Baptism is a big part of the Christian life and a major landmark in our faith stories as believers. Churches perform it within their congregations, believers are baptized all over the world, and families share sweet moments as they are baptized together.
What is baptism? Baptism is when a Christian is submerged in water and raised from it in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It symbolizes Christ’s death and resurrection. It is not a requirement to be saved, but instead a public celebration of salvation for Christ-followers. Being baptized is a way to obey God’s word and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is an incredible sign of faith in Jesus Christ. It’s a public display of your faith for all to see.
What Is Baptism?
Baptism is an outward action taken to symbolize Christ’s death and resurrection. Being submerged underwater and brought back up again shows how we are dying to our old way of life. As we come out of the water, we are being raised again into a new life through Christ.
Although baptism is mainly symbolic, it is still so powerful and a huge landmark for Christians.
In the Bible, Jesus commands us as Christians to be baptized. Baptism does not save us, but it allows the Holy Spirit to fill us as we obey Jesus and follow His example.
Baptism is a celebration, a victory, and a beautiful way for believers to declare they are Christ-followers in front of friends, family, and church members.
Baptism Is A Celebration Of New Life In Jesus Christ
Baptism wouldn’t be a celebration unless we had something great to rejoice in, and thanks to Jesus’ work on the cross, we can rejoice that our sins have been washed away and celebrate the new life he gives to us.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.Romans 6:4 ESV
If you have confessed Jesus as your Savior, you are dead to sin and alive to Christ.
When you get baptized, you are declaring that you are not dead in your old ways anymore, but are now walking in the freedom, joy, and newness of life that comes with a relationship with Jesus.
You also get to shove it and the truth of who you are in the devil’s face. What better thing to celebrate than that?
And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’Acts 22:16 ESV
Do you ever want to wait to celebrate a friend’s birthday or a fun event? I don’t, I always absolutely cannot wait. it may be because I’m the most impatient ever, but why wait to celebrate something, especially if that something is a new life with Jesus?
The great thing about this new life is that we don’t have to wait until heaven to know how good Jesus is, we can know that He is good right now, and we can have a relationship with Him right now.
Baptism is a way to celebrate your new life in Christ.
Baptism Is A Way To Obey God & His Word
Another reason that Christians get baptized is not just because it’s a good thing, but because God tells us to in the Bible.
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,1 Peter 3:21 ESV
According to Peter, baptism corresponds with obedience.
If you read further into this chapter, you’ll see that Peter referenced how Jesus was obedient to God even to death, and how Noah also was obedient to God during the flood.
Noah and the flood represented baptism since Noah and his family were brought safely through the flood, saved from a wicked world, and given new life. None of this would have been possible without obeying God.
In the same way, baptism doesn’t just clean us from physical dirt, but cleanses us from spiritual darkness and brings us into a new life of obedience and good conscience before God.
Baptism Is A Way To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit
While getting baptized isn’t the only way you can experience the Holy Spirit, it is a great way to invite the Holy Spirit to move in your heart, wash away all the guilt, and fill you with joy and freedom.
And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’Acts 2:38 ESV
The Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us into repentance, so of course, when we do that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Although baptism is a one-time thing, being filled by the Spirit isn’t, so it’s important to remember that we can ask the Holy Spirit to fill us up every day as believers.
I can tell you that God isn’t lying when he says he’ll give us the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, God cannot lie, and he keeps all his promises in the Bible.
When you choose to accept Jesus, repent, and be baptized, God is so excited to fulfill His promise and pour out his Holy Spirit on you.
This is why baptism is so important, because it’s not just for show on a Sunday morning, or becoming a ‘good Christian’, it’s so that you can experience the presence and love of the Holy Spirit more fully.
Baptism Is For All Believers
If you’re thinking about getting baptized, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to wait, or that you have to be a ‘super-Christian’ in order to be baptized.
As long as you have accepted Jesus, believe in him, and confess your sins, baptism is available to you. You don’t have to be a ‘perfect Christian’, a Jew or Gentile, or a certain type of person to be baptized.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV
Baptism is for all believers. The Holy Spirit is for all believers. Everyone who has a relationship with Jesus gets to partake in His promises, and that’s worth celebrating.
