Flowers, bridesmaids, the white dress… we’ve all seen a wedding ceremony. Some are large, formal, five-piece band celebrations in traditional venues; while others are small, intimate beach-side ceremonies celebrated by a few close friends and family. No matter the ‘style,’ every wedding has the same purpose – a couple publicly committing their lives to one another.
Yet never, not one single time, have I performed a wedding where the couple fell in love during the ceremony. Never have I performed a wedding where the couple decided – at the ceremony – to commit their lives to one another. The decision was already made. In the same way, baptism is a public expression before God and man of what has already happened in one’s heart and life.
Just to be clear. A person is not baptized into faith in Christ Jesus when baptized in water. It’s the moment we decide to trust in Christ, through repentant faith, that we will receive a gift—the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit dwelling within us. That baptism occurs at salvation.
So, what then does water baptism represent? In baptism, we are saying that Christ died for our sins and that we, too, are dying to our life without Christ. We are dying to our sins, to our selfish desires. In baptism, we are testifying to what has already occurred—a decision to trust Christ, to follow Him.
But, that’s not all. In rising out of the water, we see the symbolic resurrection of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. This represents the second part of the gospel. It testifies that as the water cleanses me outwardly, Christ already cleansed my heart. He has set me free. Now, I have the privilege of following the resurrected Savior forever and ever.
Just like a wedding ceremony is a life-changing moment full of hope and celebration, baptism is to be celebrated. Have you publicly celebrated your life-altering, no going back, declaration of what Christ has done for you? It’s only something a follower of Jesus can do. No parent can make that decision for you. It is a choice that results only from saving faith in Jesus.