water baptism

What is Water Baptism?

Water baptism is an ordinance given by Christ to the Church. It is a ceremony of worship and obedience.

The word “baptize” means literally “to dip” or “to immerse.” Significantly there are eight Greek words in the New Testament used to describe the application of liquids, representing a wide choice of words such as “sprinkle,” “pour” and “immerse.” But only the one, “immerse,” is used when Jesus or the apostles spoke of water baptism.

The Bible establishes these important facts about baptism:

  • Water is required (Acts 8:36) and much water is needed (John 3:23)
  • Both the person being baptized and the person baptizing went down into the water (Acts 8:38)
  • We are “buried” in baptism (Romans 6:4;    Colossians 2:12)
  • The person being baptized comes up out of the water (Matthew 3:15; Acts 8:39)

Water Baptism is a fundamental issue for every believer in Jesus Christ, but it also gives rise to a number of questions.

  • Is water baptism essential to salvation? If so, what about the thief on the cross? Was he saved without being baptized?
  • In which way should one be baptized: by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?
  • What is the proper formula to be used? Should baptism be done “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” or simply “in the name of Jesus”?
  • When should baptism occur? Immediately after the conversion? or should there be a probation period?

Read on to find answers to these often-asked questions about Water Baptism. We've included additional scripture references relating to water baptism. Read carefully and prayerfully, asking the Lord to speak to your heart.

Does Baptism Save?

Baptism cannot save a person. The Bible teaches that there is only one Way to salvation: through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can wash away sin. A person who is not a believer before being baptized goes under the water a dry sinner and comes up a wet sinner.

Acts 2:38, 41; Acts 8:12, 37-39; Acts 10:44-48

Who Should Be Baptized?

The Bible teaches that everyone who believes in Jesus should be baptized. Matthew 28:19 tells us: “Go and make disciples… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….” The sinner must first believe and repent and then be baptized.

In every instance, the test is that of one’s own faith. According to the Bible, one must be personally aware of his/her need for salvation as well as have an awareness of guilt before there can be an act of repentance and saving faith.

What about infant baptism? The Bible never commands infant baptism, and while there is a scriptural example of dedicating one’s child to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:21-28) there is no scriptural example of infant baptism.

Read Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38

The Significance of Water Baptism

  1. Jesus Himself was baptized in water to set an example for all believers to follow. He had no sin to repent of. He did not have to change His ways. He did not need to demonstrate to anyone that He was a follower of God.
  2. Water Baptism is a command for all believers: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV).

Scriptures for you to investigate: Matthew 3:13; Mark 1:9-11; Romans 6:4-5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; James 2:18

What Does Water Baptism Do?

A father and mother were about to be baptized in water. Their little son, unfamiliar with religious terminology proudly announced, “Mom and Dad are going to be advertised tonight!”

While the boy’s word choice was incorrect, in a sense, it wasn’t all that bad. The boy recognized that all believers who obey this command of Christ are truly advertising their faith to the Church and to the world.

Water Baptism accomplishes three important purposes:

The Gospel is Proclaimed

Baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, shows the Lord’s death. The work of Christ on Calvary and His resurrection are portrayed. The cleansing from sin is symbolized. The public sees what you believe. The Bible clearly states that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But faith is active, not passive (James 2:18). We express our faith by Water Baptism and thus proclaim the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Our Experience is Pictured

Baptism portrays conversion (2 Corinthians 5:17) . When we become believers, we die to our old life and begin to live a new life in Christ. Baptism portrays our identification with Christ in a spiritual death, burial and resurrection.

Our Hope is Declared

In Baptism, we display our belief in the resurrection from the dead. Jesus said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19).

How Should I be Baptized?

Jesus instructed believers to be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” When Peter and Paul make reference to baptizing in the name of Jesus, they are citing the authority for baptism, not the formula.

Dig deeper: Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38

When Should I be Baptized?

If you have given your life to Jesus and understand what it means to be baptized, it is time for you to prayerfully consider taking this next step in your Christian walk.

  • The Ethiopian official was baptized immediately after believing in Jesus (Acts 8:36-38).
  • Paul was baptized within hours after his conversion (Acts 9:17-19).
  • Cornelius and his household followed the Lord in baptism the very day they believed (Acts 10:47-48).

More Scriptures you may want to read: Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22, 1 Peter 3:21 and 1 John 1:7


If you would like to be baptized in water,

or if you have more questions,

please contact Pastor Brad

507.833.1082; pastorbrad.wcamn@gmail.com