Baptism Is Symbolic
Like marriage ceremony, baptism is a compulsory ceremony. The ceremony is to gain church membership and it is part of Jesus' Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). Baptism has to be done in the name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Besides circumcision, Jesus also received baptism according to Jewish tradition, called mikveh. Baptism can be done by immersion, pouring (affusion) or sprinkling (aspersion), all of which with clean water. Clean water signifies washing.

However justification is by faith only so baptism is not a condition for salvation. Even when being baptised, the person has to understand that baptism does not affect salvation. Simon had been baptised but Peter said he would perish because his heart was wicked (Acts 8:21). When Peter preached the gospel at Cornelius' house, Holy Spirit descended first on those who believed (Acts 10:44), only after the descent of of Holy Spirit, they were baptised. If a region has no church due to persecution and all ceremonies cannot be conducted, although there is no church member, there will still be believers despite no baptism.

Does Mark 16:16 advocate that baptism is necessary for salvation? No, because it does not say that the person who has not been baptised shall be damned, but the person who believes not the gospel.


Baptising others is a great responsibility so pastors should strive to live a holy life separating from the world, then people will line up to request for baptism. It is mutual like a marriage ceremony. Baptism should not be done by a pastor unknown to the person who wants to be baptised. The person should know and have formed good opinion of the pastor. If nobody requests for baptism, then the pastor should review his deeds. Nobody likes to be baptised by an unholy pastor. This checkpoint mechanism is good for pastors.

When should a person that is observed to have faith to be baptised? It does not matter. There is no baptism that is due, unless the person needs to involve in diaconal work. The church will continue to encourage a person to be baptised. It depends on the person. Ideally the person should request for baptism (Luke 3:7, Luke 3:12, Acts 8:36). Even if the person wants to be baptised soon, the church should let him or her complete Sunday school first. If any family member does not agree with the baptism, then do not get baptised yet.

Like change of behaviour, baptism is a fruit of salvation. While change of behaviour may need longer time to be observed, baptism can be observed immediately if there is no constraint. If there is no fruit, then people around can question the faith. If there is no baptism and no good deeds, people will definitely question the faith. If there is baptism but no good deeds, people will also definitely question the faith. If there is no baptism but good deeds, people will slightly question the faith. If there is baptism and good deeds, people will not question the faith.

Bible verses cited in this article
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Luke 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Luke 3:12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Posted: 2016-12-14; updated: 2017-12-18 by Ong Seng Aun.
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