A Compilation of messages that explain Bible verses on this topic.
THE COVENANT OF WATER BAPTISM
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.” For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection - Romans 6:4-5
By sincere faith we receive a new birth in Jesus Christ and those of us who were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, have been "buried with Jesus." The above verses are saying that our old self, our past actions and sins died and “lost their hold” over us, when we have been immersed into the baptism’s water, and we have raised up, clean and righteous. Could baptismal water have so much power? Water baptism without a sincere faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God cannot and will not save anyone. Only faith in Jesus followed by the baptism saves us. The Lord says that “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16a). True baptism, as the Lord commands us to do, is the symbol of dying to self and being raised clean to live the sincere, new life in Jesus as we truly repented and give ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
It is a fact that if we sincerely asked Jesus to be our Lord, we died with Him in the water baptism. And if we truly died with Him, we were also resurrected by the same power who resurrected Him, the Holy Spirit. We are alive in Christ and we can say as Paul said: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
WATER BAPTISM IS A COMMAND NOT A RECOMMENDATION
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
What is the Gospel? The original Greek term means the "Good news," about salvation, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In the four Gospels, written by the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we read about the life of the Son of God, beginning with His incarnation and continuing with His ministry and life lived in total obedience to Father God that ended with fulfilling the plan of salvation for mankind. Jesus Christ chose to live as a man, being the perfect model to follow, without sin. The core essence of the Gospel is contained in three biblical and historical proven facts: the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
No one can be saved and forgiven of sin without following the steps that Jesus commanded: to hear the Gospel, believe it and then to be baptized. If a person is baptized without believing the Gospel, he will enter into the baptismal water as a dry sinner and will only come out as a wet sinner! Nothing will have changed. This sounds harsh, but it is true. Baptism without faith in Christ, does not accomplish anything for the one who receives it.
There are no bible verses anywhere that support the idea that a sinner can be saved without believing and being baptized. The thief on the cross next to Jesus, was not able ask the Roman soldiers to get him down from the cross to be baptized... But those of us who can, and do not heed this important command, have no excuses.
Improper baptism does not save anyone. The baptism of a small child or of a person that has not heard, believed and received the Gospel, without repenting of sin and sincerely choosing to live for Jesus, is not a baptism unto salvation. In other words, the fact that my parents took me to a priest to baptize me, when I was only a few months old and had no idea what was happening to me, could not help my salvation. I received the true baptism when I heard, believed and received the Gospel, following the steps that Jesus commanded and I chose with all my heart to fulfill this covenant.
AFTER ONE RECEIVES JESUS, THE NEXT STEP IS TO BE BAPTIZED
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Lord says that disciples have to be baptized also. If baptism is not an important step for salvation, Jesus would not command us to do it. The Lord even commands it previous to discipleship, as the next step after the person who hears the Gospel, believes that Jesus is the Son of God and accepts Him as their Lord and Savior, unlike many today who will not baptize a new convert until after weeks or months of discipleship.
Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them...
Acts 8:35-38 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
It was just a matter of a few hours since Philip started sharing about Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch, when he saw water and asked to be baptized. For sure Philip included the need of the water baptism in his preaching about Jesus, because that would have been the only way for the eunuch to know about it. Philip told him: ”If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch believed, was born-again and baptized, then “he went on his way rejoicing” as we read in the next verse, Acts 8:39. There was no waiting time or courses required!
All the baptisms in the New Testament, took place right after conversion and then those that were baptized, were taught how to live their new lives with Jesus. There are no verses found mentioning the necessity of a certain period of time passing between believing the Gospel and being baptized or that new believers had to take discipleship courses before being baptized (Acts 8:12, 8:35-38, 10:42-48, 16:13-15, 16:33, 18:8, 19:4-6, 22:1-14). If you would like, you may read more of the verses here: “Water Baptism – Bible Verses.”
THE BAPTISM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matei 28:19)
Jesus gave us a clear command, for those who believe the Good News of the Gospel, to repent and be baptized in “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It is true that in the book of Acts, the Christian baptism is mentioned as being done only in the name of Jesus, but Jesus did not come to fulfill His own will, but the Father God's will, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Some theologians are saying that the Apostle Luke mentioned only Jesus' name, because He was the Savior and through Him the Gentiles could come to God; others say that those who were baptized in the book of Acts, were Jews that were already believing in God the Father and the Holy Spirit, so now they were making a covenant as they were then becoming believers upon Jesus Christ, as savior and Son of God. There are so many opinions on this matter, but one thing is for sure, Jesus gave us a clear command and what Jesus said is the most important of all, as He is the son of God and God also.
If the water baptism would not be so important for every Christian, the devil would not try as much as he does to turn people against it. There is special joy, peace and security that follow the covenant by water baptism, that cannot come from any other source. If you have not yet made a covenant with the Lord by water baptism, I encourage you to do so, and you will become full members of God's family, co-heirs with His Son (Hebrews 11: 9) and so much more! What else could we want?
THROUGH BAPTISM WE IDENTIFY WITH JESUS’ SACRIFICE
... and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:10-14)
Water baptism is actually a physical act through which we identify with what the Bible says that Jesus did for us. The symbolism involved in our baptism is amazing to consider. The impact of the physical implication of following the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, step by step, even if it is just symbolic, helps us to get a deeper understanding of what Jesus did for us. This also causes the sacrifice of Jesus' death and resurrection, and its benefits, to become very real and personal. It is crucial to understand that our "old lifestyle died” when sinning was not a big deal and we used to do whatever we wanted, because we were our own lords. That “carnal nature” “died” in the baptismal water, was “buried” at the bottom of the water and we were “raised up” from the water with the “new spiritual nature.” This results in us searching for God's will and following the direction of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus is now our Lord and not us. But because God respects our free will (He created us that way), He does not force us to change, but it is up to us to die to our old selves and do what Jesus says to do in Luke 9:23b: “... If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” What is Jesus actually saying here? He says that in order to follow Him, we have to renounce being our own lords and we must take up our crosses daily (crucifying our carnal nature every day). Being a Christian is not a one-time decision.
