“Why should I get baptized?” is an important question for Christians to answer. From the earliest days of the Christian church, baptism has been a foundational step of faith universally observed by believers immediately following salvation (Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12, 38).
The act of baptism by immersion in water outwardly expresses the inward experience of change that happens in the life of every believer at salvation. It demonstrates that the old way of life has ended, and a new life of faith in Jesus Christ has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17). Baptism is important because it provides a visual testimony—a public declaration to the world—that symbolically identifies the new believer with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Bible supplies several reasons why baptism is an important step in the Christian life:
Baptism is an expression of saving faith. Like a stamp of validation, baptism represents our salvation experience and the magnificent work of Jesus Christ in dying for our sins and rising for our justification: “For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead” (Colossians 2:12, NLT).
Baptism is God-ordained and commanded by Jesus. As part of His Great Commission to the church, Jesus gave these instructions: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20). Baptism is an integral part of Christian discipleship and is meant to be an ongoing practice of the church.
Baptism is an act of obedience to our Savior, expressing our desire to please God. The word Christian means “Christ-follower.” Since Christ called us to baptism and set the example by being baptized Himself (Matthew 3:16), neglecting to be baptized is disobedience to the command of Christ.
Baptism unites us with Christ by identifying us with His death, burial, and resurrection: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3–4). When we repent of our sins and come to faith in Jesus Christ, baptism testifies of our union with Him.
Likewise, baptism represents our death to the old life of sin and our new birth into resurrection life and freedom from bondage to sin: “Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:5–7, NLT).
Baptism also identifies us with the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–13). It is an emblem that says we now belong to Jesus Christ and His people: “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes” (Galatians 3:26–27, NLT).
Baptism gives public testimony of the Holy Spirit’s inward work of washing away our sins: “And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21, NLT; see also Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11).
A correct understanding of baptism means comprehending that it is more than religious ritual or church tradition. The significance of baptism originates in the death of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, who died in our place to pay for our sins, and who triumphed over death through His resurrection, securing for us new life in the Spirit and eternal life forever with God.