This step is, Water Baptism.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
It is simply a public declaration that we identify with what Jesus Christ did for us on a cross. We no longer choose to live life, our way, but instead we choose to live life, God’s way. We have turned from walking away from God, to walking with God. We put away the old life of sin and begin a new life of obedience to Jesus Christ.
Paul compares Water Baptism to a burial. In order to be buried one must die first. In the same way, the prerequisite for baptism is death to sin. After we are buried in Baptism, then we rise up to live a new life.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized 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.
Further to this, the Bible gives us two illustrations to help us understand water baptism. Both show how the old life was put away and a new life emerged.
1. Crossing The Red Sea:
The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians. In the same way, we are all slaves to sin. God made a way for the Israelites freedom from bondage, by leaving their old life and passing through the Red Sea, into their new life.
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
1 Corinthians 10:1,2
2. The Flood:
Peter teaches us that it is not “the water” or “the removal of dirt” that saves us, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
…to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:20,21
In the same way as the illustration of the Red Sea and The Flood, God has made a way for our freedom by Christ dying on a cross for our sin, and through His death, we are set free. And just as Christ rose again on the third day, we too rise again into a new life.
Water Baptism is a physical expression of this truth.
Water Baptism – full immersion or sprinkling?
The word ‘baptism’ means ‘to fully immerse’, to ‘totally submerge’ or to ‘be fully wet.’ The definition of the word confirms to us that the act of baptism involves immersion of the person into the water. In Acts 8:38 we have the example of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch “going down into the water” in order to be baptised. When Jesus was baptised by John in Matthew 3:16 it reads that He “came up out of the water.” It is clear from the definition of baptism that it involves complete immersion and not just sprinkling.
Water Baptism – who is it for?
The Bible records many instances where individuals and groups of people were baptised. In every case repentance and faith preceded water baptism. It is therefore true to say that baptism is for believers. Water baptism is an essential part of obedience. We validate our faith by obeying the command to be baptised (Jam. 2:17-18). Water baptism is not an option and to not be baptised is therefore disobedience to the revealed will of God.
There is no Biblical support for infant baptism as a practice because the Biblical baptism is believer’s baptism, which involves repentance, confession and faith; decisions that an infant is incapable of making.
Water Baptism – when should I do it?
In the New Testament it is evident that new believers were baptised as soon as possible after their decision to follow Christ. There is no reason to delay the step of baptism. It is not a graduation to an advanced level of spirituality but an early step of obedience, a line of separation between the past and the future.
Water Baptism – how does it happen?
Baptism is total immersion in water. It is possible therefore to be baptised wherever there is a sizeable enough body of water like a beach, river, lake, pool or large spa … wherever you can be fully immersed in water. Most churches have a baptismal pool that is especially designed for these occasions. Generally, some time is set aside to baptise a few people who have requested it at the same time. This provides the opportunity for family and friends to attend this special occasion and witness your public declaration.
This is also a good opportunity to share, with the people attending, a brief testimony about what God has done for you.
Then one or two of the spiritual leaders of the church will lower you into the water after having invoked the name of the Lord Jesus Christ over your life.
The suggested statement spoken by the one baptising is:
(Name of the person being baptised). On confession of your faith I baptise you into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; into the likeness of His death, that in the same way as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father so you also will rise to walk in newness of life.
This is constructed based on the following Scriptures:
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized 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.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
The spiritual leaders lower you into the water until you are totally submerged. Then they will then lift you out again and pray for you that God will strengthen you and use you for His purposes.
Water Baptism also leads to a promise.
Taking the step of Water Baptism also leads to a promise.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
You can know more about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and to understand Holy Spirit Baptism.
Water Baptism, your move…
Have you been Water Baptised, by full immersion yet?
Have you seriously considered taking this next step of obedience?