My parents never had anything to do with God, and I've always been the same way. But a few months ago, I accepted Jesus into my life through a Christian friend, and now I'm getting involved in his church. They want me to be baptized before I join, but I don't understand why I need to do this. — A.G.
I'm sure your pastor would be happy to explain why it is important for you to be baptized—not just as a requirement for church membership, but because of its spiritual significance.
While churches differ in their understanding of some aspects of baptism, all take seriously Jesus' command for His people to be baptized. Just before His ascension into heaven, He declared, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). The New Testament frequently tells of men and women who committed their lives to Christ, and then as a sign of their commitment were baptized (e.g., Acts 8:36-38).
Baptism is an outward and public sign of our inward commitment to Christ. It also is a sign of what Christ has done for us; just as water washes dirt from our bodies, so Jesus Christ has washed away the "dirt" of our sins by His blood, which He shed for us on the cross. Baptism reminds us too of what God already has done in our hearts by His Spirit: "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
Thank God that He has now made you part of God's family through faith in Christ. Now make your commitment public by participating in the sacrament of baptism.