The Bible says that “He who believes AND is baptized will be saved” (Mark’s Gospel 16 v.16).
The word “baptism” (baptizō) means FULL EMERSION. The word “baptizō” (βαπτίζω) means…: “to emerge; to immerse; to wash; to clean with water; to bathe.”
In the Bible, the act of water baptism is used to ”bury” the old sinful life after which we ”arise” to a new life with Christ – so baptism is about living a whole new life with Jesus as Lord. It is no longer you who live, but Jesus lives in you. Baptism is powerful and it washes away your sins – and at the same time you declare to powers and principalities that now you belong to Jesus Christ. Baptism is important; and combined with faith it sets us free!
…is baptism only for grown-ups? No – everyone who is old enough to have a living faith in Jesus Christ may be baptized.
Today we are quite ”hesitant” when it comes to doing a baptism, but at the Bible days it was done as soon as people believed and wanted to surrender to Christ – because a baptism is not just a symbol, it is a spiritual break with the old life and with old bondings.
In Acts, Chapter 22 v 15-16 we read Ananias telling Paul:
“… You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”
…and then the great ministry of Paul begins. Even Jesus was baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit before the start of his ministry.
Also read Colossians 2 about ”the burial” that takes place in baptism (also mentioned elsewhere in the Bible).
12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
So in short: Baptism must be based on your own faith – and baptism must be to bury your OLD life in order to arise to a new life with Christ.
Then what is this new life all about…? Read Colossians 3:1-10:
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
10 And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
So if you were christenend/baptized as a baby … what was the ”old life” that you buried in baptism? And did you choose at the time to live with/as Christ? And were you “fully immersed”?
A somewhat provocative story:
A wealthy farmer who was active in a church, which did christenings, once had a stable hand who believed in “baptism of the believer”. The two could not agree when they talked about the practice of baptism and the symbolism of burial and resurrection with Christ. Except for this one subject, the two of them got along just fine and the farmer appreciated his stable hand a lot.
One day the farmer’s best horse died and he mourned for many days. The farmer asked his hand to bury the horse, which the hand agreed to do. However, three days later the farmer passed by the dunghill. He was horrified to see (and to smell) how the dead horse had be placed on top of the dunghill. In rage he yelled the name of the hand and gave him a reprimand that matched the incident.
When he had cooled off, the hand was able to explain himself and said, “You know how much I always respected you and tried to do whatever you asked me to do to the best of my ability”. The farmer agreed with that. “But what I just did”, the hand said, “I buried the horse according to your principles. I placed it here and then I put three shovelfuls of earth on its head. Because that is what you call a real burial”.