Why should you be baptized? Why should you be a member of First Baptist? These are deep questions, but with deep spiritual significance, but the answers start simply: for your spiritual growth and encouragement. They are a “means of grace” for all believers: they are a powerful way God’s blessings come to us.
Baptism is our opportunity to declare to the world, to the church, and to ourselves that we belong to Jesus. Jesus commanded the church to “make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). When you go under the waters of baptism, the church declares that you are indeed a Christian: you are “buried with [Jesus] in baptism” (Colossians 2:12), and when you rise up out of the waters of baptism you proclaim “you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God.” (Colossians 2:12) The scriptures make clear that baptism itself doesn’t save us: we are saved only by faith in Jesus. Yet it is through baptism that we affirm our faith, obey our Lord’s command, and identify with our Savior. It is a rich blessing to do so.
Similarly, church membership is how we formally identify ourselves with the local church. Why is this important? The short answer is that we cannot live the Christian life alone. We need each other! When you join the church, you make a commitment to love and serve God and others with this group (or “body”) of believers, to support its worship and work. Likewise, the members of the church are committed to you and your spiritual growth. The pastor and leaders of the church promise to care for you in prayer and teaching and discipleship. When difficulties arise, we bind together in love and seek to strengthen our faith together. In all of this you have the comfort and privilege and assurance of knowing that you are indeed part of the true Christian church both now and forever. This is one of the primary ways God blesses us and grows our faith as we look to him together.