Why We Immerse (Baptize) New Believers in
By Calvin Bergsma, Pastor of Georgetown
As Jesus ascended into Heaven He commissioned us
"Therefore go and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
teaching them to obey everything
I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you
always, to the very end of the age"
The Book of Acts documents the amazing birth of
the church and the following exponential growth
Although Jesus and His message greatly impacted
the land of Israel and the Jewish people,
was still… primarily a local phenomenon.
It was not until after His death, resurrection
and an additional 50 days of prayer and waiting
that the Holy Spirit
(which He had promised) was poured
out on the followers of Jesus.
after this infusion of God's mighty power did
Christianity emerge as the most influential
movement this world has ever seen.
2nd chapter of Acts we find
the message Peter preached which started this
Acts 2:14-21 and 38-41
But Peter, taking his stand with the
eleven, raised his voice and declared to
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
So those who received his word were
baptized, and there were added that day
about three thousand souls”
What a spectacle that must have been!
There are five basic events (when combined),
that mark conversions in the New Testament:
(The Good News of Gospel)
(Place personal faith in Christ)
(Turn away from sin)
(Faith in Jesus)
(In Identification with Christ)
consistent with your confession)
From that moment on…
wherever the apostles preached, they instructed
those who believed
and expect to receive the Holy Spirit.
Philip teaches the Ethiopian eunuch who
responds by being baptized.
Philip preaches in Samaria. People
respond in faith by being baptized.
The conversion of Saul to Paul.
The “Gentile Pentecost”- God shows Peter
the Gospel message is not for Jews
The conversion of Lydia and her
Paul & Silas’ jailer
(and his household) responded in
faith and are immediately baptized.
Acts 18:8 ……..
Crispus, the synagogue ruler.
Those that had not heard yet of Jesus
Paul’s story revisited - his sins are
washed away, calling on the name of the
Lord in baptism.
In the Book of Acts, these five “ingredients”
all take place in a very short time period,
almost as a singular event.
what baptism is
(and its significance)
we must look at the word "Baptism".
It comes from the Greek word “baptizo”
which literally means:
To immerse, to submerge, to saturate, plunge,
dip, or bury in water.
The very word itself excludes it from
meaning “sprinkling” or “christening”
The Greeks had a word for
as well as one for
was not an English word,
transliteration of the Greek word “baptizo”.
the 17th century
James, who was both the head of state and
the “Church of England”,
the translation of a new Bible into the English
– the King James Version.
The Church of England taught and
practiced christening (or
sprinkling) of infants, so when the
translators came to the Greek word “baptizo”,
than simply use the existing English
“immerse”, they chose to create the
the obvious meaning of the word.
This may have been done in order to
protect the method and
tradition of christening infants,
which the Church of England had
established and practiced.
For the 1st 100 years of Christianity
baptism was always done by immersion.
This practice was followed because the 1st
century church saw it primarily as
of the new convert’s old life and a
resurrection into a new life.
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.”
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
This makes Baptism one of the most
foundational teachings of the New
“Therefore let us leave the
elementary teachings about Christ
and go on to maturity, not laying again
of repentance from acts that
lead to death, and of faith in God,
instruction about baptisms, the
laying on of hands, the
resurrection of the dead, and
eternal judgment. And God
permitting, we will do so.”
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…
Philip opened his mouth, and
began at the same scripture,
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
This act of obedience and identification cost
some converts their very lives.
From 1527 to the 1700’s between 20,000 and
40,000 Anabaptists were
Protestants and Catholics because they
were baptized by immersion.
Even today in many countries being baptized can
Obeying the Lord's command to be baptized is one
of the most rewarding things a believer can do.
one of the first tests of
obedience you will encounter as a new believer.
allows us to do something tangible in response
to the salvation that God provides.
puts us in the cue for the Baptism of the Holy
Jesus submitted to Baptism from John and received the anointing
of the Holy
Spirit as He
started His public ministry.
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
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
In my own life I remember the night my brother
Doug and I were baptized.
A small gathering of new believers stood on
the muddy banks of the Grand River. When
my turn came to be baptized, I waded out into
the dark river, illuminated only by an unusually
I stood between two of my
Christian brothers, one of whom asked if I was
ready to leave my old life behind and follow
Jesus as Lord and Savior. I answered "yes"
and they plunged this repentant sinner beneath
the water and lifted me up as one bursting from
As I raised my hands in
praise to God and they let me go, I walked down
the river worshipping the God who not only went
to the grave for me but rose to give me life.
Never had I felt as clean as the night I was
washed in the dirty Grand River.
BAPTISM IS PERSONAL STATEMENT OF FAITH…
outward expression of an
I 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.“
Baptism is an important marker in a Christians life…
You were born to your mother on a day and hour
you did not choose.
However, you may choose
the day and hour to be born of the water of
Baptism when you obey His command to
Acts 22:16 “And now why do you wait?
Rise and be baptized, and wash away your
calling on his name.”