Water baptism

Now that you are Born Again and you know that you are going to heaven, what is the next important step that you need to take as a Christian? The answer is, “you must be baptized in water.” Why is this so important? There are a number of reasons.

The first reason, Jesus commanded us to be baptized:

He said in Matthew 28:19, “Go into all the world, and make disciples and baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.” When I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I was attending a small Baptist church in the city of Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. A few weeks after my wonderful Born Again experience, the Baptist pastor approached me and asked me to consider being baptized in water. I objected and said it was not necessary, because I am Born Again and going to heaven. He then asked me a very pointed question, “Dave, do you love Jesus?” I replied, “of course I do!” He then referred me to John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” Jesus commanded us to be baptized. I did not have an argument and agreed to be baptized as soon as possible.

The second reason is that it was the pattern in the early church.

Every time someone received Jesus in the book of Acts, they were immediately baptized.  For example: Acts 2:41 we read, “They who received his word, were baptized.” This happened on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 8:36-38 We have the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip preached to him and obviously led him to Jesus. As they were riding in the chariot they saw water, he then asked Philip, “see here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?” Philip then answered him in verse 37, “If you believe in your heart you may be baptized.”  In verse 38 it says that they both went “into the water.” 

We notice two very important truths. Firstly, he had to believe from his heart that Jesus was his Lord. So, water baptism is only for those who believe.  Therefore, a baby cannot believe, and baptizing babies has no meaning. Secondly, they both went into the water and came out of the water. There is the correct way to baptize new believers, they must go into the water and come out of the water. Why is this so important? It is because water baptism is a prophetic action, a public declaration of what happened to us when we received Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In Acts 10:31-48 we read about Peter preaching in the house of Cornelius. As he preached the gospel, they believed in Jesus and the Holy Spirit fell on them, they spoke in tongues and prophesized. In verse 47 he says, “can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized?  We notice here, that it was not only important for them to be baptized in water, but it was also urgent. This pattern occurs throughout the book of Acts, those that believed were immediately baptized. In Acts 16:33 we read how the household of the Philippian jailor could not even wait until the following morning, they had to be immediately baptized. One of the lies of the devil is, “You are not ready to be baptized!” The truth is that we are ready, the moment we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Philip said to the Ethiopian eunuch, “If you believe in your heart you may be baptized.”  

The third reason for Water Baptism, is that Jesus was our example:

We read about this in Matthew 3:13-16. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In 1 Peter 2:21 it says that Jesus is our example and that we should follow in His steps. If water baptism was important to Him, it should be important to us.

Water Baptism is a prophetic action

The word baptize comes from the Greek word, “baptizo” which means to “dip” or put under the water.  It is a prophetic action that points to the cross when Jesus died, was buried and rose on the third day. It is therefore a public confession of our faith in Jesus. We died with Him, we were buried with Him and we rose again in newness of life. Therefore, to sprinkle babies or adults has no meaning.

This prophetic action is a declaration not only before people, but also before the unseen spirit realm. It is a public testimony before God, the angels, the devil and the demons and people that we now belong to Jesus. It is not just an empty ritual, but a means for us to release our faith and experience what it really means. We should begin to experience a greater degree of freedom from sin and victory in Christ. I definitely noticed this in my own life after I was baptized in water. I once heard a testimony of a former witch who had received Jesus. They prayed for her many times to be free from demons, but the demons would leave and come back again over and over. One day the pastor asked her if she had been baptized in water. She said ‘no.’ However, when she was baptized the demons left and she was totally free.

I remember travelling to a remote village in Kyrgyzstan. I met a believer who was suffering from torment and depression. He asked me to pray for him. I asked him if he had been baptized. He said “no.” I shared with him the importance of water baptism. We then baptized him in a bath in one of the apartments. As he came out of the water, he lifted his hands in joy and was free from his oppression. We have seen many people have wonderful encounters with the Holy Spirit as they came out of the waters of baptism. Many of them received the baptism of the Holy Spirit after they came out of the waters of baptism. That is why Peter said in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

As I have said before, water baptism points to what happened on the cross when we received Jesus. Just as He died, was buried and rose again on the third day, in the same way, our old lives died with Jesus on the cross, was buried (it no longer stinks) and we have receive new resurrection life in Jesus. We read about this in Romans 6:4Therefore we are buried with Him through baptism into His death: that just as Christ was raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life.” If we put our faith in God’s word through this prophetic action, then what we declare through water baptism can become our experience.

We have another example in of this prophetic action in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” It is speaking about the Children of Israel that passed through the Red Sea. This is a type of Water Baptism. Egypt speaks about our old lives, Pharaoh is a type of the devil and the army of pharaoh is a type of the demons that attack us.

Just as the Red Sea cut them off from Egypt and the army of pharaoh was destroyed, so through water baptism not only has our old sinful nature died, but we have been legally cut off from the influence of the devil and his demons. In Colossians 1:13 we read “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” No wonder, church history tells us of the terrible persecution that came upon those who were baptized in water. Thousands died for their faith because they were baptized in water. Water Baptism is opposed by the powers of darkness because the devil knows that once we have been baptized in water, he has lost his legal influence over our lives.

I want to look at a verse that has confused many. In Mark 16:16 Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.”  Does this mean that we must be baptized in order to go to heaven?  We know this cannot be so because there have been people who received Jesus and were not able to be baptized. For example, there are those who die in hospitals and were not able to be baptized.  The thief on the cross, who was also not baptized, who received Jesus, also went straight to heaven.

To understand this verse, we must look at the second part, “he who does not believe is condemned”.  It does not say, “He who does not believe and is not baptized.” We go to heaven because we believe and not because we are baptized. Philip said to the Eunuch, “If you believe from your heart!” (Acts 8:37)So what does it mean, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved?” We get the answer from 1 Peter 3:19-21 which speaks about the days of Noah and the flood. In verse 20 it says that, “eight souls were saved though water.” In verse 21 it says “There is an antitype that now saves us – baptism.” The word “antitype can also mean, “type, figure or picture.” What does this mean?

What did the baptism of the flood save Noah and his family from? It saved them from the world. The world drowned beneath them. Therefore, in the same way, water baptism is a type of the flood of Noah that saves us from the spirit and the influence of the world. That is why water baptism is such an important step of obedience. It is not just a ritual, but a powerful prophetic action that enables us to release our faith to be free from the influence of the world. 

To summarize, we need to answer the following important four questions:

Who should baptize us?  Answer: It should be the leaders in the church or the person that led us to Jesus. We have the example of Philip and the eunuch. Philip baptized him because there were no leaders nearby to do so.

How should we be baptized? Answer: We must be immersed under the water because it is a prophetic action that points to the cross.

Where should we be baptized? Answer: Preferably in a public place in front of witnesses.

When should we be baptized?  Answer: As soon as possible after you receive Jesus as Lord and Savior!

Finally, Jesus is our greatest example. We read in Matthew 3:13-16. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus lived on earth as a man, becoming an example of how we should live (1 Peter 2:21). If it was important for Jesus to be baptized, it should be important to us as well.  Amen