; for the Holy Spirit enthrones in the hearts of those who believe.

Through baptism, we somehow become partners in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because Jesus Christ dies as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and is resurrected 3 days later. We too, when we are baptized, immersed in water, kind of die from our sinful lives, and are kind of resurrected with a new life when we come out of the water. In this way, with the forgiveness of our sins, grace, not the Law; not of death, but of life; not evil, but good; We are the children of peace, not of war.

That’s why baptism is one of the most important rituals in Christianity. For it symbolizes the covenant of God’s grace, the deliverance from bondage through Jesus Christ and the cross, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, that is, the dominion of the Covenant and the Kingdom of God in our hearts.

Besides the importance of being baptized, the last commandment of Jesus Christ is also very important. Before Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, he commanded his disciples:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, train all nations as my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; teach them to obey all that I command you. Here I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Source: https://www.kutsalkitap.org/

 

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