Baptism in Water
Larry Kreider

B. Childress
Feb 28 2011

Baptism in water is a demonstration of obedience

Water baptism, sometimes called believer’s baptism, is for the purpose of identifying with Jesus.  In the New Testament,
once a person believed in Jesus for salvation, he was then baptized in water.  Baptism is a sign of cleansing and
forgiveness of sin – an act of faith and obedience.   Jesus, Himself, introduces us to water baptism when He was
baptized by John the Baptist.

John had been preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4).  When people repented of
their sins, they were water-baptized as the outward evidence that they had repented.  Since it was an outward sign, it did
not magically save them.  The power in baptism was in the power of God, not in the water or the act itself.

“Then why,” you may ask, “was Jesus baptized”?  Jesus was without sin (I Peter 2:21-22); He did not need to show
evidence of confessing and repenting of sin.  John pondered the same question when Jesus came to him to be
baptized.  Jesus gave John the answer to his question when he said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to
fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).

Jesus was setting an example for Christian believers to follow – not simply as evidence that they had confessed and
repented of their sins, but “to fulfill [complete] all righteousness.”  Christian baptism is an outward act of obedience by
which the believer fulfills the inward righteousness he already has through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection.

Jesus said that everywhere the gospel is preached, individuals will be saved when they believe.  Baptism naturally
 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…(Mark 16:16)

The natural succession and pattern of believing first and then being baptized is followed throughout the New
Testament.  Sometimes people ask, “I was baptized as an infant.  Is infant baptism in the Bible?”  Infant baptism is not
mentioned in the Bible.  The record of baptisms in the New Testament are of adults who were previously unbelievers.  
These believers were baptized after their belief and faith in Jesus.  Since infants are incapable of exercising faith, and
baptism is the outward sign of faith,
it stands to reason that an infant is not eligible for baptism.    Although there
is not necessarily anything wrong with baptizing a baby as a form of dedication to the Lord, according to scripture, they
should be baptized after they believe as an outward sign of faith.

The key question to ask is this:  Have you been baptized since you’ve believed?  The Bible teaches us to be baptized in
water after we believe in Jesus.  It is a sign of our faith.

Baptism in water makes a public announcement

As a sign of our faith in Jesus, water baptism makes several bold statements.  Let’s look at these statements in the next
four sections.  First of all, the Bible tells us that water baptism is a public announcement of our decision to turn our
backs on sin and live for Jesus Christ…
all should be baptized as a public announcement of their decision to turn their
backs on sin
(Mark 1:4 TLB).

Baptism is a public announcement that we have taken a clear stand for Jesus Christ.  In the early church, it was taken
for granted that when someone turned his life over to Jesus Christ, his first step of obedience was water
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…(Acts

When I was a youth worker, there were times when dozens of young people gave their lives to Jesus during a given
week.  We often baptized them the same day they were born again.  Some were baptized in swimming pools, others in
rivers and ponds, and still others in bathtubs.  These water baptisms were very meaningful, spiritual times.  Baptisms
can take place in varied settings, large or small.  Some baptisms can be planned ahead and attended by friends and
family so they can be a part of the celebration.

No matter what method or in what setting, new Christians are making a public statement by participating in the physical,
outward sign of their salvation by being baptized.  This act of faith is a decision that empowers Christians to fulfill the
Great Commissions to wholeheartedly make and baptize disciples.  
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, and teaching them to obey everything I
have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age
(Matthew 28:19-20).

Baptism in water shows we are dead to sin and alive to Christ

A second reason why water baptism is so important is that it shows we are dead to sin and alive to Christ, according to
Romans 6:4.  
We are therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from
the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life

Water baptism is a sign of being buried to sin and resurrected to new life.  Jesus was buried and resurrected two
thousand years ago.  We are buried with Him by baptism in a spiritual sense.  We must be dead to ourselves before we
can have new life.  When we come to the cross, we die to our old way of living so that we can have the new resurrected
life that God has promised.

When you go to a funeral and see a dead man, you know that he cannot respond to anything.  He cannot be hurt
physically or emotionally.  He cannot feel pain.  He is dead!  When we are buried in Christ, our old nature no longer can
do its own thing; it is dead.  So then, spiritually speaking, our old life Is dead.

Here’s an example:  Joe was a former gangster with the Mafia, who gave his life to Jesus.  His life was permanently
changed.  A few weeks after he gave his life to the Lord, one of his Mafia brothers called him on the phone and said,
“Hey, is Joe there?”

Joe answered, “No, Joe died,” and hung up the phone.  The truth is, Joe had died.  He was a brand new Joe and was
living a brand new life.  The old Joe was dead, a new Joe had come, and Jesus Christ now lived in him.  Water baptism is
a sign that we have died to self and, with the power of God’s glory, now walk in a new life.

Sometimes people ask, “How should a person be baptized?”  The Greek word for
baptize is baptiso, which means to
immerse.  We encourage people to be immersed in water.  Going into the watery grave of baptism is symbolic of dying
to self, being buried and then resurrected as we come up out of the water.

You have been crucified with Christ.  Your old “man” (evil nature) is dead.  Through water baptism, you become dead to
sin and alive to Christ.

Baptism in water illustrates a New Testament circumcision

This brings us to a third statement that water baptism makes.  Water baptism is a type of a New Testament circumcision.  
In the Old Testament circumcision, when an infant boy was eight days old, his foreskin was cut away as a sign of God’s
covenant to His people.  It was a sign of faith just as it is in the New Testament.  Colossians 2:11-12 says that submitting
to the watery grave of baptism, just like circumcision, shows that our old sin nature has been cut away, supernaturally.  
In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men
but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in
the power of God, who raised him from the dead
.  The power of the sin nature that is inside you and me – that old
nature that says, “I want to do what I want to do” – is symbolically cut away when we’re baptized in water.  It’s a New
Testament circumcision.

