As a pastor at Redeemer Lutheran church in Ontario, California, I have the privilege of teaching each week in our school. I teach children about Jesus and what Jesus has done for us – children from ages 4 to 14. One of the greatest joys of teaching children is teaching them (and their families) about Baptism. In the past three years, I’ve been honored to baptize over fifty children. But I was merely the instrument, the “tool” if you will, through which God poured His grace on these children.
Baptism is part of the primary mission of the Christian Church. Jesus told us to “go and make disciples (learners), baptizing them….” (Matthew 28:19).
But what is baptism?
Baptism is the special application of water (H2O) on a person while saying the words “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” When God’s word is combined with water, a special thing happens to a person – their sins are forgiven, they are rescued from death and the devil, and they are given eternal salvation – as long as they believe the words and promises of God.
It isn’t the water that does this. It also isn’t the person doing the baptizing. It isn’t even the person who is being baptized. It is God alone who does all these wonderful things, through baptism. It is a sacred gift given by the creator of the universe. It is a rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity).
It is also a blessed assurance of the love of God for a person. Many people can point to a specific date that they were baptized, much like a yearly birthday. But like some birthdays, a person may not feel like they think they should feel. For example, I’m 44 years old. But sometimes I don’t feel 44 years old (sometimes I feel like I’m 24 and sometimes I feel like I’m 94). In a similar way, I don’t always feel like I’m saved or forgiven or rescued from death.
But I am. I try not to refer to myself as having been baptized, saying, “I was baptized on March 17, 1965.” I most often refer to myself saying, “I am baptized.” It is a gift that I tap into daily. And it is a gift I cherished and want to share.