In a few weeks my church and a local Assembly of God church in my area will be holding a joint water baptism service. I thought it would be a good time to write down my thoughts concerning water baptism and why a Christian should get baptized in water. Both the Assemblies of God and my church which is part of the Association of Vineyard churches have 2 ordinances that we observe. They are communion and water baptism. These ordinances are practiced by every major Evangelical church across the world and also are practiced in some form by many other churches as well.
The Two Types Of Water Baptism Practiced.
There are two types of water baptism practiced in the majority of Christian churches. They are baptism by sprinkling and baptism by immersion. As much as I love our brothers and sisters who are in churches that practice sprinkling, I do not find the biblical evidence to support this practice. That does not mean I believe that they are in sin, second class Christians, or apostates as some would contend. Instead I believe that they have either been raised in that tradition not knowing any better or they believe that the symbolism is more important than the actual practice. Personally, I like to stay as close to the practices of N.T. biblical Christianity as I can. So we immerse people in water as was done in the Bible.
Water Baptism Defined
The word for baptize in the greek is baptizo. It means…
to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk), to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe, to overwhelm
There are some groups of Christians take this definition to literally mean to dip them in water 3 times. Once for each member of the trinity listed inMatt 28:19. Personally I think once is enough. However it is clear by the definition of this word that baptism in it’s truest form was practiced by immersion in the N.T.
The Symbolism Of Water Baptism
In order to understand why baptism is so important you need to understand the symbolism of it when practiced by N.T. Christians. The practice of water baptism first started with John the Baptist who was a Jewish prophet calling the people to repentance and to prepare the way of the Lord. (Mark 1)
To the Jewish mindset, the religious symbolism of water was very important. There had been 2 other times in their history where God had changed the direction of their lives accompanied by water. The first time was when God parted the Red Sea and they walked out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt and into freedom. The second time was when they walked out of the wilderness after their disobedience and lack of faith and into the promised land by crossing the Jordan river on dry land. Both of these instances were highly symbolic to the Jewish mind and mindset. So when John called them to repentance, which means a change of direction and mind, they knew they were making a statement and a break from their former lifestyle and heading into a new promise.
Christian baptism is the act of acknowledging that a person has received that new promise. That new promise is new and eternal life that is received by making Jesus Savior and Lord of your life. Christian baptism is the public announcement of the fact you have received that life. So in it’s entirety, Christian baptism shows that a person has been taken out of slavery into freedom; taken from the wilderness into the promised land; taken from death and given eternal life.
The Apostle Paul described it this way.
Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
So as you can see, water baptism is an act where you are identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and performing an act that puts your faith in action showing you believe God will raise you too.
Not only was baptism an act that showed our faith, but baptism also identified people who had decided to follow Jesus and walk away from the religious rulers of the day and the current world system. They were making a public statement that they were no longer going to be identified with this world’s system but instead were going to be identified with the system of Jesus and His kingdom. They had changed direction. They had repented.
Why Should A Christian Get Baptized?
Well first and foremost, the reason a Christian should get baptized is to follow the example of Jesus.
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.
The goal of the Christian life is to follow Jesus. That means not just receiving salvation but instead making a choice to live as He would live. One of the examples we see in how He lived was that He was baptized. Even though John did not think himself worthy to baptize Jesus, Jesus still insisted it be done. So if you want to be a sincere follower of Jesus and walk in His steps, then you need to get baptized.
The second reason is that Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize people.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, 2 baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
If Jesus told His disciples that they were to baptize people, then obviously He wanted them baptized. So not only are you following His example, but you are obeying His will. The reason why a Christian should be baptized in water is because they are obeying the will of Jesus. So if you have not been baptized yet, contact your pastor. I am sure he will make a way for you to get baptized.
About the Author:
Pastor Duke Taber has been a believer in Jesus for 33 years. He has been a pastor for over 20 years currently serving at the Vineyard church in Pine Haven Wyoming and was formerly the secretary treasurer of White Pine County Ministerial Association. He is an alumnus of LIFE Bible College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. Pastor Duke publishes a Christian living magazine called Taber's Truths and is the owner of Christian Faithbook.