Baptized in Water
Why should I be baptized in water? What does baptism really mean? Is baptism in water necessary for the forgiveness of sin? Do I need to be dunked or sprinkled? These are some of the questions we have received at New Life Network and this article will provide some guidance and answers to these various questions related to baptism in water.
The words baptism and baptize, or some variation of these two words, appear approximately 100 times in the New Testament. The Greek word used in each of these cases is baptidzo, which means to “make whelmed”. The root word for baptidzo is bapto, which means to cover wholly with a fluid or to whelm. The definition from Webster’s New World Dictionary of whelm is to submerge, engulf, or overwhelm.
When studying the scriptures one excellent way to help interpret the correct meaning is to look at what Jesus did. Jesus was the Word made flesh so He is our best interpretation of the Word. Jesus was baptized (immersed in water) by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Read Matthew 3:13-17 and Mark 1:9-11. Another good way to confirm these interpretations is to look at the actions of other similar events in the Bible such as other baptisms. Read Acts 8:36-39 for the account of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by Philip.
Considering the definition of baptism, the actions of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, and the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, we believe that the correct way to baptize a new believer is by immersion in water.
We do not believe water baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. We do believe that baptism (immersion) in water is a very important act of obedience (Acts 2:41, 8:12, 9:18, 16:15, 16:33, 18:8, 19:5) and an outward public profession that there has been an inward change in a person’s heart and a commitment to Christ. One important thing to remember when you study the Bible. Are there any clear exceptions to the rule you are considering? If there is, then you may be dealing with a religious tradition versus the truth. Some churches have made religious traditions and their personal interpretations of the Bible more important than grace and the Bible says that the traditions of man makes the Word of God of no effect. One clear exception in this case is the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) who never had a chance to be baptized but by the personal words of Jesus would be in paradise with Jesus. Some other real life examples would be deathbed confessions. Do you think someone that asks Jesus into their life on their deathbed would be rejected? Don’t get me wrong; I think baptism in water is very, very important. It was very important in my life, but it had nothing to do with my sins being forgiven and nothing to do with my eternal salvation.
Romans 10:8-11 is a good foundational scripture concerning salvation. If you will notice there are no requirements for baptism. The main requirements are to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and that he has been raised from the dead. “WHOSOEVER believeth on Him shall not be ashamed”. Let me ask you one more question. Was Jesus saved before He was baptized?
I am reminded of a very important time in my life when I was baptized. I had recently given my life to the Lord in Memphis, TN and was traveling on a work assignment in Houston, TX. I was there on a Wednesday night so I went to visit Lakewood Church where John Osteen was the Pastor. He preached on water baptism that summer night in 1982. My religious upbringing included being baptized as a child with the sprinkling method. That night Pastor Osteen went through all the scriptures about the importance of water baptism (immersion in water) after giving your life to the Lord. I was touched that night and knew that I needed to do this. Pastor Osteen asked everyone that had been moved by his message to stand and make a commitment to the Lord that the next time we had an opportunity we would get baptized in water. I stood that night and made that promise to the Lord.
Many months later my wife and I had started sharing our testimony and preaching in local churches in the Memphis, TN area. One very cold Sunday morning we were to speak at a local Memphis congregation and as we were preparing to speak the Pastor told me that they needed to take care of one last bit of business before we spoke. The Pastor told us a young man had given his life to the Lord that week and they were going to baptize him before we spoke. They did not have a baptismal tank so they had purchased a kiddy pool and filled it up with cold water (it was about 20 degrees that winter morning). This kiddy pool was the type that had pictures of animals all around the sides. God does have a sense of humor! I knew what I had to do that morning. I asked a very surprised Pastor if he would mind if his speaker could be baptized along with the new convert. He agreed and that is where I was baptized. It was a wonderful, but very cold baptism.
We believe that baptism in water is a very important step in your walk with the Lord. It is not, as some religions teach, mandatory for your salvation. It is however an outward expression to the world and yourself of what has already transpired inwardly. If you are doing it just because some religion says you must do it then forget it. There is no magic in the water or the process. But if you are doing it because you love the Lord and want to follow his example, and you want to sincerely please him, and you understand from the Word of God why you are doing it, then you need to be baptized. God always looks on the heart and not on rituals, ceremonies, or outward appearances.
If you have recently given your life to the Lord at one of our meetings or at any other service we encourage you to read the scriptures related to water baptism. Talk to your local Pastor or call us if you do not have a Pastor and we will help you find a good church that believes in water baptism. Pray and ask God to show you the right place and the right time. Don’t be afraid. He doesn’t ask everyone to get baptized in a kiddy pool but be ready because it may not be a church. It may be a hotel swimming pool or the ocean or a river.
Matthew 3:16-17: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.
Acts 8:35-38: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him”.