"...then Peter said unto them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
By two direct commands, Jesus Christ established the two ordinances of the church -- The Lord's Supper and Baptism. When we research the words "baptism, baptizing, Baptist, baptize, baptized, and baptizing", we find them more than 100 times in the New Testament. The Greek words are baptizo, baptisma, baptismos, and baptistes . The root word bapto , is translated as "dip, dipped, dipping" in the New Testament. Baptism is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace -- a visible rite symbolizing the inner experience of the believer in relation to Jesus Christ. This inner experience includes: the believers union with Jesus Christ, the believer's death to sin by immersion in a watery grave, the believer's identification with Christ in the power and reality of His resurrection life and the believer's outward confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in his life. When believers are baptized, they are declaring to witnesses that their sins have been forgiven and that they are now living a new life. We are declaring that we belong to Christ. God tells us in His word in Galatians 3:27 that "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
By following Christ's example and command to being baptized, we are symbolizing that we have died to self and are putting on Christ; our lives have taken a new direction and we are under a new authority. Water baptism is outward and is different from "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". While the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is internal and takes place in the heart of every true believer at the time of conversion, water baptism is external and voluntary. Baptism is a witness to salvation and not a bringing about of salvation. However, baptism is essential because Jesus Christ commands it (Matthew 28:19,20) and it is essential for proper discipleship.