Is baptism important? How important is it for a true follower of Jesus to be baptized? Let's see what the Word of God says about Baptism.
Is Baptism Important for a Christian?
Matthew 3:1 'In those days John the Baptist came preaching.....saying 'repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' (NKJV) ......The Greek word for Baptist here means; a baptizer; one who administers the rite of baptism. So John's role was to prepare the way for Jesus; to preach repentance, and to baptize.
Matthew 3:6 'and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.' (NKJV) ......The people of Jerusalem and Judea came to John the Bapist to confess their sins and be baptized. The original greek word for baptized here means to: dip repeatedly; to immerse; to be submerged. So we know how we should be baptized, and that is to be totally immersed in water (not to be just sprinkled). Here, being baptized is linked to confessing sins.
Matthew 3:11 'I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.' (NKJV) ......So Bible baptism here is linked to repentance. We know that repentance is of utmost importance to a Christian, because if you don't repent, then you are not admitting to God that you are a sinner, and you reject the very reason that Christ died for us.....because of our sins. Also John didn't have the power to baptize people with the Spirit, only Jesus could, who John said was coming after him.
Matthew 3:13-15 'Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me? But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.' (NKJV) ......Jesus told John to baptise Him, so they could fulfil all righteousness. The word righteousness means, to be right with God, to have God's approval.
Matthew 3:16 'When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the Heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.' (NKJV) ......So Jesus was baptized with water first and then with the Spirit of God......See John 3:5
Matthew 3:17 'And suddenly a voice came from Heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' (NKJV) ......God is pleased with His Son Jesus Christ, and in these few words I believe God is telling us to listen to Him and follow His example.
Note: We accept that Jesus set an example for us of how we should live our lives and serve God, so should we not accept that as Jesus was baptized, so we should be baptized also?
Mark 16:16 'He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.' (NKJV) ......The original greek word for baptized here means water baptism. So those who believe AND are baptized will be saved. Being baptized is part of the process of turning to God. It's a symbol of our sinful lives being dead and buried in the water, and as we arise out of the water we have put off the old man and now put on the new.
Luke 7:30 'But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.' (NKJV) ......The Pharisees would not be baptized by John the Baptist, and therefore rejected the will of God by not being baptized.
Acts 2:38 'Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' (NKJV) .....This is some time after Jesus resurrection, and the people are asking the apostles 'What shall we do?' The message from Peter here is for the people to repent first, then be baptized and then they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism AND Spirit baptism.... See John 3:5
Acts 2:41 'Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.' (NKJV)
Acts 8:12 'But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.' (NKJV)
So we see here in these two verses that the first process of coming to God is to believe and accept His Word, repent...... and then to be baptized.
Acts 8:36-37 'Now as they went down the road, they came to some water, and the Eunuch said, 'see, here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?' Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' (NKJV) ......Are there any conditions for being baptized? Yes, you must believe with all your heart that Jesus is the Son of God.
Acts 10:47 'Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?' And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.' (NKJV) ......Peter is speaking to Jews and Gentiles together, and the Gentiles get filled with the Holy Spirit, then Peter COMMANDS them to be 'water' baptized in the name of Jesus.
So in the above passage, we have Peter actually commanding people to be baptized.
Acts 19:3-5 'And he said to them, 'Into what then were you baptized?' So they said, 'Into John's baptism.' Then Paul said, 'John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.' When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.' (NKJV) ......Now here we have disciples that Paul met up with, who were already baptized, but they only knew about John the Baptist, they didn't know about Jesus. So they needed to be re-baptized in the name of Jesus. The very fact that they needed to be re-baptized properly in Jesus name, shows that baptism is a very important Christian act.
Acts 22:16 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord Jesus.' (NKJV) ......Paul was telling people in Jerusalem about his conversion, in which Ananias is telling Paul to get up and be baptized. Being baptized was the next step for Paul in his conversion into following Jesus.
Romans 6:3-4 'Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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.' ......This verse explains clearly exactly what baptism is all about.....we are being buried with Christ in the water, leaving our old sinful life behind and raised with Him out of the water into a new life with Him.
1 Corinthians 1:12-15 'Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul' or 'I am of Apollos' or 'I am of Cephas' or 'I am of Christ'. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized you in my own name.' (NKJV) ......This is a very important issue. We are baptized into Christ Jesus who died for us. We are not baptized into a particular church, or any other person, but Christ alone.
1 Corinthians 10:1-2 'Moreover brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.' (NKJV) ......God's chosen people in the Old Testament, who He led out of Egypt were baptized in the cloud and the sea that they passed through. It says in verse 11 that these things happened to them as examples, and written for our admonition (recommendation).
Galatians 3:27 'For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' (NKJV) ......The following verses go on to explain that there are no divisions in Christ, all people are the same, whether Greek or Jew, and if you are baptized into Christ then you become Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Ephesians 4:5 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism.' (NKJV) ......There can be no confusion about who we serve, which faith to follow, and how we follow...God's Word is clear, One Lord!! One Faith!! One Baptism!! One baptism into Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 3:20-21 '....while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us - baptism......the answer of a good conscience toward God! Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.' (NKJV) ......Noah and his family were saved through water, and now we can be saved through water, but it's not the water or the putting away of the filth of the flesh alone that saves us, it's our response to God in baptism, the acknowledgement and repentance of our sins in baptism gives us a clear conscience before God, which is made possible ONLY through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How important is baptism?
John 3:5 'Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.' (NKJV) ......Jesus says 'Most assuredly'....this isn't a little statement, it's a firm, important announcement Jesus is giving.....'Unless one is born of Water AND Spirit'. Water baptism is our act of faith and obedience, and Spirit baptism comes from above.
From the above verse it would seem that water baptism is very important. It's an act of faith and obedience to God. Nothing we can do ourselves can save us. It is through Jesus Christ that we are saved. But, this doesn't mean we can sit back and just accept our free gift of Grace without responding to it. I believe being baptized is a very important part of being a Christian. I believe it's a step we must take (if able) as part of our walk of faith in Jesus. There are circumstances where people cannot be baptized, whether they are disabled, or people who accept Jesus on their death beds. Maybe Jesus Himself was baptized for people like these? We can't be sure. But God obviously does still accept those who cannot physically do it.