The Bible teaches that water baptism is the immersion in water of a penitent believer. In the New Testament church, every believer was commanded to be baptized (Acts 2:38). Baptism symbolizes the following:
– Cleansing and Forgiveness of Sins (Acts 2:38; 22;16)
– The New Birth (John 3:5)
– Circumcision of the Heart (Colossians 2:11-12)
– The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-5)*
– Salvation (1 Peter 3:21)
*Immersion in water is the only act that pictures this so beautifully and accurately.
What the Bible Says About Water Baptism
The Bible has much to say about water baptism. Here are just a few scripture references to baptism:
– Baptism is a practice for believers who are ready and willing to submit their lives wholly to the authority of Jesus Christ. The very act of baptism is a public expression of personal surrender. It is our identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-6). When a person is baptized, they are personally identifying with and surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul said that when you are baptized, you are “clothing yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). The apostle Peter called it “the pledge of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21).
– The Bible also teaches that the proper candidate for baptism is someone who has repented of sin. Peter exhorted the people at Pentecost to “Repent … and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). Throughout the New Testament, repentance and baptism are linked together. Repentance means to have a change of mind and heart. It means to make a U-turn or to do an about-face in our actions and attitudes.
– Baptism is the point of permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. While the Holy Spirit is obviously at work in the life of every earnest believer, the promise of the New Testament is that we can experience the gift of the Holy Spirit living in us — “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
– Baptism symbolizes the forgiveness of sin. God has done a mighty work in the life of the believer. Baptism allows the believer to leave the mistakes of the past behind and look toward a new life in Christ. (Acts 22:16).
– In a literal sense, baptism is the means by which we are added to the Church. 1Corinthians 12:13 says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body (the Church) …”
Baptism is not an option for the true believer. It is an acid test of our true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:15)