Is Baptism Required?

Yesterday, after preaching on Jesus’ baptism, a confirmation student asked, “Do you need to be baptized to go to heaven?”   My quick response is that baptism is a gift from God for us.  God’s grace is not limited or restricted to baptism. It is not required. Rather baptism is a way for God to show us his love for us so why not be baptized?  

In college I was active in a multi-denominational Christian fellowship with Roman Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians and others.  We all shared a love of Jesus and God’s Word.  We studied, prayed and shared life together without rancour until my senior year when a new student arrived with a different message.   She believed that the only true Christians were those who followed a set pattern of conversion and baptism.   A person needed to confess Jesus as Lord, be taught certain doctrines and then baptised in a special way to be a true Christian.   Her teaching pulled people out of our collaborative fellowship group and caused painful conflict within our Christian community.   I believe she took what was the gift of baptism and turned it into legalistic ritual.  She took the gospel and turned it into law. 

Still, even as a gift, baptism has a harsh quality to it.  The reluctance of cats to be baptized is a metaphor for our reluctance to die to our old self and live for Christ (Romans 6:6).   My old self does not want to die, but rather control life, religion, family, even God.  Yet that rebellious part of me, the old Adam, needs to die and be reborn: today, tomorrow and into eternity.  As Martin Luther says in the catechism,  our baptism is a daily reminder to repent of our sins and rise up to live before God.   I rejoice in that promise of God’s grace at work in us.

Does your baptism still hold meaning for you today?

3 thoughts on “Is Baptism Required?

  1. Nicole Hanselman

    My baptism has more meaning to me now because of your message yesterday. As someone who did not grow up in the church but was baptized as a baby I never fully understood the meaning of it. I do now thanks to your wonderful message yesterday. My favorite so far!!

  2. celticanglican

    Excellent post, Pastor. So many people miss the significance of the relationship between baptism and God’s gift of grace. I hope your post might help people to examine baptism in this light.

  3. Pingback: Baptism « The Liturgical Christianity Portal

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