Water baptism is an essential part of salvation (I Peter 3:21). It expresses faith in God by obedience to His Word (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:41). The scriptural mode of baptism is immersion in water, and only this method retains the biblical symbolism of baptism as a burial (Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:36-39; Romans 6:4). Faith in Christ and repentance from sin are necessary to its validity; thus infant baptism is not proper (Matthew 3:6-11; Acts 2:38; 8:37).
The biblical significance of water baptism is as follows:
(1) God remits sins at water baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16). God erases the record of sin and cancels its penalty. He washes away sins, burying them forever.
(2) Baptism is part of the new birth (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).
(3) Baptism identifies a person with Jesus’ burial (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). It indicates he died to sin by repentance and is burying his past sins, the dominion of sin, and the sinful lifestyle.
(4) Water baptism is part of the one baptism of water and Spirit that places
believers into Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5). It identifies them personally with Jesus and is part of the entrance into His family.
(5) Baptism is part of spiritual circumcision (Colossians 2:11-13).
The Bible teaches that baptism should be administered in the name of Jesus Christ. This means invoking the name of Jesus orally (Acts 22:16; James 2:7) and rebaptizing those who have been baptized some other way (Acts 19:1-5). The name of Jesus in the baptismal formula expresses faith in His true identity, atoning work, and saving power and authority. The name of Jesus is the only saving name, the name by which to receive remission of sins, the highest name, and the name in which Christians are to say and do all things (Acts 4:12; 10:43; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 3:17). Thus using Jesus’ name is the proper way to fulfill all the purposes for baptism.
The Bible records five historical accounts of baptism in the New Testament church that describe a name or formula. In each case the name is Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16). The epistles also allude to the Jesus Name formula (Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 1:13; 6:11; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12). Even Matthew 28:19 refers to this formula, for it describes a singular name that represents all the redemptive manifestations of the Godhead, and that name is Jesus (Zechariah 14:9; Matthew 1:21; John 5:43; 14:26; Revelation 22:3-4). Moreover, Jesus is the name described in the other Great Commission accounts (Mark 16:17; Luke 24:47).