What is water baptism?
The apostle Peter tells us there is a saving quality about water baptism, as the showing forth a good conscience toward God:
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1Peter 3:21).
As Believers, it is important that we have a good conscience toward God as our first priority, for it is through Messiah Yahushua that we are kept in Father’s peace, and in His blessing:
… the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Having the peace of God, and having a good conscience, are some of the initial fruits of being water baptized. So let’s look to see what water baptism is.
Water Baptism is For Believers
In the New Testament we see that Believers are baptized immediately after they believe in Messiah Yahushua [Jesus]. Being water baptized is a basic, foundational, and essential step for Believers in Yahushua. Believers need to be water baptized very soon after making a conscious decision to receive Yahushua as their Saviour. If you are not sure if you have received Yahushua as your Saviour, please see this brief article on salvation: Good News.
Water Baptism — An Outward Declaration
Water baptism is an action taken very soon after a person has received Yahushua as his Saviour and Lord [Master]. Water baptism is an open, and often public, opportunity for a Believer to openly declare what has happened within. That is, water baptism is the outward expression of a person’s conscious, personal decision to accept Yahushua Messiah’s sacrifice on their behalf.
Water baptism is the outward declaration of having become inwardly Born-Again — of having become a new creature in Messiah (2Corinthians 5:17). If you have never been water baptized in this way, then this brief look at water baptism is for you.
The Book of Acts
In the Bible, in the book of Acts, we find at least eight examples that give us the pattern for the urgency of water baptism to occur right after becoming a Believer:
1. Peter and the multitude on the day of Pentecost — Acts 2:38-41
2. Philip and the people of the city of Samaria — Acts 8:5, 12
3. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch — Acts 8:36-38
4. Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, when he was first converted — Acts 9:17,18
5. Peter and Cornelius and his household — Acts 10:44-48
6. Paul and the brethren, and Lydia and her household — Act 16:14,15
7. Paul and Silas, and the keeper of the prison — Act 16:22-33
8. Paul and the brethren, and Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue — Acts 18:8
In each of these examples, whenever someone believed and received the Good News of salvation through Yahushua Messiah, then [often within the same hour], that person immediately, or ‘straightway’, was water baptized.
This was one of the first expressions of obedience by the new Believers — to immediately identify with Yahushua’s death, burial, and resurrection, through water baptism. Therefore, water baptism is an action taken very soon after a person has received Yahushua as his Saviour and Lord [Master]. Water baptism is our visible testimony and declaration to everyone that we have accepted Yahushua Messiah as our Saviour.
What actually happens when a Believer is water baptized?
The New Testament word ‘baptize’ is from a Greek word that means “to dip; to immerse; to submerge.” This definition helps us to distinguish the Biblical Believers’ baptism from other forms of religious tradition. The experience of being submerged under water immediately after becoming a Believer has a great deal of Biblical significance.
When Believers in Yahushua Messiah are water baptized, their bodies are totally immersed in water, signifying death and burial; and they come up out of the water, signifying resurrection and life. Being baptized, or ‘immersed’, in water is the initial step of obedience to the Master, as the apostle Peter told the multitude on the day of Pentecost:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
Water baptism is the initial fruit of repentance and obedience when a Believer accepts the truth of salvation through Yahushua Messiah’s sacrificial death on the cross. Water baptism is a physical action of identifying completely with Yahushua in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Romans Chapter 6
The apostle Paul gives us the insight of what happens in water baptism:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).
As the above Scripture passage teaches us, being immersed through water baptism is a picture of being buried with Messiah: we are buried with Him [Messiah] by baptism unto death. Water baptism symbolizes our unity with His death and burial on our behalf.
We go down into the baptismal waters, being ‘planted together in the likeness of His death.’ Then, when we emerge up out of the waters, we are raised up into newness of life, into the likeness of His resurrection.
Through water baptism, we ‘reckon ourselves’ [consider ourselves], to be dead indeed unto sin: Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11).
Therefore our ‘old man’ is buried through water baptism: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:6,7)
This ‘old man’ — this ‘body of sin’ — is not our physical body. Rather it is our carnal, rebellious nature. This is what dies when we receive Yahushua’s sacrifice on our behalf. This ‘old man’ is what we bury in water baptism.
Then, when we come up out of the water, we are raised up to walk in newness of life, in the likeness of His resurrection — to be alive unto God through Yahushua Messiah our Lord. (Romans 6:3-11)
Crossing Through The Red Sea
Another picture of water baptism is illustrated by the children of Israel when they left Egypt and crossed through the Red Sea. They had been saved by the blood of the Passover Lamb and were set free from their slavery. When they came to the Red Sea and crossed over, they were, in a prophetic sense, water baptized as the apostle Paul explained:
… all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1Corinthians 10:1a,2)
When the children of Israel came up on the other side of the Red Sea, the waters returned and covered their enemies. This is a vivd picture of what happens to Believers when we are water baptized. When we are water baptized, we emerge from the waters, on the other side, away from our spiritual enemies which are now cut off. That is why a water baptism is such a joyful occasion. We enter into a new realm and we begin to walk in newness of life, because Messiah has cut off our slavery to sin!
He that Believes and is Baptized shall be Saved
Being water baptized is a very important and necessary step for every Believer! It is a vital part of walking in the salvation provided for us through Yahushua’s sacrifice, as the Scriptures teach us:
- He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16)
- Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
- And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (Acts 10:48)
When we desire to be water baptized, it is most certainly because we have now fully, and enthusiastically, received Yahushua Messiah as Saviour. Therefore, we would naturally desire to identify with our Saviour and be water baptized in the name of our Saviour — Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ]. The apostle Peter clearly explains whose name we are to acknowledge for salvation:
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ [Yahushua Messiah] of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)
Our water baptism is the time for us to openly acknowledge our identity with our Saviour and new Master, whose name is Yahushua, the Son of the Living God!
Water Baptism Is Foundational For All Believers!
Being water baptized is a part of every Believer’s basic, fundamental equipping. It is a wise and necessary element for the foundational building of our spiritual house upon the Rock, our Saviour Yahushua.
If you have never been water baptized, then ask Father to guide you to find a place, and some other Believers, to help you fulfill this most important step in your walk with Yahushua. In doing this, you will know the joy of obedience.
You will discover that water baptism is truly the answer of a good conscience toward God!
- 5 Reasons Why Good, Clean Living Always Pays Off - Benefits of a good conscience
- The Key To Gaining Understanding – A major clue for maintaining a good conscience
- Messiah In The Wilderness – Series: Whom Do You Say That I Am? at ‘The Way Prepared’