The First Step in Our Life of Faith
… As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water…Matthew 3:13-17
The first 4 gospels in the New Testament all showed that Jesus’ life of ministry began with baptism. Through His example, we can know that baptism should be the first step in our life of faith.
Let us take some time to understand about this important ceremony
Rebirth & New Life
Everyone living on this earth is destined to die due to our sins (Romans 6:23). 2,000 years ago, Jesus taught that the way to salvation and eternal life is to be born again with a new life.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.John 3:3-5
Here, Jesus Himself made known to us the criteria to enter the kingdom of God, that is, to be born of water and of Spirit. This symbolizes baptism.
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.1 Peter 3:21
Water is water, but the water used in baptism contains the promise of salvation. This makes the baptism ceremony a sign of salvation (Mark 16:16).
Additionally, baptism also contains a precious promise that we sinners must receive to be saved—the forgiveness of our sins.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Acts 2:38
Baptism is a turning point in our life when all our past sins and transgressions are forgiven and we start a new life (Romans 6:1-4), being born again as a child of God.
You were all baptized into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ. This means that you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:26-27 NCV
Timing of Baptism
Since baptism is such an important ceremony directly linked to our salvation, it makes it urgent as well and should not be delayed. Just as critically ill patients need to be administered with treatment as soon as possible, we should quickly be baptized lest we regret missing the chance for it. Regarding this, the Bible shows clearly how uncertain life can be, that we cannot even boast that we have a guaranteed “tomorrow”.
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.Proverbs 27:1
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”Luke 12:16-21
Some may think that we should first have a deep understanding about God before we receive baptism. However, this is against the order established by God.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ…Ephesians 1:7-9
As written, we can receive all wisdom and understanding about Christ through the forgiveness of sins (which can be attained through baptism). Therefore, as long as one is willing to believe in God, he should first be baptized. Then, he continues to learn the words of God and grows in faith. The Bible also contains numerous examples of people receiving baptism as soon as they heard the news about Jesus (Acts 8:26-38, Acts 10:47-48, Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:29-34).
Place and Conditions for Baptism
Is there a specific venue, time, or condition for baptism to be carried out? As we look at the acts of the Apostles, we can see that they baptize people regardless of place and conditions.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him… The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.Acts 8:26-38
As Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, the eunuch saw some water along the desert road and immediately, was baptized. In this situation, he could have delayed baptism and waited until they returned to his palace—at the comfort of his home, with clean water and clothes to change. However, Philip did not stop the Ethiopian eunuch at that time, but rather went into the water and baptized him immediately. Here is another record of baptism in the book of Acts.
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.Acts 16:29-34
After all the prisoners fled the prison after an earthquake, the jailer in charge wanted to kill himself. However, Apostle Paul and Silas preached the word of God to the jailer, and at midnight, the jailer and his household were baptized. Instead of waiting until the next morning at daybreak to conduct baptism, baptism was conducted immediately, there and then.
How to Conduct Baptism
How should baptism be conducted? Before Jesus’ ascension 2,000 years ago, He specifically said that correct baptism must be conducted in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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…Matthew 28:19
Jesus taught that baptism must be done in the name of the Savior. In the age of the Son, only baptisms in the name of Jesus were valid. For those who were baptized but not in the name of Jesus, they were told by Apostle Paul to re-baptize.
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”“John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.Acts 19:3-5
Right now, we are no longer living in the age of the Son, but the age of the Holy Spirit. What baptism is valid for our age? Now, it is imperative that we receive baptism in 3 names—the name of the Father—Jehovah, the name of the Son—Jesus, and most importantly, the name of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is not merely a ritual, but it is a regulation that contains God’s promise. We can be saved when we are baptized according to God’s commandments.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…Mark 16:16