Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
What is baptism? Is baptism really necessary to become a true Christian? What is the proper mode of baptism? Who is authorized to perform it? Here are the Biblical answers to these important questions.
BAPTISM is a Biblical command. It is an essential requirement for salvation. You must be baptized to become a true Christian. "Repent, and be baptized every one of you..." is God's command to every one of us personally (Acts 2:38).
Jesus' Command and Example
Jesus' parting commission to His Church was, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16). That's strong language! Jesus didn't "beat around the bush" with words. He spoke plainly so we would realize the importance of what He said. For that reason Jesus Himself went to John the Baptist for baptism to fulfill God's will and to set us an EXAMPLE. Notice: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water... and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:16-17). God the Father was "well pleased" with Jesus. Is God well pleased with you? Most certainly—if you have followed — or will follow — the example of Jesus Christ!
How and Why
Notice that Jesus "went up straightway out of the water." Mark's gospel renders it, "And straightway coming up out of the water..." (Mark 1:10). It is obvious that Jesus was not sprinkled! He was immersed — plunged into — water. The Greek word from which the word "baptism" is translated is baptizo. Any Greek lexicon gives its meaning as "to dip or immerse." The example of Philip and the eunuch also proves this... and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water..." (Acts 8:38-39). They went down "into the water" and came "up out of the water." And so, according to the Bible, the correct way to be baptized is to be completely IMMERSED in water! But why does God require complete immersion in water for proper baptism? Because baptism symbolizes something! It is not the simple physical act of getting "dunked" for a second or two that is important. This act has tremendous meaning for us. That wonderful significance is explained in Romans, chapter six: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of HIS resurrection" (Rom. 6:3-5). Did you understand what you just read? Baptism symbolizes a death and burial, and then a resurrection to a new life! That is the sequence which Christ went through and we are to follow His example! "We are buried with him by baptism into death" (verse 4), symbolizing our burial of the old self. Our old self — our old life of sin — symbolically DIES — is put to death and buried in baptism — so that when we come up out of the watery grave, even as Christ arose from the dead, "... even so we also should walk in newness of life" (verse 4) — in OBEDIENCE to God.
A Symbol of Your Repentance
Baptism has marvelous meaning! It is joyful and exciting. Yet sobering. It pictures putting your "old self" to death — burying your sinful past — and becoming a new person! Paul also expressed it this way: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Paul was not the same person after baptism! He became a true Christian with Jesus Christ actually living — in him through the Holy Spirit! So can you! Baptism symbolizes the complete washing away and the total forgiveness of your sins (Isa. 1:16). It pictures your being "cleaned up" and made ready to receive the Holy Spirit of God which then enables you to begin living a new life of obedience to Christ! Then, and only then, can you begin to grow and eventually be born as a Son in God's eternal, ruling Family! Jesus Christ suffered and died for your sins. And so, as part of each baptismal ceremony, God's ministers ask each candidate for baptism, "Have you repented of your sins? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?" This is because being baptized demonstrates that you recognize your previous disobedience to God's Law, that you desire to be forgiven, that you acknowledge your need for Christ's sacrifice and proclaim your willingness now to follow His example of obedience to God's Laws, that you wish to be like Christ and live forever.
Administered by Whom?
Does it make any difference who baptizes you? Absolutely it does! You should be baptized by a true representative and servant of the living God — a man through whom God is working. Many professing Christians have been baptized. But there was no real change in their lives. This confirms the fact that God usually will not recognize a baptism performed by anyone other than His own called ministers. God simply does not work through men who have appointed themselves as His ministers — men who do not know or obey the truth of God! As a result of this Work, the lives of thousands have been — and are being — dramatically changed! The fruits of conversion are being borne in the lives of thousands who have been baptized by the ministers of this Work. If you have deeply repented and sincerely want to be baptized, or if you are desirous of just discussing these vital subjects in relation to your life with a qualified and dedicated servant of God, then do write and let us know. God's true ministers — consecrated men who obey the command of Jesus Christ: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19) — are stationed throughout the world to counsel and baptize people like you.