Baptism was derived from the Greek word (βαπτίζω) baptizo, which means “immersing”, “performing ablutions”, i.e., ritual washing) is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which a person is admitted to membership of the Church. Baptism is “a rite of washing with water as a sign of religious purification and consecration.” It signified purity or cleansing from sin and devotion to God.
In the New Testament, the significance of baptism is seen more clearly. John the Baptist was sent by God to spread the news of the coming Messiah—Jesus Christ. John was directed by God (John 1:33) to baptize those who accepted his message.
I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1: 33)
John’s baptizing is called “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4 (NIV). Those baptized by John acknowledged their sins and professed their faith that through the coming Messiah they would be forgiven. Baptism then is significant in that it represents the forgiveness and cleansing from sin that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Baptism is how we get into Christ accompanied by faith and repentance. It is a sign that we have accepted Christ, His gospel and the terms for our complete surrender. It is like external washing with water but internally, washing away of sin by God. It is like clothing ourselves with Christ and make us identified with living a new life, receiving the holy spirit as an act of faith in God’s terms and not ours. It is a point when we stop living for ourselves and start living for Jesus. We do this by dying to ourselves and coming alive in Christ. It is also how and when we scripturally make a conscious decision to dedicate our lives and enter into a relationship with Christ.
The Baptism mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10: 2 – And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; means a different type of baptism. It is not like the baptism for Christians. They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea or into Moses, that is, brought under obligation to Moses’s law and covenant, as we are by baptism under the Christian law and covenant. It was to them a typical baptism. They did all eat of the same spiritual meat, and drink of the same spiritual drink, that we do.
PURPOSE OF BAPTISM
- Baptism prepares us for a New Life in the Church of God. All who accepted the words of God and have faith in Christ were all baptized and were added to the church of God. “Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church–about three thousand in all.” Acts 2:38, 41 (NLT). Baptism should be preceded by repentance, which simply means “change.” It is turning away from our sin and selfishness to serve God. It means placing our pride, our past and all of our possessions before the Lord. It is giving the control of our lives over to Him, which a complete submission or surrender to the Lord. Baptism is a symbol of not only becoming a member of the church but also a right of becoming a child of God. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1: 12-13 NIV) Having a new life means living not like the old ways, but living according to the words of God. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1: 23 NIV).
- As part of preparation, Baptism makes us clean through forgiveness of sins. “Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church–about three thousand in all.” Acts 2:38, 41 (NLT). In preparation for becoming sons and daughters of God, the need to be cleansed is necessary. Baptism is an act of obedience for the believer. Note that it is proper for all of us to do what is righteous, and one of the will of God is to obey this commandment. Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. (Matthew 3: 15)
- Baptism identifies us with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.“When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure–the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.”(NLT) Colossians 2:11-12. “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.” Romans 6:4 (NIV)
- Baptism is a picture representing profound spiritual truth: Death – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV) Resurrection – “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. If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” Romans 6:4-5 (NIV) “He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.” Romans 6:10-13 (NLT) Cleansing – “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 3:21 (NIV) “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Corinthians 6:11 (NIV)
Baptism is God’s way of giving us a chance to know the truth and be saved, therefore, it is necessary for all of us to receive baptism. But there are things to know first before we commit ourselves for baptism.
The church of God doesn’t allow infant baptism because we believe that infants are not qualified for baptism. According to the Bible, infants are holy and just in the sight of God, and that they are worthy of the kingdom of Heaven.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. (Hebrews 5: 13)
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18: 3-4)
All infants, since they are not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness are still free of sins and therefore, do not need forgiveness, nor baptism. Christ said that children are the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. It is illogical to say that the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven have an original sin. We do not believe that all person were born with sins. Sins are not born of man, it is an act of transgression of the law of God.
The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. (Ezekiel 18: 20)
Baptism is only for those who have committed sins and willing to be forgiven. But we only receive forgiveness when we repent. If we are not decided yet to repent or turn away from our sins, we will not be worthy of Baptism.
“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church–about three thousand in all.” Acts 2:38, 41 (NLT)
Another requirement is the mentioned “teachings about righteousness.” These are the words of God. We need to have faith in the words of God to be qualified for baptism. It is a must. Faith as we know, comes from hearing the words of God. Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer “was baptized at once, with all his family.”
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16: 15-16)
Baptism should not be forced on the believer. It is a voluntary act of faith. So, we must be willing to receive the baptism. Here is a story of a man, who after the preaching by Phillip volunteered to be baptized.
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?“ (Acts 8: 36-37)
Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of John, intended for sinners, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his “beloved Son,” setting an example, that anyone who receives baptism will be considered as a son or daughter of God.
Since the definition of baptism is “immersion,” therefore, lots of water is needed. Immersion is dipping into the water and is different from “aspersion” (sprinkling of water on the head) It is also different from “affusion.” (pouring of water over the head). “Submersion,” which is a complete immersion is what the Bible teach. As an example, Philip and the eunuch went down into the water for baptism.
And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.(Acts 8: 38)