Water baptism is commanded in the New Testament, but not as a requirement to go to heaven. You do not have to be water baptized to go to heaven.
What is required to get to heaven is that you have received salvation and been born again.
Salvation is received when you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
Water baptism is simply an outward sign of what has happened on the inside of a person.
Think about the thief on the cross (Luke 23: 42-43). He received the Lord’s forgiveness of sin but obviously did not have time to be water baptized. There are numerous stories of people receiving salvation on their deathbed without time to be water baptized.
If water baptism is not required to get to Heaven, why should anyone be water baptized? We’re going to answer this and several other questions about water baptism here.
Who Should Be Water Baptized?
To get to heaven, Jesus said you must be born again (John 3:3). Being born again occurs when you receive the forgiveness of your sin through believing what Jesus did on the cross, not just because you are water baptized.
Water baptism is the outward demonstration of what has occurred on the inside of you.
You died and were raised with Christ. You now have a brand new spirit, created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
Therefore, anyone who has received salvation (a new born again spirit) should be water baptized as an outward sign of what has happened to them.
Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Why Should Believers Be Water Baptized?
Anyone who has received Christ as the payment for their sins should be water baptized because this is what Jesus told us to do (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:18-20).
When we are water baptized, we are obeying Christ’s command and following His example.
Yes, even Jesus was water baptized (Matthew 3:13-17)! Jesus identified with humanity in His water baptism. We identify with His death and resurrection- dead to sin and alive to God.
Baptism is a sign to the world that we have shut the door on the old life. Ultimately, if someone has made Jesus the Lord of their life, then they will gladly obey His instructions to be baptized in water.
What Happens When a Person is Baptized in Water?
Water baptism can be a really powerful experience when faith is applied to it. Being dunked in water is not really a big deal unless faith is applied to it.
When we apply our faith to water baptism, it becomes a powerful declaration that we have been given new life. Our old man is dead and we are alive to God.
Romans 6:3-11 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Colossians 2: 12-13 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
When Should a Person be Water Baptized?
The Bible says that we should be water baptized after we believe and receive salvation.
Acts 10: 47-48 “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 the Lord.
Acts 9:18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
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.
Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Being baptized in water is the next step after receiving salvation.
There is another baptism, called the baptism in the Holy Spirit, that is also vital to the Christian life. You can read more about the baptism in the Holy Spirit here.
How Are We Supposed to be Water Baptized?
Different denominations seem to have different beliefs and ways they think a person should be water baptized.
The Bible does not give specific instructions as to how a person should be baptized, but the model of the New Testament seems to be that they were dunked in water.
The Bible also models believers being water baptized at an age old enough that they had chosen to believe in the Lord on their own, rather than as an infant.