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Baptism - What and Why

Baptism - What and Why

October 30, 2018 | Matthew Morken

I remember my baptism well. It has been frozen in my mind… quite literally. The water tank heater broke and when a friend and I entered the baptismal with the pastor, the water was not any warmer than what would have been coming out a garden hose!

It was strange standing in front of a bunch of people in frozen water.

It was strange standing in front of a bunch of people in water.

It was strange standing in front of a bunch of people professing what God had done!

During Biblical days, people would generally head down to the river for baptism. That being said, it was not as big of a deal to be in the river for such an occasion, because rivers were a part of life. The point really is not the where: a river, a baptismal tank, a cattle trough in front of the church, hot water, cold water, clean or dirtier water. The point is proclamation: I’m with Jesus! I was dead in my trespasses and sins, but God made me alive through Jesus Christ.

In the Older Testament a physical sign was made in circumcision to the reality that someone was Jewish and with the Newer Testament (Covenant) the outward sign of the inward reality is found in baptism.

So what is the inward reality that has happened? We were dead in our trespasses and sins. When born we are separated from God by Adam’s sin. Nothing in us is pleasing to God and our nature is to continue in sin (Romans 3:10-12). We liked sin. We liked the very things that opposed God. We did good things and gave God no credit whatsoever!

But God… probably one of the greatest phrases in the Bible. He saved us. Not because of works that we did, are doing or will do. It is by grace (unmerited favor) that we have been saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I like how Jesus bluntly tells Nicodemus in their late night chat relayed to us in John 3:3-8 that he must be born again and Nicodemus struggles with that phrase. Jesus goes on to explain that what is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of Spirit is Spirit. Nicodemus, being intelligent, realizes how little he had to do with his first birth into the flesh (nothing!) and is shocked at what Jesus is saying. Jesus goes on to explain this by saying, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” God saves, and as a result of God saving us there is fruit (Gal 5:22-26).

If God moved into your life the natural reaction is change or transformation and therefore fruit. I went from seeking after my own enjoyment to striving to please God in everything that I do.

This is what I proclaim to my family, my friends, the Church and the world in baptism. I have been crucified with Christ and have been raised again in newness of life (Romans 6:3-9). The act of baptism doesn’t actually wash away sins but is an act of obedience and testimony proclaiming the work completed by the Lord of my life, King Jesus.

It is a strange thing to walk in obedience to a living Savior!

For a deeper explanation of baptism please check out

Matthew Morken

Urbana Campus Pastor