During a baptism service at Rise, you’ll notice when someone gets in the waters, we have questions we ask them before we baptize them in the water. It’s important for our entire church along with those who are being baptized to not only know those questions, but to understand the theology behind them.
Buried with Christ
The first question we ask is "Do you repent of your sins and acknowledge your need of a Savior?” In following Jesus, we first must acknowledge our need for him and that we are repenting of (literally "turning away from from”) our sin. Paul puts it this way: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3)
It is not the act of baptism itself that buries our old, sinful nature—but rather baptism is a symbol of us going to the grave with Jesus. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4). Isn’t that beautiful? Our brokenness, our shame, our sin, our guilt is put in the grave. We are turning from our old sinful nature when we repent and turn to Jesus.
Raised to New Life.
The second question is: "Have you put your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” It’s not enough to turn from sin, it’s about turning to Jesus as the only one who can save. Saying we have put our faith in him means we believe in our hearts and acknowledge with our mouths that Jesus He is God in the flesh, that he conquered over death, and that he alone has the power to save. And because of our faith in Jesus, we are raised—just as he was raised—to new life!
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:4) This is why we cheer and shout and whoop and jump and holler as those who are being baptized emerge from the waters—because it’s a picture of their new life found in Jesus. They have been raised from their spiritual death, and now are able to live by the life-giving Spirit of Jesus.
So here is what we say to someone just before they enter the waters in this beautiful symbol of redemption "Because of your repentance of sin and faith in Jesus, today we acknowledge your old self is buried with Christ and you have be raised to new life in Jesus! Therefore, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!"
Baptism has been practiced by followers of Jesus for the last 2,000 years. There is nothing special about that water, but there is something so deep and meaningful about what it symbolizes. That water symbolizes our graves, where we go to die. But the power of Jesus is that for a follower of Jesus, even graves are a just a temporary reality. And when we raise from that grave, we raise more alive than ever before.
May we stand and shout and celebrate that beautiful doctrine!