The Importance of Baptism


On this day 29 years ago, at Hope Chapel Hermosa Beach, I was baptized as an adult, fully immersed in water like Jesus, (and which was the practice of the early church), in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in obedience to Jesus’ command in Matthew 28.

Thirty-nine days after I became a born-again believer by putting my trust in Christ for forgiveness and repenting of my sins, I made my public declaration of faith. Hallelujah!

The only thing I remember about that time was saying this in front of my entire church: “I thought Amazing Grace was a bartender at the Red Onion.”

Yeah, I was really lost back then….

There’s a lot of confusion regarding baptism and I would even say that most Christians are indifferent to it, or worse, people who call themselves believers in Jesus may have never been baptized at all according to New Testament baptism even though Jesus clearly says,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There are two ordinances, or commands, for the Protestant, Evangelical church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I’d like to bring some biblical clarity, starting with the word “ordinance.”

These are symbolic reenactments of the Gospel message so that we can better understand and appreciate what Jesus did for us two thousand years ago:

  • Jesus lived the perfect life
  • Died for our sins
  • Was raised from the dead
  • Ascended to Heaven
  • He will return again

Ordinances are simply visual aids that remind us of these Gospel truths over and over again. There are three qualifications for an ordinance:

  1. They were established by Jesus Christ.
  2. They were taught by the apostles
  3. They were practiced by the early church.

When you think of the symbols of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, you get the full picture of God’s plan of salvation.

The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a visual reminder of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Baptism is a visual reminder of the death, burial and resurrection of the believer when he puts his faith in Jesus Christ and is born again.

Being born again is the starting place before anyone is baptized. Jesus said this in John 3:3— “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” What does that mean?

The Bible says that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

Sin means simply “missing the mark.” It’s a picture of an archer aiming for the perfect bullseye and missing by just-this-much. We all miss the mark and fall short of perfection. Have you sinned?

What is sin? 1 John 3:4—Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

If you break just one of God’s Ten Commandments, by lying, stealing, misusing his name etc., then you have sinned and deserve Hell because you broke God’s Law. So you need to repent.

What is repentance? Repentance is not just saying “I’m Sorry”. To repent means to change your mind and attitude about sin, so that you turn from your sins as you turn towards God through Jesus Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.

There is a town in a remote portion of Canada called Wabush which was completely isolated for a long time. But a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has one road leading into it, and the same road leading out. If someone would travel the unpaved road for six to eight hours to get into Wabush, there is only one way he or she could leave—by turning around.

Each of us, by birth, arrives in a town called Sin. As in Wabush, there is only one way out—a road built by God himself. But in order to take that road, one must first turn around. That complete about-face is what the Bible calls repentance, and without it, there’s no way out of town.

We are saved by trusting in Jesus Christ, demonstrated by repentance.

Acts 4:12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

When you trust Jesus Christ, you are then born again. The first thing you should do once you are a believer is to get baptized. Why?

4 Reasons to be Baptized

1. Jesus commanded it.

This brings us back to our original verse in Matthew 28:19—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….

2.  To follow the example of Jesus:

Mark 1:9—At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

3. It was also the practice of the early church.

The Holy Spirit said through the apostle Peter: “Repent and be baptized….” and “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2)

4. We are now identified with Jesus.

Romans 6:3-4—“Or have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (NLT)

How should we be baptized? By full immersion into the water.  Why?

4 Reasons to Be Baptized By Full Immersion

#1: Baptizō is the Greek verb for Baptize. It means to dip completely, to drown, totally submerging, immersing, dunking into water. 

The noun that is used is baptismos. In the book of Acts, it refers to a Christian being immersed into water. 

Remember that these ordinances are symbolic of what happened to you in the spiritual realm when you gave yourself to Jesus.

#2: Being totally immersed into the water best illustrates Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, and our becoming totally immersed in him.

Before you go down into the water, it symbolizes the old you. When you go down beneath the water, it symbolizes that the old you has died and been buried.  When you come up out of the water, just as Jesus was raised from the dead to new life, so you too have been raised with him to eternal life.

#3: It also illustrates your new life as a Christian.

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)

#4: Every baptism in the Bible was full immersion.

Matthew 3:16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.

John the Baptist baptized in the Jordan River.

