When people love each other, wanting to spend the rest of their lives together, and are committed to each other, they get married. In the same manner, when people love Jesus, wanting to follow Him as His disciples, and are committed to Him, they get baptized.
I. THE MEANING OF BIBLICAL BAPTISM
Ceremonial washing occurred in the Old Testament. John
the Baptist introduced a baptism of repentance (see Matt. 3)
which was also accepted by Jesus and practiced by His disciples.
• Baptism has to do with repentance of sins and with dedicating one’s life to Jesus (Matt. 3:2, 5, 6, 11; Acts 2:38).
• Baptism has therefore to do with cleansing and is a sign of accepting forgiveness and salvation (John 13:10; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 6:11).
• Baptism is by water and the Holy Spirit, depicting death to sin and bringing about newness of life (John 3:3, 5; Rom. 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:17).
• Baptism is a public act of confessing Christ and believing in Him (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16).
• Baptism has to do with discipleship and allows Jesus to
live His life in His followers (Matt. 28:19; Gal. 2:20).
II. JESUS AND BAPTISM
Christian baptism is rooted in baptize Jesus who Himself
was baptized and who gave the commission to those who desire
to become God’s children. However, His own baptism was
not a baptism of repentance; He was baptized as our example.
• Jesus’ baptism is the example that we should follow. What happened at His baptism indirectly happens with any person who is serious about following Christ and who is being baptized (Matt. 3:13-17).
• Jesus through His disciples baptized people (John 3:22; 4:2).
• Jesus wants people to be baptized (Matt. 28:18-20;
Mark 16:15, 16).
III. PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1. The Mode of Baptism
Baptism is by immersion.
• The Greek verb baptizō and other words of the same family are used in the New Testament to denote baptism by immersion.
• That people went into the water and came up out of the water again supports immersion (Matt. 3:16; Acts 8:38, 39).
• Baptism is a symbol of being buried with Christ. A burial
is a complete and not just a partial interment (Col. 2:12).
2. Prerequisites for Baptism
The Book of Acts continuously stresses the sequence of
hearing the proclamation of the gospel, believing in Jesus, and
being baptized. Exceptions confirm the rule and are due to special
circumstances. Nevertheless, hearing and believing always
• Hearing, believing, repenting, being baptized, receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-41).
• Hearing, believing, being baptized (Acts 8:12).
• Hearing, believing, being baptized (Acts 8:34-39).
• Hearing, receiving the Holy Spirit, being baptized (Acts 10:44-48).
• Hearing, believing, being baptized (Acts 18:8). Believing in Jesus includes the entire gospel. Therefore, people were baptized in the name of Jesus after they had heard the proclamation of the message and accepted it. This is not possible with infants.
• Renewed baptism because the first was inadequate (Acts 19:1-7).
3. Entrance into the Church by Baptism
Although people are baptized because they believe in Jesus, they are also joined to “His body” which is the church.
• Those who were baptized were added to the church (Acts 2:41, 42, 46, 47).
• They form one body (1 Cor. 12:13). One cannot be a
Christian in isolation (Heb. 10:24, 25).
IV. BENEFITS OF BAPTISM AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Benefits are described, for instance, in Acts 2:38, 39; Matthew
3:11, 16, 17; 1 Corinthians 12:7-13.
• Belonging and relationship: Beloved sons and daughters of God.
• Members of the community of Christ.
• Forgiveness of sins, salvation, eternal life.
• Receiving the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. Benefits lead also to responsibilities.
• The use of one’s natural and spiritual gifts for Christ’s cause.
• Becoming active in a local church.
• Fulfilling the missionary task given by the Lord.
V. BAPTISM AND I
We are challenged as Paul was when he met Jesus: “And
now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins
washed away, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). We decide to
follow Christ’s example.
Ekkehardt Mueller is an associate director for the Biblical Research
Institute at the General Conference World Headquarters. This
article has been reprinted, by permission, from Reflections, the