I once read about a man who had a very mean landlord who was always causing problems.  One day, the landlord sold
the property to a new landlord, a wonderful man.  Sometime later, the first landlord came back and demanded that the
tenant pay him.  The tenant said, “What do you mean?  You don’t own this anymore.  Go talk to my new landlord.”  
When your old landlord, the devil, comes and tries to tell you that you are still under bondage to the old habits of the
past – lying criticism, lust, hatred, anger, or whatever – you can tell the devil you have a new landlord.  His name is
Jesus.  Tell the devil, “Go talk to Jesus!”

When we are baptized in water, we are making a statement that the bondage of the past is broken.  It’s a supernatural
work of God.  Moses and the children of Israel were in bondage to the Egyptians, but when they came through the Red
Sea, God’s people were baptized and set free after coming through the water.  
For I do not want you to be ignorant of
the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.  They were all
baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea
(I Corinthians 10:1-2).

Having trusted God, by faith in Jesus, for freedom from the bondage of our past, we are then baptized.  We don’t always
feel that we are freed from bondage.  That’s why it’s important that we know it by faith.  We live by the truth of His Word,
not by our emotions.  I remember flying into my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, one time and feeling sure we
were going the wrong way.  But we came into the right airport.  The pilots were flying by the navigation equipment – and
it was right.  We should live our lives, not by every whim of our emotions, but according to God’s navigation instrument,
the Bible, which gives us the will of God.

Romans 6:14 says,
For sin shall not be your master…Instead of seeing this scripture as a law, see it as a promise.  God
says that sin shall not have power over me because I am buried with Him in baptism.  The old me is dead.  I am a brand
new person!

Our old, evil nature is rendered inoperative and through water baptism, we experience New Testament circumcision.  
Romans 6:6 states,
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin

The old has been cut away!  We are living a new life with Jesus Christ inside of us.

Baptism in water shows we are obeying God

A fourth statement water baptism makes is that it shows we are obeying God.  The Word of God instructs us to be
baptized in water.  We are exhorted to “believe and be baptized” (Mark 16:16).  Water baptism symbolizes a spiritual
cleansing, according to I Peter 3:21.  
And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt
from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.  It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ

It is the cleansing of the heart, not the outward ceremony that saves.  Washing with water does little more than removing
dirt.  But being baptized shows that we are living with a clear conscience.  We have an unwavering confidence in Jesus
Christ.  We are obeying the Lord in all that He has asked us to do, and it brings a tremendous freedom into our lives.

Sometimes people ask, “What about a deathbed conversion?  If someone gives his heart to Jesus and dies two minutes
later and there is no time to baptize him, where does he spend eternity?”  Remember, baptism does not save us.  The
blood of Jesus Christ saves us.  Baptism is simply an act of obedience.  After his profession of faith, the thief on the
cross could not be water-baptized but Jesus said He would see him in paradise (Luke 23:40-43).

According to the examples given in the scriptures, and if we have the opportunity, we should be baptized as soon after
conversion as possible.  When Paul was in jail, the Philippian jailer gave his heart to Jesus.  The jailer’s whole household
was baptized that night with water (Acts 16:33).  While Philip was walking down a road one day, he met an Ethiopian
official sitting in his chariot and reading the scriptures.  Philip explained the good news about Jesus to him, and he was
baptized as soon as they found some water (Acts 8:38).  Crispus and his household, and many other Corinthians (Act
18:8), believed and were baptized immediately.

Every believer, even a young child who has faith to be baptized should be encouraged to be baptized…
According to
your faith, let it be to you
(Matthew 9:29 NKJ).  It should be noted, however, that a child should never be pressured into
water baptism; he or she must desire it and be ready for it.

Be baptized in water!

If you have never been baptized in water, what are you waiting for?  Do it today!  We mentioned in Day 6 that when
Jesus hung on the cross between two thieves, one of them was saved but there was no opportunity for him to come
down from the cross and be baptized.

However, you and I have that opportunity.  Although baptism does not save us, let’s be obedient to the Word of God and
take the opportunity to show we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.  If you have any doubts about your baptism in water,
I encourage you to be rebaptized.  Doubts can cloud your faith and cast a shadow of condemnation on your life.  
Romans 14:23 says that…
everything that does not come from faith is sin.

It’s important that you are living and walking in faith.  If you’re not sure, be baptized in water so that you can be certain
and the enemy cannot sow seeds of doubts in your mind.  Water baptism is a physical act which reminds you of your
faith and freedom in Jesus.  You can point to it if the devil tries to lie to you and put doubt in your heart.  You can say
with assurance, “I was baptized in water and I know that I’m free.  The old man, the former sinful nature, is cut off and
has no power.  Jesus Christ lives strong in my life.”  Talk to a pastor or small group leader to arrange for your water

I believe any believer in Christ can baptize another believer in water.  You do not have to necessarily be a pastor or
elder to perform a baptism.  Paul, the apostle, often left water baptism to other believers in the church.  He did it simply
because they could help out this way.  Paul knew his primary calling was to preach the gospel and to train others.  
I am
thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to
preach the gospel
…(I Corinthians 1:14,17).

To summarize, water baptism is a sign of an inner cleansing of the heart.  It is a public declaration that I have turned
from sin to serve Jesus Christ as Lord.  It shows that I am dead to sin and alive to Christ.  It is a type of New Testament
circumcision where the power of my old nature has been cut off.  And most important of all, baptism in water is important
because the Lord, in His Word, commands me to be baptized, and I want to be obedient to Him.


NEW TESTAMENT BAPTISMS, by Larry Kreider, Copyright 2002, House to House Publications