Following Jesus in Water Baptism

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Summary: The next step after you commit your life to Christ is to be water baptized. We discuss water baptism it Scripture, what water baptism means, and the reasons for water baptism.


In our last post, we talked about how to be discipled by Jesus. This post is connected to what God does in our salvation.

I never  hated water or going swimming growing up. I didn’t have to be in the water, though. Some people like water, and others don’t. I like going to the beach, but if I lived near the beach all the time, it would get old after a while.

After you commit your life to Jesus to follow Him as His disciple, getting baptized in water has many benefits. It is the standard practice of Christians after salvation. Let’s discuss the importance of water baptism as part of your spiritual formation.

The Next Step

After you have committed your life to Christ as His disciple, the next step for you is water baptism. You may practice some other things in your spiritual formation before you become water baptized, but getting baptized is a key part of your witness in Christ.

Water baptism has several benefits that we will discuss throughout this post. It was the regular practice of New Testament believers. It has been practiced as part of Christian experience throughout church history.

So, when you come to Christ, you need to get water baptized as part of furthering your spiritual formation. You will see as we talk about it throughout this post how important it is to growing in Jesus.

Water Baptism in the Bible

Water baptism appears in the New Testament. Matthew and Mark record John the Baptist baptizing Jesus at the beginning of His ministry (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11). Jesus is our example and water baptism.

John the Baptist baptized people in the Jordan River for the forgiveness of their sins. He prepared the way for Jesus the Messiah. But Jesus led a sinless life. Why did he need to be baptized? Jesus said He did it to fulfill all righteousness.

Water baptism is part of Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). When we make disciples for Jesus, we baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We baptize new disciples in Christ and water because Jesus commanded it.

Jesus was not the only one to be baptized in water. When Peter preaches his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the listeners ask what they can do. Peter prescribes that every one of them repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).

Philip preached the gospel in Samaria and all who believed, both men and women, were baptized (Acts 8:12). Even the Ethiopian eunuch wants to be water baptized after he becomes a Christian (Acts 88:36-38). The household of Cornelius believed the gospel through Peter and were baptized (Acts 10:46-48). This is the normal step for new Christians to take throughout Acts.

Paul talks about water baptism in Romans 6, which we will discuss under the meaning of water baptism. He mentions the same baptism of all Christians (Ephesians 4:5). Peter mentions water baptism (1 Peter 3:21).

What Water Baptism Means

Paul uses water baptism as an illustration of how we are dead to sin (Romans 6:1-4). When we go under the water, it is a symbol of dying to sin as Christ died on the Cross. Our old life is buried when we go under the water.

When we come up out of the water, we walk in the new life Jesus has made for us. We are not subject to sin any longer. Christ was raised from the dead, and our dead spirits are made alive in Christ. We’re living for Jesus, following Him as His disciples, and practicing a holy lifestyle before everyone.

Water baptism shows the world that we no longer live our sinful past lives. We have devoted ourselves to living a new life in Jesus and for Jesus. We proclaim that change in our life through water baptism.

How to Be Water Baptized

Most Christians follow the prescribed method of water baptism found in the New Testament. This means immersion under the water. The word for baptize in Greek by definition means to immerse.

Those denominations that practice infant baptism sprinkle water on the head of the infant. But in the New Testament, from Jesus to early Christians, water baptism meant being immersed under water. Other than providing your testimony or why you are being water baptized, the process should take 15-20 seconds.

Some Christians get baptized in rivers or streams. Others get baptized in pools. Believe it or not, some Christian leaders have heated discussions about whether the water must be moving or still. I don’t think that matters.

Why Be Water Baptized?

First, Jesus commanded it in the Great Commission and was baptized Himself. Water baptism shows the change from death to life. As Paul showed when he used water baptism as an illustration of our changed life in Christ, it shows us joining Christ in death so that we can come up out of the water in newness of life.

Second, water baptism is a powerful way to witness to unsaved family and friends. Many Christians invite their family and friends to their water baptisms. Pastors ask questions before they are water baptized if they have a word to say or a testimony about it.

This is a prime opportunity for you to share your faith, your reason for being water baptized, and your newfound faith in Jesus. It’s a powerful way to express to your unsaved loved ones and friends your commitment to serve Jesus.

Third, it’s a public declaration to everyone that you are a disciple and servant of Jesus Christ. You let everyone know you live a different life now. You are being obedient to the Lord. Jesus has called you to live a holy life and be separate from the world.

When to Be Water Baptized

Christians should be baptized after they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and become His disciples. How soon after salvation? That really depends on you. Some are baptized right after coming to Christ.

But I have also seen Christians who have walked with Jesus for a long time before they want to be water baptized. My only concern for water baptism is that the person being baptized understands why they are being baptized.

Some Christians don’t understand why they need to be baptized. They can wait years before the Lord makes His desire for them to follow Him in baptism apparent. No one should push water baptism on you. It must be your choice and in the time you feel comfortable with it.

Special Water Baptism Concerns

Some Christians have special concerns about water baptism. For instance, what if you are afraid of water, or of being underwater? Or what if you are afraid of going backward under water? Pastors can baptize you with other methods than immersion. They can sprinkle you on the head, or cover your head in water by dumping it with a bucket of water. They are usually open to addressing your concerns.

Some Christian denominations practice infant baptism while others do not. In my denomination and tradition we do not practice infant baptism. We see that throughout the New Testament, Christians choose Christ, and therefore choose water baptism.

Infants do not choose Christ or to be water baptized. In such denominations, they consider water baptism to be a salvation event. Baptizing infants prevents them from going to Hell if they die. It is also the primary means to become part of their church.

In my denomination, we follow the example of Hannah, who dedicates her infant son Samuel to the Lord’s service in the tabernacle. We have baby and child dedication ceremonies which call the parents and congregation to lead a child in witness and example of the ways of Jesus. Then when that child chooses to become a disciple of Jesus, they are baptized.

Growth Challenge

It doesn’t matter what your age is. If you have committed your life to Jesus as His disciple, you need to take the next step of water baptism. Ask your pastor if he or she will baptize you in water as part of your commitment to Jesus.

Up Next

We see it’s important to be baptized in water after you commit your life to Christ. Next, we will see how to find a Bible believing church to help you grow in Christ.

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