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Scripture reveals baptism is a key step in the spiritual life of all Christians. Once we have repented of our sins and are baptized, our sins are forgiven and our lives then belong to God. From that time forward we make a commitment to our loving Father that, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Genuine repentance leads us to unconditionally surrender our will to God. Once we come to that point, Peter says the next step is to “be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38, NIV). Baptism demonstrates we accept the shed blood of Christ for our sins and pictures the death of our former life in the baptismal grave. It is an outward sign of an inward change of heart and mind.
Jesus regarded the ceremony of baptism to be so important He commissioned His Church to go all over the world baptizing disciples who believe the gospel message. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
When we repent—with faith in God and in Christ’s sacrifice in payment for our sins—and are baptised, we receive two gifts. One is forgiveness of our sins. All our mistakes of the past are blotted out. Secondly, we receive the promised gift of God’s Spirit. This comes through the ceremony, following baptism, of the laying on of hands by God’s faithful elders for the purpose of representing God in the giving of His Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
Since the days of the apostles, the laying on of hands after baptism has signified the actual moment of the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the setting apart of a convert as a child of God (Acts 19:6, 2 Timothy 1:6).
After baptism, God begins to transform our lives through the power of His Spirit and we begin a new life of spiritual growth. Baptism points to our being set apart as children of God. The result is spiritual guidance and direction through God’s Spirit dwelling in us, leading us to the Kingdom of God.
Bible Study Guide - Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion