6.      Repentance and Baptism: First Acts of Obedience

Doctrinal Statement: Repentance and Baptism, in the name of Jesus, are the initial acts of obedience for the new believer.


The events leading to baptism are recognition of the need for a redeemer, recognition of Jesus as that needed redeemer, recognition of a need to change and a decision to change by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ. Together these can be lumped together as, “Repentance.” Baptism is the natural next step to demonstrate the sincerity of repentance and the wholehearted acceptance of Christ. Implied is the ability to comprehend and make an informed decision. For this reason baptism is not for children that have not reached the age of accountability. There are no other requirements for baptism than these. Let’s consider a few scriptures about baptism

*   (Mat 3:13-17 NIV)  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. {14} But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" {15} Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. {16} 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. {17} And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

*   (Mat 28:19 NIV)  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,

*   (Acts 19:5 KJV)  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

*   (Acts 2:38 NIV)  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 10:48 NIV)  So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

*   (Acts 4:12 NIV)  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

*   (Rom 10:13 RSV)  For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

*   (Mat 3:16 KJV)  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: …

*   (Acts 8:38-39 NIV)  And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. {39} When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

*   (Acts 2:41 NIV)  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Home Study

*   What symbolism argues for baptism by immersion rather than pouring or sprinkling?

*   Prove to your satisfaction that small children are not eligible for baptism?

*   Show from scriptures that names are important.

A Few Thoughts

People often ask if baptism is necessary for salvation. The question can be approached from a few different perspectives.

*   If you know about baptism and have the opportunity to be baptized then the answer is a definite yes. To not be baptized would be an act of disobedience. The disobedience would continue until such time you obeyed by being baptized.

*   With regards to the myriad of, “What if…” questions about baptism the best answer is perhaps to acknowledge that God knows and we don’t need to decide the fates of all the “What if” people. Decide for yourself to obey God and you will do well. If you have any doubts about your own baptism act to remove those doubts.

Let me share

The following pages are from a pamphlet I wrote about baptism. Let’s take a look.


Important events in our lives are often times accompanied by special ceremonies. Generally, the ceremony is not the important event but follows the event because of its importance to us. Some such events are births, graduations, weddings, and funerals. Perhaps the most important event to a believer in Christ is that day when he comes to accept that Jesus is indeed both Lord and Savior. The ceremony that follows this event is called baptism. As in most ceremonies baptism is frequently a public event attended by family and friends. As a matter of fact, baptism shares aspects of the four major events mentioned previously. An explanation is in order here. First, let’s take a look at what baptism is and is not.


Baptism, is based on a Greek word, baptizo. Baptizo simply means to make completely wet. The most obvious way to make someone completely wet is to immerse them in water. This is in fact what happens during baptism; the one being baptized is completely immersed, dipped briefly, into water. Although in many churches sprinkling with water is substituted for immersing in water, the Bible never teaches sprinkling as an appropriate method.


Before the baptism, preparations are made. These include notifying family and friends that will be attending, finding an appropriate place for the baptism to be performed, and a lot of prayer by you and those you have invited. Before these preparations are made something more important than anything that follows must occur. You need to make an informed decision. This decision will undoubtedly be an emotional decision also. However, emotion alone is not enough. There must also be maturity sufficient to make an informed decision. Generally, this excludes children that haven’t yet entered their teens. This “Age of consent” can vary somewhat with the individual.


Informed consent does not imply a need for lengthy doctrinal studies. In the second chapter of Acts thousands were baptized on the same day they heard and accepted the good news of Christ! (Acts 2:41 NIV)  “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” The clear implication of this passage is don’t delay. Once the decision is made, make plans for a convenient date and time.


Here’s another point. You need to know that you are a sinner, as we all are. (Rom 3:23 KJV)  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” You need to be truly sorry for those sins and have the firm desire to sin no more. You need to know that in Jesus your sins can and will be forgiven, if you decide to accept Him as Lord of your life and Savior of your soul. This is in fact a description of repentance. The Apostle Peter said, (Acts 2:38 NIV) "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.” The gift of the Holy Spirit brings a new way of living, the strength to persevere, and the assurance of salvation. And these are just a few of the wonders brought by the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Although any mature member of the church can perform a baptism a Pastor or an Evangelist generally does it. This is what you would expect and it’s good protocol. Men and women anointed by God to serve the church will be better informed in preparing for this special event and assuring it is truly special and right.

