all about baptism

©2018 michael martin |

1. what is baptism?

Baptism (pronounced bap-tiz-um) is a way to show everyone that you love and obey God. When someone is baptized, they stand in a pool of water, and then a pastor dips them all the way under the water for a second, and then pulls them right back out of the water. It is something that Christians should all do once they have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Lord and Savior.

2. why should we be baptized?

a. to demonstrate our love for God...

Even Jesus, God’s own Son, was baptized when He lived here on Earth, because He wanted everyone to know that He loved and obeyed God. You can read about Jesus being baptized in Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-22, and here it is in Matthew 3:13-17:

Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

b. baptism publicly acknowledges that Jesus is our Master...

Jesus made it clear that we should acknowledge Him in our lives when we interact with other people instead of keeping it a secret. Baptism is an excellent way to publicly acknowledge that we belong to Jesus and that He is our Master.

Matthew 10:32

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”

c. Jesus instructed us to baptize...

Jesus told His disciples to make disciples of everyone they could, and also to baptize them.

Matthew 28:19-20

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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


3. what’s up with the water?

There’s a certain way that we should be baptized, and the Bible shows us how we’re supposed to do it.

a. going under...

Every time someone was baptized in the Bible, they were dipped underwater for a second, and then pulled out. A fancy word for this is “immersion” (pronounced im-mer-shun). It means that we are dipped under the water. The reason we baptize people this way is to be a symbol–that is, it’s supposed to remind us of certain things.

b. a symbol of death and rebirth...

When we are dipped under the water, it reminds us of dying, because when we ask Jesus into our hearts, we die to our sins. Being under the water is also supposed to remind us of being buried after we die. Then, when we come back out of the water, it reminds us of rising back from the dead like Jesus did, and that Christ makes us into a new creation when we ask Him into our hearts. It can also remind us that we will also rise from the dead after we die.

c. a symbol of washing and cleansing...

Additionally, baptism symbolically reminds us that Jesus has washed away our sins, making us clean and new again.

d. what about sprinkling?

Some churches baptize by sprinkling water on you instead of immersing you under the water. While there are some cases in which we will baptize by sprinkling, such as circumstances that make immersion dangerous, and while there is nothing “wrong” with baptism by sprinkling, the Bible’s example is to baptize by immersion.

4. when should we be baptized?

a. once we’ve made Jesus our Lord and Savior...

In other words, we fully believe that Jesus is God’s Son, and the He died so that we could have our sins forgiven. Once we understand that Jesus died to save us, and once we have given ourselves to Him, understanding that we belong to Christ from then on, we should be baptized.

John 1:12

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...

Romans 10:9

That 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.

b. when we shouldn’t be baptized...

Unless we are saved by Jesus, we really shouldn’t be baptized. In Acts 8:36-37, Phillip would not baptize the Eunuch unless he believed with all his heart in the Lord Jesus.

Acts 8:36-37

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”

37 Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

*note: some original Bible manuscripts do not include verse 37, and it is therefore not included in some modern translations.

c. Christ’s baptism vs. john the baptist’s...

Before Jesus died for our sins, John the baptist was preparing the way, baptizing people as a symbol of repentance from sins. This is not to be confused with being baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Acts 19:1-5

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

d. if you belong to Jesus, you should be baptized...

We should be baptized soon after we become saved by Jesus too. All of the New Testament Scriptures show that those who gladly received the message of Christ and believed in Him were also baptized. Here are some examples:

Acts 2:41

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Acts 16:32-33

Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.

e. it’s not too late...

If you haven’t been baptized yet, don’t worry. But now that you know what baptism is, and if you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you should be baptized now.


5. can i go to heaven if i haven’t been baptized?

a. yes!

Only Jesus saves us. We don’t have to be baptized in order to be saved. In I Corinthians chapter one, Paul was unconcerned with whether he had baptized everyone he met, because he knew that baptism didn’t save anyone!

I Corinthians 1:7

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

The thief on the cross beside Jesus was also saved, despite having no opportunity to be baptized:

Luke 23:39-43

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

b. baptism won’t save you, only Jesus does!

Only Jesus Christ our Lord can save us–nothing more and nothing less. Baptism does NOT save anyone; it is only a symbol that Jesus HAS saved us.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

c. baptism is a symbol of what Jesus has already done...

The reason we should be baptized is to let everyone know that we love and obey God and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. God told us that we are supposed to be baptized after we become Christians, and so we should do it–not because He forces us to, but because we love Him and we want to please Him!


6. if you’re being baptized here at life...

a. write a brief testimony...

Please write a brief testimony (about 2-3 minutes in length) about what Jesus has done for you, the difference He has made in your life, and why you want to be baptized. Turn your testimony in to our staff prior to your baptism date. We will have your testimony on hand to read during your baptism.

b. dress for the occasion...

Please be prepared ahead of time by wearing appropriate apparel. Recommended clothing: jeans and a dark t-shirt. You’ll also need to remove your shoes prior to entering the baptistry..

c. bring a couple of towels...

Bring two towels. Beach towel size is best.

d. bring a change of clothes...

Make sure you have a complete change of clothes ready for you to change into once you’ve completed your baptism. We suggest having your towels and clothes in a duffel bag so you’ll have everything you need.

e. sit in the back of the worship center...

Please sit in the back of the worship center for the worship service. When it’s time to be baptized, you’ll be dismissed from the worship center and will meet with our staff in the foyer, dressed for baptism. From there, you will be taken by our staff to the baptistry location.

f. be careful stepping into the water...

When you step into the baptistry, sit down on the bench, lean forward and a pastor will ease you under the water. Just relax and enjoy the moment of boldly proclaiming your love for the Lord.

g. sharing your testimony...

Once you’re in the water, one of our pastors will read your written testimony about what Jesus has done for you and why you want to be baptized. If you wish, you can read your own testimony. Your testimony will serve as a witness that you intend to live for the Lord Jesus, and will be a great blessing to all who are watching!

h. place hands on nose...

As you prepare to be baptized, place your hands together as though you were praying and pinch your nose with your index fingers. This will keep water from getting up your nose!

i. feel free to have family take photos...

Remember that this is going to be a time of celebration for the church family. You’re welcome to have some close family members join with you near the baptistry so they may take photos of this wonderful occasion. Let this be a time that you will remember forever!

j. careful stepping out...

Be sure to use any handrails and help that you are offered as you step up out of the baptistry. Our staff will be on hand with towels for drying you off.

k. change into dry clothes...

Finally, you’ll be directed to a specially designated restroom (one for men and one for women) where you can change into your dry clothes. That’s it!

7. conclusion

Baptism is a wonderful way to publicly proclaim your faith in Christ, and an act of obedience to God. While baptism is not required for salvation, it is a great way to remind ourselves of the commitment we have made, and the public nature of baptism provides accountability to those who witness the baptism. The symbolism of washing and cleansing, death and rebirth are also a great testimony to onlookers. So, if you belong to Jesus and haven’t been baptized, what are you waiting for? Perhaps it’s time to take the plunge!