Why be baptized? The question only makes sense if someone believes in Jesus. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and raised from the dead, then it is legitimate to ask: why be baptized?
Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22). If I’m going to follow Jesus, I can’t hesitate to do what Jesus did especially when he commands it. Jesus didn’t need baptism for forgiveness of sins unlike you and me, since Jesus is sinless. But Jesus persuaded John to baptize him “to fulfill all righteousness.” It was appropriate to fulfill God’s will.
Jesus commanded baptism (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:16). The followers of Jesus are to go into all the world and make disciples. A disciple, in this case, is a follower of Jesus. A disciple is someone who learns and follows Jesus’ instructions. But the making of a disciple is incomplete if we don’t follow all of Jesus’ instructions. We are also to baptize this person in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We are also to teach them to keep all the things commanded by Jesus.
Jesus promised certain things in baptism through his teaching and his apostles’s teaching.
- The entrance into the Kingdom of God, John 3:5
- Forgiveness of sin, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Cor. 6:11.
- Reception of the Spirit, Acts 2:38, 1 Cor. 12:13, and therefore the new life in the Spirit, i.e. regeneration, Titus. 3:5, John 3:5.
- Union with Christ. Gal. 3:27, and particularly union with Him in his death and resurrection. Rom. 6:3ff, Col. 2:11f, with all that implies of release from sin’s power, as well as guilt, and the sharing of the risen life of the Redeemer, Rom. 6:1-11.
- Salvation. Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21
Now I’m not suggesting that immersion in water by itself does all these things. These passages assume that we come to baptism in faith with repentant hearts. The power is in the work of Christ — his death, burial and resurrection. Baptism is an expression of our trust in Jesus and in God. But on the other hand, the New Testament never pictures the unbaptized as possessing these blessings. Baptism is the place where we meet God in faith to receive the spiritual blessings he has promised because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.
Why be baptized? Jesus was baptized. Jesus commanded baptism. Jesus has promised spiritual blessings in baptism. I can’t take Jesus seriously and claim to follow him without also submitting to baptism.