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Water Baptism

Water baptism is a significant milestone in the life of every Christian. In City Harvest Church, we believe that water baptism is a biblical teaching and sacred practice for true followers of Christ.

While baptism itself has no power to cleanse or save from sin, it is an important step of obedience in a believer’s life as an outward acknowledgment of the salvation experience that has already taken place.

The act of immersion and emerging from the water represents the death of our old self, and mirrors the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Indeed, Jesus Himself emphasized the importance of water baptism when He gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 “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.” (NKJV)

We have put together a list of answers to common questions that you might have pertaining to water baptism.

If you are thinking of going for water baptism, do not hesitate to speak to your Cell Group Leader, or feel free to contact the church office at (65) 6737-6266.

Water Baptism FAQ

1. Why is water baptism important?

Water baptism is a significant milestone in the life of every Christian. In City Harvest Church, we believe that water baptism is a biblical teaching and a sacred practice for true followers of Christ. While baptism itself has no power to cleanse or save from sin, it is an important step of obedience in a believer’s life as an outward acknowledgment of the salvation experience that has already taken place.

The act of immersion and emerging from the water represents the death of our old self, and mirrors the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Indeed, Jesus Himself emphasized the importance of water baptism when He gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 “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.”

2. Where does it say in the Bible that we should be baptized in water?

a. Jesus Himself was baptized by John in the River Jordan at the age of 30 just before the beginning of His public ministry, leaving behind an example for his followers. (Matt. 3:13-17).

b. Jesus told His disciples after His resurrection and just before He was taken up to heaven that they should go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that He had commanded them (Matt. 28:18-20).

The disciples obeyed Him and preached baptism along with the gospel (Acts 2:38). When people repented from their sins and believed in Jesus, they were baptized in water (Acts 2:41; 8:12, 38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15, 33; 19:5; 22:16).

3. Who are the ones who should be baptized?

When Jesus told the apostles to baptize people, He meant those who had been made disciples (Matt. 28:19). When Peter preached the gospel on the day of Pentecost, he told people to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip whether he could be baptized, Philip replied that he could if he believed in Jesus with all his heart (Acts 8:37).

Therefore, it is people who have repented from their sins, believed in Jesus as their Savior and decided to follow Him as His disciples, who should be baptized in water. In other words, only those who have been born again should be baptized, because only those who repent from their sins and believe in Jesus are born of God (1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4).

4. Why should we be baptized in water after we are born again?

In a nutshell, we are baptized to obey what Jesus commanded, and to testify of what Jesus has done in our life and how we have decided to follow Him. It is also an outward action of the inward change in us.

5. What is the meaning of water baptism?

During baptism, when you are immersed into water, you are identifying with the death and burial of Jesus Christ—testifying that your old, sinful way of life is dead and is fit to be buried. As you come out of the water, you identify with the resurrection of Christ into the newness of life, signifying that you are now a new person with the life of Christ in you (Rom 6:3, 4). By going through this act, you demonstrate your sincerity in wanting to live with a clear conscience before God (1 Pet. 3:21).

6. What is the right mode of baptism?

Since the days of Jesus and the early days of the church, it has been generally accepted that baptism means immersion or dipping, because that was the meaning of the Greek word (baptisma) that has been adapted into English.

7. Does it really matter how one is baptized?

Total immersion in water is the way Jesus received His baptism. It also gives the symbolic picture of “burial” and “resurrection.” However, special consideration will be given to those who suffer from physical difficulties or health impediments.

8. Who has the right to baptize others?

As we have seen, Jesus Christ gave His Great Commission to the disciples, so the authority to baptize rests with the spiritual leaders of the local church. While any believer can be authorised by a local church to baptize people, this is usually done by a pastor or an elder of the church.

9. In what name should we be baptized?

Jesus said very clearly to His apostles that we are to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).

10. Does one have to be baptized in order to be saved?

When a man repents from his sins and believes in Jesus, his sins are forgiven (Rom. 10:9-10). He is saved from the guilt of his sins.

Then he can testify through baptism what he has already experienced. Baptism follows salvation. It is not baptism that brings the forgiveness of sins, but repentance and faith in Jesus.

