May 6, 2022 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Greetings, friends! Today we will be talking about baptism. The biblical practice of baptism demonstrates a person’s commitment to Jesus Christ. It is a public ceremony proclaiming that Jesus is their Lord and Savior.

The Bible instructs followers of Jesus to practice baptism—the immersion of someone in water. Christian baptism can be traced back to Jesus Himself. He was baptized before He started His ministry, His followers were baptized, and before Jesus left the Earth He told His disciples to continue baptizing others after He left.

We read about it in Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Seventh-day Adventists believe and practice the biblical custom of baptism by immersion, in a similar way that Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. This motion of immersion symbolizes Christ’s death and resurrection, which provides the forgiveness of our sins. By going through this symbolic act, we proclaim to accept Christ’s sacrifice and acknowledge Him as our Savior.

The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word baptizo which means to “immerse, submerge; to make fully wet.”

In the Adventist church, baptisms involve new believers being fully immersed under water then immediately brought back up. This motion of being fully submerged in water, then rising back out, symbolizes the death and burial of Jesus Christ. When one comes up out of the water they are symbolically raised to a new life in Christ. It’s an exciting and important part of a new Christian’s life.

Colossians 2:12 explains baptism like this: “buried with Him (that is, Jesus) in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

While it is only the blood of Jesus that can save us, when we are baptized, we publicly declare our faith and obedience to Him. We are openly declaring our commitment to follow Jesus, and are saying, “I know I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and I choose to be a follower of Christ today.”

It’s important to note that the physical act of baptism isn’t what changes a person. It’s the Holy Spirit’s work that makes the difference. Baptism moves the heart of the believer toward a closer relationship with Christ. It marks a choice, a transition in the heart of the believer. It’s the beginning of an intentional journey of a life deeply changed.

Our Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief #15 explains it like this:

“By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus, we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church.

Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit.

It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their teachings.” 

When we read about baptisms in the New Testament, we find three important aspects:

  1. The people believed the good news they heard (Acts 2:41).
  2. Believers were confessing their sins (Mark 1:5)
  3. Baptisms were the result of repentance in the believer (Matthew 3:11, Acts 2:38).

Because baptism is based upon a conscience decision to confess and repent of one’s sins and to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not practice infant baptism, as infants are too young to understand the meaning of this important rite.

Jesus is the reason for all of our beliefs in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including baptism by immersion. It is an important step in the life of a believer and reason to celebrate because they are declaring their intent to follow Jesus–and only through Him can we find freedom, healing, and hope.

Regarding the importance of baptism, Ellen White writes, “The ceremony of baptism is a most solemn one. Men and women are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This signifies that the three greatest representatives of heavenly authority behold the baptismal service and hear the vows that are made by human agents to walk henceforth in newness of life. In taking the baptismal vows, man unites with the highest powers in the heavenly courts. He covenants to live the life that Christ lived while on this earth. And Christ, on His part, fulfils every promise that He has made in His Word. He molds the character of every one who follows in His footsteps. Wonderful, wonderful is His work in behalf of sinners!” (17 LTMS, MS 57, 1902, par. 26).

If you would like to learn more about baptism, I encourage you to visit the URL shown at the bottom of the screen [www.adventist.org/baptism]. You may also contact your local Seventh-day Adventist pastor to learn more about how you can commit your life to the Lord through baptism and become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

And if you have already been baptized, why not renew your commitment today as we pray together just now?

 [Prayer] Father in heaven. Thank you. That before even the establishment of this world. You, the Father, Jesus, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit met in Council and knew that the Earth would somehow fail in the test and that they would need a Savior, and that Jesus was the one who said, I will go. I will be the Redeemer. Lord, we thank you for this amazing willingness of Jesus to come to this Earth, to live a perfect life, to be baptized by immersion, even though he didn’t need it. But he was showing us an example and then dying on the cross for us and then rising to give us everlasting life. What a story. What a magnificent truth. And we thank you. That baptism signifies our willingness to die to the old sinful self, to go under the water in the watery grave, and then to rise out of the water in new life in Jesus Christ. As we’re told in second Corinthians Chapter five, that we are new creatures in Jesus Christ when we accept him. So now, Lord bless every one of us, whether we’ve been baptized by immersion or not, whether we need to be baptized by immersion, and there are those who are considering it. Lord, please come close to them. But all of us help us to realize we need that daily walk with you so that we can become new creatures in Christ, not just at baptism, but every day as Christ righteousness works in us to help us to become more and more like Him. Thank you for the righteousness of Christ, for His example, and for this public display of baptism that helps us and others know that we are truly followers of Jesus. In Christ’s name, we ask it. Amen.

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