Baptism is for believers – Baptism is for those who have put their faith in Christ. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus. Baptism is for the believer and occurs after one believes. The water has no salvific capacities. The book of Acts gives accounts of baptism and it always occurs after the person believed. (Acts 2:41; 8; 16:14-15)
Baptism is for obedience – We cannot deny the example of Jesus unto baptism. Nor can we ignore a clear command to baptize and be baptized. Those who have accepted Christ as savior and Lord are to be baptized. While baptism does not add to salvation, not being baptized is disobedient to God’s clear biblical command. (Matthew 3:16-19; 28:19)
Baptism is for fellowship - Through baptism, the believer is admitted into the fellowship of the church as part of the body of the church. Through this ordinance, one is brought into communion with the local body of believers and into the community of the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13, 27; Ephesians 4:12-16)
Baptism is for identification – Not only is the person brought into the fellowship of the church and have a new identity as a Christian, but also the person, through baptism, identifies with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It is a symbol of dying to an old way of life without Christ and raising to a new life in Christ. (Romans 6:3-9; Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 4:4-6)
Baptism is by immersion – The very symbolism of baptism we see in our identifying with Christ as seen in Romans 6 is only fully understood through immersion. The very word, baptism, means “to immerse.” Furthermore, the descriptions of baptism throughout the Bible indicate that the practice of baptism was by immersion. (John 3:23; Mark 1:10; Acts 8:36)
Baptism is for sanctification – While the ordinance itself is not sanctifying, it brings us into a spirit of sanctification, as the very act of baptism is an act of obedience, and it brings us into the body of Christ who is to be pointing other believers unto sanctification. In Christ’s command to go to the nations, where we see a command to baptize and be baptized, we see the larger picture of making disciples and teaching them. The Great Commission is not simply about evangelizing and baptizing, but discipling believers towards sanctification. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Baptism is for professing – Baptism is a public testimony of what has happened in the life of the one being baptized. It is a time of professing faith in Christ to all in attendance. It is a confession by the person as a sinner who is relying on Christ for salvation, while at the same time it is also a call to others to repent and believe.
Baptism is for celebration – When one publically professes faith in Christ, it is a time to celebrate. We celebrate the decision the person being baptized has made. We celebrate with the person their repentant heart, their step of obedience, and their desire to grow in their relationship with Christ. Moreover, we also celebrate as baptism is a reminder of what is to come, namely the eternal life we have through faith in Christ.
Baptism is for evangelism – The very essence of professing a sinful, repentant heart that turns to faith in Christ for salvation through the ordinance of baptism is a clear proclamation of the Gospel. All in attendance cannot escape the message of redemption and reconciliation that is available through faith in Christ. Furthermore, the command of Jesus is clear that we are to make disciples and baptize them. (Matthew 28:19)