What Baptism Isn’t
As amazing as baptism is, there are still some things that are tricky to understand it. Because of this, I want you to know that the act of baptism does not save us, and likewise, baptism is not a requirement of salvation.
Baptism is also not the only way to experience the Holy Spirit.
While these statements declare what baptism is not, they do declare who Jesus is and just how powerful his sacrifice and resurrection are for us, which is really, really good news.
Baptism Does Not Save Us
Baptism is a symbol and declaration of repentance, and it’s all made possible by the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, so though we do get to be filled by the Holy Spirit through baptism, it does not save us.
Our own works do not save us, and neither does a series of religious practices save us, but it is faith in Jesus’ blood alone that saves us from our sins.
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 CSB
By God’s grace, He sent his only Son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins and to suffer a death we deserved, all so that he could be raised from the dead for our salvation.
By Jesus’ blood and power, we get to have a relationship with him both now and forever, and there’s nothing that can separate us from that.
Baptism Is Not Required For Salvation
Think with me about the criminal on the cross who was next to Jesus.
In Luke 23:32-43, Luke tells us about how one of the criminals next to Jesus started to hurl insults at him, but the other criminal rebuked him and showed that he feared God.
He asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus went into his kingdom, and the criminal’s broken plea was recognized as faith and revealed a repentant heart.
Jesus told this criminal that he would be in paradise, or heaven, with Him that very day, showing us that all you need to be saved is faith and a repentant heart.
It’s most likely that until this criminal had been hung up on the cross, he had never followed Jesus, much less been interested in going to church or synagogue, and he definitely had not been baptized. Why then did Jesus forgive him?
Our works do not save us. This criminal said it himself in verse 41, he deserved his punishment, but because of his faith and repentance, he didn’t get what he deserved.
Instead, he received eternal life, and it was not because he had gotten baptized.
Baptism Is Not The Only Way To Recieve The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit, He is God, and he obeys the Father. He is sure and unchangeable, so we can know that he will never leave us, even after we are baptized.
The Holy Spirit does not only show up when we are baptized and it’s not a one-time event. Having a relationship with Jesus means that we go to his word to be filled with his Holy Spirit over and over again in order to know him better.
Sometimes, going to God’s word and asking for the Holy Spirit to fill you needs to be a moment-by-moment thing, and like any real relationship, it ebbs and flows, not because the Holy Spirit’s power is limited, but because we are human.
The good news is we get the Holy Spirit as soon as we believe in and accept Jesus as our Lord.
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,Ephesians 1:13 ESV
We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, and God never breaks His promises.
This means that when you become a Christ-follower, the Holy Spirit will never leave you, but there are times and seasons in life when we can feel his presence more and grow in learning how to hear him better.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.John 14:26 ESV
Because of God’s grace of giving us his Spirit, we are able to not only feel Him but know Him, be filled by Him, and ask for more and more of His presence.
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?Luke 11:9-13 CSB
If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, you can ask him at any time to be filled with more of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have to wait to be baptized to ask for him to speak into your life.
God is the good Father, He loves giving us good gifts, especially the best gift of all which is the Holy Spirit.
Just like a child who can’t wait for his present, we are also to be seeking, asking, and knocking for the gift of the Holy Spirit throughout our whole lives.
If you’re a Christian who’s preparing for baptism or thinking about what it truly means for you, ask the Holy Spirit right now to fill your heart and to continue to fill you when you are baptized and even after you are baptized.
This relationship you have with Jesus now is incredible, and it doesn’t just last for the moment you believe in Him or for the day you are baptized. It’s a lifelong journey filled with new life, and that’s what baptism is all about.
Biblical Examples Of Baptism
To understand more about what baptism looks like and why it’s so important, we can learn from the examples that God gives us about it in the Bible.
Some of these examples include the origins of baptism, Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3, and even an Ethiopian’s baptism in Acts 8.
The Origins Of Baptism In The Old Testament
Though the word ‘baptism’ originated in the New Testament, like any other meaningful symbolic event, God foreshadowed it in the Old Testament.
Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people.Leviticus 16: 23-24 ESV
Though this form of baptism is a bit foreign to us, God does implement baptism amongst the priests in the Old Testament as a way to show his people that they need to be clean before him.
