What is Baptism?

Jesus was a great teacher who lived about 2000 years ago. He taught us about God, his Father. He taught us that if we obey him, we could live forever. If you are not sure who Jesus is, please review the lessons about his birth, his life and death.

After Jesus came back to life, he said something very important to his followers:-

“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised shall be saved, but whoever does not believe shall be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16

Lesson 41

Lesson 41 read out in full

Let us look at what Jesus is saying.

• Before anyone can believe and be baptised, that person must understand the good news (gospel) about Jesus, and what he taught.
• No one can decide “how” they will be saved. God sets the rules, and we must obey them.
The steps are: Learn the good news about Jesus Christ from the Bible. Do this by regular Bible reading.

  1. Believe what you learn from the Bible. Pray to God for His help to make your faith grow.
  2. Decide to do something about it, and change the way you live (called “repentance”).
  3. Obey God and be baptised.
  4. Follow and obey God and His Son Jesus for the rest of your life.

Learning about things is easy. Believing in someone is much harder. Do you feel God is calling you? Do you trust God that He can save you? Are you willing to change your life for Him and His Son, Jesus?

You may not feel these things now, but as you learn more about Jesus and about his Father, you will gradually change.

What is baptism?

To find out what baptism is, we need to look at the original word in the Greek language. The word was used by the workers who “dyed” cloth, that is, changed its colour. When you wanted to change the colour of a piece of cloth, you would place all the cloth in the coloured dye or paint so that all the cloth took the new colour.

If you wanted to change the colour of a piece of cloth, you had to put all the cloth into the dye. If you did not, then the colour change would not be complete. But if you did put all the cloth in the dye, when it came out, it would be completely different! If the cloth was white before, and you dipped it in blue dye, then it would come out blue. It would be impossible to make it white again!

God uses the word “baptism” to teach us many things about what we should do.

Baptism: buried in water

But what is baptism for people? Well, it is just like the cloth. The person who is baptised puts his entire body into enough water to cover himself. When he or she comes out of the water a few seconds later, they come out as a new person. God and Jesus Christ see him or her differently. People have been baptised in baths, water tanks, swimming pools, rivers, lakes and even oceans. But when we are baptised, we are showing God (and those who watch) that we want to obey Him, and that we want to be saved.

Before going into the water, the person is just like any other human being. But after baptism, he comes out in a new “colour”! He is a child of God, a brother or sister of Jesus Christ! How wonderful!

Wicked men killed Jesus. His dead body was placed in a tomb. Three days later, God made Jesus alive again. When someone is baptised, it is just like Jesus. The person “dies” and is “buried” in water. When he comes out of the water, he has been brought back to “life” as Jesus was. The baptised person has done what Jesus did. See Romans 6:1-4.

What else does baptism teach us? John the Baptist, the man who came just before Jesus, taught the people to be baptised to wash away their sins – the bad things they have done. At baptism, God forgives the person for all the bad things he has done, and that person can make a fresh start. Would you like to make a fresh start on your life?

Can I believe without baptism

Some might say, “Why can’t I just believe in God? Why do I have to be baptised? The water does not actually do anything. It isn’t magic”.

Well, that is true. But if we want to be saved from death, then we must follow God’s rules. After baptism you are still the same person. But because you have “chosen” to be baptised (no one can force you to be baptised), God will look at you and see that you have changed within your mind. Even if you should do bad things again, God will forgive you through Jesus if you ask Him. Remember what happens to the cloth dipped in the dye. You cannot change it back! In the same way, after we are baptised we cannot change back!

The importance of baptism

Look at some of the examples below where people were baptised, and what was taught about baptism, and you will find out how important it is.

But you should not be baptised unless you fully understand what you are doing. Just going for a dip in a swimming pool is not baptism. You prepare for baptism by reading God’s Bible, understanding what you read, praying to Him, and talking to others who have been baptised. Only when you are ready, should you be baptised. While the actual baptism only takes a few seconds, its effects last forever. The blessings of God and the friendship and companionship of others who have also been baptised is truly a wonderful and special thing. We are told in the Bible that the angels of God in heaven are very happy when someone is baptised.

By being baptised, you can give great happiness to God in heaven, start a new life for yourself as a child of God, and be part of the brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. The name of our faith is “Christadelphian”, which means brothers and sisters in Christ. You join a worldwide fellowship of Christadelphian believers. You have fellowship with the Creator of heaven and earth, and His Son, Jesus. What a wonderful privilege!

The teaching of John the Baptist: Matthew 3:5-6
The baptism of Jesus: Matt 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, John 4:1-2
Peter teaches the Jews: Acts 2:37-38, Acts 10:47-48
Philip baptises an Ethiopian man: Acts 8:34-39
The baptism of Paul: Acts 9:18, Acts 22:12-16
Paul baptises a Philippian man: Acts 16:30-34