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Acts 8:36-40And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

The Greek word baptizō is never used in the passive sense, that is, water is never said to be baptized onto someone by sprinkling, pouring or putting water on the finger and dabbing someone’s forehead.  Believers are always baptized into water. 

Only full immersion fits the spiritual reality of what baptism symbolizes.

Who should be baptized? Baptism is for believers. This is something a believer does when they repent and put their trust in Jesus as their Savior.

To baptize infants is unbiblical because infants cannot make a choice to believe until they can understand the Gospel message.

For those who were baptized as infants, we take the view that the parents have dedicated their child to the Lord as Hannah did when God gave her a child.

Infant baptism is not biblical, nor is it New Testament baptism.

If you are a biblical Christian, then you want to be baptized the way the bible teaches, the way Jesus taught, the way the early church practiced it.

Reminder: Baptism does not save you, only Jesus saves you. In obedience to him saving you from Hell, you do what he commanded you to do: be baptized.

Baptism is a symbol, like a wedding ring is a symbol of being married. Yet, we are commanded by Jesus to be baptized, by full immersion after we are saved.

Have you been baptized biblically? If not, you need to be baptized again.

Pastor John MacArthur gives five reasons why a professing Christian will not be baptized.

5 Reasons Why People Don’t Get Baptized

Reason #1:  The person is ignorant because they have not been properly taught.

Reason #2:  Pride. It becomes a matter of spiritual pride not to be baptized. The person has gone so long without a proper New Testament baptism that to make a public profession of faith after such a long time of disobedience or ignorance would be a humbling experience.

They would rather be ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ than before the church. 

At Hope Chapel there were people who had been professed Christians for 20, 30 years who finally humbled themselves and became obedient to Jesus’ commands.

Reason #3 why some people haven’t been baptized: Indifference. They just can’t be bothered.  They understand it and aren’t not against it.  They may believe in it.  It’s just not important, it’s not a priority.  They never get around to it.  It just is not a major issue. 

Reason #4: Defiance. They just flatly refuse.  They rebel against baptism because they are actively sinning and do not want to publicly acknowledge their submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ and the joy of knowing Him when they’re harboring sin in their life. 

Reason #5: They are unsaved.  They’re not really a Christian at all, and so there’s no moving of the Spirit of God to compel them to obedience.  They have no desire to make a public confession and would rather just hang around the church to be thought of as a Christian.  

They cannot stand up in a public place and affirm the reality of their faith in Christ, when he’s not a reality to them at all. 

If you fall into one of those categories, all you have to do is repent, turn to Christ and be baptized. Even if you are not prepared and have on your street clothes, there is nothing more important than to get right with God.

Perhaps because Americans don’t take baptism seriously is why there are so many problems in the church. If people are unfaithful in a direct command from the Lord, perhaps they are unfaithful in other aspects of the Christian life. This is why the church is weak and has no power.

Now that you understand the importance of baptism and how it is absolutely vital to the Christian life of obedience, let’s me tell you four reasons why you shouldn’t be baptized:

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Baptized

  1. You want to please mom, or grandma or anyone else for that matter.
  2. Because a friend or relative is doing it.
  3. You want to become a Christian.
  4. You were a Christian but you have backslidden and now you want to come back into church.

The only reason to get baptized by full immersion is because you want to be obedient to Christ’s command after you have trusted him as your Lord and Savior.

Order of Baptism Service

Let’s stand for worship right now. I want all those who are getting baptized to get changed and come to the front as we sing one worship song.

After everyone is assembled in front:

  • Ask parents to explain why their kids are getting baptized today.

Questions I will ask the kids:

1. What is your name and age?

2. How long have you been a Christian?

3. Why do you want to follow Jesus?

4. Why are you being baptized? (Answer: In obedience to Jesus’ command.)

5.  I will then ask them to recite one verse that they memorized from the booklet.

Next, we will walk them over to the baptismal. One parent can help me baptize your child, maybe both, if we can all fit.

When in the water, I will ask these simple yes and no questions:

1. Do you believe that you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness?

2. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and on the third day rose again?

3. Do you promise to follow Jesus all the days of your life and to turn away from Satan?

I will then say, “I baptize you now in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Have them cross their arms and hold their nose. One adult will each take an elbow and the child will bend at the knees as we put them beneath the water.

When they come back out of the water, have them raise their arms and smile for the photo-takers.

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