Some today teach baptism as an option for Christians who really want to “own their faith.” However, did not their faith become their own the day they believed Jesus to be the Son of God who washes away the sins of the world? It was Jesus Christ who instituted baptism and commissioned the church to practice baptism until He returned (Matt. 28:19-20). Those who repent of their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ are to identify with Him in the waters of baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Even beyond obedience to Christ’s command to be baptized there is great spiritual significance to the practice of baptism.
Baptism is a public declaration of an inward renewal that has taken place in a believer. This is why it is called believer’s baptism since it is believers who are to be baptized. To be baptized apart from belief in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins only gets one wet.
There are two significant lessons to be learned about baptism. The first lesson is that baptism is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ who was nailed to the cross for the payment for the believer’s sin. Not only did he die on the cross but He also rose from the grave showing victory over sin and death. Both Christ’s death and resurrection were necessary for our salvation. When a believer is baptized they are stating that they are now dead to their sins in the same way that Jesus Christ died for our sins. It means that the believer has put the sinful man to death~~never to live any longer. (Romans 6:1-11)
The second lesson is found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the same way that Christ rose from the dead we as Christians are raised to new life in Christ. This is also pictured in the waters of baptism as the Christian comes forth out of the water. What this means is that Christians are raised to a “new kind” of life or a “superior” life than what was put to death. For Christians, this is a life that now magnifies and represents Jesus Christ~~it is a life of righteousness. Jesus Christ was raised for the believer’s justification and sanctification. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross brought us back into relationship with God and allows the believer to become more and more Christ-like each day that they live. (Romans 6:1-11)
It could be said that baptism is three things: obedience to Jesus Christ; a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and a public declaration that as a believer we are now dead to our sins and risen to a life of righteousness (alive unto Christ).
Our response due to our salvation and baptism should be, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)