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Baptism: a Sign of Your Obedience to Christ

Matthew 28:18-20


This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Bible Baptism.


Jesus began His ministry by being baptized by John in the River Jordan. (Read Matthew 3:13-17.) And Jesus concluded His ministry by commanding baptism. This is the Great Commission, the marching orders Christ gave to the Church.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19-20).

Christ is here today, still saying the same thing. He has not changed. We are to lead people to Christ, baptize them, and teach them to observe everything Christ has commanded.

If we have any denominational doctrine about baptism, we need to get rid of it. We must come back to Bible doctrine. This is the Church, not a club. Jesus has all authority, and He is the one who tells us about baptism.

How Should Baptism Be Done?

“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove” (Mark 1:9-10).

Jesus came 60 miles—one way—to be baptized in the River Jordan. And if He came up out of the water, where was He? Down in the water. Obviously, Jesus was baptized by immersion.

Why was John baptizing in the River Jordan? “Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there” (John 3:23a). Not because it was so beautiful, or so convenient. Baptism just takes a lot of water.

The word “baptism” is a transliterated Greek word. Rantizo means to sprinkle, luo means to pour, but God’s Word uses baptizo, which means to submerge, dip, immerse. Early Christians were baptized by immersion. The great cathedrals built before the 13th century all had baptisteries.

So, we see that the biblical way is baptism by immersion. It is not easy, or convenient, but it is glorious—and here is why.

What Does Baptism Mean?

The method and the meaning of baptism are interwoven. The meaning dictates the method. Baptism pictures the Gospel.

The Gospel is, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3b-4).

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Can you see why Satan would like to destroy that symbolism? If there is one message the devil does not want to be seen, it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What is baptism? When you go under the water in your baptism, that says you are buried with Christ in death. The old you has died. When you trust Christ, His death has your name on it. He took your place on that cross, so your death with Jesus Christ is pictured in baptism.

Who Should be Baptized?

In the Bible, baptism always follows belief. You must be saved and have received the Holy Spirit before you are baptized.

“Then those who gladly received his (Peter’s) word were baptized” (Acts 2:41a).

“For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’” (Acts 10:46-47)

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in prison. There was an earthquake, and the jailer came to them and wanted to know what he had to do to be saved. “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house….And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:31-33).

Your baptism pictures that when Jesus died, you died. When He arose, you arose to new life. But it also pictures the fact that one of these days, you will die physically. You will be up in Heaven, but your body will be in the good clean earth until the trumpet sounds and the resurrection comes. Then, just like you came out of the water when you were baptized, your body will be raised out of that grave.

Why Should You Be Baptized?

There are three reasons for baptism.

  1. To Confess Christ as Your Master
    We are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19b). We take the name of Jesus. “Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6b). You are a new person, with a new Master. Baptism is your way of saying, “I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ. I thank God for what He did for me on the cross.”
  2. To Tell Your Master’s Message to Others
    Every time someone is baptized, that person is preaching the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism shows what happened when you were saved. Many people have come under conviction of sin and have been saved because they saw a baptism. They see it and say, “I need a new life. I need what that pictures.”
  3. To Fulfill Your Master’s Command
    Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).

    Your response to that should be, “Yes, Lord.”

You might ask, “What difference does baptism make? It's not necessary for salvation.” But it is necessary for obedience, and obedience is necessary for joy and fruitfulness in the Christian life. The way to understand the parts of Scripture you don’t understand is to obey the parts you do understand.

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