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For the believer, baptism is an ordinance of the Christian faith commanded by Jesus.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19-20
What Is Baptism?
Baptism is an outward declaration and demonstration of your faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism consists of being fully immersed underwater or having water sprinkled on your head.
Baptism is reserved for believers of Jesus Christ. As you go into the water (or as water is sprinkled on your head), you are identifying with the death of Jesus; as you’re submerged in the water, you’re identifying with the burial of Jesus; as you come up out of the water, you’re identifying with the resurrection of Jesus.
Baptism should be done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Does Baptism Mean You’re Saved?
Being baptized does not give a person a saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; however, those who have a saving faith in Jesus Christ are called to be baptized.
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Having a saving faith means that you understand your need for Jesus because you are distant from God and unable to reach Him on your own. You understand that only Jesus could bridge the gap between you and Father God, so you have placed your trust in Jesus as the only way.
For more information on what it means to have a saving faith, read more below.
In Genesis 3, sin entered the world and affected every person on earth by separating us from God. Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.”
Romans 3:23 says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” This means that all people have turned away from God, and our sin separates us from Him.
The Bible also says in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, even though we are separated from God because of our sin, when we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will no longer be separated from Him!
“God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only son, so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never die." – John 3:16
This saving faith in Jesus is not based on your parents’ (or anyone else’s) faith. This is a decision between you and God.
Jesus says in John 10:10 (ESV), “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
It is your saving faith in Jesus Christ that leads you to respond in obedience to Him by being baptized.
Some people may find themselves in extenuating circumstances where they cannot physically be baptized. If a person is unable to be baptized, this does not change their salvation or faith in Jesus. Baptism is the outward display of the inward transformation within the heart of the believer through Jesus Christ. God always looks at the heart!
Where Is Baptism Mentioned in the Bible? (Who gets baptized in Scripture?)
We meet John the Baptist in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1 in the New Testament. Mark 1:4 says that John “preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven” (NLT).
John says in Matthew 3:11, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Later, in Acts 19:4, Paul supports what John said in Matthew 3:11, saying that John’s baptism was of repentance as they await the coming of Jesus.
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands His disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
From this point forward in Scripture, we see baptism as an act of obedience, following Jesus’ command.
After hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the disciples would baptize those who believed. “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:37-38).
Who Should Be Baptized?
Everyone who has placed their trust and faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior should be baptized as Jesus commands believers to do so (Matthew 28:18-19).
How Can I Be baptized?
Different church denominations may require additional steps to take to be baptized; nonetheless, Scripture is clear that the only requirements are to place your trust in Jesus, repent, and be baptized.
Some churches may ask you to take a short class to help you understand baptism more in-depth.
The person performing the baptism must be a believer, and they may ask the person they’re baptizing, “Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”
Do I Have to Be Fully Immersed in Water for My Baptism to Count?
No. While many evangelical Bible-based churches practice a full immersion baptism, there are just as many that sprinkle or pour water over the believer’s head. It should be noted that Jesus Christ and the New Testament believers were fully immersed in rivers and bodies of water.
Baptism is an outward display of a person’s saving faith in Jesus Christ, so whether they are fully submerged in water or have it poured over their head, the attitude of their heart matters most. Extenuating circumstances or traditional practices may dictate the type of water baptism you receive.
Can I Be Baptized More Than Once?
Some people were baptized as infants, or maybe because everyone else was getting baptized but they didn’t fully understand it. Later, after having a salvation experience with Christ and becoming a true believer, many make the rational choice to be baptized as an outward expression of their saving faith in Jesus Christ through a believer’s baptism.
If you were baptized as a believer and strayed away from God, then rededicate your life to Christ, your first baptism was still a believer’s baptism. It was a true act of obedience to Jesus and a testimony to those who witnessed it! You don’t need to be baptized again to express your rededication to God. Confess your sins to Him, repent, and ask the Holy Spirit to keep your path straight as you focus on the Lord.
We all experience highs and lows in our faith journey with Christ. Let your renewed faith be the testimony of the work of Jesus Christ in your life!
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
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