I believe that a soul, if they have truly repented of their sins and come to faith in Christ for salvation, in compliance with biblical teaching, must be baptized as a testimony of their salvation. I do not believe that baptism is a source or means of salvation, but that baptism instead is a testimony of so great salvation that God has wrought in the life of an individual. Now, there has been a lot of controversy over the years as to methodology of baptism, and this article will not walk into that controversy. Instead, whether it is in the triune formula or in the Jesus name formula, when a soul is baptized, that soul is coming into a depth of spiritual growth and relationship with God that many today are being robbed of.
And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, [even] to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed (testified) and admonished (exhorted) with much more continuous speaking and warned (reproved, advised, encouraged) them, saying, Be saved from this crooked (perverse, wicked, unjust) generation. Therefore those who accepted and welcomed his message were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls. (Acts 2:38-41 AMP)
On the Day of Pentecost, when Peter stood for the first time and preached the Gospel message, the peoples’ hearts were cut spiritually, revealing their spiritual condition. They cried out in desperation about what to do. They did not know. They stood guilty of the blood of Christ, and had to make things right. Peter told them three things: 1) to repent of their sins and turn to Christ alone for their salvation, 2) to be baptized because of the forgiveness of their sins that they had received, and 3) receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The best way to sum these up is as this: a call, a command, and a promise. Yes, despite what so many teach today, baptism is indeed a commandment for all biblical believers to be obedient to.
Now, that right there would be enough for any believer to take part in. The knowledge that the Bible repeats the commandment to be baptized would be more than sufficient for any convert to be obedient. But, as with all things, God goes further and attached further blessings and promises to the commandment of water baptism, and these blessings and promises are such wonders that many believers have been robbed of.
WHAT SHALL we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow? Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life. For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God]. We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men]. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. (Romans 6:1-9 AMP)
The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans, spoke wondrously of the spiritual blessings of water baptism. He identifies water baptism as our taking part in the death and resurrection of Christ. we are buried with Christ in the waters of baptism, and are raised to newness of life as Christ was also raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. We are identifying with the fact that we have been made dead to sin, dead to the world, dead to flesh, and dead to each and every thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God and His Word. We are identifying with what Christ has done for us and in us, making us dead to the things which nailed Christ to the Cross, our sins and our transgressions, every thought, word, and deed that is contrary to the commandments of God.
I see so many believers in the world today struggling with their sin. They have no idea that when they enter the waters of baptism, that God has ordained this to be a weapon in their spiritual arsenal against the sin that so many deal with. We are taking the identity of Christ’s finished work. We are not earning or meriting the finished work of Christ’s application on our lives, but instead are identifying with that work. And, as we come out of the waters, we are also testifying to the finished work, that as Christ came out of the tomb victorious over sin and death, so we also partake in Christ’s victory. we are testifying to the fact that we have been made partakers of Christ’s finished work of death, burial, and resurrection to newness of life, and victory over sin, death, Hell, and the grave.
For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power]. In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). [Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead. And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, (Colossians 2:9-13 AMP)
The waters of baptism not only testify to our taking part of the finished work of Christ, but also has another spiritual aspect, one that is seldom discussed from behind the pulpit. This aspect is intricately entwined with the first point above, of our testifying to taking part in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. When we are baptized, we are signing our portion of the covenant that we have entered into through and in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are spiritually circumcised without hands, performed and finished through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, as we are baptized in the authority of the name of Jesus Christ.
Our baptism is, in this aspect, the signing of our part of the New Covenant. We are publicly and openly acknowledging that we have come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins and trusting in Him alone for our salvation. We are acknowledging with an open and faithful heart that Christ is our Lord, and is he has stripped off the corruptness and carnal nature of our old lives, and have been made new creatures in Him. This beautiful and wonderful ordinance of the church is such a powerful testimony of the finished work of Christ that we have accepted into our lives. It’s a testimony of the fact that we have went from darkness to light, from lost to saint, from outside of Christ to accepted in the beloved. It’s also a testimony of what Christ has done in us, circumcising our heart of the foreskin of sin and flesh, and having given us a brand-new heart in Him.
I could continue on for days and weeks discussing the importance of why believers should be baptized. This could be turned into a book almost concerning this entire issue. However, due to the sake of time and not wanting to retire you with a long and intensive study, let me just admonish you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to obedient to the commandment given in Scripture for every believer to be baptized. Take the time to strengthen yourself in your faith in Christ, and be obedient to the Word of God, and be baptized today.