One of the greatest ways a follower of Christ can proclaim Jesus as Lord is through believer’s baptism. Believer’s baptism is a public demonstration of faith exercised in obedience to the Lordship of Christ. Baptism symbolizes the believer’s one-time and eternal union with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 2:38)
It’s very important that you allow your biblical understanding of baptism to drive whatever actions you take for yourself in this matter.
Water Baptism is a means of public identification.
- John’s baptisms publicly identified the Jewish participants with their sinfulness and need of repentance in view of coming judgment (Matt 3:6, 11; Mark 1:3-5)
- Jesus’ baptism represented His public identification with our humanity — the willing identification of the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save (Matt 3:15)
- Believer’s baptism in the name of Jesus Christ represents a person’s public identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:1-6)
- Believer’s baptism publicly associates one with all others who have been united to Christ by faith (Acts 2:41-42, 1 Cor 12:13)
- Paul and Jesus both baptized very little since it wasn’t necessary for belief in the gospel, nor about a cult identification with the individual performing the baptism (John 4:2, 1 Cor 1:13-17)
Water Baptism is intended to be a one-time act of obedience for the believer.
- As it symbolizes our one-time and eternal union with the one-time death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Eph 4:4-5)
- It is to be an immediate and inseparable indicator of salvation, since belief produces obedience and joy. (Jn 14:15; Acts 8:39)
- Baptism should only be deferred in cases where the professing believer is unclear or uncertain yet in his/her belief in Christ – on what he/she is really trusting in for his/her salvation, etc. But once it is clear that the believer is committed to trust in Christ alone for their eternal life, there is nothing that should prohibit him/her from obeying God’s command to be publicly baptized in His name (Acts 8:35-38).
Water Baptism is intended to be an visual symbol of an inward reality.
- Symbolizing the individual’s belief in Christ’s death & burial (into the water) and resurrection (out of the water)
- It is the demonstrator of real faith exercised in the first act of obedience to the Lordship of Christ (Acts 8:26-40; 16:27-34)
- It is a demonstration of the fact that our sins have been forgiven and remitted, just like all other acts of obedience are likewise a demonstration of our salvation (Acts 2:38)
- It is a necessary part of Christian discipleship (Matt 28:18-20)
- It does not cleanse or wash away sins (Jn 15:3, 1 Peter 3:21, 1Jn 1:7)
- It does not save or merit forgiveness (Luke 18:13-14; 1 Cor 1:13-17)
- It does not bestow the Spirit of God (Acts 8:15-17)
Not all religious ceremonies with water are a biblical baptism.
- Biblical (genuine) baptism publicly identifies the believer to be in a spiritual union with Jesus by faith
- When a person experiences immersion prior to, or contrary to, personal faith in Jesus Christ, it is right for them to be re-baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-7)
- When a believer experiences baptism prior to having a mature understanding of its meaning or significance, it is not necessary for them to be re-baptized (Heb 6:1-3)
- When a believer is restored from back-sliding, it is not necessary for them to be re-baptized (1 Jn 1:9)
- When a believer experiences baptism via a different mode (other than immersion), the Bible does not require them to be re-baptized
- Any who would desire to be re-baptized should be “fully persuaded in their own mind”, as this is ultimately a matter of conscience to be taken seriously (Rom 14:5, 23)