This is a very good question, and one that every believer should ask themselves early-on in their walk of faith. In order to answer this question, it is important to understand what the Bible says about the nature and purpose of baptism.
1. Baptist is an act of obedience
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.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
It is true that we believe that baptism isn’t necessary for salvation. But it is also true that believers are to be baptized because baptism is an act of obedience to God’s revealed will.
a. Baptism is a Sacrament
It is important to understand that baptism is an essential sacrament, which along with the Lord’s Table, is the only other sacrament which the evangelical church recognizes.
b. Baptism is for believers only
This raises another critical point. Baptism is an act of obedience, and so by definition must be reserved for believers. It is not a rite for the uncommitted, but for those who have consciously made a decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Leader and Forgiver.
c. The mode of Baptism is important
The method we see in Scripture— full immersion — is important theologically and spiritually. The word itself is derived from two closely-linked Greek verbs, the one meaning “to dip in” or “to dip under,” was often used of dying fabric. The second related verb from the earliest of times was used to mean total immersion. To be fully submerged symbolizes the totality of our commitment, and our acceptance of Christ’s claim on our lives.
2. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ
” … 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”. (Romans 6:3-5, NIV).
Baptism is an important step in the life of the believer, because through baptism we are confirming what we have professed.
a. Baptism is a powerful and public proclamation
By undergoing baptism, we are in fact declaring that:
We believe that Christ is the sinless Son of God who has purchased our forgiveness and eternal life through His death on the cross, and we are willing to be identified with our Lord and Saviour in every way.
b. Baptism portrays our love and commitment
Baptism is the logical progression of our journey of faith, which begins when we accept Christ as Lord and Saviour. Even before we enter the waters of the baptismal tank, we have already been “placed into” Christ by virtue of our faith in Him. Paul writes in Galatians 3:26-28:
“You are all [children] of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
c. Baptism affirms that we have been joined to Christ in His death
Through baptism we have – in a real, spiritual sense – been “crucified with him” and are therefore no longer held captive by our sinful past:
“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 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”. (Romans 6:5-7, NIV).
d. Baptism affirms our hope of Resurrection
But just as baptism identifies us with Christ in His death, it also identifies that we also have the hope of eternal life, because of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. As Paul says in Romans: “We were… 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” (Rom 6:4, NIV).
3. Believer’s baptism is our initiation into the body of Christ, the Church
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 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.” (1 Cor 12:12-13, NIV)
In baptism, the believer is set apart by Christ to be a member of His church. Baptism is the means by which we are initiated into Christ’s Body.
a. Baptism is a pledge of our participation in Church life
It’s not about getting our name on a membership role somewhere, it’s about identifying ourselves completely with Christ, and pledging our full participation-in and experience-of His body, the Church.
b. Baptism is a symbol of belonging
Baptism is a public indication that we belong to Christ; that we have renounced who and what we were and intend to give our all for him.
4. Believer’s baptism is our time of commissioning
Paul teaches about spiritual gifts and the interconnectedness of the Body within the context of baptism:
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”.
27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it”. (1 Corinthians 12:13, 27 NIV)
Baptists believe in the priesthood of all believers and that each member of Christ’s Church has been given spiritual gifts which they are to use to serve God. Therefore, baptism is not only an act of initiation into Christ’s Body, it is also a time of commissioning when the believer is set apart for service in Christ’s Kingdom.
Why should you be baptized? Because believer’s baptism is a significant and transforming event in the life of every Christian, and it is not to be despised. Indeed, baptism is:
An act of obedience; A Confirmation And A Pledge Of Our Union With Christ; Our initiation into the Body of Christ, the Church; Our time of commissioning.