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What is water baptism?

Once you surrender your life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, baptism should be the very next thing you do.

If you’ve never been baptized, or if you’re like a lot of people who were baptized or christened as an infant, then we encourage you to get baptized again (we will explain a little more about that). In either case, you may be wondering, “Why?” That’s a good question!

We believe you need to first understand the origin and true meaning of water baptism. While the early church kept this sacred practice, its significance was altered and greatly diminished over time—to the point that, in today’s culture, it has nearly been lost completely. However, we believe that it is still vital to us today.

Very early in the Gospels, before Jesus’ ministry began, we read about John the Baptist, who earned his name when he began baptizing other individuals in the Jordan River. While preaching a message of repentance and turning back to God, he invited his followers to be baptized in water to signify and physically demonstrate that they were humbling themselves, washing away their old lifestyle, and accepting the message that John preached.

Then we read that Jesus Himself was baptized by John! Jesus made a public demonstration and declaration of His intent to follow God the Father. As He was getting baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him, and the Father publicly affirmed Him as His own Son, even expressing His pleasure in His Son’s obedience. It was only after this moment that we began to see Jesus teaching with authority and performing miracles.

In His last moments with His disciples, Jesus encouraged them to continue the practice of baptism (Matthew 28:18-19), which signified the importance of every believer to submit to water baptism. It still stands as a line of demarcation, particularly for the new believer, between the old and the new. As a public demonstration and declaration of an individual’s faith in Jesus and his or her desire to follow Him, baptism is still meaningful and pleasing to the Father today!

The decision to get baptized should be made consciously after you have received salvation and been “born again” by surrendering your life to Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life. We often say, baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. This is why we encourage those who have been baptized or christened as infants to be re-baptized after consciously accepting Christ. We believe this is a decision you should make once you understand what it means to surrender your life and be born-again. People ask, what if my parents don’t understand why, even though I was baptized as a baby, I want to be baptized as an adult? We explain it like this: Dad, Mom - I want to thank you for dedicating me to God and for your desire for me to live a life of faith in Jesus, and now, I am, on my own, with understanding making that decision to follow Jesus.

Also, you don’t have to be perfect to get baptized! Water baptism is not a claim to perfection, nor will it make you perfect. Rather, it is a statement of faith, submission and willingness to allow Jesus to perfect us. Sometimes we have experiences that allow us to look back and say, “Ever since then, things have changed.” Can you recall a landmark point in your life? Getting baptized in water can be one of those moments for you, just as it was in Jesus’ life.

People who have been baptized often recall the sense of going down with the old and coming up with the new, remembering what it meant in their heart as they stood there and remembered what God had done for them and who Jesus is in their life. They recall feeling the forgiveness of God over them as they went down and seeing themselves as a new person when they came back up. It’s often one of the defining moments in a person’s walk with Him.

If you haven’t been baptized since committing your life to Christ, we believe there is no better time than now. It doesn’t matter how long you have been saved! Consider these examples:

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, 41 NIV

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.Acts 16:29-33 NIV

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.Acts 8:35-38 NIV

Let us ask you the same question: “Why shouldn’t you be baptized?” It’s time to go all in, to publicly declare, “I want to put my old way of living aside so that Jesus can live through me.”

People often ask, “Do I have to be baptized?” We tell them, that is the wrong question. The question should be, why don’t you want to be baptized?

If you have previously been baptized in some form or another, please keep in mind that baptism should be done:

  • By immersion in water
  • By those who have made a conscious decision to submit their lives to Jesus
  • By those who understand the statement they’re making

If all three of these elements weren’t present when you were baptized, we believe you should be baptized again.