A Little Guide to Baptism

words by Chris Bond

As we read through the New Testament we see people being transformed by Jesus. People have continued to be transformed by Jesus all over the world ever since.

Being re-born!

As we read through the New Testament we see people being transformed by Jesus. People have continued to be transformed by Jesus all over the world ever since. You’re probably reading this because you’ve had some experience of Jesus yourself.

We see in the New Testament that there were several defining events in people becoming Christians. The change is so significant that it is described as being ‘born again’ – making a whole new start with a different way of living.

Looking through all of the different passages where people become Christians, this ‘re-birth’ generally includes four things:

  • Repentance – turning from our old way of living and living according to God’s design
  • Believing in Jesus being the Son of God, His death and His resurrection and speaking that belief out loud in front of others
  • Baptism – being plunged into water
  • Receiving the Holy Spirit

Occasionally it’s not possible to have all of these four components (as with the thief on the cross next to Jesus*) but most of have time to enjoy them all.

This little pamphlet focuses on baptism, giving some background, answering some questions, and pointing you towards some specific bible passages.

What is baptism?

The Greek word baptizō from which we have our word baptism means to plunge, fully immerse, or dunk. So baptism is a plunging into water – perhaps a swimming pool, a river or even a fish pond – wherever there is enough water! Jesus was baptised in the river Jordon and rivers were the normal place in bible times. Today we often use a baptismal pool inside churches.

Baptism is burial

In the act of being plunged into the water our old life is going down into the grave and we rise out of the water, just as Jesus rose out of the grave, as a new person free from our old life.

3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Romans 6.3-4

Baptism is washing

The bible also describes baptism as washing away our sins.

16 What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.’ Acts 22.16

So, baptism is a death to our old life and a rebirth into our new life in Jesus. The wrongs of our past are washed from us and buried. The act of baptism is not just symbolic of a change that has happened within us. Something happens spiritually. The verses above do not refer to baptism as a symbolic act but as an actual death, an actual raising from the dead and as the act of having our sins washed away. There’s no magic here though and the baptism needs repentance and belief to accompany it.

Should I be baptised?

If you have repented of your sins (all the things you have done where you have not perfectly loved God, loved others and loved yourself), and have confessed your belief in Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection, then you are ready to be baptised.

In the bible we read that people were baptised as soon as they repented and believed in Jesus. The Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8.26-) was baptised as soon as he saw some suitable water. In Acts 2, three thousand people believed in Jesus when they heard Peter preach and they were baptised that same day.

So, you don’t need to wait for any special leading from the Holy Spirit for the right time to get baptised. If you have believed and repented, do it as soon as you can!

Here are some great accounts of people becoming Christians and being baptised in the New Testament:

  • The account of the Ethiopian eunuch: Acts 8.26-39
  • The conversion of Paul (Saul): Acts 9.1-19
  • The conversion of the jailer: Acts 16.22-34

If you have any further questions and/or would like to be baptised, please speak to one of the pastors.

Further Reading

“The Normal Christian Birth” by David Pawson. This is a fantastic book describing the four components of being born again

“Systematic Theology” by Wayne Grudem. This is a great read if you’d like to get under the bonnet and check out all of the scriptures in detail. Chapter 49 is on Baptism. It’s a good book to have on your shelf if you like to really research subjects like this in depth.

*Jesus was crucified alongside a thief who was also being crucified. The thief said “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus  replied “Today you will be with me in paradise, “ showing that his faith alone was sufficient! (Luke 23.42-43)