Baptism (immersion) is more than just a part of our response to the gospel, or good news, about Christ. Without baptism, your response to the gospel message is not complete. (Read Mark 16:15, 16 and Acts 8:35, 36). If we believe the whole message of the NT, we will believe what it teaches about baptism (immersion).
In the Bible there are three distinct baptisms: the baptism of John the Baptist (Luke 3:3), Holy Spirit baptism (Matthew 3:11), and the baptism which Jesus commissioned all his followers to practice (Matthew 28:19 and 20). Today there is only one baptism in effect (Ephesians 4:5).
1. The baptism (immersion) of John the Baptist (Immerser) was given before Jesus worked and died. It was given to make people ready for him. It was not given in Jesus' name. When the New Testament or New Covenant period began, the baptism of John ended. It had prepared people for Christ's coming as it was given to do. (Read Acts 19:3-5).
2. Holy Spirit baptism was promised by Jesus in Matthew 3:11 and was given only to the apostles (Acts 2) and to Cornelius (Acts 10).
3.The one baptism of the church today is the baptism of Jesus' great commission. This baptism (immersion) is commanded by Christ and is to be obeyed everyone by until the end of time. (Read Matthew 28:18-20). Let us study what the NT says about the one baptism.
What? The baptism (immersion) of the great commission is the one baptism to be carried out by every person. Therefore, the one baptism is water baptism (immersion). (Read Acts 8:38).
How? Baptism is doing something. The Bible says that we are buried when we are baptized In Romans 6:4 and Colossians 2:12, baptism is called a burial. Normally, when something is buried, it is put under the ground. When we are buried in baptism we are put under the water. We are not buried by having water sprinkled or poured on us. That would not be a burial.
We are then raised with Christ to a new life. (Read Romans 6:4 and Colossians 2:12). As Christ was buried in the tomb - and then was raised from it to live again, so we are buried in baptism - with water all around us - and raised from the water to live a new life. We cannot be raised from a few drops or even a bowl full of water.
The baptism that Christ commands for every person is always immersion, for that was the original Meaning of the word "baptize." To baptize is to immerse.
Why? We must be baptized into Christ to be saved. The NT teaches this. The reason we are saved when we are baptized is not because we are good enough to be saved. We are saved because Jesus Christ was good, not because we are. He lived without sinning and then gave his life on the cross so that his blood could cleanse us from our sins. God chose to let his blood, his death be a sacrifice for us, to cleanse us when we believe and obey him. But it is not our obeying or any magical power in the water that cleanses us. It is Christ's sacrifice, his blood that cleanses and saves.
Romans 6:3, 4 says that people are "baptized into his (Christ's) death" and now "may live a new life." When we come into Christ's death, we are cleansed by the blood, which he gave for us when he died. (Read John 19:33, 34; Hebrews 9:22; and Ephesians 1:7). Romans 6:3 clearly and simply says that baptism is the way we come into the death of Christ. Those who have not been baptized (immersed) have not come into his death, have not had their sins forgiven, and do not have the new life he promised. Neither is a person who has been baptized but had not really believed or repented of his sins.
"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:27) How does this verse say we come into Christ? By baptism Where is salvation? In Christ (Romans 8:1). We must be baptized to be in Christ, and we must be in Christ to be saved. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:17). Those who are not baptized into Christ do not put him on, and therefore are not saved. "Jesus answered, `I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.'" (John 3:5)
We come into the kingdom, where Christ saves us from sin, when we are "born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:3). We know that two things happen when a baby is born: the baby is conceived and later delivered. The new birth happens the same way. We are conceived by the Holy Spirit through the word of God. (Read John 16:7,8, 13; 1 Peter 1:23). Then we are delivered into Christ's family through baptism When a baby is born, he passes from his mother's womb, where he has had water all around him (see John 3:4), into the open world. When we are baptized we have water all around us, and then we are "born of water" into a new life where we are saved in Christ. This is what Romans 6:4 teaches.
"Those who accepted his message were baptized . . . " (Acts 2:41) This verse says that the people were baptized (immersed) when they received the divinely given word. Those who were not baptized rejected that word.
Who? The NT teaches that believers who repent, or turn from their sins, are to obey the command to be baptized (immersed). There is not a single command or example for baptizing babies in the NT. Babies have no sin, because "sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). "Where there is no law, neither is there transgression" (Romans 4:15). Laws are not given to babies, and no one expects them to obey. Christ said that they are innocent and pure (Matthew 18:3 and 19:14). They do not need to be saved, because they are not unsaved - they are safe!
The only commission Jesus gave about baptism is often called the great commission. The great commission is Jesus' instructions to his apostles before he went back to heaven. In it, he said that those who are taught the gospel and believe it are to be baptized (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, 16).
There are other parts of the Bible that teach that only adults who believe and repent of their sins should be baptized (immersed). Some of these are: "they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12), "he commanded them to be baptized" (Acts 10:48), "many of the Corinthians who heard believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8), and 1 Peter 3:21, which says that the baptism which saves us is an appeal to God for "a good conscience."
Have you been baptized (immersed, buried) in water "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" so that your sins can be forgiven? Now is the time to act.