If baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, then, why is it so important? Why are we Baptists such sticklers about it? We are, after all, called “Baptist.”
The first reason baptism is so important is simply because Christ commanded it. In the Great Commission, Christ charges His church to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 NIV). If we stop right here, this alone makes baptism important enough. You should be baptized because Jesus said so!
According to the Lord Jesus, the first step in the Christian life should be the step of baptism. It is the initial evidence we offer to prove our profession of faith. This explains why we don’t accept infant baptism or the christening of children. Neither serves as evidence of one’s profession. Both are mere rituals performed without scriptural sanction.
We believe that Scriptural baptism requires three things. First, it requires a proper subject. As we have already pointed out, baptism is for believers only. This is why we often refer to it as “believer’s baptism.” Second, it requires a proper mode—immersion. The Greek word used in the New Testament for “baptism” means “to immerse.” Any other form of baptism, such as sprinkling or pouring, is unscriptural. Finally, baptism also requires a proper authority. It should be done under the auspices of a local church, which is the only way to assure the proper observance of this important church ordinance.