Why is this an Excellent Time to get Water Baptized?
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I baptized our two daughters in the sea behind our house. We had an informal service in front of a small group of friends. And by small group, I mean, really small. There were only three other adults plus our two other kids. At the time, our city was not yet in lockdown, but many of our friends were in self isolation on account of COVID-19.
For years, people have been asking me to write about baptism. For me, baptism is a simple issue. However, I know that some people can get hung up about it. Not wanting to get sucked into distracting doctrinal debates, I’ve said nothing.
And what I want to say is this: If you’ve never been baptized, now is an excellent time. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.
But first, some Q&As.
Why get baptized?
Jesus did it and he said those who followed him would do it (Matt 28:19). What more reason do you need?
If I choose not to get baptized, am I still saved?
Salvation is a faith issue. It’s settled in your heart, not in water. If you have called on the Name of the Lord you are saved.
But having acknowledged Jesus as Lord, why wouldn’t you get baptized? It’s awesome. If you’re not ready, that’s fine. But get ready. Make up your mind, then do it.
Not getting baptized is like not getting married when you’ve found your soul mate. Jesus is your Soul Mate. He is the One. So what are you waiting for? In the words of the Ethiopian, “Here’s water. Why can’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36).
Dipping and dripping?
I prefer to do it the way Jesus did it, which is outside and full immersion. River baptisms earn you more points with the Lord. (That was a joke, folks.)
However, I realize there are all sorts of practical considerations that may affect your choice. I’ve baptized people in baths. (In China! In the underground church! How exciting!) I was personally baptized in a special pool inside a church. But if you are unable to get to water or have health issues that make baptism difficult, don’t get hung up about it. Jesus loves you no matter what.
Incidentally, the word baptism means to dip, as in dipping a cloth in a vat of dye. The cloth goes in one color and comes out another. What a great picture. When you come to Christ, you are dipped into him and his death. Your old man goes in; your new self comes out. You went in grey, you came out the color of Jesus (see Gal. 3:27).
Water baptism is a bit of theatre that reenacts that supernatural moment. As well as being a bold proclamation of your relationship with Christ, it’s a public demonstration of something that has happened. For some people, the baptism experience is accompanied by supernatural signs. But not always. However, every baptism is special.
What is the significance of baptism?
Some people think baptism is for the cleaning of sins. It’s bigger than that. Romans 6:3 tells us that when we are baptized, we are baptized into his death. We are identifying with Christ and his crucifixion. When we come out of the water, we are saying:
Christ has risen and so have I! The old me no longer lives, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (see Gal. 2:20)
This part’s important. The life Christ offers is not an improved life, but a new life. The old you has gone and you are a new creation.
Is baptism a big deal?
In Hong Kong, a lot of young people came to our church from idol-worshipping families. Their parents did not mind that they went to church and worshipped Jesus, but the moment they put their hand up for baptism, there was strife. Some were told they would be kicked out of their family homes. For the idol-worshippers, getting baptized was a huge deal. I always wondered about that. “What do they know that we don’t?”
There is something about the act of baptism that transcends cultures. I once baptized a man in a lonely beach on Macau. A construction worker saw us and came over to inquire, “Yesu? Yesu?” (“Jesus? Jesus?”) I nodded vigorously and he grinned. We did not share a language, but he knew exactly what was going on. Actions speak louder than words.
What are the requirements for baptism?
There is only one: Believe in Jesus (see Acts 2:41, 8:13, 16:14-15, 18:8, 19:4-5).
What is the minimum age for being baptized?
What is the minimum age for calling on the name of the Lord? I was baptized at 14. The other day I baptized my 13 year old daughter. I have no problem baptizing children who are much younger, as long as it’s their choice and not something they’ve been pressured into doing.
Why is now a good time to get baptized?
The world is going bananas with fear and anxiety. It’s take to pick sides. Are you on the fear team or are you on Jesus’ team? I don’t mean to sound flippant, but this is a serious choice. Following Jesus does not necessarily make you immune to COVID-19 (or the ‘flu or measles or any other disease). But it should help you overcome fear. Greater is he that is in you, than any microscopic bug.
