Please first read:
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This article is one of the “4 steps on the path of discipleship”, see overview:
Then there is a fourth point. This fourth step is water baptism. The submersion in the water. It symbolizes that you gave your life to Jesus and now everything has become new. That your old self was crucified, you died with him spiritually and then rose again with him! It represents death and resurrection.
Immersion is the correct baptism in water, and the first Christians did it that way too. Baby baptism or sprinkling with water, on the other hand, is not correct. Maybe you think: “I was baptized as a baby, that has to be enough.” No, please let yourself be baptized correctly and biblically with immersion in water. Just go and see if there are Christians who can baptize you.
In the following you will learn what water baptism is, why you need it and how you can be baptized.
“What is water baptism?”
But first, let’s look at what water baptism is not :
The difference between Spirit baptism and water baptism
The first topic of this 4 Steps on the Path of Discipleship series was Spirit Baptism. Therefore, in this part, we do not just call water baptism “baptism” to distinguish it from Spirit baptism. To briefly explain the difference: Spirit baptism (baptism in the Holy Spirit) is the endowment with the power of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism (immersion in water), on the other hand, is the confession before the physical and spiritual world for the decision for Jesus.
The difference between conversion and water baptism
Spirit baptism and water baptism are not necessary for salvation. You are only saved by your decision for Jesus. With water baptism you then express this decision.
Read more about this in another article on our website: “Is the Surrender Prayer Enough to Be Saved?” (in German)
Now for water baptism as we need it today
After His resurrection, Jesus commissioned the disciples (and thus us) to baptize those who would convert to Him in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 28:19).
Water baptism is a symbolic act and a sign before the physical and spiritual world
Water baptism symbolically expresses that when you gave your life to Jesus, your old life died spiritually with Jesus on the cross and you received a completely new life from Him. Jesus bore your sins on the cross, but also your old sinful nature (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-17). Romans 6:3 (SLT) says:
“Or do you not know that all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into his death?”
Therefore, water baptism is done by immersion in water because it symbolizes death and resurrection.
Water baptism is a commitment to your new life with Jesus
You have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into the dominion of light, into the kingdom of God (cf. Colossians 1:13-14). You have become a king’s child of God. This change of rulership already happened when you converted to Jesus.
In water baptism you express that as a confession. After your conversion to Jesus, water baptism is also a confession before God and man that you have started a new life with Jesus.
“Why do I need water baptism?”
A short summary again:
Why You Need Water Baptism
You need water baptism as a symbolic act that expresses as a sign before the physical and spiritual world that you died and rose again spiritually with Jesus at your conversion.
You need water baptism after your decision for Jesus as a confession before God and the other Christians that you have started a new life with Jesus.
“How can I be baptized?”
Now let’s look at how you can get baptized.
For the sake of clarity, in the following we usually only call it “baptized” for the Christian who is baptized and “baptist” for a Christian who baptizes.
“Do I have to ‘sanctify’ myself before I can be baptized?”
Just as the baptism of the Holy Spirit is given by grace, so it is with water baptism that your decision for Jesus alone is sufficient.
Because we all need the forgiveness of Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross. And we turned to Him because we recognized that we need Him. This is exactly what is meant by “repentance” when Peter said:
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; so you become the giftreceived of the Holy Spirit”
(cf. Acts 2:38 SLT)
“Repent” means to turn to God from the heart. This is an inner realization and heart alignment. This first penance was your conversion! This first penance is enough for God to save us and to dwell in us with His Holy Spirit. The first Christians were baptized immediately after this penance, their conversion. As you can see, people didn’t even wait until people were freed from certain sins, such as addictions. No, choosing Jesus was enough for them to be baptized.
This does not mean that you should continue to sin after conversion and water baptism. We can still sin if we choose to do so of our own free will. But that’s why we should let God change our old sinful actions, thoughts, etc. This can also be called “sanctification” (see Romans 6:19). Jesus Himself is our sanctification (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31). That means we are changed by Him. He changes us through the Holy Spirit (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). This happens in your fellowship with Him (in prayer, in worship, while reading the Bible, etc.), in which you get to know Him better and in which He rubs off on you, so to speak.
If you still sin, you can confess it to Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness. In 1 John 1:19 (SLT) it says:
“But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So “repentance” is also a lifelong process in which you let Jesus change you from glory to glory in His presence (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18).
See also this article: “What does ‘repent’ mean?” (to come)
We will come back to the subject of repentance later, at the end of this 4th step.
“Where can I be baptized?”
In the New Testament we can read how the first Christians were baptized in lakes and rivers. However, it is not the place itself that counts, only that the water is deep enough and suitable for baptism.
