What is Water Baptism?
Water baptism is the immersion of dipping of a believer in water symbolizing the complete renewal and change in the believer's life and testifying to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the way of salvation.
As with most Christian practices and beliefs, the background of baptism lies in the practices of the Jewish community. The Greek work "baptizo", which means "immerse, dip, submerge", is used metaphorically in Isaiah 21:4 to mean "go down, perish" and in 2 Kings 5:14 for Naaman's dipping in the Jordan River seven times for the healing from his skin disease. The radical Qumran sect which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls attempted to cleanse Judaism. The sect laid great emphasis on purity and purifying rites. These rites normally involved immersion.
John the Baptist immersed repentant sinners: those who had a change of mind and heart (John 1:6, 11). John’s baptism – for Jews and Gentiles – involved the same elements later interpreted in Christian baptism: repentance, confession, evidence of changed lives, coming judgment, and the coming of the Kingdom of God through the Messiah, who would baptize with the Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). John thus formed a purified community waiting for God’s great salvation.
John also baptized Jesus, who never sinned (Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:13-16). Jesus said that His own baptism was to fulfill al righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Thus Jesus acknowledged that the standard of life John demanded was correct for Himself and His followers. In this way He was able to identify with sinful mankind and to be a model for others to follow. In this way Jesus affirmed John and his message. The coming of the Spirit and the voice from heaven showed that Jesus represented another point in God’s revelation of Himself and formed the connection between baptism and the Christ’s acts of redemption.
The Meaning of Baptism
To be baptized is to clothe oneself with Christ (Mark 10:38-39; Luke 12:50). Christian baptism is in a sense a sharing of this death and resurrection and all that brought Christ to those events (Romans 6:1-7; Colossians 2:12). Baptism shows that a person has died to the old way of life and has been raised to a new kind of life – eternal life in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Colossians 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:11). The resurrection from the water points to the Christian’s resurrection (Romans 6:1-16).
In the New Testament, baptism is for believers (Acts 2:38; 8:12-13, 36-38; Ephesians 4:5). Baptism occurs when a person trusts Christ as Lord and Savior and obeys the command to be submerged in water and raised from it as a picture of the salvation experience that has occurred. Baptism comes after a conviction of sin, repentance of sin, and a confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. To be baptized is to preach a personal testimony through the symbol of baptism. Baptism testifies that “you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Here is what the Assemblies of God’s Statement of Fundamental Truths has to say about Baptism.
The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded by the Scriptures. All who repent and believe on Christ as Saviour and Lord are to be baptized. Thus they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life