How satisfying would it be to look back on these dark days and say, “That’s when I followed Jesus to the water and got baptized.” Redeem the time and seize the day.
Baptism is a powerful act, but in dark times the message is particularly potent. Think of those early Christians who got baptized during times of Roman persecution. What a declaration! We are not being persecuted, but these are trying times. We have an opportunity to send a message: “I am not afraid of death because Jesus died on my behalf, and through his sacrificial death and resurrection, I can experience new life here and now.”
It almost makes wish I hadn’t been baptized so I could do it now and livestream it to all my friends.
Who can baptize me?
Pretty much anyone who’s been baptized. You don’t need a pastor or a vicar or anyone with a manmade qualification. (None of the original disciples had degrees.) Your options may be limited to whoever’s in quarantine or lockdown with you.
Don’t I need to undertake some sort of baptism training first?
You just did.
Got more questions about baptism? Check out Paul’s study note “What is the baptism that saves?” on Patreon.
Well explained. Got “Religious” Anglican Church baptism when I was too young probably 1 or 2years old. Which to me when I grew up and understood the Gospel and the implications it has in our Christian Faith- I realized something was not right with that kind of baptism for I knew nothing at all. Then whilst at college in my second year in the summer of 2015, I underwent baptism by immersion. Thank You Paul for taking time to explain this subject in details. How I love New Zealand 😍 Wish to drop by soon.Haha. you’re Blessed
When I hear the word baptism, why do I get so excited? I love it! People like to say it’s just an outward act of an internal reality, rubbish! Something supernatural happens when you get baptised. I was baptised in the Spirit before water, yet I know sin lost its grip on me after coming out of those waters! Things I’d struggled with for years! If you haven’t been baptised in water, wait no longer, find a born again believer and get it done!
I remember taking a young man to a meeting in London one Sunday evening, he had an encounter with the Lord and wanted to be baptised, it was the middle of winter and almost midnight before we arrived back home to where we lived, we grabbed a couple of towels and headed to the nearest river and baptised him, the water was cold but it was wonderful, we were all young believers. He came out of those waters praising God and praying in a new heavenly language, awesome!! Just like the book of acts! Baptism classes not needed! 😉 God loves it, let’s be more spontaneous!
I’d say you can even baptize yourself. You don’t need others there; i mean it’s nice, but it’s not essential.
Agreed, Thank you for this truth said through you, for it is Spirit Baptism from Father in Risen Son for u s to stand in beleif to see, no matter what
When uncle Bob dies, no one asks “But do we HAVE to bury uncle Bob?” because it would be a rather odd question. When the old you dies, why ask that odd question “But do I HAVE to get baptized?” ……just bury “uncle Bob” cause he might stink up the place a bit;) No guilt involved, just simplicity.
P.S. I love your ministry Paul. You are a great asset to the body of Christ. Thank you for everything you do.
Paul, what is your thought on infant baptism?
I have baptized adults who were baptized as infants. The second baptism was their choice.
Where coronavirus abounds, Grace superabounds. Thanks for this reminder of how baptism is a clear picture of the eternal security and joy we have, having died completely to the old man.
During a time of study on baptism I discover that the term ‘baptizing them in the name’ with emphasis on ‘in the name’ discovered that it means to be bound to, the property of and the responsibility of…..
I was dribble baptized as a child. It held no meaning. As an adult my wife and I got dunked together. Now I get tears every time I see it. Super cool that you got to baptize your kids.
“There is something about the act of baptism that transcends cultures. I once baptized a man in a lonely beach on Macau. A construction worker saw us and came over to inquire, “Yesu? Yesu?” (“Jesus? Jesus?”) I nodded vigorously and he grinned. We did not share a language, but he knew exactly what was going on. Actions speak louder than words.”
Yeah, this choked me up a bit…
Verbiage for baptizing another person?
Good question. What we did with the kids was this: First, I asked them a question, “What does Jesus mean to you?” Their responses came from the heart. Then I said something like, “On the confession of your faith, we baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (see Matt 28:19). After that we prayed for them.
