About Water Baptism

What does it mean to be baptized? Who should do it? Get answers here.

What is water baptism?

The people of Israel initially practiced baptism in the Old Testament as an outward showing of repentance. If a Jew had gone wayward or a Gentile wanted to become part of the Jewish community of God’s people, they would be submerged in the water as a sign of their cleansing. This practice continued until the time of John the Baptist.

He called the nation to repentance because “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2-3), referring to the soon-coming Messiah.
Jesus is that long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God and God the Son. Jesus allowed Himself to be baptized by John the Baptist as an example to us and “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Then Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement for the payment of sins by dying on the cross and “becoming sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Now for the Christian, the forgiveness of sins and repentance is found in the blood of Jesus Christ. Baptism becomes a sign of identifying with Jesus in His death and resurrection. When we go down in the water, it symbolizes His death, and when we come up out of the water, we rejoice in His resurrection.

Who should be baptized?

Anyone who is born again, regenerated of heart, and has invited Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior. Baptism is not the means of salvation but a response by the Christian to being saved. It is an outward showing of what God has done inwardly. We see examples in the book of Acts of those baptized right after their conversion, like the Ethiopian eunuch and the household of Cornelius (Acts 8:35-36, 10:44-48). They responded to the joy of their salvation and forgiveness by identifying with Jesus, who saved them.

Why should we be baptized?

We are told in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is a direct command from God to be baptized. So our baptism becomes a beautiful act of obedience to our Lord, and it pleases Him. On the day Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke and said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Not only was the Father introducing His Son’s ministry to the world, but showing that the act of obedience through baptism is well pleasing to the Father.

When should we be baptized?

Anyone old enough to grasp their own need for a Savior and forgiveness of sins can get baptized. Younger children may be different in their age of accountability and understanding, so their parents are the best gauge for them. If they have made a commitment to Jesus as their Savior and understand what it means to be baptized, then nothing should withhold them.