Do we really need to be baptised?

This is a question frequently asked by those who are trusting Jesus Christ for their salvation and who are seeking assurance of their place in the kingdom of God. The answer is, 'Yes, you do need to be baptised'.

'Wait a moment', you may say, 'surely the Bible teaches that we have been saved by grace through faith? If this is the case then baptism is an option and not a necessity!'. Yes, it is true that the only requirement for salvation is faith in Christ alone; but although baptism is not an absolute necessity for salvation, each believer has a need to be baptised in order to make a true Scriptural expression of their faith In Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. This leaflet endeavours to explain the biblical reasons for this statement. Please look up the Scripture references in your own Bible.

Why should we be baptised?

Firstly, because God commands it (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16). This should be sufficient reason in itself for baptism.

Secondly, because Jesus was baptised (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). In his baptism, Jesus, though he had no sin of his own, was not ashamed to identify himself with sinners. In our baptism, we are showing that we are not ashamed to be identified with him as the Saviour of sinners.

Thirdly, because baptism is a symbol of what God has done for us in salvation. It is a symbol of forgiveness and cleansing from sin (Acts 22:16). It is also a symbol of the new birth we have experienced through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-8).

When should we be baptised?

The Bible teaches clearly that we should be baptised after we have put our trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. The biblical order is, 'believe and be baptised' (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12-13; 16:14-15; 18:8). This is why we regard infants as unsuitable candidates for baptism.

How should we be baptised?

The word baptise literally means to 'sink' or to 'immerse'. Jesus went into the water in order to be baptised. The Bible tells us that John baptised because there was 'plenty of water there' (John 3:23). Also, the symbol of being buried with Christ and risen with him is perfectly expressed in the act of immersion.

What must we do?

Firstly, we must ask, 'Am I trusting In Jesus Christ alone for my salvation?' If the answer is, 'Yes', we must then ask, 'What hinders me in obeying God and being baptised?' For many of us, baptism seems like a gigantic step to take - we are often fearful of what family and friends might think of us. But when we take that step we discover a joy and peace that can only be found in obedience to God.

If you are struggling within, knowing that you should be obedient to God's command, remember all that God has done for you - especially in sending his Son to die upon a cross so that you may have the sure and certain hope of eternal life! Ask God to strengthen you and take the step of faith and obedience. God will bless you beyond measure as you unashamedly identify with his own dear Son.

As one hymn writer has put it:

Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend
On whom my hopes of heaven depend!
'No!' when I blush be this my shame
That I no more revere His Name.

The baptism of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"There were first to be baptised two women - Diana Wilkinson and Eunice Fuller - and I was asked to conduct them through the water to the minister, but this I most timidly declined. It was a new experience to me, never having seen a baptism before, and I was afraid of making some mistake. The wind blew down the river with a cutting blast, as my turn came to wade into the flood, but after I had walked a few steps, and noted the people on the ferry-boat, and in boats, and on either shore, I felt as if Heaven and earth, and hell, might all gaze upon me, for I was not ashamed, there and then, to own myself a follower of the Lamb. My timidity was washed away; it floated down the river into the sea, and must have been devoured by the fishes, for I have never felt anything of the kind since. Baptism also loosed my tongue, and from that day it has never been quiet. I lost a thousand fears in that River Lark, and found that, 'in keeping His commandments there is great reward'. It was a thrice happy day to me... If any ask, 'Why was I thus baptised?', I answer, 'Because I believe it to be an ordinance of Christ, very specially joined by Him with faith in His name'. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved. I had no superstitious idea that baptism would save me, for I was saved. I did not seek to have sin washed away by water, for I believed that my sins were forgiven me through faith in Christ Jesus. Yet I regarded baptism as the token of the believer's cleansing, the emblem of his burial with his Lord, and the outward avowal of his new birth. I did not trust in it, but, because I trusted in Jesus as my Saviour, I felt bound to obey Him as my Lord, and follow the example which He sets us in Jordan, in His own baptism."

Spurgeon's baptism took place in the River Lark, Isleham, on 3rd May 1850
He went on to become one of the greatest evangelists in the history of the Christian Church