Baptism is a physical happening with symbolic meaning. Perhaps the clearest place in which Scripture explains this is Romans 6. Here we find – “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 in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. …. 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. …. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, baptism shows in symbol our association with the death of Jesus, burial of sin, a rising to life, and a connection with the promise of the resurrection. The method of baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. In the same way that Jesus went through life, death, burial, and resurrection to life again, our present nature is to “die” and we are to be “buried with Him through baptism into death” and raised to “walk in newness of life.” And then, in the future, to live like Jesus. So we do not just try to be a better person, we bury the “old person” in the water and become a “new person” through our acceptance of Christ. It is like a new birth and a new beginning for us. And then, just as life has a new purpose for us after baptism, so we can look forward to the time when we can live eternally with Jesus when he comes to set up his kingdom.
There is no minimum, or maximum, age at which someone can be baptised. However, it follows that one must be at an age appropriate to understand what one is doing, The English word “baptism” comes from a term used in the first century for immersing a garment first into bleach, and then into dye, both cleansing and changing the colour of the cloth. This surely is a most appropriate symbol for cleansing of sin, and becoming a new person through Christ. It is symbolic of being “born again.”
Some practise the sprinkling or baptising of babies. However this idea is not found in the Bible. Instead, around 400 AD, a man named Augustine came up with the idea of “original sin.” This basically said that everyone inherits the sin of Adam at birth and is therefore separated from God from the beginning of their life. Of course, Christian parents became concerned over the fate of their children, should they die before adulthood, and thus were not baptised of their own choice. So they came up with the idea that it would be good to baptise them to “take care of the original sin.” Since it is risky to immerse an infant, these people decided to sprinkle them with water instead. So, the notion of baptising infants and sprinkling them came from human thinking, and not the Bible.
We can also consider the following Scriptures:
Ephesians 4:4-6 – “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Galatians 3:26,27 – “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
When Jesus left the earth, as recorded at the end of the gospel written by Matthew, he told his followers to make other disciples and to baptise them. Obviously, as it’s a straight command from Jesus, it must be very important to make this a priority in out lives.
Baptism therefore washes us from our past sins, and means we can start a new life in Christ, asking for forgiveness for sims later committed, by means of requesting such forgiveness in prayer to God through Jesus our mediator.