So it was with the water baptism of the eunuch, read in Acts 8:26-40. When Philip and the eunuch were discussing Jesus, it is said that they came “to a body of water.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “Behold, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (cf. Acts 8:36). And after Philip explained to him that baptism is only permissible if he believes in Jesus and the eunuch confessed Jesus, Philip then baptized him.
Here are a few other places where you can get baptized: In a bathing lake, in a public swimming pool, in an inflatable pool (e.g. in a paddling pool in the garden), in a bathtub, etc. Some churches also have a self-made baptismal font for immersion in Water.
“How often do I need to be baptized?”
Water baptism is a one-time event (see also Ephesians 4:4-6). We can read that the early Christians were baptized immediately after their decision to follow Jesus, but not that they were baptized more than once. But if you were baptized as a baby or had another baptism, then let yourself be properly baptized again with immersion.
“Can I baptize myself too?”
In the New Testament we read nothing of a Christian baptizing himself. Even Jesus was baptized by another, John the Baptist, as a model (cf. Matthew 3:13-17). So you can only be baptized in water by another Christian.
“Do I have to be officially baptized or is it enough if only the baptizer is present?”
It can be enough if only two Christians are present: the baptizer and the Christian who is baptized by him. An example of this is again Philip and the eunuch (see Acts 8:26-40). If God had wanted other witnesses to be present at water baptism, He could have told Philip. Philip could, for example, have invited the eunuch to join the other Christians. Instead, Philip was caught up to another place by the Holy Spirit immediately after he was baptized, and the eunuch joyfully went on his way alone (cf. Acts 8:39-40).
However, it can still be good if other Christians are present at your water baptism. Then you can share the joy with them.
“Who can baptize?”
In the New Testament we read nothing about the fact that only a Christian who has a certain leadership position (eg as a teacher, shepherd, etc.) is allowed to baptize. Nor does it say that only men and not women should be allowed to baptize. For in Christ there is now neither male nor female, but a new creation, namely as children of God (see Galatians 3:26-28; 2 Corinthians 5:16-17). In Matthew 28:19 (NLT) Jesus says to the disciples:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
This commission is not only aimed at the first disciples, but also at all Christians who have become believers. The mission command in Mark 16:15-16 also applies to all Christians. This also includes the commission to baptize other Christians. This means that every Christian can baptize another person who has converted to Jesus.
“Is there a specific baptismal verse that the baptizer should say during water baptism?”
Jesus told the disciples to baptize those who would come to Him “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (cf. Matthew 28:19). Therefore, when a Christian baptizes another Christian, he can say to him, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“What if I don’t know another Christian who can baptize me?”
If you don’t have any contact with other Christians yet, you can ask a Christian church if they can baptize you there. More on this in the section “How do I find fellowship with other Christians?” in the article “Fellowship”.
“With water baptism, am I joining a Christian community?”
When a person converts to Jesus, then as a child of God they belong to the heavenly family. He then belongs to the body of Christ, of which he has become a member.
The first Christians did not hesitate for long about water baptism after conversion. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 (SLT) it says :
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body,whether we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and we have all been watered into one spirit.”
This does not mean a single church, but the body of Christ. For all believers worldwide are referred to as the body of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:7-16). See also the section “The Body of Christ” in the article “Fellowship”.
Nevertheless, it is right to also seek fellowship with other Christians.
In some churches it is common for the baptized person to be asked if they would like to join the community after water baptism. This decision should be left to the believer himself and not forced upon him. God can show you in which community you should meet with other Christians. See also the section “How do I find fellowship with other Christians?” in the article “Fellowship”.
“Can you also baptize children?”
As we can read in the New Testament, people are not baptized until they have made a decision for Jesus. This is also made clear in Philip’s statement to the eunuch: “If you believe with all your heart, it is lawful!” (See Acts 8:36-37 SLT) Baby baptism is therefore not correct, since babies cannot yet express a decision for Jesus. Older children can already express their free will. It is not possible to say in general terms “from what age” a child may be baptized. But if a child – no matter what age – decides for Jesus, then it can also be baptized.
Instead of baptizing babies, they should be blessed. An example of this is Jesus when people brought children to Him for blessing and prayer, which He was happy to do (cf. Matthew 19:13-15). With such a blessing of children one can say good things from God over the child and pray for health, growth etc.
By the way, on the children ‘s page you will find several articles about and for children and faith.
“Do I need any preparation before water baptism?”
Preparation before water baptism (apart from your conversion) is not absolutely necessary. As we can read in the New Testament, the first Christians were baptized immediately after their decision for Jesus. The eunuch had no further preparation either, save his conversion and his confession of Jesus before Philip. The eunuch also knew that he needed water baptism. These “conditions” are quite sufficient for a person to be baptized.
