By Greg Holt
If you have not read Water Baptism and Salvation: you can find it here.
What exactly is baptism anyway? Lets look at what the bible has to say about it.
First I want to look at baptism pre-Jesus. John the Baptist was obviously baptizing before the disciples of Jesus were doing it. There is a difference however between the baptism of John the Baptist, and the baptism of Christ. When John baptized, he did so with water, but his baptism (the baptism of repentance), was looking forward to the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
“Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Luke 3:2-3 (AKJV)
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, repentance means to turn away from, to change what we are doing and to move in a new direction. To repent is to truly be sorry for what we have done wrong, and then turn from that behavior, that action, and change our ways. John’s baptism then was symbolic of repenting before God and turning from sin along with a commitment to God – a commitment to live a life that is not any longer ruled by sin; a life that is defined by good works, truth, and obedience to God.
“Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance…” Luke 3:8
John also tells us that his baptism was not the same as the one to come:
“John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Luke 3:16
What exactly is the baptism of Jesus about as compared to John’s baptism? Yes John was the one who baptized Jesus (Luke 3:21) but Jesus did not need the baptism of repentance, as Jesus never sinned. The Bible tells us that Jesus was baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Matthew 3:15
What exactly that verse means, does not matter in this context, what does matter is that Jesus stated His reason for being baptized and it can’t be the same as ours.
The baptism of redemption (baptism in the name of Christ) is very different from the baptism of John the Baptist; the baptism of redemption is actually rather complex in nature.
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Much happens in baptism. The picture we have is of sinking into the water, and then rising up out of it. Immersion in the water is symbolic of our sinful nature, “the old man” being crucified with Christ. Our sinful self, our fleshly being is buried with Christ in the grave. Our sinful nature, the one we have thus far been a slave to; that we had to obey without a choice – the power of that sinful nature is now forever broken. We are no longer required to obey our sinful nature, but are free to walk in the spirit.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
As we are raised up out of the water, so we are born again – sin no longer has any command over us. Again, the water and the baptism are but symbols of what is happening or has already happened. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we are raised from our previous state of being spiritually dead, and are reborn into a new existence – we are now forever more spiritually alive through Jesus Christ. Note what is said in Romans 6:4 – we also should walk in newness of life. This is our spiritual birth, for some, this is their real birthday.
Romans 6:5-6 is even further conformation of this, it reads as follows; “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
So in Jesus, our actual nature is changed. We are no longer slaves to sin; we are free to walk in the spirit instead. Our flesh, or our Adamic nature no longer rules us; Christ has given us control over our “flesh” through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What about the type of baptism? We see in the bible that when people were baptized, including Jesus, it was by water immersion:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.
Note the wording of the above verse, “went up straightway out of the water,” which makes a very strong case for being immersed in the water. I believe immersion is the way to go. However, that being said, if another form of baptism is used such as sprinkling with water, the main thing is being baptized, and not the way a person is baptized. Remember – baptism is an important “symbol” of what has occurred internally through your new relationship with Jesus.
“Baptism: the outward expression of the inward transaction.”
Next time we will look at when we should be baptized.
About the author: Greg is a strong believer in Jesus Christ and is also a political analyst, author, and is the Editor-in-Chief for the National War Council. By day he is a self-employed non-emergency medical transport driver, as well as being an author and blogger. His articles are first published on Inspirational Christian Blogs, and I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ! His articles have been widely published on many well-known conservative websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so leaving all links intact and crediting the author and the website that the article appeared on.
Greg is the author of the newly released book: Spiritual Darkness is Destroying America and the Church