Baptism in water (or water baptism)



1. What is water baptism, and what does it represent?




Water baptism, which we administer to those who have believed for that’s what the Lord commanded us to do (Matthew 28:19), is “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21 - NASB). That’s why those who have believed in the Lord, when they hear about water baptism feel a strong desire to be baptized and they ask to be baptized immediately. Do you remember the eunuch? Do you remember how, after the evangelist Philip had spoken to him about Jesus (and of course also about water baptism), when they came unto a certain water, the eunuch asked him to be baptized (Acts 8:26-38)? Why did he make that request? Of course, because he felt immediately in his conscience that he had to be baptized in order to have a good conscience before (or toward) God.

Through this baptism, the believer testifies before God, before the angels, and before the saints (and before the devil, his demons and his children as well), that he has repented of his sins and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus he testifies that he has received the remission of his sins, that he has been reconciled to God. In other words, he proclaims that he died with Christ unto sin, and rose with Christ unto newness of life to follow Jesus for the rest of his life. That’s what the immersion into water and the coming out of water represent. Paul explains these things when he says to the saints of Rome: “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” (Romans 6:3-4).

Water baptism is a sort of outward sign attesting to the new birth which took place in the believer. In other words, it is a sign attesting to the justification received by the believer by his faith in Christ. Following an expression which Paul uses in relation to the sign of circumcision received by Abraham that he defines “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised” (Romans 4:11), we can say that water baptism is a sign and seal of the righteousness we had by faith while we were still unbaptized.