Baptism, Salvation, and Discipleship

Photo of Bobby HarringtonBobby Harrington | Bio

Bobby Harrington

Bobby is the point-leader of and, both collaborative, disciple-making organizations. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has an M.A.R. and an M.Div. from Harding School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 10 books on discipleship, including Discipleshift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman), The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick) and Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making (with Greg Weins). He lives in the greater Nashville area with his wife and near his children and grandchildren.

Conversion is a big deal in Scripture.

Even the angels rejoice, Jesus tells us, for “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Surely this is because when a person expresses repentant faith, God releases his lavish and forgiving grace. And the faith that leads to repentance means a person is now devoting his or her life to serve God.

Catch this: God’s Word teaches that conversion leads to both salvation and discipleship—no exceptions, no excuses.

God gave us baptism to help make both salvation and the path of discipleship clear. Under inspiration from God, the apostle Paul writes the following in Romans 6:3-4:

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Paul says that when we are buried in the waters of baptism by faith, we are baptized into the benefits of Christ’s death–forgiveness of sins, the gift of the indwelling Spirit, the promises of heaven, etc. He also says that when we come out of the waters of baptism, we are committed to live a new life by faith. We are committing to crucify our old self and our habits of sin (Romans 6:6-7).

Again, we are literally coming out of the waters of baptism to be dead to sinful lifestyles and alive to the ways of Jesus (Romans 6:6-7). We are committing ourselves to be disciples of Jesus (Romans 1:5). That is why baptism is a commitment to both salvation and discipleship.

Recently I witnessed a baptism that was a perfect picture of these elements (see the video above). One of the disciples in our church loved a co-worker so much that he shared both his life and the gospel in a discipling relationship (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

I am so grateful for this example. It is an example of conversion as God intends–and an example of disciple making as God intends!

To learn more about the book Trust and Follow Jesus, the resource described in this video, click here. For the just-released T&F Leaders Guide, click here.

To learn more about what the Bible teaches about baptism, get the short book Baptism: What the Bible Teaches, by clicking here.