So it is enough if the Christians who want to be baptized get an explanation of what water baptism is and how it will take place. Of course they should also be asked if they have made a clear decision for Jesus. Some may want to be baptized for other reasons. Maybe because they believe that they will only be saved through water baptism, or maybe because they want to become a member of the community through water baptism, or for some other reason. This can then also be explained in the preparation that only the decision for Jesus is necessary.
However, further preparation does not have to be fundamentally wrong. It can be helpful if you discuss some things with the Baptist beforehand. Here some examples:
What to do before water baptism
Are you afraid of the water, e.g. of deeper water or because you don’t swim? Don’t let that fear keep you from getting baptized. Discuss this openly with the Baptist or with other Christians and pray together. You can overcome this fear with Jesus! Maybe your water baptism is the chance to conquer your fear of water.
There is also the possibility that you can be baptized in shallow water, for example in an inflatable swimming pool or in a bathtub. And if you tell the Christians who are present at your water baptism about your fear beforehand, then that can also be a relief for you. The Baptist can also adjust to this by, for example, only holding you under water for a very short time.
You can also discuss with the Baptist beforehand how long you want to stay under water. Don’t worry, water baptism is effective even if you’ve only been underwater for a short time. However, it can be good not just to stay under water for a short time, but for several seconds. Because in that moment under water you can internalize again that your old self died with Jesus. And when you get out of the water again, you can internalize that you have risen again with Jesus.
It doesn’t have to be, but there may be times when you experience false doubts or distractions in the time leading up to water baptism. These can be spiritual attacks. Such attacks can occur, as can many other steps on the path of discipleship. When you take a step in faith, it’s like entering a new level. And the enemy, Satan, doesn’t want us to grow spiritually.
The obstacles can be, for example, that you suddenly have to go to your job on the day you are to be baptized. Or that as a woman you get your period on that day of all days. Even such obstacles can have solutions. Also ask God how He sees the situation and if there is a possibility that you can still get baptized that day. If there is no other way and you have to postpone the water baptism, then it is best not to delay the appointment too long.
This shouldn’t discourage you, but encourage you that you’re on the right track. Such challenges, if they arise, are normal. But you can overcome them!
What you can do after water baptism
As we mentioned earlier, “repentance” is a process. Your “new man” (your spirit) is born anew at conversion by the Holy Spirit. But you can decide whether you still want to live in the “old man” (in sinful actions, thinking, etc.). You have become His king’s child. And you still are, even if you have sinned. But Jesus wants to help you to live as His king’s child.
In another article on our website you can read more about your identity in Jesus: “From beggar’s child to king’s child! – About your new (true) identity in Jesus” (To come)
You can also find information about sanctification and healing on our other website Prophetenschule.org under Inner (mental) healing and healing in general (in German). And you can also find further articles in audio and text form. “Sanctification” means above all inner (spiritual) healing that takes place in the encounter with Jesus. You also recognize your new identity in Him.
It is good if you let go of old things after water baptism. Practically speaking, you can do it like this:
Hold yourself to God (in prayer, worship, etc.) and ask Him what old things you should let go of. It can be old habits. There may also be things that are not good for you that you should throw away (see Acts 19:19). Let him show you personally. He wants to give you something better instead! And when you look at the new, it fills your mind with so much joy that you don’t even want the old anymore.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone; behold, all things have become new!”
(2 Corinthians 5:7 SLT)
More articles on water baptism:
- Spirit Baptism
(Supplementary to the section on the difference between water baptism and Spirit baptism. Water baptism is baptism in water and Spirit baptism is baptism in the Holy Spirit.)
(Additional to the section on being baptized by another Christian.)
- “Is the surrender prayer enough to be saved?” (in German)
(There is also a short section on the subject of water baptism. About the fact that it is not water baptism that saves you, but the surrender of your life to Jesus.)
- “What does ‘repent’ mean?” (To come — also linked in the article above)
- ”From beggar’s child to king’s child! – About your new (true) identity in Jesus”
(To come. In addition to the section about the “old man” and the “new man”. About your new identity, which you received when you surrendered your life to Jesus.)
- Inner (spiritual) healing and healing in general (in German)
(supplementary to the topic of identity and sanctification. “Sanctification” means above all inner (spiritual) healing that happens in the encounter with Jesus.
From our other website Prophetenschule.org, with many articles on the topic of healing in audio and text form.)
- Children’s Page
(As a supplement to the section about children not being baptized unless they have already made a decision for Jesus. On the Children’s Page you will find several articles about and for children and faith.)
This article is one of the “4 steps on the path of discipleship”, see overview:
You can also find many other articles on the topic of discipleship/ following after Jesus here: