Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 basis for baptism is the authority of Jesus. Jesus had the authority from God the Father to send His disciples out into the world. They were to make disciples and they were to baptize those disciples.

Therefore, the act of water baptism (being immersed in water in response to receiving salvation) is a very important first step in the Christian life.

Matt 3:13-17  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

We see the Lord Jesus Himself coming to John the Baptist for baptism, in order to "fulfill all righteousness." He then went on to establish baptism as an eternal ordinance for His church, calling every believer to follow in His footsteps.

Jesus identified Himself with us. Now Christ asks us to identify with Him! If Jesus, who did not need to be baptized for the remission of sin, submitted to baptism to obey the Father and fulfill all righteousness, then shouldn’t we be obedient to Him and submit to baptism. We surely are in need of any benefit we can receive from it.

Most Westerners take baptism for granted, but for many in the world baptism requires immense courage. In Communist and Muslim countries, for example, Christian baptism ensures persecution, hardship, rejection, imprisonment, and sometimes death.

One importance of baptism is that when we believe, confess our sin, repent, and are baptized, we become members of the Body of Christ, because Christ through the Holy Spirit takes residence in us. We are in Him and He is in us.

1 Cor 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

In Biblical symbolism, water represents inner cleansing and spiritual rebirth, both of which are central themes of baptism.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Water baptism is, in essence, a funeral. It is an act of faith in which we testify, both to God and to the world that the person we were before is dead and buried, and we are raised, born again, as a new creation in Christ. This is beautifully illustrated by these Scriptures:

Rom 6:1-14 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.    For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Gal 3:26-27 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Baptism is our identification with Christ, who broke the hold sin had on us. Baptism is an illustration of that spiritual event, death to sin, and resurrection unto a new life.
Baptism is a dedication to live and walk by the Holy Spirit. That does not mean we are perfect.
We will always struggle with sin. However, we have power not to follow our sin nature any longer. We have a new master, Jesus, instead of sin.

Salvation brings us eternal life, Jesus in us, a life that never ends. This is why we are spiritually “Eternal” beings. The condition of our spiritual life continues on after our physical life ends, because Jesus is the resurrection and the Life. We have an ETERNAL existence with Him.
We are to live our lives as “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Living in Christ is not continuing our present way of living. Living in Christ is living so that sin is not the ruler of our lives. We are to live our lives as sacrifices to God. We are to make ourselves instruments of righteousness – people though whom the righteousness of Christ can flow.

Baptism does not mark the end of a journey, it’s the start of a race of faith & obedience to Christ!

Being baptized is a command from God. It is an act that God requires of every believer. However, we have a choice. In fact, among Jesus’ last recorded words on earth were: Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

 Think about that for a moment. Jesus’ very call to believe on Him includes a call to be baptized. If He puts it in that category, He must see it as being something very important. In fact, the Bible shows baptism immediately followed a person’s salvation. It was not something to be delayed or put off. Let’s take a look at some of the conversions described in the Book of Acts.

Acts 2:38-41 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

 When the people responded to Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the first thing he instructs them to do is "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. We further read in verse 41 that they "gladly received his word, and were baptized....".

Acts 8:26-40- This is the account of Phillip leading the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. As they finish their discussion, the eunuch enthusiastically asks "What is hindering me from being baptized?" to which Phillip replies "If you believe with all your heart, you may." Then they come to a body of water, and Philip promptly baptizes him.

 The first thing the apostle Paul is told to do after his conversion was to be baptized. Acts 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

There are a number of other instances we could look at as well:

Acts 10:46-48, baptized with water after receiving the Holy Spirit;

Acts16:14-15 Lydia and whole household;

Acts 16:33 Paul and Silas’ jailer and his household;

Acts 18:8, Cripus and his entire household).

 In each of these cases, there was the sense of urgency attached to baptism. These people all responded to Jesus in simple faith. However, they didn’t see their faith as complete until they had obeyed God by being baptized. Keep in mind that faith without works (corresponding actions) is dead (James 2:17.) A living faith produces an obedient heart, and water baptism is to be our first act of obedience. Genuine faith desires to follow Jesus in baptism.

I John 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Believers who do not follow Jesus in water baptism will fall away. If we fail in our first act of following Him, we will lack the power of the Holy Spirit to walk obediently in other things.

Baptism is a very special way of God communicating His love to us. When we receive God’s saving grace, it is no accident that He calls us to identify with Him in a way that makes it real to us. Are you struggling with guilt over your past? It may be because you haven’t yet given the person you once were a proper burial! Water baptism is a very powerful reminder of God’s wonderful grace. The person we were before is dead forever, and we are raised with Jesus as a totally new creation. 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

As you can see, you have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain by following Jesus in water baptism. Ultimately, it all goes back to Jesus’ statement in John 14:15. "If you love me, keep my commandments." Baptism is a simple, but profound act of obedience that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. If you have not yet taken this step, I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible.

Of course, we cannot take baptism without first embracing the reality that it represents: A living relationship with Jesus Christ. Without this, baptism is simply getting wet. You must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and be willing to publicly profess your belief. You must confess to God that you are a sinner and repent of living that way anymore. Then you are ready to submit to baptism, which is putting that old life to death, so you may be raised to live an eternal life in the power of the Holy Spirit who takes residence in you.

Are you ready for that?