So why all the arguing? Here are some of my observations on the ordinance of Water Baptism:
* It follows hearing the Gospel (Mt. 28:19; Rom. 1:16; 10:17; etc.).
* It follows faith (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:13, 37; 9:17-18; 18:8; 19:4-5; etc.).
* It follows confessing Christ as Lord (Mt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Jn. 4:2; etc.).
* It follows being filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4; 10:47; etc.).
* It follows being baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27; etc.).
From these verses, some observations can be made. For one, the person being baptized has to be old enough to understand he or she is a sinner needing salvation. Otherwise, the Gospel would make no sense to him or her. The Gospel (1 Cor. 15:3-4), after all, states that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the cross (we are all sinners, and the penalty due to us is death (Rom. 6:23). But God, not wanting any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9), raised Jesus from the dead. By raising Him, God was showing that Christ's sacrifice was acceptable to Him (Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10 - "propitiation" means "to satisfy a debt").
Some have pointed out that the most used verses about how one gets saved (Rom. 10:9-10) mention nothing about baptism. That is because salvation is a gift (Eph. 2:8). It is my view, however, that when the passage says, "confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus," it means we are to publicly acknowledge Him as our Lord before others. That testimony is then followed by water baptism. You have to tell someone else about your faith, because you need someone else to baptize you! We don't baptize ourselves!
My wedding ring declares I am in love with and committed to my wife.
My baptism declares I am in love with and committed to God and His Son!