Bathing as an Old Testament priest before entering God’s sanctuary meant that you weren’t just washing off, you were presenting yourself as cleansed and blameless before God.
To this day, baptism represents the same thing, a cleansing off of our sin so that we can be righteous in God’s eyes through the work of Jesus.
Jesus’ baptism is tricky to understand since if Jesus was already innocent and blameless from all sin, why would he need to be baptized?
Even John the Baptist didn’t understand at first, but he knew Jesus was obeying his Father. Likewise, most scholars and theologians attribute Jesus’ baptism as the act that symbolized Jesus’ complete obedience to the Father.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. But John tried to stop him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?’
Jesus answered him, ‘Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John allowed him to be baptized.
When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.’Matthew 3:13-17 CSB
Since Jesus said “allow it for now”, we know that it wasn’t necessary for Jesus to be baptized so that he could become more righteous, he was already completely righteous. But, He was referring to the righteousness of all believers who would be baptized after him and who would follow His example.
Now while the heavens aren’t likely to open up for us or a dove descend on us when we are baptized, Jesus did model for us through his baptism what it’s like when we obey God through baptism.
It’s a pledge of our obedience to him, and the fulfillment of the promised Holy Spirit in our lives.
Because of Jesus’ baptism, we can know that it matters for us and pleases God when we obey Him and experience his Holy Spirit through being baptized.
John the Baptist came as a herald, a messenger proclaiming the good news of God’s coming Messiah. He was preparing the way for Jesus and at times, literally pointing people to him.
During this time, John’s baptism was all about repentance.
John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.Mark 1:4-5 CSB
Baptism itself does not save us from our sins, but its message helps us confront our sin and acknowledge that we need a savior.
Baptism is also a great visualization of how we’re meant to be seen as cleansed and righteous before God because he is holy and we are not. This is what John the Baptist preached.
The most important thing that came along with John’s message was the forgiveness of sins.
Since Jesus bought that forgiveness for us at the price of his blood, we can be baptized in faith, knowing that the water represents Christ’s blood washing us clean from all of our sins.
3000 People Baptized On Pentecost
In Acts 2, Luke describes the day of Pentecost and how the Holy Spirit came and filled all the apostles so that they were speaking the gospel in many different tongues so that everyone nearby could hear the gospel in their own language.
By this miraculous power and the grace of God, 3,000 repented and believed in Jesus and were saved. Afterward, they were all baptized and I can only imagine what the celebration would have been like on both earth and in heaven.
So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them.Acts 2:41 CSB
This example of baptism in the Bible is incredible and should encourage us as believers that God can lead thousands of people to repentance. And that’s the beauty of baptism, it’s so powerful and reflects such a powerful God.
It’s full of celebrating his powerful grace, the newness of life, and his forgiveness of our sins.
The Ethiopian’s Baptism
In Acts 8, the Bible tells us that the Spirit lead Philip to an Ethiopian eunuch who was sitting in his chariot.
The Ethiopian was reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah aloud which was a prophecy about Jesus. He didn’t understand what it meant, so Philip told him all about who Jesus was and about the gospel.
The Ethiopian immediately believed and accepted Jesus, and he was lead to be baptized.
As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, ‘Look, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized?‘ So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.Acts 8:36-38 CSB
After he was baptized, it says that the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing.
This is an encouraging story about how the Holy Spirit is so active in people’s conviction, salvation, and baptism. The Holy Spirit never stops moving, and He won’t even stop after you are baptized.
Why Baptism Matters
Baptism matters because it was established by God in His Word. It’s a way to obey the Father just like Jesus did through his baptism and a symbol of the new life that we have in him.
Being baptized invites the Holy Spirit to fill your life and heart and its the best way to celebrate having a relationship with Jesus now that he has cleansed you from all your sin, guilt, and shame.
You are free, because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for you. Baptism helps you declare that truth publicly and inspire others that they too can be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
Now that you’re baptized, you can encourage others to do the same and make disciples of Jesus, showing them what it means to have the new life that you have.
So go and live in freedom, knowing you can obey God, make disciples of all nations, and celebrate in that because Jesus is with you always, to the end of the age and before, during, and after baptism.