Those whose sins are forgiven can go to heaven even if they have not been baptized in water, like the thief who repented and believed in Jesus while hanging on the cross (Luke 23:39-43).

11. The Bible says what matters is faith working through love (Gal. 5:6). Why should we bother about baptism when what is really important is faith?

It is true that faith is more important than baptism. However, true faith produces action (Jas. 2:17), which includes the act of baptism. Moreover, baptism was important enough for Jesus to have insisted on being baptized Himself by John the Baptist because He considered it the right thing to do (Matt. 3:13-15). His actions provide us with an example to follow, and to effectively obey all that Jesus commanded, we need to be baptized.

12. I was baptized when I was a baby. Now I have become a believer in Jesus. Do I need to get baptized again?

Water baptism should follow after repentance and a decision to place one’s faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord. True water baptism is always a “believer’s baptism” as demonstrated in the New Testament.

The baptism of an infant is the decision of the parent. Since infants cannot make the decision to repent or place their faith in Christ, infant baptism would be considered more a ritual. If you were baptized as an infant, you should choose to be baptized again now as a born-again believer in declaration of your faith, since, as an infant, you could not make a conscious choice of your own to be a disciple of Christ.

13. I was baptized as an adult. But now I see that I was not really born again at that time. I was only following what I saw others do. Should I get baptized now?

Baptism is a testimony which only believers in Jesus can experience. It is an event that should take place after you have made the decision to be born again. If you feel strongly that you need to go through baptism again because of a newfound awareness of what it means to be born again, you should make the effort to do so.

14. I was baptized as a believer long ago. But I backslid and went back to a sinful life. Now that I have repented and come back to Jesus, should I get baptized again?

It is important to acknowledge your repentance from backsliding, but there is no need to be baptized once more. You should only consider being baptized again if you have doubts about your earlier salvation experience and wish to reaffirm your born-again commitment to Christ.

15. My family strongly objects to my baptism. Should I get baptized secretly?

Baptism is a public testimony of your personal faith in Christ and an important demonstration of your commitment to Him. However, there are times when one has to act wisely rather than recklessly. Do seek counsel from your church leaders regarding your situation and take note that according to the legal requirements in Singapore, parental consent is needed for baptism candidates under the age of 21.

16. I have just been baptized in water, but I don’t feel any different. What’s wrong?

What follows after baptism is the regular Christian life with its battles and temptations. In fact, just after Jesus was baptized, He faced strong temptations from the devil. The important thing is to set your heart to follow Jesus for the rest of your life.

17. I have been baptized in water. What should I do now?

Baptism is one of the first steps in following Jesus. Make a point to follow Him in every part of your life. Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit immediately after He was baptized in water. As such, you should ask God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11, 16).

To grow in your faith and relationship with God, you should also take time out to pray and talk to God daily. Start reading the Bible and join a cell group in the church so that you can get to know other Christians and learn more about the Christian lifestyle.

18. What if there are limitations that prevent baptism by immersion (such as physical sickness, lack of facilities)?

God accepts us with our limitations if we have a willing heart (2 Cor. 8:12). For Him, the condition of our heart is infinitely more important. Even if a born-again believer dies before he can get baptized, he is not going to miss out on heaven because it is faith, not baptism, that saves us (Mark 16:16). If there are real limitations that prevent baptism by immersion, I am sure God will accept a symbolic form in place of the ideal one.

19. How many times should a person be baptized?

Just once. If you have been baptised before, but drift away from the Lord because of sin, you can confess your sins, recommit your life to God and be forgiven (1 John 1:5-10); it is not necessary to be baptized again.

Water baptism is a once-and-for-all public testimony of our identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. It is not a religious ceremony that washes away our sins.

20. What do I need to bring in preparation for my water baptism?

  • White clothing (shorts/pants, T-shirt)
  • Bath towel
  • Swimwear (for the ladies)
  • An extra set of clothing
  • Any other items you may need after the baptism, i.e. personal toiletries, hair dryer, etc.

If you want to be water baptized, do speak to your Cell Group Leader or contact our church office at (65) 6737-6266.