“Now That I Am Saved, Where Do I Start?”

Baptism is one of the most frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines of the Christian faith. This lesson aims to give the new believer a clear understanding of the importance, purpose, and method of the New Testament water baptism.  Comparing Scripture with Scripture (disregarding the “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” Matthew 15:9) will establish a definitive understanding of Believers’ water baptism.

The Importance of Baptism.

By reading Matthew 3:13-15, we can see that baptism was the first thing Jesus did before beginning His public ministry.

In Matthew 3:13-17, it is clear that Jesus was baptized obeying His Father’s will. In verse 15, He said, “…Suffer [allow] it to be so now: for thus it becometh [is fitting for] us to fulfill all righteousness” [emphasis mine]. The Lord Jesus Christ’s baptism demonstrated submission and obedience, the most important things to realize regarding baptism.

In Acts 10:48, we see that Peter did not request but commanded baptism. Would it be correct to say that something commanded by the apostles and exemplified by Christ was necessary for a Christian?

Before anyone can be taught to follow Jesus Christ, they must be willing to submit to baptism, an essential first step of obedience, Luke 6:46.

The Purpose of Baptism.

New Testament water baptism’s primary purpose is an outward manifestation of an inward change.  Water baptism is a picture of what happened at the moment of salvation.  Consider the three aspects of baptism. Down into the water, placed under the water, coming up out of the water.

Thus, baptism pictures three things about the new believers’ position “in Christ.”

His death (down into the water)

His burial (placed under the water)

His resurrection (coming up out of the water) See 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

Baptism also pictures a threefold spiritual reality. Three things happen to every believer at the moment of salvation: We were spiritually “baptized into Jesus Christ” Romans 6:3. That is, supernaturally placed IN Christ (not by water but by the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 12:13 & Acts 1:5).

By this spiritual baptism, we were: “…baptized into his death” Romans 6:3. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism…” Romans 6:4 “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead (resurrected) …even so we also…”  Romans 6:4. Consider Galatians 2:20.

Water Baptism can’t Save

Water Baptism is NOT essential for salvation.  Ephesians 2:8-9 clarifies that man is saved “by grace through faith,” without works… including baptism.

Carefully read Acts 10:44-48. Did the people believe and receive the Holy Spirit (that is, were they saved) before or after they were baptized?

Read Luke 23:39-43.  Where did the penitent thief go upon death?  Was he baptized after he believed? Also, consider 1 Corinthians 1:17.  If baptism were an essential part of salvation, how could Paul have made such a statement?

Who should be Baptized?

The Bible’s most transparent case of an individual’s baptism is the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-39. In verse 36, the eunuch asked, “…what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Philip answered with the condition of baptism in verse 37, “…If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Then, the eunuch’s response sealed the matter, “…I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The only requirements for baptism are the requirements for salvation found in Acts 20:21 & Romans 10:9-10.

There are NO examples of baptism in the New Testament of anyone besides believers, nor instances of infant baptism. How could an infant believe in their heart and confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus?

What is the Biblical method of Baptism?

Again, Acts 8:26-39 gives the most evident example. In verses 38-39, both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water and came up out of the water.

In Matthew 3:16, Jesus was baptized in the same manner.

As aforementioned, baptism is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. The only way to bury someone is to put them entirely underground. The biblical method of baptism is complete immersion.

No one in the Bible was ever sprinkled because no one can be buried by sprinkling dirt on them. The Greek word for baptism is “baptizo,” which means immersion.

Where should I be Baptized?

Since baptism is meant to be a public confession of your faith in Jesus Christ, most often, it will be in a baptistry in a “Bible-believing Church.” People will usually be baptized in creeks or rivers, which is fine; the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized in the River Jordan. The actual place of baptism is not important. The crucial point is the act of public testimony of your identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have not followed the Lord in baptism, you are living in open disobedience to the revealed will of God.