A. HOW, WHY AND WHEN
As soon as a person is born again, he is to be baptized as an open testimony to God and man of what happened inside of him. The immersion of his whole body into water demonstrates that in Christ his old sinful inner man, died and was buried and the lifting of his body from the water, signifies that in Christ he was raised into a new life. This is clearly said in the following texts:
buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from the dead. (Col 2:12).
Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:4).
And as they passed along the way, they came on some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, it is lawful. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still. And they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch. And he baptized him.And when they had come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing (Act 8:36-39).
There is a very close spiritual link between heaven and earth. For instance: the angels rejoice over the repentance of one sinner (Luk 15:10) and when he follows up his repentance by getting baptized, it probably is headline news both in heaven and hell. In hell there is a shuddering; in heaven roaring shouts of praise ascend to the Lamb.
B. IT SERVES AS A BARRIER OF FAITH BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW LIFE.
Baptism is a further step of faith away from the old life, as we see in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt where they were slaves. On arriving at the Red Sea, they were overtaken by the Egyptians. Moses stretched forth his staff by faith and the waters were cleft allowing Israel to pass through while the Egyptians were drowned. Under the leadership of Miriam, Israel danced for joy.
A Christian passing through the waters of baptism places a further barrier of faith before the devil that is trying to draw him back into slavery. It also keeps him from crossing back into that sinful way of life for he has now taken an open stand, testifying that he has crossed over into a new life.
C. IT EXALTS THE LORD JESUS AND SPEAKS TO UNBELIEVERS
When, in a congregation, a person gets born again, gives his testimony and gets baptized, witnessed by all, it greatly, openly, exalts the Name of the Lord Jesus and his work on the cross, making an appeal on unbelievers that are present to also put their trust in Jesus and surrender their lives to him.
(Jesus did the real thing for you by dying, being buried and resurrected; all He asks of you is to enact what He did in picture form, the form of baptism.)
D. IT PAVES THE WAY TO THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
- Day of Pentecost
Act 2:38,41 Then Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. And the same day there were added about three thousand souls.
Look at the normal sequence: repent, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus’s baptism by John the Baptist
Jesus’s baptism, so ordered by God, was to pave the way for His ministry and though He himself had no reason to repent and be baptized for He had never sinned, did so to “fulfill all righteousness”. The result was that He was honoured by the Father and baptized in the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus, when He had been baptized, went up immediately out of the water. And lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. And lo, a voice from Heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mat 3:16, 17).
E. IT IS NOT GOD’S ORDAINED WAY TO RECEIVE SALVATION
Salvation comes by repentance and putting one’s trust in Jesus. Baptism is a testimony of having done so. The robber on the cross went to heaven although he had no opportunity to be baptized, but he did openly repent and confessed his faith verbally.
Luk 23:39-43 And one of the hanged criminals blasphemed Him, saying, If you are Christ, save Yourself and us. But answering, the other rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, since you are in the same condemnation. And we indeed justly so, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing amiss. And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.
F. WATER BAPTISM OF A BELIEVER IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE GOD CONSIDERS IT SO.
We have already seen in the verses quoted above how important it is to be baptized once you get saved but, let us add that it is important simply because God so ordained it and every little thing He ordains, is important.
Therefore whoever shall relax one of these commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven. (Mat 5:19).
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (Joh 15:14).
Under the Old Covenant, circumcision was the sign of the covenant and God considered it so important that when his chosen servant, Moses, failed to circumcise his second born son, God was on the point of killing him and he had to order his wife to do so immediately because he probably was too sick to do so himself. This caused severe family strife.
And it happened by the way, in the inn, that Jehovah met him and sought to kill him. And Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and threw it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband you are to me. So He let him go. Then she said, You are a bloody husband, because of the circumcision. (Exo 4:24 – 26).
If God never changes, should we not take his command for a believer to be baptized seriously? Why live in disobedience to God regarding this issue for the rest of your life and missing out on the best He has in store for you?