Have you ever wondered why believers get baptized, or why we see so many instances in Scripture of people coupling their newfound salvation with a public declaration of faith? If you've wondered about this sacrament, then you've wanted to know more about something known as a profession of faith. A profession of faith is not limited to a baptism, but can also be used in instances of sharing your testimony with others, whether believers or nonbelievers.
In this article, we'll dive into the meaning behind a profession of faith and why Christians should do it. We'll also discuss the concept of baptisms and why Christians choose to baptize, whether they baptize someone as an infant or participate in a credobaptism.
Before we dive in, I do want to add a caveat. This article does not intend to settle the debate between infant baptisms versus choosing to re-baptize (or get baptized for the first time, in the case of those who did not grow in the church). I've known believers who have given strong arguments for both cases, and understand the history of both baptisms. As entire articles and sections of books have been dedicated to this matter, I'll allow those who have stronger expertise in such matters to weigh in.
With that in mind, let's explore this concept.
What Is a Profession of Faith?
To put it simply, a profession of faith is publicly declaring about your faith journey with Christ. As mentioned before this can happen through baptism, an outward symbolism of an inner relationship with God. It can also occur by other means such as sharing one's testimony.
For those unfamiliar with the term "testimony," it simply means a Christian sharing their story of faith. For instance, below I have included my testimony:
"I grew up in a household of the faith. I was blessed with a Christian education and had prayed the sinner's prayer early on. But in everyone's life, they have to find a way to make their faith their own. I found this to be the case starting in middle school. And I decided to get re-baptized in high school, even though I had participated in an infant baptism. But what really drew me close to the Lord was when my parents divorced in college and remarried new spouses within the span of a year. So much of my identity had been placed in having a picture-perfect family, that this event shook my world. I clung to God in a spiritually dark time on my college campus, including watching a friend get possessed by demons on three occasions. During such moments, many of my doubts had dissolved, and I clung to the truth of God found in Scripture. I grow closer to him every day and learn more and more about him and his goodness."
Testimonies can range widely. They can be from a believer who has believed their whole life to a Satanist who decided to dedicate their lives to God when the Gospel convicted them. Everyone has a different story, and we are encouraged to share that with others what we have experienced in Christ.
Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
I remember my pastor had told us a story a few years back about a harrowing experience he had in church with one of his former pastors. He'd asked, "Do you believe that if someone accepted Jesus into their heart but died right before their baptism that they'd go to hell?"
The pastor didn't hesitate, "Yes."
Most Christians don't align with the view the pastor has. Many believe that baptism is important and that a Christian should get baptized as soon as possible (again, we won't dive into infant baptism vs. credobaptism here). But if someone experienced an accident and perished beforehand, this would not bar them from the kingdom of heaven.
Nevertheless, let's take a look at what Scripture has to say on this matter.
Acts 2:41: "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."
Baptism seems to happen immediately here. Those who believe want to make a clear, public declaration.
Acts 22:16: "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’"
Here we need to make a distinction. The act of baptism itself does not save someone. It's merely symbolic to represent the death to self (being put in the water) and being resurrected in Christ (being pulled up to the surface). See Ephesians 2:8-9 on what is necessary for salvation.
Scripture has a lot to say on baptism and its importance. So let's dive into that next as to why believers get baptized in the first place.
Why Do We Get Baptized?
Baptism is so much more than getting dunked into the water. It has important symbolism and it declares to the world about our commitment to following Christ.
According to Dr. Roger Barrier, "Baptism is like a wedding ring. We put on a wedding ring as a symbol of our commitment and devotion. In the same way baptism is a picture of devotion and commitment to Christ."
We also need to understand the symbolism behind baptism, as discussed in brief before.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: Or "by the authority of". No one comes to salvation, except through God.
Being Put into the Water: Here we mirror Christ's death and burial. In the same way, our sinful nature is killed and buried.
Being Pulled out of the Water: This represents the resurrection that all believers experience. We have put to death our old selves and experience new life in Christ.
We also need to consider that public declarations were extremely risky in the first few centuries of the early church—and in many parts of the world today. If someone made a public declaration of faith, this could often lead to their martyrdom. So believers took baptism very, very seriously. It meant a life-long commitment to Christ that could've resulted in a painful death.
Why Is a Profession of Faith Important?
So why do Christians need to profess their faith? Why get baptized and share our testimony with others?
If we take a look at anyone who experienced Jesus' miracles or spoke with Jesus one on one, they couldn't help but share the good news. Think of the woman at the well, the deaf and mute man in Mark 7, the leper in Mark 1, the list goes on. When someone experiences God in a real and tangible way, they cannot help but share the news with others.
It should be the same with believers. If God has transformed our lives and pulled us out of the pit of our own depravity (Psalm 103:4) we cannot help but spread the good news, and cannot help but share our stories as to how Christ redeemed us.
For further reading:
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Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy released its first two installments with IlluminateYA, and the final one, Vision, releases in August of 2021. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.