Baptism is one of two Lutheran sacraments (the other being communion). It marks the beginning of a person’s holy journey by washing them in the Word of God. When did baptism start and why do we continue to do it today? Let’s look at the meaning of baptism and why it’s such an important part of the King of Kings church tradition. 

What is Baptism?

Baptism is a relatively short and simple ceremony. During a baptism, the pastor gives a blessing and splashes Holy Water on the head of the person receiving the baptism. The pastor may also draw the cross on the recipient’s forehead using the Holy Water.

 Being that baptism is a sacrament, it must have three vital components:

  • A command from Jesus
  • Earthly elements
  • A Promise of God

In the case of baptism, the command comes from the book of Matthew: “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. 

The earthly element involved is the water that has been blessed with God’s word.  By using the Holy Water to bathe the recipient, the pastor blesses them with the promise of God and the gift of forgiveness. In the case of infants and children, baptism also constitutes a promise made by the parents and witnesses to bring the child up in the Christian faith. 

Once you’ve been baptized, it’s good for life. You don’t need to rebaptize if you join a new church or return to the Lutheran faith after an absence. 

Reasons Why Baptism is Important

Baptism is an external representation of a person’s inward conversion to the Christian faith. Like a wedding ring symbolizes the commitment between two people, baptism represents commitment to the Christian faith by a new convert.

Baptism is God’s doing, not ours. It is the way in which he bestows grace and forgiveness upon us. Since Lutherans believe that you are saved by God’s grace alone, baptism represents an important first step of the faith journey.

While some might question baptizing infants because they are not yet cognizant enough to accept God’s grace on their own, it’s important to remember that during a baptism, God is the one doing the work, not the child. Through baptism, God absolves us of original sin which, in turn, paves the way for entrance into heaven. For this reason, we encourage King of Kings parents to have their children baptized early on in life. It gives them membership in the church and establishes the support system that will aid them along their faith journey. 

Baptism is important from a community standpoint. It gives parents and sponsors the opportunity to publicly declare their commitment to support those receiving the baptism. It marks entrance into the Christian family with support from a loving church community.  

Martin Luther nicely summed up the importance of baptism when he wrote:  “baptism works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this.”

The History of Baptism

A medieval painting shows Jesus being baptized by John The Baptist

Baptism comes from a rich tradition of purification rituals. In Mesopotamia, believers were sprinkled with water outside of temples or places of worship to cleanse them before entering. In ancient Egypt, babies were cleansed of impurities and in Mosaic law, an early form of Judaism, ritual cleansings were a common practice. 

John the Baptist is the most important figure in Christian baptism. Early on, he called for people to repent their sins by fully immersing them in the Jordan river. He is most famous for baptizing Jesus and then being an outspoken believer in the coming of Christ after his death. After Jesus’ death, he modified baptism to represent the acceptance of the Holy Spirit and created Christian baptism as we know it.

Baptism became an important ritual in converting Christians. By the second century, infant baptism was introduced to absolve children of original sin. In the fourth century, the baptism of the Roman emperor Constantine became one of the most significant in history. In the 16th century, Martin Luther supported baptism as a primary sacrament and a means toward salvation based on the Bible vs the sale of indulgences by the church. Over time, baptism has changed from a week-long ritual with full water immersion into the short ceremony we now practice and celebrate. 

Lutheran Baptism Service

A young infant receiving baptism in a Lutheran church.

If you or a family member is looking to receive a Lutheran baptism, we’d love to welcome you into our congregation. To learn more about baptism at King of Kings Lutheran church, please visit our baptism page. You can contact us directly for further details and to plan your baptism.