7 Marks of a Disciple,

The Importance of Baptism

By Dr. Robert Jeffress

A disciple is one who loves what Jesus loves, thinks like Jesus thought, and acts like Jesus would act in every situation. But to do that requires a transformation of our heart. In the Bible, the heart is the center of our thoughts, our will, and our emotions. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.”

The moment we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin we not only receive a pardon from our sin, but power over our sin. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who provides us with the supernatural power we need to live a wholly different kind of life. Our lives are baptized—immersed—with the Holy Spirit of God. This Baptism or immersion with the Holy Spirit occurs the moment we trust in Christ.

Now, Jesus commanded that every true disciple of His should publicly proclaim to the world that they are His disciples through an act, a ritual an ordinance we call baptism (Matthew 28:19-20). Over and over again you always find this pattern: personal faith in Christ always preceded baptism. Never do you have one instance in the New Testament of anyone who was baptized first and then later believed. Never once is there a man or woman, boy or girl, or baby being baptized before they were able to believe.

Believe and be baptized Peter said at Pentecost (Acts 2:38).

Those who received His word were baptized (Acts 2:41).

Paul believed and was baptized (Acts 9:18).

Cornelius and his household believed and were baptized (Acts 10:47-48).

Lydia believed and was baptized (Acts 16:15).

The Philippian jailer and his household all believed and all were baptized (Acts 16:33-34).

Baptism was immediate because it was the way a person made public their profession of faith in Christ. The word “baptize” is from the Greek word “baptize,” and it means “immerse.” It was used to describe the process by which you would change the color of a piece of fabric. You would place that fabric in a vat of dye and baptize it—immerse it completely.

The primary reason that new Christians are immersed and not sprinkled is because of what baptism symbolizes. When we trust in Christ as our Savior, 1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us the Holy Spirit joins us to Jesus Christ. Water baptism is a symbol of the process by which we are joined together to Jesus Christ. And just as Christ died and rose from the grave, when we become Christians, we die to our old way of living and are raised to a whole new life (Romans 6:4).

The water represents the grave. Our going down into the water represents our dying to our old way of life, and our coming out of the water is a picture of our new life in Christ. Maybe you were sprinkled as a child and later believed, or you believed but were never baptized. You will never feel right about your relationship with Christ until you are obedient to Him in this area of life.

The reason to be baptized is not because the church requires it but because it is one of those things Christ has commanded every disciple to do.

"Jesus commanded that every true disciple of His should publicly proclaim to the world that they are His disciples through an act, a ritual, an ordinance we call baptism."