The Law given to the Jewish people through Moses, requires the circumcision of male babies, but the new covenant in Jesus Christ requires the death of the whole carnal nature for all men and women, not just the removal of a small amount of male tissue. Only by "putting to death" our carnal nature and its burial, can we be resurrected by the same Spirit that resurrected Jesus from death. Only in this way, can we be born-again to live a new life, through faith in Jesus Christ. Through the death of the carnal nature, we step out from under the ownership of sin and enter into true life! Jesus fulfilled the law, by His perfect and complete sacrifice, once and for all. John the Baptist said that Jesus is: “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Through His crucifixion, He canceled our sins and our penalty on the cross, “the charge of our legal indebtedness" which stood against us and condemned us. He took our place, fulfilled what was needed for those who will receive Him. Since Jesus was resurrected and ascended unto heaven, we now live under the New Covenant and not under the Old Law. The Son of God never sinned, He paid the full price for our sins, dying in our place and God the Father, resurrected Him so He is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places (Hebrews 12:2). You might say that the Pharisees criticized Jesus many times for not keeping the law. But the Pharisees were referring to their law, “Talmud” which is a Pharisaical, man-made instructional book about how to keep the Law (the “Torah”or “Pentateuch” - the first five books of the Bible). It was written by men and not inspired by God as the Christian Bible is. Of course Jesus was not here to obey men as He came to fulfill His Father's will.
WATER BAPTISM IS THE PLEDGE OF A CLEAR CONSCIENCE
When the great patience of God was waiting in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons [Noah’s family], were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that [rescue through the flood], baptism [which is an expression of a believer’s new life in Christ] now saves you, not by removing dirt from the body, but by an appeal to God for a good (clear) conscience, [demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ... (1 Peter 3:20b-21 - AMP)
The Apostle Paul explains that baptism does not wash away dirt from the physical body, instead it is the proof of a pure heart and mind, that became pure after the person's sins were cleansed in the blood of Jesus, after he sincerely repented and asked God for forgiveness. The believer now enters into a new life, being righteous because of Jesus' righteousness, not of their own.
God was very patient until Noah finished building the ark (which according to many theologians over time, is estimated to be about 50 to 75 years), before pouring out the flood waters that covered the earth completely, drowning all the iniquity and all those who were practicing it. God saved only eight righteous souls from the flood water. Historians estimate that there were about two million people living on earth at the time. The water that buried the sinners together with their sinful acts is the same water from which Noah and His family were saved. This was actually a pre-figuration of the Christian baptism.
The new birth is not a second biological birth. We cannot go back into our mother's wombs to be reborn, but we are reborn in the spirit. The baptismal water is also symbolic of the womb's “water” (the amniotic fluid). As we believed and received the Word of the Gospel's seed, we are born-again by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Word that became flesh and came to live among us and through Him we enter into a new life. John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
After we are born-again, we are no longer from Adam's seed, but we are the children of God. Our first birth was in sin, because Adam, the first man, did sin and we all inherited his sinful nature. The new birth, comes from the second Adam, who is Jesus, and who is totally holy and righteous. When truly born-again, we inherit His nature (“And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” - 1 Corinthians 15:45). It is up to us to realize and to know that once we are born-again, we are no longer slaves to sin. We are born to live a new, pure life, finally being able to become what God intended for us to be in the first place, when He created mankind in His own image. We turned our hearts towards Him, because He first loved us and we do not want to continue living in sin, as we become the righteousness of God in Christ (“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21 ). We are not our own anymore, Jesus paid the highest price to redeem us ("Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Inside of us, we have the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” - Romans 8:11). These bible verses show us, that it is up to us to know what we have in Christ and to fight against sin, choosing to do what is right and pleasing to God.
WE CRUCIFIED OUR CARNAL NATURE, THROUGH WATER BAPTISM
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 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 of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (Romans 6:3-12)
Biblical water baptism is not about becoming members of a certain church or denomination. We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and as Paul says, we are all part of the same body, which is the body of Christ, the universal church with Jesus as its head. In other words, through water baptism we belong to Christ and live for Him, to the glory of God who becomes our Father.
When entering into the baptismal water, by faith in Christ, we surrender fully to Him, declaring that our old carnal nature is dead and that we no longer want to live led by the lusts of our flesh, because the Holy Spirit through the truth of the Gospel, changed our hearts, desires and purpose. Our born-again spirits no longer have the old desires, but we now want to please God. This is the new birth. We are dead to sin and alive for Christ. The stepping out of the water that symbolizes new life, just as the mother's “water breaks” (and the baby leaves its intrauterine life) and the child is born, coming into a whole new life.
We make a covenant through the water baptism with God and as a result we no longer live for ourselves, but we live for Jesus Christ who redeemed us with the price of His own life. We renounce all our rights, except the right to become like Him.
The true liberty comes from the desire to live just for the One who died in my place and in your place. Only after we understand how much Jesus loves us, that He died for us to wash us clean with His blood, we will be able to fully renounce our past and start a new life, free of sin, righteous and made whole by the Holy Spirit and being truly happy and free!