All who have really repented and in their hearts, have truly believed on Christ as Savior and Lord should be baptized by immersion in water. In so doing, they declare to the world that they have died with Jesus and that they have also been raised with Him to walk in newness of life.
Although baptism is known primarily as a Christian ceremony, its origins actually date back to the Old Testament. The Israelites had various ritual washings that were performed to signify purification. Examples of these can be found in various places throughout scripture, such as: Exodus 19:10 (Israelites purify themselves before being given the Law), Leviticus 15 (cleansing from various bodily emissions), and Leviticus 16:4 (Aaron and his sons washed before being ordained as priests). Just like these ceremonial washings, baptism is symbolic of our being cleansed and purified from our sinful life before Christ.
With this tradition as a backdrop, John began baptizing Jews, calling them to repentance, in preparation for the forgiveness of sins that would be offered via Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:6, Acts 19:4). With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, baptism began to signify two important events in the life of the believer. One, it publically declares the believer’s belief and acceptance of the lordship of Jesus Christ and the redemption from sin that He provides. Secondly, it signifies the believer’s dying or being buried to their old life of sin, and rising to a new life, indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
For those that become saved – meaning believing in Jesus and accepting His forgiveness for our sins – baptism is a very vital part of the salvation experience. In the first century, those that accepted Jesus Christ were normally immediately baptized as a demonstration of their newfound faith (Acts 8:12, Acts 16:33, Acts 18:8). Although baptism is not required to become saved, salvation followed by baptism has always been the established pattern in the conversion experience of new believers.
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