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Why Should I Be Baptized?

Bible study on baptism (and baptism by immersion)

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: This Bible study explains what baptism is, including verses telling believers to be baptized. It also gives reasons to be baptized by immersion in water rather than by sprinkling.

Part 1 of a 4-part series on “Key Christian Practices”

Part 1      Part 2      Part 3      Part 4


Once you become a follower of Jesus, there are many steps you can take to get to know God better.  One of the first ones is to be baptized, both in obedience to God’s commands and as a symbolic act.

What is baptism? Most people think of baptism as being lowered under water and brought back up. Although that describes the physical part of it, there’s a lot more to it. Baptism is a physical act that symbolizes and strengthens a spiritual reality, that of dying to yourself and coming alive in Christ.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-4)

Being baptized helps us understand and identify with Jesus in a special way. In a sense, we share in his death and resurrection. Plus, baptism provides a powerful image of our sins being “washed away” when we become believers.

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16)

Related: How can I become a follower of Jesus?

Make it personal

1. In your own words, what does it mean to be baptized?

2. Have you been baptized? If so, describe when this happened and what it meant to you.

Why be baptized?

Many people don’t understand why it’s important to be baptized. Let’s look at some of the key reasons.

The Bible commands us to be baptized

Jesus told us to be baptized.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

Peter said to be baptized.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Jesus gave us an example by being baptized.

It’s breathtaking to realize that Jesus himself, the Son of God, was baptized. We need to follow his example.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. (Matthew 3:16)

What do you think?

3. Why do you think Jesus was baptized?

Baptism draws you closer to God

Every step you take in obedience to God’s word draws you closer to him. What’s exciting is that as you draw near to God, he will draw near to you.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

Baptism solidifies your decision to follow Christ

Along the same lines, every step you take in obedience to God’s word strengthens you in your faith. When you are baptized, you are choosing to be identified as a follower of Christ.

Baptism encourages other believers

When your brothers and sisters in the Lord see you being baptized, it excites and encourages them, for they see God’s love in action.

Baptism is a sign to non-Christians

If non-believers see you being baptized, it can be an inspiration to them to look a little closer at Christ.

Make it personal

4. Name two of the above reasons for baptism that speak to your heart. Explain why they have an impact on you.

5. Why would baptism draw someone closer to God?

Common questions people have about baptism

What if I was baptized as a child?

Baptism is your response to Christ’s work in your life. If your parents had you baptized as an infant, it may have been a loving gesture, but it wasn’t your decision. As Peter said, you need to “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38).

What words should the pastor (or whoever is baptizing you) say?

Some think it’s important to say you are baptized “in the name of Jesus.” Others think the words should be “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or ‘Holy Ghost’).” Either phrase is fine. In fact, each is used in the Bible.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Should I be dunked or sprinkled?

The exact method of baptism—by immersion or by sprinkling with water—is not nearly as important as the attitude of your heart. However, I think it makes sense to be immersed when you look at these verses:

Jesus “was coming up out of the water.” John the Baptist baptized Jesus. It seems apparent that when he did so, he lowered Jesus under water, for Jesus “was coming up out of the water.”

As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. (Mark 1:10)

“Buried” and “raised” imply immersion. Although Paul is using symbolism in the following verse (we aren’t literally buried underground when we are baptized), the words “buried” and “raised” suggest being lowered under water.

… having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)

“Removal of dirt” implies more than sprinkling. We don’t take a bath when we are baptized, and we certainly don’t scrub down with soap and water, but Peter’s reference to baptism not being “the removal of dirt from the body” makes more sense when you think of dunking than it does when you think of sprinkling.

This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21)

What do you think?

6. What words do you think should be said when you are baptized? Why?

7. Why do some people think you should be baptized by immersion instead of sprinkling?

8. How important is it to be baptized one way or another? Explain your answer.

If I die before I am baptized, will I go to heaven?

Some people think you won’t go to heaven if you die before you are baptized. That isn’t true. Being baptized is very important. After all, Jesus commanded it. But it is our faith in Christ—not something we do, such as being baptized—that brings us into a relationship with God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Make it personal

9. If you have not been baptized as a personal choice, are you willing to be baptized? Why or why not?

10. If you have not been baptized, when will you be baptized?

Memory verse

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

Personal application

1. Name one person who was baptized in the Bible and describe what happened.

2. What does baptism mean to you?

3. Have you been baptized? If so, describe your experience. If not, when will you get baptized?

4. Read 1 Peter 3:21. What does this verse mean to you?

5. If someone was baptized as an infant, should he or she be baptized again after becoming a believer? Why or why not?

6. Why do you think God wants us to be baptized?

7. Do you think someone should be immersed or sprinkled when baptized? Explain your answer.

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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