In water baptism, the believer is briefly submerged under and then raised out of water as an outward sign and public declaration of an inward spiritual reality. Namely, that they share in the death, resurrection, and new life of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). Submersion is not required, but it does most closely match the intent of the rite and the example of Jesus. Believers’ baptism is an explicit Biblical teaching and matches the unbroken practice of the Christian Church.

  1. It is commanded for every believer by Jesus Christ.
    • Matthew 28:18, records Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples. Notice that he uses his last few precious words on earth to tell them to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
    • In Mark’s account of Jesus’ final instructions (16:16), he records that Jesus also said, Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. The second sentence makes it clear that water baptism is not required for salvation but is intimately associated with salvation.
  2. It follows Jesus’€™ purposeful example.
    • Matthew 3:13-16 is the account of Jesus’ baptism by John at the beginning of his public ministry. When Jesus approached John to be baptized, John was understandably alarmed. Responding to John’€™s resistance, Jesus tells him that his baptism is proper €œto fulfill all righteousness. In other words, he is saying “my baptism fulfills all expectations and will serve as the proper model for all that is to come.€ Thus, in this single act Jesus imbues baptism with a sacramental importance that can only be matched by communion.
  3. It powerfully symbolizes our restored relationship with God by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
    • The plunge underwater represents the vicarious descent into Jesus’ death, and the lifting out of the water, the rebirth into new life. The human plunged beneath the water is dead and the one raised out a new creation in Christ Jesus.
      • Romans 6:4 - €œFor 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.
      • Colossians 2:12 €“- For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.€
  4. It follows the unbroken tradition of the Christian Church.
    • In every Biblical account of the early Christian church, baptism followed salvation. Note the following primary texts.
      • Acts 2:38-4
      • Acts 8:26
      • Acts 10:47
      • Acts 22:16
      • Additionally, Acts 10:46-48; 16:14-15; 16:33; 18:8; 19:1-5

Since that time, the church has unswervingly maintained baptism as a critical rite subsequent to salvation. The importance of the symbolism and the value of public declaration can not be overstated. This act is an essential step in the life of every believer. Finally, it should be reconfirmed that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Baptism without an authentic confession of faith is nothing more than a short bath. However, baptism combined with a real confession of faith creates an unparalleled moment in time when your relationship to God is confirmed before witnesses.