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It seems like such an easy question and answer, and it is. And even though we have tried to explain the need for baptism, we continue to struggle with what it does and is it really necessary?

Before presenting several simple answers to the question, it is important to take a moment to define baptism as “immersion,” according to the Greek usage. A good example of baptism (immersion) can be found in Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death…” (Rom. 6:4).

But why the need to be baptized? Consider the following three reasons:

Through baptism, we receive the forgiveness of our sins. Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). We understand that the blood of bulls and goats (the old covenant sacrifice) only reminded the worshiper of his sins (Hebrews 10:1-4). Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can our sins truly be washed away (1 John 1:7).

Through baptism, we are put “into Christ.” The apostle Paul confirms, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:27; Romans 6:3). And it is in Christ that we receive all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), have redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7), and have obtained an inheritance [eternal life] (Eph. 10b-11). And if all blessings, redemption and inheritance (and so much more) are in Jesus Christ, then none of these things can be ours if we are not in Christ.

Through baptism, we are placed into the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” (1 Cor. 12:13). And even though very similar in nature to being “in Christ,” we need to know that when we are baptized into Christ we are added to the church [His body] (Acts 2:47). And there is only one body! “There is one body [the church], one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; …” (Eph. 4:4). “…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5). There is one body (the church) and one head over the body—Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23)!

And just in case those reasons are not enough, I add one more which should make a pretty strong case for the need to be baptized [immersed]. The Lord said so (John 3:5; Mark 16:16)!

Paul Mowrer
Monticello church of Christ
Monticello, AR

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