Baptism: Out with the Old, On with the New

“It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I’ll never forget it,” Bill says as he reflects on the day of his baptism. “It felt good knowing I was taking a stand for Jesus Christ and publicly committing myself to being a follower of Jesus. I know God was smiling from above saying. ‘This is my child in whom I am well pleased.’” Bill and so many others share these feelings about their day of baptism. But, just what is baptism and why is it so important for a disciple of Jesus? It’s an important subject in the Bible and in our lives; so let’s take a closer look.

Should I be baptized?

  • In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus gives His disciples their mission. In these very important verses, Jesus sent His followers to make disciples of people from every nation. In this important mission statement, what two things are they to do with every person becoming a disciple?
  • The first time the Gospel is ever preached is in Acts 2. The people who hear Peter’s message are “cut to the heart”--they are convicted. They asked Peter what to do. Read Acts 2:38-41. What does Peter tell them to do and how do they respond?
  • In Acts 8:12-13, Philip preaches the Good News to a group of people. What two things do they do when they hear his message?
  • Luke 2:21-22 tells how Joseph and Mary presented Jesus at the temple before the Lord and Luke 2:41-52 shows that from an early age Jesus knew the Scripture and had a deep desire for the things of God. If Jesus was already following God, why then, according to Matthew 3:15, does He get baptized?
  • Jesus was baptized when He was thirty years old by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-16). He is our sinless Savior, yet He humbled Himself and set an example for us to follow. What does Jesus’ example and humility in being baptized communicate to you? Remember, Jesus was baptized after 30 years of faithful, fervent, sinless life. His baptism didn’t cancel out his godly upbringing—it honored his spiritual past.
  • Getting baptized can be compared to getting married. Both ceremonies publicly declare one’s love and loyalty to another. Of course, there are some individuals who want to live with a partner, but not get married. Sadly, people shy away from marriage for some of the same reasons they avoid baptism. Can you list a few reasons?
  • Water baptism is an outward sign of what happens to us on the inside. When you are baptized, you are publicly declaring, “I have been forgiven, and I’m proud to be a disciple of Jesus”. What does Jesus say about those who are unwilling to acknowledge him before others? Read Matthew 10:32-33.
  • Some people find it hard to be baptized because of what family and friends may say. They try to keep peace in their family by not taking the step of baptism or by postponing it indefinitely. What counsel does Jesus give to this matter according to Matthew 10:34-39? Explain this in your own words.
  • According to Matthew 10:37, do you think someone who avoids their baptism because of family pressure is ready to become a disciple? Why or why not?

What does my baptism mean?

  • Baptism places a new disciple into what group, according to I Corinthians 12:12-13?
  • The word “baptize” in the Bible means “to dip, to plunge under, to submerge.” Read Romans 6:1-4. According to verse 3, whom are we baptized into and to what are we baptized into?
  • According to Romans 6:4-5, what does going down into the water represent?
  • What do you think coming out of the water represents?
  • Read Ephesians 4:22-32. Through baptism we see that a true disciple must be willing to put off the old self and put on the new self. What does Ephesians 4:22-24 tell us about the old self?
  • Like filthy old clothes, we are to put off the old corrupt ways of living. Then we are to put on the new self. What does Christ create the “new you” to be like according to verse 24?

Read verses 25-32 and describe some practical ways you can take off the old and put on the new.

  • Ephesians 4:25
  • Ephesians 4:28
  • Ephesians 4:29
  • Ephesians 4:31-32

Baptism proclaims that our old self is put to death, and the new self has been raised in Christ. How does the Apostle Paul describe his death to the old self in Galatians 2:20?

  • Paul makes it clear that the new life he lives is not a result of his own effort. What causes Paul to live the new life?

How should I be baptized?

We already see that baptism represents our old life or self being buried with Christ. We also learn that the word baptize means “to dip, to plunge under, to submerge.” The words “pour” or “sprinkle” are not used regarding people being baptized in the Bible. Please fill in the blanks for these verses.

Mark 1:10 “As Jesus was _____ the water”

Acts 8:38 “Then both Philip and the eunuch _____ _____ the water”

Acts 8:39 “When they _____ the water”

  • According to Matthew 28:19, when someone is becoming a disciple he or she should be baptized in whose name?

This aspect of baptism reminds us that we have a personal relationship with each name mentioned. God the Father forgives us and adopts us as His children (Ephesians 1:3-8). Jesus the Son makes the way for us through the cross (John 14:6.) The Holy Spirit lives in us and empowers us to live as children of God (Romans 8:9-17).

When should I be baptized?

An interesting account about baptism is found in Acts 8:26- 40. What does the eunuch ask Philip right after hearing and accepting the gospel message?

  • Read Acts 16:31-33, and describe how long this man and his family wait to be baptized once they believe.

Should I be baptized again?

As you have seen through this study, baptism is commanded
by Jesus for all those who would follow him. You have also observed that baptism is pictured throughout the book of Acts as a response carried out by people who hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus. -Sometimes, people raised in other Christian traditions were presented for baptism as babies or very young children by their parents. Babies and very young children cannot confess their own faith in Jesus and choose to be baptized.

  • Does their baptism fulfill the command of Jesus or the pattern of the church in Acts regarding baptism? Why? Read Acts 19:1-5 to help form your answer. If you have not yet been baptized as a personal confession of your faith in Jesus, what should you do?

Are you ready to take the plunge?

Matthew 28:19-20 tells us we are to make disciples of all nations. The first step a disciple takes is the step of believers’ baptism. With this step the disciple is declaring he or she has truly laid down his or her life to follow Christ. Now that you’ve investigated what the Bible teaches about baptism, write down any decisions you are making as a result of what you have learned. If you were already baptized as a true follower of Christ, then write down what that day meant to you. May your baptism be a great day reminding you of what Christ has done for you and your public commitment to follow Him.

Steps to Begin

Complete your Daily Bread calendar in the front inside cover of this book. Record the scriptures that speak to you each day.

Practice your Memory Verse for this week. Memorize it to hide God’s Word in your heart.

Review your Prayer List in the back inside cover of this book. Ask God who you can pray for and share with this week.

Questions for Group Discussion

  1. How would you explain to someone the meaning of baptism?
  2. Read Ephesians 4:22-32. What stands out to you most in this list? Why?
  3. When did you taken the step of baptism? Share with the group about that day.
  4. If you have not yet been baptized, what is holding you back? Are you ready to take that step in following Jesus?
  5. Who is one person you can share your faith with this week?