The Bible teaches that every follower of Jesus Christ should be baptized in water. Jesus' last recorded words before he ascended into heaven were:
Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark.16:15,16)
Here we see that Jesus expected people to be baptized upon believing in him. In fact it is the first command to a new Christian.
He then said: Go ye therefore and teach (disciple) all nations BAPTIZING THEM in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19,20)
When a person believes the gospel, he is saved, he receives eternal Life. The next stage is to become a disciple (a learner and follower of Jesus). This involves reading the Bible and putting it into practice. It also means to be identified with Christ, to be known as a Christian and not be ashamed of it.
Baptism in water is the first step of obedience in this Christian life.
Jesus commands it and there is a blessing for us when we obey.
In fact baptism should be a joy for a true Christian because it is a great opportunity to publically declare your faith in and allegiance to the Lord Jesus.
The early Christians practiced Water Baptism. It was normal for new believers to be baptized. (Read: Acts 2:38,41; Acts 8:12,13, 36-39; Acts 9:18; Acts 10:47,48; Acts 16:30-34; Acts 19:4-6).
The word 'baptism' means to 'immerse', to 'dip'. It involves dipping an object into an element and bringing it out again. After the baptism the object is permanently changed. For example, -you would dip (baptize) a white garment into red dye. It becomes 'one' with the dye and hence is permanently changed. There are a number of different baptisms in the Bible.
First there is the Baptism into Christ. This happens when you were born again. This is the most important one. The Baptizer is the Holy Spirit. He puts you into Christ. You become 'one' with him. You become a New Creation! You can read about this baptism in I Cor12:13; Gal.3:26-29; Col.2:11-13; Romans.6:3-6; I Peter3:20,21. You were put into Christ by the Holy Spirit,, resulting in a permanent change. You are now identified with him and share his life and inheritance. There are many scriptures that include the.phrase 'In Christ', 'In Him', 'In Whom' which describe the result of this baptism. You now belong to him. In particular you were identified with his death, burial and resurrection. You have died with him, you were buried with him and you were raisedwith him into new life. In Christ now you share his victorious life.
Second, there is the Baptism into water.
This takes place after the Baptism into Christ. It is an outward demonstration or sign of what has already taken place within. Through this baptism you publically confess and witness to the fact that you are in Christ, that you belong to him. This bold confession of your faith releases God's blessing in your life.
Therefore Baby Baptism is not Biblical. To dedicate a baby to God is good and to christen him by sprinkling him with water is fine but it is not what the Bible calls BAPTISM. Always in scripture people: BELIEVE and then are BAPTISED. You must be old enough to first believe and then you can confess your faith in Baptism. To be baptised while unsaved is a lie. The danger of infant baptism is that it produces nominal christians who think they are saved because they've been baptised as a baby, but they have never come to Christ themselves. If you think you were baptised as a baby then the joy of being baptised as a believer is stolen from you. There is no basis in the new Testament for infant baptism.
It is clear (1) from the meaning of the word BAPTISM , and (2) the fact that it is a picture of our Baptism into Christ (his death, burial and resurrection) that Biblical Baptism is by FULL IMMERSION. This is confirmed when you look at how Jesus' baptism (he came up out of the water) and how they baptised in Acts.
When you go down into the water you declare that you have died with Christ, that your old life is buried. When you are raised out of the water, you are declaring that you have been raised up by the power of God into a new life. Symbolically baptism in water shows that you have died, were buried and have risen again with Christ. You now walk in a new life made possible by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ.
Once you have publically declared your faith like this you enter a new realm of your spiritual life. Salvation is manifestated more in your life (Mark 16:16). Baptism is a confession of faith which releases salvation (wholeness and peace) into your life (Romans 10:10). Baptism is the entrance or initiation into discipleship. You are now not just a Christian but you are a disciple. You have fulfilled the first command to a new Christian. It is your first act of obedience to Christ. You have committed yourself to following and obeying him in the power of your new life. In baptism you have sealed your commitment to Christ and now for the rest of your life you want to be a disciple, learning his teaching and walking in his Spirit. Baptism is the entrance into the life of discipleship. It means a new start, a new life of commitment to the Lord. By being baptized you are saying that: "I have decided to follow Jesus."