Formal baptism is performed by immersion (as among the Baptist) or by pouring or sprinkling water on the person to be baptized. Some churches baptize infants; others withhold baptism until a relatively mature age.Jewish background:
Baptism, or ceremonial purification, was common among the Jews. The Jews ceremonially cleansed clothing, utensils, and articles of furniture. This started in the Old Testament as a form of cleansing by the priest prior to dressing in the priest clothing. Leviticus 16:4 and 24 is the first place that it is mentioned as a washing or cleansing for the priest. 4He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. 24And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people.
Another place is in 2 Kings 5:14; Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. This passage is talking about Naaman when he had leprosy and was told by the prophet Elisha to go dip in the Jordan River seven times.
The Jewish people were familiar with Baptism when John the Baptist came along and started preaching the Baptism of water for the repentance of sins. Shortly before Jesus' time the Jews began to baptize Gentiles into Judaism.John's Baptism:
John's baptism is not Christian but Jewish. John the Baptist immersed repentant sinners: those who had a change of mind and heart, Matthew 3:3,6; 3For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 6And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
John's baptis for Jews and Gentiles involved the same elements later interpreted in Christian baptism:1. Repentance,
In Matthew 3:11 John will baptize them with water, but He (Jesus) will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Holy Spirit: is the Spirit of God that now lives within each of us that have accepted Christ through salvation.Jesus' Baptism:
Jesus' baptism also was not a Christian baptism. John baptized Jesus who had never sinned. Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness which meant the righteousness of obedience to the Mosaic law Matthew 3:15, And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Jesus was setting the standard for mankind to follow. Jesus was a model for others to follow.
Jesus's mission fulfilled three offices that were; Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus had to also fulfill the Levitical law requiring all priests to be consecrated when they began to be about thirty years of age.
Exodus 29:4-7, And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. 5And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: 6And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. 7Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.
John when he baptized Jesus in the Jordan River the heavens opened the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove came upon Him, Luke 3:22, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. This was the priestly anointing of Him, which was a divine appointment of an eternal Priest, Acts 10:38, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.Christian Baptism:
Jesus' baptism and the baptizing by the disciples connected baptism with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus comes into our life, the Holy Spirit comes with His saturating presence and purifies. There is no question that something happened to us. You experience a spiritual baptism like nothing else. The Holy Spirit is the gift that comes with salvation. You cannot have one without the other. There should be a difference in ones life upon receiving the Holy Spirit. To be baptized is to clothe oneself with Christ; Galatians 3:27, For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Christian baptism is in a sense a sharing of his death and resurrection and all that brought Christ to those events, Romans 6:1-7; What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin. The resurrection from the water points to the Christian's resurrection also.Belivers' Baptism:
The New Testament baptism is for believers Ephesians 4:5, One Lord, one faith, one baptism. If you have made no commitment to Christ the water is not going to make any difference in your life. The only way baptism works is to make a commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. You need that Salvation experience to get the water experience there is no manufacturing here you either have or you don't. To be baptized is to preach your personal testimony through the symbol of baptism. Baptism testifies that “you are washed…you are sanctified…you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of the living God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11, And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.Church Practice:
Baptism in the New Testament churches today does not always agree with each other. Some baptize infants which leads from immersion to sprinkling as a mode. Some only use ordained persons. Both Jesus and Paul let others do the baptizing. There is a lot of ways to do it and be right.Rebaptism:
Scriptural baptism occurs only once for believers in Christ. As we mature in Christ some of our ideas change about our beliefs but we don't get saved again nor do we have to get saved again. Baptism is not to affirm each change in our beliefs. If it helps you reconfirm where you are in Christ today and you have a better understanding of what is required it will not hurt anything.Baptism and Salvation:
Baptism is not a requirement of salvation; it is a requirement of obedience. Baptism is a first step of discipleship. Although all meanings of baptism are significant, the one that most often comes to mind is water baptism as a picture of having come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Baptism is never the event but, rather, the picture of the event. So the pattern of obedience is to come to Christ in trust and then to picture that through the symbol of baptism.