After repenting and putting your faith in Jesus, the next step on the Christian pathway
is being baptised. The New Testament takes it for granted that, once you've accepted
the Christian message, you will submit to baptism more or less immediately. Take
the following verses, for example:
Acts 2:41 'Those who accepted his message were baptised.'
Acts 18:8 'Many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptised.'
So closely is baptism linked with believing in Jesus that many scriptures place them
side by side as part of becoming a Christian:
Mark 16:16 'Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not
believe will be condemned.'
Acts 2:38 'Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.'
Acts 22:16 'What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptised and wash your sins away,
calling on his name.'
Because of this close link between baptism and believing in Jesus, it is a condition
of membership of the church that you have received baptism as a believer, or that
you are willing to be baptised at the earliest opportunity.
What about the sprinkling of infants?
Baptism isn't for babies. Not once does the New Testament refer to such a practice.
Instead, it shows baptism to be for believers only, which implies a certain level
of mental development.
It's not unusual to see children of seven or eight being baptised, but only when
they have a clear understanding of Jesus as their Saviour and because they want to
obey him by baptism. As for babies, the only babies to be baptised are spiritual
babies—those who have just been born again!
What about the sprinkling of believers?
Baptism by sprinkling is really a contradiction of terms. The word 'baptise' is the
English form of a Greek word meaning to dip, immerse, submerge or plunge into a liquid.
It was used by dyers to describe the act of dipping material in dye. New Testament
baptism was by immersion.
Nowhere in the New Testament is it suggested that a few drops of water are sufficient.
All the evidence is that there needed to be a large and plentiful supply of water.
Enough, in fact, to cover the person being baptised:
Acts 8:38-39 'Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised
him. When they came up out of the water . . . .'
John 3:23 'John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty
Another factor pointing to immersion is that baptism is described in Romans chapter
6 as a picture of the death and resurrection of Jesus and our association with him
in it. We go down under the water into death and rise up out of it again into new
It's a piece of theatre. We are 'buried' under the water, marking the end of the
old life. Then we come up again, just as Jesus came out of the tomb, to start a new
life of victory:
Romans 6:3-4 'Don't you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were
baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life.'
What does baptism do for the believer?
Being baptised is an act of obedience to Christ—a clear-cut demonstration that we
know how to take orders from our new Governor, who said:
Matthew 28:19-20 'Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything
I have commanded you.'
There's great blessing and satisfaction in obeying the Lord. Our baptism will set
a pattern of obedience to his lordship in our lives as a whole.
It represents a cutting away of the old nature as the dominant power in our lives.
Just as Israelite boys in Old Testament days received physical circumcision, so God's
newborn children today receive at their baptism a spiritual circumcision, or a circumcision
It's a cutting off of the power of the old ways. Like all God's blessings, this must
be received by faith:
Deuteronomy 30:6 'The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts . . . so that you
may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.'
Colossians 2:11-12 'In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful
nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision
done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through
your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.'
It reinforces our profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Memories of the occasion when
you received the Lord may become a little hazy in time. In fact some Christians can't
put an exact day or time at all on their becoming a believer. But there can be no
forgetting being dipped under the water! This sets up a spiritual milestone to which
you can later look back with assurance.
In addition, it tells the other people present that you're serious about being a
Christian. By being publicly baptised you are declaring, 'From now on, Jesus is my
Lord and he's the one who will direct my life.' It's normal for those being baptised
to make a verbal declaration of their recognition of Jesus as Lord of their lives:
Romans 10:9 'If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your
heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.'
1 Timothy 6:12 'Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made
your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.'
When your friends see you submit to baptism they know you're serious about following
Jesus. For people who come from, say, a Hindu or Muslim background, baptism is seen
as the definitive break with their previous culture and religion—and often marks
the beginning of persecution by relatives and associates.
Have you been baptised by immersion as a believer?
Learn by heart
Colossians 2:12'...Buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your
faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.'