The act of baptism is a very important and necessary part of our repentance
for salvation, through baptism we open up our human spirit to the reception of
God's spirit into our life to begin working within us. But the act of baptism
itself is of no effect in our life until we are in a true repentant frame of
mind, both believing and accepting the word of God, completely.
Baptism is the full immersion of oneself in water, it is the symbolic death and burial of sin in our life, and the rebirth of a new life committed to removing sin from our life.
As soon as you come to believe and repent, willing to live according to Gods ways, you should be baptized.
Matthew 3:13-16 "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
If baptism were not necessary, why then would Jesus set us such an example to follow?
Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
Mark 16:15-16 "And he said unto them, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that disbelieves shall be condemned."
Romans 6:3-5 "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his."
Ephesians 4:4-5 "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
1 Peter 3:21 "This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you also - not the removal of dirt from the body, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, it saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Colossians 2:12 "and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead."
John 3:1-5 "Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Acts 2:38-41 "And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls"
Acts 8:26-40 "And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Get up, and go toward the south unto the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert. And he got up and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and stay close to this chariot. And Philip ran up to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, How can I, except someone should guide me? And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth." And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I ask you, of whom is the prophet speaking? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came to some water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what keeps me from being baptized? And 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. And he commanded the chariot to stop: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and Philip baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more: but he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea."
Acts 22:16 "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name."
Galatians 3:26-27 "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit"
Baptism saves us not by cleaning the dirt from our bodies, but by changing our attitude towards God.
What about those who have been baptized before or as infants, would it be appropriate to be re-baptized?
Acts 19:1-7 "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve."
Paul re-baptized them in the name of Christ, clearly he did not feel that doing so was wrong, and the Lord validated it with the gift of the holy spirit. Had the men rejected Paul's teaching of Christ, there is no doubt that Paul would have withheld re-baptizing them.
The baptism of an infant would be wrong on the basis that they would in most cases not truly understand the responsibility and importance of the the act. Someone baptized as an infant most likely should be re-baptized as an adult.
Sincere people who are qualified for baptism need not fear re-baptism.
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