An Introduction to Baptism

Jesus connected water baptism with the Mission of the church at the end of Matthew’s gospel. Baptism of new disciples is to be in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe Jesus meant this to be a permanent practice, called an ordinance.
Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18–20 NET
In New Testament times, baptism followed repentance and faith. Peter invited his listeners on the day of Pentecost to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Three thousand people responded to the invitation, and “those who accepted his message were baptized” (Acts 2:41).

What Does Baptism Mean?

In New Testament times baptisms were in public places where family and friends could gather. This public witness marked the believer as a disciple of Christ. Today, baptisms often take place in church buildings for the sake of convenience, but an open declaration of faith still is a part of the meaning. The person baptized identifies with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Immersion serves as a vivid display of this change, submersion in the water symbolizes the end of the old life and the beginning of the new life found in Christ. Water baptism identifies a person as a disciple of Christ. Simply stated, it is an outward sign of an inward change.

How Should You Be Baptized?

The Bible word for “baptize” means to “immerse, douse, or saturate.” In the two full descriptions of baptism found in the New Testament, individuals were immersed in water. Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River to identify Himself as God’s Son: “As soon as He was baptized, [He] went up out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).

The apostle Philip baptized the Ethiopian by going down into a body of water and coming up with him (Acts 8:38–39). In both of these examples, a large enough quantity of water was required to immerse the person.


Practical Thoughts

Though the Bible does not state a minimum age for baptism. A believer should be old enough to understand the significance of baptism. Baptism is not a prerequisite to receive God’s salvation, nor is it the means of our salvation or rescue.  It is a step of obedience we take to show our trust in Christ as his disciple. In cases where immersion is impossible due to physical limitations, an alternate mode is acceptable.