The Bible’s Direction for Water Baptism

The Bible’s Direction for Water Baptism

Q.   Why do I need to be baptised in water?

A.   The most important reason is that Jesus Himself commanded His disciples to be baptised in water. The Lord Jesus instructed Water Baptism personally. If you are committed to Him, do His bidding. Water Baptism is a believer’s step of faith producing an act of obedience born out of a heart of love for his Lord.

  • John 14:15   If ye love Me, keep My commandments.
  • John 15:14    Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Jesus’ Own Baptism in Matt 3:13-17 Jesus surprised John by asking him to baptise Him. John’s baptism related to repentance, and Jesus was, and is forever sinless. However, Jesus wanted to openly declare His submission to the Father’s will for Him to die on the Cross for us. His act of faith showed that he would die, be buried and then be resurrected.

At the same time, although Jesus was righteous in terms of keeping the Old Testament Law perfectly, this act of faith opened the door for Him to that righteousness God confers by faith. So His water baptism was His declaration that He would die, be buried and rise again. Thus He tells His follower, v15, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness;” we too receive righteousness by faith!

The Meaning of Baptism in Water Believers are saved when they are baptised into Christ, Rom 6:1-6; that is, they are baptised into His death, burial and resurrection. This is a spiritual baptism; not water baptism. Water baptism is the outward declaration of what has happened to the repentant sinner who has come into union with Christ. The believer declares openly – to all of Heaven, the Church, the world, and even to the forces of darkness, that he has died with Christ, been buried with Him and been raised to newness of life in Him.

In Gal 2:20 Paul tells quite dramatically that he is crucified with Christ, but ‘nevertheless I live’ in a new life motivated and undergirded by the faith of Christ Who lives in him. Gone is his old life! Now Christ lives in him! And in us too!

This is certainly something a believer will happily declare – and live out! No wonder Heaven erupted with the Father’s pleasure in Jesus; ‘this is My beloved Son”. No wonder, too, that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him to empower His ministry.

For believers, baptism in water is generally the precursor to the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The Disciples Obey Jesus’ Command to be Baptised

  • Acts 2:41              3000 on the day of Pentecost
  • Acts 8:12-13         those of Samaria, including Simon
  • Acts 8:36-38       the Ethiopian Eunuch
  • Acts 10:47-48     the household of Cornelius
  • Acts 16:14-15       Lydia of Thyatira, at Philippi
  • Acts 16:31-36      the Philippian jailer and his household
  • Acts 18:8            Crispus and the Corinthians
  • Acts 19:5            the 12 men of Ephesus
  • Acts 22:16          Paul

Baptism in Water – Total Immersion Of course that’s what the word means! And it is a perfect picture of death, burial and resurrection.

  • Matt 3:16 Jesus … went up … out of the water
  • Acts 8:38,39 the Ethiopian went into the water …up out of the water
  • John 3:23 John baptised in Aenon because “much water there”.
  • Acts 9:10,22:16 Ananias, “a certain disciple” baptised Paul

Christening? The Scripture does not teach christening or sprinkling infants. By replacing immersion, baptism is robbed of its true meaning. Water Baptism is the choice, the decision, of a believer to obey the Lord Jesus and declare his union with Christ, dead and buried to the old life, and raised in Christ to ‘newness of life.’ A baby cannot make such a choice, decision and declaration!

In the Encyclopaedia of a major denomination, they admit, “The word ‘baptism’ is derived from the Greek word ‘bapto’ or ‘baptize’ to ‘wash’ or to ‘immerse'”. And, “The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion … In the Latin Church immersion seems to have prevailed until the 12th century. After that it is found in some places even as late as the 16th century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the 13th century, and gradually prevailed in the Western Church.” (Reference on request.)

Others, such as Tertullian, John Wesley, Luther, Dr. Doddridge and Whitfield, admit that total immersion was the original mode of Baptism even though some of them did not practise it. It is interesting to note, though, that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism did in fact baptise by immersion in his early ministry, and was, on the 1st September, 1736 tried in court at Savannah, Georgia, because he insisted on immersion. (See “John Wesley’s Journal” – Popular Edition, condensed – published by Charles H Kelly London 1903)

What Now? If you are a Christian and love the Lord, will you do what He asks of you? Will you be baptised in water? ‘No, Lord,’ is a contradiction in terms!