Indeed the Bible calls for us to be Baptized when we believe. So, what exactly is Baptism?
Baptism is the process of dying to your old self and experiencing a new Birth in Jesus Christ. When you are Baptized you leave your old world, your old habits, your old self behind and become new. You declare that the old James, the old Michael, the old Russel, the old Sam, the old Brittany, the old Mary, the old Peggy, the old Rachel, the old Susan, the old Patty, is gone and the new one is born. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [2 Corinthians 5:17]
When you are Baptized, the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begins to work on your character and in your life in order to bring about true transformation in order to mold and shape you in the likeness of Christ. You are then considered to be "Born Again"
Baptism is also a change in familial legal status in numerous respects. You get a new Father --- God --- ABBA --- LORD --- The Alpha and the Omega --- the Creator of all the Universe to whom you now have free access in prayer through another new relative --- an elder brother called Jesus (did you know you had an elder brother with a Middle-Eastern name?) and a new family of brothers and sisters in Christ approximately 2 Billion strong across the world. (Data sourced from https://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/ ) In many countries around the world where babies are given non-Christian names by their parents, it is very common to undergo a legal name change along with Baptism, from an old, non-Christian name to a new Christian name, signifying death of the old self and birth of the new self.
Baptism --- The Scriptural Reference
The term “born again” refers to a new beginning in the relationship between God and the person who is born again. [John 3:3, 7] God adopts those born again as his children. [Romans 8:15, 16; Galatians 4:5; 1 John 3:1] Similar to those who are legally adopted, they experience a change of status, becoming part of God’s family. [2 Corinthians 6:18] Jesus said: “Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” [John 3:3] So being born again prepares a person to rule with Christ in God’s Kingdom. This Kingdom rules from heaven, so the Bible describes the “new birth” as providing an inheritance that is “reserved in the Heavens.” [1 Peter 1:3, 4] Those who are born again are given the assurance that they will “rule together as Kings” with Christ. [2 Timothy 2:12; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22]. When Jesus discussed the subject, he said that those born again would be “Born from Water and the Holy Spirit.” [John 3:5] This expression refers to Baptism in water followed by Baptism with the Holy Spirit. [Acts 1:5; 2:1-4] Jesus was the first person to be born again. He was Baptized in the Jordan River, after which God anointed (or, Baptized) him with Holy Spirit. Jesus was thus born again by the Holy Spirit as a son of God with the hope of returning to life in heaven. [Mark 1:9-11] God fulfilled this hope by resurrecting Jesus as a spirit. [Acts 13:33]
Adult Baptism --- the Process
The word “baptize” comes from the Greek word baptizo (βαπτίζω) which means “to immerse or dip under water”. In Adult Baptism, a Pastor Baptizes you by submerging you under water (signifying death to the old self) and after a brief while bringing you up out of the water (signifying new Birth) The process of Baptism is generally witnessed by the entire Church family who are asked to walk alongside the individual being Baptized, for the remainder of their life, and help, guide, and support the individual getting Baptized.
Caveat and Caution
I cannot stress this enough --- An individual must genuinely desire radical change in their life before they are a candidate for Adult Baptism. They must repent of their sins and ask God for forgiveness and ask Jesus to come into their life to be their LORD, Savior and Master.
At the least, Baptism must include (a) genuine repentance for sin, and turning away from their sin, and (b) the beginning of genuine change and transformation in character to the likeness of Christ. This is generally the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and takes time.
I have decided to follow Jesus --- No turning back, no turning back.
There is a very famous song which I have heard played at many Baptisms whose lyrics go something like this: I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. The world behind me, the Cross before me, no turning back, no turning back. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Here is a link to this very famous song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRb769P50IQ
The great revival in Wales about 150 years ago resulted in many missionaries travelling all over the world to spread the Gospel. One particular region of the world was particularly hostile to Christians. This region had hundreds of aggressive tribes who as a sign of greatness in their tribe would take the head of their enemies and hang them on their walls. The missionaries were not welcome by these tribes. However they knew that they were called by God and continued to share the Gospel amidst severe opposition. One missionary was successful in converting a man, his wife and two children. As a result many other villagers turned to Jesus. This angered the village chief and he summoned all the villagers. He demanded the man and his family who were first converted to renounce their faith in public or face death.
Touched by the Holy spirit the man said:
“I have decided to follow Jesus.”
The chief ordered his archers to shoot the two children. The arrows pierced the boys and they fell to the ground. He asked the man again...will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife too.”
But the man replied:
“Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”
The chief was full of fury and ordered the wife to be shot down.
The chief then asked him for the final time to deny his faith and live.
In the face of death the man said the final memorable lines:
“The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.”
He was shot dead like the rest of his family.
The faith of this man triggered a revival in the village, starting with the Chief who could not understand why this man, his wife and their two children would die for a Man who lived some 2,000 years ago in another continent. So he too wanted to encounter that faith. In due course of time the Holy Spirit touched him and in a spontaneous confession of faith, he declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the villagers heard their Chief confessing his faith in Jesus the entire village accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior
How many times can I be Baptized?
Although it takes only one Baptism to be counted as a Christian, some decide to be Baptized multiple times, and there is nothing wrong with that. I was Baptized thrice, at three different Churches.
Is there a legal document proving Baptism?
Yes, there is a Certificate issued to folks who are Baptized. Two of mine are shown below as examples: