While baptism is not essential for you to be saved and to inherit internal life, it is powerful and immensely empowering to the child of God because it is a public declaration to Satan and demons that your sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ, that you are identifying with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and you are now a child of God. It also helps you to fulfil all righteousness.
Notice the following: a) The Lord Jesus Christ Himself came to the river Jordan to be baptized by John. Matthew 3:13-15:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to Him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then He allowed Him.
b) The word baptize comes from Greek baptizein to immerse, to bathe or wash clean. It is a symbolic outward and public expression of the washing away of our sins by the blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In Acts 22:16 when Saul of Tarsus was baptized we read:
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptised, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 6:11 we read of how the sinful past of every believer and how the blood of Jesus forgave us and washed away our sin. Baptism is a symbolic expression of that.
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
It is also a symbolic outward and public expression of dying with Jesus Christ, you being buried together with Him and then rising from the dead, leaving in the grave the old habits, your former life, your former failures and entering a new life in Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:3-8, 11
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died in with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Colossians 2:12 reads: Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
c) You should be baptised after you have believed on the Lord Jesus and called on His name. Mark 16:16 reads: He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but He who does not believe will be condemned.
Earlier we saw how Paul the apostle was baptized after conversion, in Acts 10 in the house of Cornelius, believers were baptized after they heard the word and believed. In Acts 16:33, the Philippian jailor believed and was baptized.
And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
See also Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, repent and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus…” and Acts 2:41 “Then those who gladly received the word were baptised….”
d) The symbolic meaning of baptism is best fulfilled and demonstrated when baptism is done by total and complete immersion under water.
The Lord Jesus Christ was baptised at the river Jordan, the scriptures record that “Jesus came up immediately from the water”. Matthew 3:16. Clearly He went into the water and the assumption would be that he was immersed and completely covered with water.
In Acts 8 we read a story of how Philip the deacon, baptised an Ethiopian eunuch.
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptised him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:38-39
Here both Philip and the eunuch went into the water and came up out of the water. They did not need to go into the water if the intention would have been to sprinkle him with water on the forehead. I’m certain the eunuch would have had some drinking water with him in the chariot. The assumption would be that he was completely covered under water.
You are commanded to be baptized after you have believed in Jesus Christ
Baptism makes you fulfil all righteousness
Baptism symbolises the washing away of your sins
Baptism symbolises your dying together and rising from the dead with Jesus Christ
Baptism symbolises the dying of your old self, old habits, old ways of life.
Baptism symbolises a new beginning, a new way of life for you child of God.
The symbolism is best realised when you are baptised done by complete immersion under water.