Notice in verse 16 that it says, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water." Notice that He came out of the water, meaning that he was in the water when He had his baptism. What does this mean? It means the He was completely immersed in the water. This is referred to as baptism by immersion. Therefore, any baptism which simply involves the sprinkling of water on the person is not valid.
What does it mean?
The ceremony of water baptism is performed by immersion for the forgiveness of sins upon true repentance and acceptance of Christ's sacrifice. After this ceremony, and as a result, one receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Baptism symbolizes the renunciation of the past sinful way of life, the burial of the old person in a watery grave and the emergence of a new spirit-led person living with Christ's mind and following in His footsteps.
What are the requirements?
There are many differing viewpoints about baptism, concerning both the method to be used and who should or should not be baptized. With the Bible as our only guide, we will explain the true Biblical approach.
Regardless of what others teach, baptism is not for children. An infant or child is really not able to comprehend the meaning of or complete all three steps required for this process. The process of baptism and becoming a Christian can be found in the New Testament Book of Acts. The time frame is where Peter gave his well-known sermon on the Feast of Pentecost, which was 10 days after Jesus was taken up into the third heaven from the Mount of Olives. Pentecost is the day on which the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled upon the disciples of Christ. Let's turn to Acts the 2nd chapter:
"Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 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.' " (Acts 2:36-38, RSV).
What is the process to be baptized again?
Notice the three main parts from above:
You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
These are the three steps that are required in order to become a true Christian. People have this ceremony performed every day all over the world, but that does not make them a Christian.
What is the first part of becoming a Christian?
The first part to becoming a true Christian is that one must have received a special calling or invitation from God the Father, which Jesus mentioned in the Book of John:
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)
Also in the same chapter:
"And he said, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.' " (John 6:65, RSV).
Notice that Jesus mentioned this not once, but twice in the same chapter. Whenever God mentions something specific more than once in the Bible, that means it is very important. The fact is, because mankind is now and has been cut off from God since the Garden of Eden, people in general cannot have a real relationship with the true God at this time. You probably have never heard that before. Most people will have a chance later to come to God, either during the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ on this earth or in the general or second resurrection to occur after the Millennium. The words of Jesus are quite clear about this. A person must be granted or given permission by God the Father to come to Jesus Christ. God the Father does the calling or drawing a person and Jesus Christ will be the judge of the living and the dead. He will judge every man and woman according to their works. That is why the majority of "altar calls" are simply not real and infant and child baptisms are invalid.
If you are very serious about changing your life, then your next question might be something like, "how do I know if God is calling me?" You will know because your attitude will begin to change, including the way you look and think about everything, especially the serious things of life. God, the Bible, living, dying, morality, other people, the holidays that they celebrate, world conditions, etc. You will begin to have a change of heart and will start seeing virtually everything in a different light. Most people in the world are now deceived and are not being called by God in this age. Jesus also said:
"For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14, NKJV).
The Bible says that the entire world is deceived by Satan the devil:
"The great dragon was hurled down that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." (Revelation 12:9, NIV)
What is the second part that is needed?
The act of repentance is much more than just being sorry for your sins, though being sorry is an integral part of it. Before we decide that we need to repent, we must understand what we need to repent of. The dictionary definition of the word repent' simply means: "to turn from sin and resolve to reform one's life." What does repentance mean in the eyes of God? It is the act of acknowledging one's sins, and resolving to fully obey God. It begins when God opens one's mind to see him/herself in comparison with God and His law. True repentance is the first step toward reconciliation with God, and thereby toward ultimate salvation (Acts 3:19-21; Acts 8:22).
Making up your mind and heart to stop sinning and breaking God's laws is something that takes adequate time and preparation. It is because of the sins of mankind that Jesus Christ had to shed His blood and die. His one life was worth more than all human lives combined. It is not something that a person should decide casually. Forsaking the old person and turning your heart and mind to God to create a new person in you is serious business. In the process of preparing for baptism, you should spend many hours in prayer and Bible study. You should ask God over and over to show you your sins and faults, and create in you a new heart that will respond to what He says in His word.
What does it mean to enter a COVENANT with God?
There should be much preparation before the actual baptism takes place. You should be made aware that you are about to enter into a covenant with God the Father and Jesus Christ. That covenant is generally referred to as the New Covenant, which Jesus Christ introduced during the last Passover that He observed with His disciples prior to His suffering and death. Let's briefly review that and then we can have a better understanding of the New Covenant.
Bible students are familiar with what is called the Lord's supper:
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." " (Matthew 26:26-29, NKJV).
Jesus introduced the New Covenant, and the very next day, He sealed it with His shed blood through His suffering and death on the cross. It is because of the sins of Adam and Eve and their posterity down through the ages that Jesus had to die for the sins of humanity. This was actually in God's plan from the beginning, in the event that man might choose the way of sin by disobeying God's command not to take the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
How does a person receive God's Spirit?
The word covenant means, "a formal binding agreement." You enter into a binding agreement with God Himself, in which you agree to renounce your old way of living (breaking God's laws and commandments). When you are baptized, you make a solemn promise to strive to live God's way according to His commandments and the instruction that you find in His word in the Bible.
In return, God promises that He will give you as a "down payment" the gift of His Holy Spirit, which represents a very small part of His essence and power (NOT a third person of a Trinity, which is a false doctrine). With God's Holy Spirit you will begin to live in newness of life and in a way that you have never lived your life before. God also promises that He will write His laws into your very being. Look in the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament:
"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.
"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me [everyone in the world], from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. " (Jeremiah 31:31-34 , RSV).
Though this section of Jeremiah is speaking about the time in the future that Jesus Christ will be ruling on this earth, it is nevertheless a detailed description of the New Covenant that God wants to eventually make with every person.
So far, He has made that covenant with only a handful of people down through history. There are people on this earth right now who are God's people and who have entered into that New Covenant relationship with God. They are in training right now to be kings, priests and teachers who will assist Jesus Christ in the coming new world to re-educate this world and bring all peoples everywhere into a spiritual relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. At this time, the vast majority of the people in this world, even those who call themselves Christians, are not God's people and they are not living according to the laws of the true God. But God is completely fair and just, and every person who has ever lived will have an opportunity to receive a calling from the Father and come to know the true God and His way of life.
Our advice to you is to very deeply consider everything we have said here and to look up all the scriptures we have quoted. You also need to find out where the true God is working on this earth and who His true people are, those who keep His laws and commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17). And if you do wish to consider a real baptism as we have described here, then take your time, give it a lot of thought, prayer and study beforehand. And seek God's help and guidance in making your decision. Then you can rest assured that you have made the right decision.