Tag Archives: life and death

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?