I believe that it is important to consider the necessity of water baptism in the conversion process of the life of every believer.
Baptism without a doubt is necessary as part of a Christian’s conversion.
Baptism is a personal application of the Christian gospel.
Our own personal Easter if you will…
It is also brings about the consummation of one’s faith and repentance.
Surprisingly enough, an un-baptized believer is a concept which is foreign to the New Testament Church in the Scriptures.We would do well to take notice of this simple fact.
To see it only as an “act of obedience” or “testimony” as some have called it, or as something merely “symbolic” is to miss out on its essential purpose.
Baptism is a means of saving grace in the sense that the writers of the New Testament Scriptures use the word “save” in relationship to water baptism (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:40-41, 1Peter3:21).
Of course, baptism in and of itself saves nobody, and I am not talking about baptismal regeneration, but what many Christians fail to recognize is that God does something spiritual through the physical act of water baptism.
Water baptism brings one’s repentance and faith to its fullness and consummation.
Scriptures reveal to us that participants in water baptism would have to bring fruit worthy of repentance before being baptized into repentance in the 1st century.
Without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sins. One had to be in repentance before being baptized “into” repentance.
Just like a couple who are “in love” would be married “into” love bringing their love to it’s climactic fulfillment, baptism would bring one who is already in repentance “into” repentance (Matt 3:11).
Notice that marriage doesn’t create the love, but it brings it to its ultimate fulfillment.
Baptism does the same for repentance. This is why it is the first command by God given to new believers as an initial act of faith and obedience.
Much like the priests of the Old Testament times, the New Testament talks of the priesthood of the believer, and when considering Jesus’ words in John 3:5, we can see that washing and anointing found in the Old Testament priesthood finds it’s New Testament equivalent in being born “out” of “water and the Spirit”.
Also, notice how the Apostles associated baptism with events in the Old Testament, which brought forth redemption.
Peter saw a type of Christian baptism in Noah’s flood where Noah and his family were separated from their former evil world by water (1Peter 3:20).
God used water as a means of bringing a new beginning to the earth.
Paul saw the crossing of the Red Sea as a type of baptism (1Cor 10:1-2). Just as passing through the waters separated the Jews from the cultural trappings of Egypt, and the rule of pharaoh, baptism separates us from Satan and the dominion of sin. (Romans 6:4-14).
Notice that God called Israel His “Firstborn” as a result of this event, which took place as a result of passing through the waters.
It is the power of God through His Spirit in response to our repentance and faith, which enables this physical act to have such a spiritual effect.
There is so much more to say regarding this important topic.
In addition to being a bath, baptism is also a burial.
The burial is the final goodbye when one dies.
Burial brings closure. Not the funeral.
If you don’t believe this, try asking those who are still awaiting the bodies of loved ones lost in past wars so that they may bury their loved ones in order that they may find closure…
Water baptism brings closure to the old life, whereas Spirit baptism brings power and equips us for our new life.
Both are necessary and vital elements in the life of the Christian believer.
Notice that the two baptisms which are a necessary part of the lives of all believers are represented in both the physical and spiritual realms? And in both cases, each realm is effected by the event taking place in the other…
Physical acts are indeed intended to have spiritual effects. Every human being has some sense of this principle whether or not they are believers, or whether or not they consciously recognize the concept of a connection between the physical and spiritual realm.
Unfortunately, these two have been widely separated through the invasion of Greek culture entering into the Church through Augustine and Aquinas… Greek thought cannot reconcile the connection between the physical and the Spiritual whereas, Hebrew thought has always been keen to this basic concept.
The Bible is a Hebrew book from cover to cover, and those who were used to pen the oracles of God were aware of the fact that physical acts do indeed have spiritual effects.
And washing with water is no exception to this concept.
Just remember Pilate if you want a classic example…
When he condemned an innocent man to die, notice that he called for a bowl of water to physically wash his hands as if the physical act of washing with water would somehow cleanse his inner guilt.
Have you ever noticed that both perpetrators and victims of sexual crimes often run to the shower as only if to feel cleaner on the inside?
Ask any psychiatrist out there about those who have a guilt complex. One of the major symptoms of this you will notice will be excessive hand washing with water.
Only with God in repentance will this act ever achieve its desired result & effect in our lives.
Baptism is something far more than being merely symbolic.
It is deeply spiritual.
In support of this concept, Scripture tells us that baptism is only as effective as the faith that you bring to it. And yes, it is an essential element in the conversion process of the life of every believer. And yes, it’s only ordinary H2O, but in water baptism, God takes ordinary water and does something extraordinary with it.
He cleanses the conscience of believers so that they can have a clean start in breaking away from their former lives.
By being obedient to the command of God in being water baptized, you are personally taking part in a personal application of the Christian gospel.
Scripture summarizes these principles beautifully.
Note the following passage:
“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.
And do not present your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness to God”.
Let us all consider the fullness of what is actually taking place in water baptism.
Lord bless you!