What is water baptism?
Published on 02 February 2020
Have you ever considered getting water baptised? Maybe you still have some unanswered questions about baptism concerning why you should do it, what is involved and why it is so important. This discussion aims to clarify some of these questions and provide you with a better understanding of water baptism.
What is water baptism?
Water baptism is one of the most beautiful, significant and life-defining moments in your journey as a Christian. This simple act of obedience as a Believer, has powerful supernatural significance. However, before delving deeper into why you should get water baptised, let’s first explore what water baptism is.
A public declaration
Water baptism is a public declaration of our faith in Jesus Christ and the outward demonstration of the inward transformation that takes place when we receive Him as our Lord and Saviour.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
A symbol of a transformed life
Water baptism is very much a symbolic act . The symbolism of water baptism is best illustrated in Colossians:
"If it's an initiation ritual you're after, you've already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive - right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ's Cross."
The water itself is symbolic of a grave. As you are immersed, your old self dies and is buried just as Jesus died and was buried. In the same way, just as Jesus rose to life again, you too rise from the water as a symbol of new life in Him as a brand new creation, free from the guilt of your past sin and shame. By faith, the water washes away anything that makes you feel unclean and unworthy to be loved by your Father.
It is important to note that the water is not magical in any way, but like everything in the Christian life, being water baptised is a powerful act of faith and any act of faith pleases our Heavenly Father. Water baptism uses the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to symbolize our journey from death to life and from old to new.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Why do people get water baptised?
Upon knowing and understanding what water baptism is and the symbolism behind it, most Believers feel compelled to take this step of faith and get water baptised. However, that’s not the only reason; One of the most important reasons to get water baptised is to follow the example of Jesus Christ and obey His commands:
Jesus — Our example
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptised Him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, He saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.
"Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."
Jesus — our Lord
Water baptism is an act of faith and obedience to the commands of Christ as written in Scripture.
How do we get water baptised?
The answer to this question may seem pretty obvious. Yes, water is involved and we have discussed the significance of the water in symbolizing the process of cleansing us— despite having NO magical power in and of itself. However, the greatest confusion seems to lie in the question of whether we must be fully immersed in the water or simply >sprinkled>with it.
Without delving too deep into the difference between immersion and sprinkling, here are 3 brief reasons why we believe in baptism by full immersion:
- Firstly, the Greek word in the Bible for ‘baptism’ is Baptizo, which literally means to “immerse, to submerge and to overwhelm.”
- Secondly, Jesus wasn’t sprinkled or partially baptised in the Jordan River. He was baptised by full immersion (“As Jesus came up out of the water…”Mark 1:10 NLT) and therefore, we follow His example.
- Thirdly, in terms of the symbolic nature of water baptism, having received Jesus Christ into our heart, we are not just partially cleansed from sin, partially transformed from old to new or partially brought from death to life. Just like Jesus who died a complete death and was fully resurrected, our baptism needs to reflect the fullness and completeness of this death and resurrection. His work on the cross wasn’t partial. It was complete. It was full. Therefore, our act of faith by full immersion in water, symbolise the fullness of all that we have received.
Who should get water baptised?
Every Believer should be water baptised as a crucial part of their journey with Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Every single person who has made the decision to believe in Christ and received salvation should take this step of faith. The only prerequisite for water baptism is belief in Christ.
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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Those who accepted His message were baptised....
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women.
With regards to the water baptism of children, the key factor is whether they are able to make their own conscious, mindful and wilful decision to believe in Jesus Christ and take the step of faith to get water baptised. Getting water baptised is a decision that only you can make for yourself and, as such, it is different from baby dedication ceremonies where parents present their children to God for His protection and guidance.
Yes! I want to be water baptised!
If you would like to be water baptised, please speak to your leader or pastor who will guide you through this wonderful process.
To conclude, it is important to note that immediately after Jesus was baptised, He was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
After overcoming every temptation presented to Him, as an example to us, He commenced His ministry on Earth, full of power and authority. Just like Jesus, you can be tempted to give up your faith around the time of your baptism. The enemy knows that your willing decision to follow Christ is a sign that you are moving into your destiny and purpose in God and becoming a threat to his rulership in your life and in the lives of your loved ones. Don’t be concerned about the temptations you face. Just keep your eyes on Jesus— the One who demonstrated how to live a victorious life— and remember that what lies ahead, is an incredibly supernatural life doing great exploits for God!
The best part about being water baptised is hearing your Heavenly Father’s affirmation as you rise up out of the water:
ou are my dearly loved son/daughter and you bring me great joy!
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