Different churches baptise in different ways, from a full-body dunking at a nearby beach to a careful sprinkling of water in a church building. They all have roots in the Bible, but many people choose to be lowered under water and lifted back out because it shows most clearly what baptism is all about.
Baptism symbolises that a person has been washed clean of sin. It shows that the person is no longer defiled by sin, but has been made right with God. New Testament writers also describe it like removing old, dirty clothes and putting on new, clean ones. Colossians 3:9 | Ephesians 4:21-24 Baptism marks the start of a new life as well as a new way of behaving.
Baptism is also a picture of the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we go under water, we identify with his death and burial. In being lifted out of the water, we take part in his resurrection. We have been raised from our spiritual death to live new lives, and after our physical death we will be resurrected with Jesus.
Baptism is not only a new beginning and a new way of behaving, but it is also a new belonging. As we take on God’s name, we become part of his family, the Church. It’s like the act of being adopted: we take on the last name of our new parent, and his children become our brothers and sisters. Baptism shows that we belong to God and to his family.
In the New Testament, believers were baptised as soon as they put their faith in Jesus. Baptism is so closely linked to salvation that it’s often mentioned in the same breath. Acts 2:38 | Acts 22:16 Baptism is not the act that makes us right with God – Jesus did that! But it is important as a marker of the beginning of a new life, the choice of a new way of behaving, and the identification of a new belonging to God and his family.
If you believe in Jesus but haven’t taken the step of baptism yet, think about what holds you back. It might be a good time to chat with a church leader about it.