I should add that the kids understood that baptism was about being buried into Christ’s death and raised with his resurrection.
Water baptism was strictly for the nation of Israel. What’s next, are you going to preach circumcision? This is adding to the Gospel. You have lost your way.
John’s baptism was done for repentance (Acts 19:4). People confessed their sins when they did it (Matt 3:6). However, Jesus did not need to repent and he had no sins to confess, yet he was water baptized too.
Jesus and his disciples baptized people in Judea (John 3:22, 4:1-2), but after he rose from the dead he instructed his disciples to baptize people anywhere and everywhere (Matt 28:19). And they did. The Apostles baptized Samaritans (Acts 8:12), Romans (Acts 10:47-48), Thyatirans (Acts 16:15), Philippians (Acts 16:33), Corinthians (Acts 18:8, 19:5, 1 Cor 1:14, 16), and at least one Ethiopian (Acts 8:38).
(If you think these examples refer to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, read Acts 8:16 and 10:47. These were clearly water baptisms.)
The baptisms of John and Jesus were different (Acts 19:3-5). John and his disciples baptized in Judea; the followers of Jesus baptized people all over the world.
Sounds a bit like sarcasm, doesn’t it? 😀
I was baptized when I was a baby. Should I do it again in your opinion?
If you have never had the pleasure and privilege of freely following Jesus into the water, why not?
This is brilliant! Thanks Paul
You state: “A lot of people think baptism is for the cleaning of sins. It’s bigger than that.“ Can you clarify this? Are you saying it washes away sins and identifies us with Christ’s death? I apologize if I am misunderstanding you there. I have hardcore church of Christ relatives who only ascribe to acts 2:38 and say anyone not baptized is still in their sins, but acts 10:43 says belief causes remission, and I know the Bible cannot contradict itself. My 62 year old dad believed and was saved last year but he has always been terrified of water and doesn’t want to go under…
People went to John to confess their sins and undergo a baptism of repentance. For the Christian, it’s a different story. It’s sort of about sins (as per Acts 2:38 and 22:16), but the cure for sin is not water; it’s blood. It’s the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin, and his blood was shed one time on the cross. The fact is Jesus bore the sins of the world on the cross. This is why God is no longer counting or holding our sins against us (2 Cor 5:19). But has everyone received his forgiveness? No. The grace we experience as forgiveness comes by faith alone (as per Acts 10:43).
I would not push the issue with your father. Water baptism ought to be a celebration, not something to fear. Leave it with the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for your reply! We have not pushed it but on Easter the topic was brought up again and it’s been stated you “put on His blood” through water baptism. Thank you for confirming it is applied through faith alone. I so appreciate your blog! Coming from a former legalistic hebrew rooter! I remember the first time I read your writings I was so horrified but God did a huge work and I have since turned to them many a night for encouragement and edification!
Very clear teaching. Speaking about being “baptized in a special pool inside a church”, I heard of a preacher that made a Baptismal pool that looked like a coffin, as this is exactly what being baptized means, showing a death, while still alive, yet afterward, much more alive! (crucified with Christ, never the less I live, Gal.2:20).
I am sooo happy i got baptized.I went down under knowing I was dying to old me .Boy when I came up out of the water I shot up like rocket! felt alive in Christ.Never will forget that experience.For myself,I just knew I wanted to do it.
Thank you brother Paul for everything you do. I greatly admire and love you!
You’re a great asset to the Body of Christ.
More grace of God upon your life
THIS is good!
Hello Paul, I may have missed it (just done a one time read through with tired eyes) – how would John 3 v 5 & 6 fit into this? “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” How would you read the message of this verse? Really appreciate your words! Dan
John 3:5 “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’” Acres of forest have been decimated unpacking what Jesus meant when he said “born of water.” Was Jesus talking about ceremonial washing, water baptism, the washing of regeneration, or natural birth? You can find scriptures to support all these interpretations, but I think the last one is the best.
Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about being born again. Nicodemus is confused. “How can a man enter his mother’s womb a second time?” (John 3:4). The second birth is different, replies Jesus. The first birth is natural (through water), the second is spiritual. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).