The Wonders of Baptism

As mentioned before, baptism shares attributes of at least four other events we are all familiar with. Let’s look at each of the four separately.

Baptism and Funeral

When you decide to be baptized you decide to change your life in a dramatic way. You decide to put an end to your old ways of thinking in favor of new and better ways of thinking. You determine to put an end to the old ways of dealing with life in favor of new and better ways of dealing with life. In fact you make a decision to do away with the old self-centered person you have been and yield yourself to the Lord. You might say your family and friends are there with you to witness the passing away of the person you were. When you go into the water, the old you is dead and buried! (Rom 6:3-4 NIV)  Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? {4} 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.


Baptism and Birth

The person that comes out of the water is the new you! Now ready to serve the Lord and follow Him as led by the Holy Spirit. The comparison to a birth is obvious. Your sins are forgiven and you are innocent again as all newborns are. No matter what your age may be, you are but a babe in the Lord now. You will need time to develop your understanding of spiritual things and practice in overcoming the temptations that remain in the world in which we all live. You will stumble from time to time as children do. Fear not, Jesus will be with you and by His Holy Spirit you will grow into the person you want to be. (John 3:5-7 NIV)  Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. {6} Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. {7} You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'

Baptism and Graduation

A graduation ceremony acknowledges the meeting of certain educational criteria. A baptism ceremony does the same. You came into the knowledge of the Lord and now family and friends are with you to share the moment when you are acknowledged as having met the criteria that allows you to proceed into graduate school. You will be a student at this next school for the rest of you life! You will grow in maturity and wisdom through prayer and the study of God’s Word as revealed in the Holy Bible. (2 Tim 2:15 KJV)  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Baptism and Wedding

The Bible makes it very clear that there is a marriage relationship between the Lord and His people. As a woman is known by her husbands name so are we known by the name of the Lord. We are Christians, followers of Jesus, the Christ. This is not a name we should take in vain. Let us be faithful. (Jer 3:14 NIV)  "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will choose you--one from a town and two from a clan--and bring you to Zion. (Rom 7:4 KJV)  Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Review and Summary

This has not been an attempt to thoroughly and rigorously explore the subject of baptism. There is no shortage of sources that will do that. It has been assumed that a candidate accepts the need for baptism and so the emphasis has been more on the meaning and symbolism of the event. The preparation and ceremony involved has been emphasized. Here is the essence of what has been presented.


*   Baptism is a necessary event in the life of each person who accepts the Lord as savior and determines to follow Him.

*   Once you have made up your mind to be baptized avoid unnecessary delay. There is no need for prolonged studies before being baptized. However, take a reasonable amount of time to prepare for one of the greatest events that will ever occur in your life.

*   The very term “baptism” describes the event. That is, immersion in water not sprinkling with water.

Scripture makes it clear, repeatedly, that we are baptized in the name of Jesus and baptized into Him as well. Be sure the name of Jesus is used when you are baptized. Some think the phrase; “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” is a substitute for the name of Jesus. It is not. (Col 3:17 NIV)  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

*   Baptism is in a sense a ritual washing that cleanses us from the filth of our sins. However, the true cleansing was accomplished by the voluntary death of Jesus on our behalf. He is our redeemer. He paid the price for a debt he did not owe and for a debt beyond our ability to ever pay.

*   Because the gift received through baptism is precious and the giver is precious there is a need to show respect for the ceremony that acknowledges this event.

*   In baptism is found attributes of birth, death, graduation, and wedding. However, baptism is a greater event than any of these others. Consequently, there is need to treat the baptism ceremony with no less preparation and respect than would be shown for any of the other great ceremonies in your life; think suitable location, proper attire, formal etiquette, and solemn yet joyous conduct.

*   This ceremony needs to be conducted by someone with experience and a deep respect for what is happening.

*   When the ceremony is complete it is time to rejoice with your family and friends. Use your imagination. Take some ideas from those other great events death, birth, graduation and wedding.