Water Baptism

Duane Vander Klok

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

It can be easy to read this “Great Commission” passage of scripture and focus on the going, the making of disciples and teaching them – and totally miss the importance of water baptism.

In baptism, believers identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is a symbol and a public declaration of the promise a believer has made in their heart with Jesus. But it is much more than a symbol. There is real spiritual work that is done in the waters of baptism!

Through the Waters

In the Bible, water is symbolic of many things including cleansing, purification and deliverance. The account of Moses miraculously leading the Israelites on dry land through the parted waters of the Red Sea is just one example that helps us understand the significance of being baptized in water.

As you read through the book of Exodus, you will learn that the Israelites had been slaves to the Egyptians for 430 years. But slavery was not God’s will for His people, so He sent Moses as a deliverer. God demonstrated His power over the so-called gods of Egypt by sending a series of plagues against them. When Pharaoh still refused to release the Israelites, God sent a tenth and final plague.

Because they had enslaved God’s first born, Israel, God sent this plague against the first born sons of the Egyptians. The Israelite families were spared as they followed God’s instructions to apply the blood of lambs to the doorposts of their homes. They were finally released and on their journey out of Egypt!

Even though the Israelites had been freed, Pharaoh began to pursue them with his armies and chariots. Like Pharaoh, the devil does not want to let you go—he will pursue you. You are set free when you receive Jesus and apply His blood in your life, but the devil will keep trying to pull you back into slavery.

The Israelites came to the Red Sea with their enemies following behind. As Moses lifted his arms, God parted the water allowing the Israelites to pass through. In Exodus 14:13-14, Moses assured the Israelites saying, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” As they placed their trust fully in God and passed through the water, their enemies were overtaken! This passing through the water and deliverance is often referred to as an Old Testament type of water baptism.

Through the Blood

The Israelites were now on their way toward the Promised Land. It should have been an 11 day journey, but instead, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness! Notice that it did not take long for God to get the Israelites out of Egypt, but it took years to get Egypt out of the Israelites! For so long, they continued thinking and behaving as the slaves they had once been rather than allowing God to renew their minds so they could understand their position as sons and heirs of His promises.

Remember earlier, the Israelites had applied the blood of lambs with hyssop. Similarly, when you and I apply the blood of Jesus to our lives with our words and receive His gift of salvation, we are set free from the bonds of sin and brokenness. But all too often, like the Israelites, we do not realize the complete freedom we have in Christ and continue to behave as slaves to our sin.

The blood of Jesus has purchased so much more than just an escape from sin, death, and hell – it is more than just a way out of Egypt. When you received Jesus as your savior, you were taken out of the darkness and transformed into a son and heir with Jesus. Colossians 1:12-14 ASV tells us that the Father, “…who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins… You were not only saved from something, you were saved to something—the Kingdom of God!

No Longer Slaves

Being in bondage has never been God’s will for His people, and it is most certainly not His will for you! He does not want you to wander through life with an old mindset after you have been set free through the blood of Jesus!

So, how can we live our new lives no longer slaves to sin and the devil? You need to know that when you are baptized, you draw a line where the devil no longer has the right to pursue you. With this mark and declaration of a new life, you are publicly identifying with the death burial and resurrection of Jesus on the inside. And when you are baptized, your old self is buried in a watery grave. Romans 6:4-5 says, Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.

At your baptism, you are agreeing to receive what Jesus did for you. Just as Israel’s enemies were defeated in the sea, so your past sins, condemnation, shame, reproach and so much more are left behind in a watery grave, and you come up out of the water to live a brand new life.

Colossians 2:11-12 says, In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. The old you that was tempted and tormented by the devil is dead and buried in the waters!

Water baptism is far from an empty ceremony—in those waters you leave addiction, prejudice, bitterness, hatred, and every evil thing. In baptism, God cuts out the hardness, bitterness, and bondage so that you come out of the water with a brand new heart. That’s why it has been said that baptismal waters are the dirtiest waters on earth!

What’s Next?

Water baptism is the first step in your new life after you receive Jesus as your savior. Colossians 1:12 says, …giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Through the blood of Jesus, you have been qualified to receive the promises of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit. You were not only taken out of the desert, but you were given the promises of God!

Some of us were raised in denominations where we were sprinkled as infants. If that was you, you may wonder, “Isn’t that good enough?” In Acts 2:37-38, when the people asked, What must we do to be saved? Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins.” While babies can be dedicated to the Lord from birth (1 Samuel 1:21-24), the biblical order is to be baptized after we have repented and made Jesus the Lord of our life.

Your baptism is a testimony of God’s power to transform your life. It’s a tangible expression of God’s mercy, grace and deliverance. As you come out of the waters of baptism, you proclaim to the world your identity as a child of God and an heir to His Kingdom!

If you are a new believer or have not been baptized since you have believed, water baptism is your next step!

(All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated.)