Who should the church baptize? Why do we baptize? How should it be done? These are questions that the church has struggled with for most of its existence.
Some insist that the physical act of baptism actually regenerates the soul and somehow administers saving grace into the person's life. This is why our Catholic brethren baptize infants. Some, like the Church of Christ, believe that one must make a public confession of faith and also be baptized. If you have a heart attack and die on your way to the creek bank, that's tough. It's straight to hell for you. Some, like ourselves—a people called Baptist—insist on 'believer's baptism' or what some call 'confessor's baptism.' It is the belief that first ya get saved and then ya get baptized. Ya don't get saved, ya don't get baptized. And when you do get baptized, there is nothing efficacious about it. It is merely a symbol of what the Holy Spirit has done in you when you believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ and confessed Him as Savior.
When it comes to the way we baptize, some insist that just a sprinkle of water is all that is needed, while others will take a fancy little bowl and pour water over your head. Some insist that ya gotta be dunked all the way under. And even those who immerse have their differences! You have those who believe that immersing once in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is all that is required, while others say, "Nope, ya dunk 'em once in the name of the Father, once in the name of the Son, and once in the name of the Holy Spirit."
Many will simply throw up their hands in exasperation and say, “Why does it matter?” As a people of the Book, it matters because we ought to do it as closely as we can to the way the Scriptures teach us. To that end, let me take some time to preach on four essential truths concerning biblical baptism and what the Scriptures teach about it.
Some of you are wondering, "How does this message apply to me? I've heard all this before and have believed it all my Christian life."
Let me ask you a question: "Are you still trying to be the person that your baptism claimed you to be?"
In the first-century Church baptismal candidates approached the baptistry pool wearing old cloths. These were stripped off as they entered the waters of baptism, and on surfacing they were clothed in a white robe. The old clothes represented the old life, while the new cloths characterized the new life and its accompanying change of behavior.