Discipleship Lesson 2: Baptism


How important is baptism? What does baptism mean? Does one have to be baptized to be saved? How is one to be baptized? This lesson will examine these and other issues.


1. How important is baptism? Baptism is not essential for salvation but a very important step of obedience after salvation.

Baptism is very important. It is one of the first steps of obedience after receiving Christ. Furthermore, being a follower of Jesus means we seek to be like Christ. Christ was baptized, and in following Him, we should be baptized.


“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented. 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. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” Mathew 3:13-17

“Those who accepted his message were baptized.” Acts 2:41


2. What does baptism mean? Baptism testifies to others that we are a follower of Jesus. It seals the justification experience (when we are declared righteous by faith in Christ), and begins the sanctification process (process of growing in Christ).

Baptism demonstrates to others that you are a follower of Christ. Water is a cleansing agent and is a picture of our sins being washed clean by the blood of Jesus. When one goes under the water it represents our death to our old life, and when one comes up out of the water it shows that we are new 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. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Romans 6:3-5

“And 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

3. Does one have to be baptized to be saved? No.

Some verses in the Bible seem to suggest that a person needs to be baptized to be saved. However, a more thorough study of God’s Word shows that one does not need to be baptized to be saved. Though a person does not need to be baptized to be saved, a person who is saved needs to be baptized. Baptism is the first step of obedience we take in following Christ.


“Can anyone keep these people from being baptized? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Acts 10:37

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel.” 1 Corinthians 1:17


4. How is one to be baptized? Baptism by full immersion is the most biblical way to be baptized.

Baptism by full immersion (when possible) is the most biblical mode of baptism.


“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 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 1:9-10

“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away.” Acts 8:36-39

5. What about infant baptism? Infant baptism is not biblical and can also give a false assurance of salvation.

Infant baptism is not biblical because it reverses the biblical order of baptism. The bible says we are to believe in Jesus and then be baptized. Infant baptism is done to a child before they can repent of their sins and believe in Jesus. Furthermore, infant baptism can give a false assurance of salvation.

In addition, adult baptism, if before salvation, is also unbiblical because it reverses the biblical order of salvation. The biblical order is salvation first and then baptism.

“Repent and be baptized ..” Acts 2:38

6. When should I be baptized? Baptism should come as soon as possible after one receives Christ.

As soon as a person repents and believes in Jesus for salvation, he/she should be baptized. Nowhere in the Bible does it suggest putting off baptism for any reason. We should be baptized as soon as we can after being saved.

“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ 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 10:44-48

7. What is the difference between water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Water baptism is the physical event whereby one declares himself to be a follower of Christ. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual experience whereby one is saved and placed into the body of Christ. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the repeated experience whereby one is controlled and empowered by the Spirit (see lesson on Holy Spirit).

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11

“I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:8

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 1 Corinthians 12:13

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