Everyone is born of water. “That’s a good start”, Jesus might have said. “But to really live you also need to be born of the Spirit. You need to be born again.”
Thank you Paul – I hadn’t considered that! It shows how you can have a fixed view on something because you’ve never heard another version presented. If I may, could I have your thoughts on another verse? Mark 16 v 16: ” He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” This is a verse that is *key* to the message of “no salvation without baptism”. I guess if this was the case then the thief on the cross must have been baptised!
Some good points regarding Mark 16:16 …
1. Mark 16:16 is part of the “disputed sections”; some early manuscripts don’t even have it! Then again, we shouldn’t immediately dismiss it, but at the same time, we shouldn’t build theology SOLELY from this section. For the benefit of the doubt, we’ll take Mark 16:16 into full consideration.
2. You’re probably already familiar with water baptism, but there’s also Spirit baptism in the Bible. All believers sealed with the Holy Spirit (and has the spirit itself) because they are part of Jesus’s body [Eph 1:13-14, Romans 8, Ephesians 3:6]. Therefore, every single believer has done some sort of baptism because all of them receive the Holy Spirit.
3. Even if we take Mark 16:16 to mean “water baptism”, from the rules of logic, we can’t necessarily say that people without water baptism are unsaved. Premise of Mark 16:16 is “one believes and is baptized”, and conclusion is “one is saved”. Converse is “If one is saved, one believes and is baptized”, and inverse is “If one does not both believe and is baptized, then one isn’t saved”, and logic rules mean both aren’t necessarily true. In fact, we know that it isn’t true because of John 3:16 (“if one believes, one has eternal life”) and the thief on the cross (no ceremonial baptism). It’s also worth noting that in the second half, the only condition to being “condemned” (guilty) is “to not believe”.
Hello, everyone, I have questions regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit…
To keep the discussion focused, I’m only going to publish questions about water baptism. You’re welcome to post questions about other subjects on E2R’s Facebook page.
Really enjoyed this article. You’ve made Water baptism so easy for everyone to understand and easy to respond to.
Only the baptism with the holy spirit, the baptism that cleans the inside is needed. We need it more than ever now. Because Jesus promised that a greater baptism would follow John water baptism. A baptism with spiritual fire and that was here on the day of Pentecost. This was the first real baptism with spirit and fire and gave them the power to witness. Without this baptism the work of Jesus was not complete and He told his disciples so.
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
After this baptism Peter preached the first sermon and many were saved. The disciple were no longer fear ridden and when out with boldness because of the power of the Pnuema Hagion, the gift that was poured out, the holy spirit. They went out in the book of Acts and spread the Gospel of Grace.
Paul can you help explain this verse? I struggle a bit to fully understand it. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 3:21. Is the teaching of baptism for salvation considered a false gospel?
As it happens, I have just finished a 20-page study note on baptism as well as an article entitled, “What is the baptism that saves?“
I feel like I’m the only Christian in the world who’s extremely hesitant to be water baptized. To me it reminds me too much of the old practice of a newly-married couple hanging out the wedding night bed-sheets to prove the bride was a virgin. It’s a very, very personal thing that I don’t exactly want to be put on display for everyone to see, never mind that all of my family are Christians and I’d be surrounded by Christians on the occasion.
All the ordinance of baptism is for, is an outward show, that there was an inward change! So, no need for hesitating if you had that “inward change”, but don’t think for a moment it can save or cleanse, only faith in the blood of the Lamb can do such, as this well written piece from Paul E. informs!
Notice what Philip asked the Eunuch, after he had “preached unto him Jesus” and he wanted to be baptized; “If you believe with all your heart, you may And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.“ Acts 8:35 and 37. For “you shall be saved”, only “if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead..”, Romans 10:9. This the Eunuch did and he was saved. But, by providence, they were near water, even though in a desert place, there in “Gaza, which is desert”, verse 26.
Then the example that proves baptism should be done; “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he (Peter) commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Talking about the first Gentile (like us) to get baptized (Acts 10:47,48), “after” believing (Romans 10:9).