God’s Word teaches;
That water Baptism is essential to our obedience after reconciliation with God. Water Baptism is one immersion (not three) “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, as Jesus commanded – Matthew 28:19; 3:13-17; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38;8:38,39; 19:1-5; Romans 6:4,5.
Water baptism is one of the cardinal doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet one of the most misunderstood teachings by contemporary teachers and preachers. Some, at one extreme, believe that it is not necessary because of its abuse by nominal Christians while on the other extreme, others believe that without water baptism, one cannot be saved. In the middle is yet another group that believes that, though it is necessary, it must be administered in the name of Jesus only.
All of them are wrong because Jesus Christ commanded that water baptism should be administered in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19). Doing otherwise, therefore, is to disobey Jesus Christ.
The word ‘baptize’ is a Greek word ‘baptiso’ which means to immerse, ‘dip inside liquid’. This shows the proper form of baptism by immersion inside water. The immersion signifies identification with the burial of Christ in His death and rising up in newness of life with Him at His resurrection (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12). In baptism, the believer shows his faith that Christ died for his sins and rose again for his justification: that if he dies he will be raised again in the resurrection; and that he dies to his old life and rises to walk in the new life with Christ.
The immersion is done only ONCE and not THRICE. Jesus Christ was dipped inside River Jordan only once (Matthew 3:16); the Eunuch of Ethiopia was immersed in water once (Acts 8:38).
When we submit for water baptism, it is an acknowledgment of Christ in a public way. Therefore, it is a public ceremony which witnesses to all that one has put on Christ (Galatians 3:27).
Jesus commanded that sinners be preached to, and as they repent and believe the gospel, they should be baptized. This confirms that water baptism is for those who fully repent of their sins (Acts 2:38). This also confirms that it is only adults who can exercise faith to believe that can be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Romans 10:9,10; Acts 20:20,21; Mark 1:14,15). It is fundamentally wrong to baptize infants who have not reached the stage of accountability, as it’s being practised by some orthodox churches.
The pages of the New Testament are filled with references on water baptism. In Matthew 3:13-17, Jesus Christ submitted Himself to John the Baptist for water baptism to fulfil all righteousness. The testimony of God the Father to the ministry of His Son, Jesus Christ, through the descent of the Holy Ghost on Him as He came out of the water after the water baptism was in agreement with it. Christ’s command of Matthew 28:19 was re-echoed in Mark 16:16. The Apostles also continued to baptize in obedience to the command of Christ: the converts on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-42,47); Eunuch of Ethiopia (Acts 8:36,37), Samaritan converts (Acts 8:12,13), Cornelius and his kinsmen (Acts 10:47,48); the Philippian Jailor (Acts 16:30-33); the Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:5).
Salvation does not come through water baptism but by grace through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesian 1:7; 2:8,9; I John 1:7,9; Hebrews 9:22; Matthew 26:28; John 1:12; 3:16,17; I Peter 3:21). The Scripture records a catalogue of those who got saved without water baptism being a pre-condition: the sick of the palsy healed by Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:1-7); the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and cleansed them with her hair (Luke 7:36-50); Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10); the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43); Eunuch of Ethiopia (Acts 8:30-37); those who believed in Antioch (Acts 11:20,21). Saul of Tarsus was addressed as ‘Brother Saul’ by Ananias before he submitted himself for water baptism (Acts 9:17)
Jesus has laid down the standard for water baptism and it is to be carried out in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19). Every believer, in obedience to Christ’s command, should therefore submit to this ordinance of water baptism. The importance of water baptism was expressed by Jesus Christ in His parting words. He said, ”He that believeth and is BAPTIZED shall be saved“.
The opinion of men cannot contradict the stand of the Scripture (Matthew 28:19). Once a person repents of his sin, it is mandatory that he submits himself for water baptism as provided for in the scriptures (Romans 6:3,4). The practice was upheld in the early church. Converts were baptized in water soon after their salvation experience (Acts 2:41; 8:37,38; 16:30,31,33). Every convert is therefore enjoined to yield to this important injunction. God-ordained church leaders must do their utmost best to encourage their flocks to attach great importance to this practice (Acts 20:28). Like Peter did, church leaders must encourage their hearers to ”repent and be BAPTISED … for the remission of sin …“.