When Peter preached the first gospel message after the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the believers, the people were so convicted that they asked Peter – “What shall we do?” (Acts 2: 37). Peter answers in verse 38 –
Repent and each of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Right through the New Testament accounts of the early church, when people responded to the gospel – and received Jesus as Lord and Saviour – they were baptised (usually straight away) by full immersion. The word baptise comes from the Greek word baptizo which means to sink, to plunge, to fully immerse. There is nothing magical about the water for baptism nor does the physical act of baptism save you, but baptism is an act of obedience which highlights several different facets of your salvation.
JESUS OUR MODEL
In Matthew 3: 13 – 17 – Jesus comes to John the Baptist to be baptised. John’s baptism was one of repentance and Jesus was sinless and clearly not in need of repentance, but He says to John in verse 15 – Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Immediately after Jesus was baptised, the Spirit of God descended like a dove and sat on Jesus. Then God spoke from heaven saying – “This is My beloved Son in who, I am well-pleased!”
When Jesus walked this earth as a man, He demonstrated how you are to live in relationship with God. When you are obedient in baptism God is well-pleased with you – His beloved son or daughter. Jesus’ baptism was also a prophetic act pointing to the truth of Acts 2: 38.
WHAT DOES BAPTISM SIGNIFY?
Read Romans 6: 3 – 5. You see from these verses that baptism is an outward, physical symbol of your identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is both a declaration of your faith and symbolic of your death to your old life and being raised up to new life in Christ.
Colossians 2: 12 – Having been buried with Him (Jesus) in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Galatians 3: 27 – For all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.
Unrighteousness and sins are like filthy rags which are replaced by Jesus’ robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) when you give your heart to Him (2 Corinthians 5: 21). Baptism symbolizes this exchange.
1 Corinthians 12: 13 – For by one Spirit (=Holy Spirit) we were all baptised into one body …… and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Baptism signifies the oneness of the body of Christ (=the church) because we all receive the one Spirit. It reminds you of your responsibility to other believers. (Ephesians 4: 1 – 6)
Matthew 28: 19 – 20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.
When you have accepted God’s grace through faith, believing that Jesus died to pay for your sin, and exercised your free will to repent, then Jesus commands you to be baptised as an act of submission and obedience. It is a powerful witness of your inward decision. Your obedience in baptism releases God’s grace in your life.
Baptism is an integral part of your response to the gospel.
It is to be by full immersion in water by every believer.
It was modelled by Jesus and is commanded by Jesus.
It symbolizes death, burial and resurrection – death to sin and raised up to new life in Christ.
It is a public confession of your faith and witness of your obedience to Christ.
It is an act of faith, submission of your heart and obedience.
In the New Testament, new believers were usually water baptised straight away. Also know that the act of baptism will also strengthen your faith as God releases His grace in response to your obedience. So the sooner the better.
The Bible is clear that every believer who has accepted Christ should be baptised by full immersion in water. If that is your desire in obedience to Jesus then contact your church or speak to a Christian friend to organise your baptism.You will be greatly blessed!
NOTE: Some churches use the term baptism for the sprinkling or christening of infants. This is not what the Bible calls baptism which is only for believers.
Also some churches do not practice full immersion baptism in water having their own man made traditions. You may need to look around for one that believes and practises Biblical baptism.