One of the foundational events in regard to baptism and what is required occurred on Pentecost in 30 A.D. On that day, the apostle Peter gave a powerful message about God that convicted the hearts of those who heard him.
After the consciences of the audience began to stir within them regarding their sins, they asked what they needed to do. Peter answered that the next step was to receive baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37 - 38).
Baptism is a major turning point in a person's life. In fact, it is arguably the most important decision someone will make, as it will affect every moment of his or her life on earth. This is partly why the early New Testament church seemed to perform this ceremony quickly on Pentecost. They did this because Peter, Philip and the other disciples knew that it was a requirement for salvation (see Mark 16:15 - 16)!
The starting point
Acts 2 tells us that, before we can be forgiven of our many sins and receive God's spirit, we must repent. This prerequisite is no different than what Philip required of the Eunuch who was from Ethiopia (Acts 8:36 - 37).
It is hard to believe that the eunuch from Ethiopia could have believed that Christ took upon his sins and not be led to a deep repentance. Could a person ever be convicted that Jesus died for them and not desire to stop sinning and be baptized?
Philip may not have explained all this to the eunuch, but it is obvious that he required, like Peter, a basic understanding of sin, heartfelt repentance, and a desire to follow God's ways before carrying out the baptism ceremony on a person.
God does not expect perfect obedience from those He is calling before they go under their baptismal waters. What He looks for is a heart that is willing to listen and strongly desires to obey Him and the words He inspired in the Bible.
When the Father begins to call a person it is His Spirit working with them. The Spirit prompts a person to begin taking him seriously and begin to obey him. A person then begins to show submission to him by a changed lifestyle.
Are you ready?
So, how can you know if you are ready for baptism? Here are some questions to ask yourself. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God who came and died not only the sins of the world but also your sins? Do you believe you have sinned and have begun repenting?
Repentance means we voluntarily submit to God's way of life. If we are not committed to doing what is right in his eyes (and not our own), then we are fooling ourselves and not truly repentant (John 4:23). In such a situation we are not ready for baptism.
Do you believe a change in your life is needed? Have you begun to question and reject the world's holidays that promote a gospel different from the truth of God's word (e.g. Christmas, Easter, etc.)? Have you also begun to reject the world's day of worship and accept the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday)?
The Bible clearly states that God will give His Holy Spirit only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). Those who kid themselves regarding their repentance and obedience may find, upon baptism, that they only thing they receive is becoming wet!
Are you embarrassed by obeying Jesus in certain areas? If you answer yes, you may wish to postpone baptism and pray about this. Are you willing to commit eternally to Christ? Are you willing to put God first in your life? Are you prepared to make an eternal covenant and commit to an eternal relationship with God and Jesus?
When you step out of the waters of baptism, you are a new life to God, just as a new baby is to a mother. God's Spirit has united with your spirit to form a new creature. You are a "babe in Christ" with much to learn! Thankfully, the way He wants us to live as Christians, the evidence that we are truly converted, is clearly shown in the Bible!