What exactly is baptism? The word "baptism" as it appears in the Bible means immersion (the process of submersion in water followed by emergence from the water).
Scholars agree that the baptism of the Bible is immersion. The following examples from the Bible substantiate that conclusion:
"And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up for the water." Matthew 3:16.
"They both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him." Acts 8:38
Note the descriptions of the baptisms - "down into the water," "went up from the water"
What is the significance of baptism?
Baptism is the outward expression of the inward miracle. It is a visible, tangible, physical expression of what is happening inside spiritually. Our baptism is a picture to be seen by others revealing what is happening within us.
Two descriptive word pictures are given in the Bible to explain what happens at baptism.
1. "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raided from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6:3-4 (see also Colossians 2:1) We are identifying with Jesus' experience and demonstrating outwardly in our baptism that:
a) we are dying to our old life and the ways of sin. b) we are burying that old life of sin. c) and we rise to live the new life.
2. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." - Galatians 3:27. We are demonstrating by our baptism that we are:
a) taking off our old clothes of our sinful nature and lifestyle, b) and putting on new clothes of Jesus' nature and lifestyle.
We put on Jesus' values and His priorities. We surrender to Jesus' way. We make Him Lord of our lives, as well as Savior. That means - "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)
Why should I be baptized?
1. Because Jesus was baptized. He is our model, our example, in everything we think and do. Read Matthew 3:13-17.
Jesus came to John the Baptist at the River Jordan to be baptized. John, however, balked at doing such a thing, saying that Jesus should instead be baptizing him (John). "Jesus answered him, 'Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill al righteousness'" (v. 15)
Jesus said it is proper - it is the right thing to do. So John baptized Him. And immediately afterward, God expressed how pleased He was with Jesus' actions. Jesus said baptism was the right thing to do, and then He followed through with action.
2. Because Jesus commanded it.
After His resurrection and before His ascension to heaven, Jesus left these final directions to His followers (which includes us): "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:18-20. See also Mark 16:15,16.
3. Because baptism was an integral part of every conversion experience recorded in the book of Acts (which tells about the actions and beliefs of the first Christians and the first churches that formed after Jesus' ascension). Note the following examples of the apostles, their associates, and the first Christians baptized:
a. groups of people being baptized - Acts 2:41; 8:12 b. Paul being baptized - Acts 8:34-39; 9:18; 22:11-16 c. Cornelius being baptized - Acts 10:47,48 d. Lydia and her household being baptized - Acts 16:13-15 e. Philippian jailer and his household being baptized - Acts 16:33,34 f. Corinthians being baptized - Acts 18:8 g. Ephesians being baptized - Acts 19:5
4. Because it is a way to witness to others of your belief in Christ and your resulting commitment. Though it may seem scary and humiliating to be involved in such a public act of surrender, it translates into a powerful witness to all who view it.
How will I know when I am ready to be baptized?
You are ready to be baptized:
When you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and are ready to receive Jesus as your Savior. When you are ready to repent - ready to turn your life around. When you are ready to put your past behind you and put your life in Jesus' hands. Read Acts 2:38, Colossians 3:5-10, John 1:12,13.
Who should baptize me?
Any Christian can have the privilege of baptizing another. It would be appropriate for the Christian who led you to belief in Christ, the Christian who is a great influence in your life, the Christian whom you greatly respect, or a minister who is available to baptize you.