Why do some, myself included, believe in baptism by full immersion? The answer is simple – this is the way we believe it is portrayed in the Scripture. Seeking to follow the Scripture’s example most accurately, we practice baptizing believers by full immersion in water and not by sprinkling. Let’s take a look at some examples from Scripture:
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17 KJV
In these verses from Matthew 3 (also Mark 1), we see that Jesus “went up straightway out of the water.” This is indicative that Jesus had been fully immersed in the water. In Acts 8, we read about the Ethiopian eunuch’s baptism by Philip:
“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” – Acts 8:38 KJV
The Scripture says “they went down both into the water.” Again, this is indicative of being fully immersed. If full immersion was not the practice of the early church, why was a body of water needed?
“Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” – Matthew 3:5-6 KJV
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” – Acts 8:36 KJV
Another thing to consider is the symbolism of baptism. What does it symbolize? Baptism symbolizes a believer’s death, burial, and resurrection with Christ. Consider:
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:4 KJV
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” – Colossians 2:12 KJV
With the symbolism of baptism, a full immersion baptism better fits the death and burial (submerged in the water) followed by the resurrection (coming up out of the water).
It is my opinion that baptism by full immersion is not essential to the faith. Us who practice full immersion baptism do so as it most accurately follows the example in Scripture. If the method of baptism is not essential, what is essential? One’s relationship with Jesus Christ.