I'm participating in a free audit of the Baptist Covenant Theology course at the Founders Study Center. In Session 2, Dr. Fred Malone lectures on Baptism - Part I. He looks at the mode, subject, and meaning of baptism as found in the Bible.
I. The Mode of Baptism
To determine the proper mode of baptism, you need to look at the grammar of the New Testament. The Greek word baptizo is always used in a passive voice. Look at Luke 3:21 where John the Baptist is baptizing in the Jordan River.
Jesus also being poured...
Jesus also being sprinkled...
Jesus also being dipped...
Therefore, the context and use of the grammar clarifies and corroborates the lexical meaning of baptizo: to dip or to immerse; the passive use indicates the mode.
II. The Subject of Baptism
In Matt. 28:19, we are commanded to go to all nations and teach them to observe all things that Christ has commanded; therefore, disciples are the ones being baptized. The first application of the Great Commission is in Acts 2. The multitude came from all nations who repented first and then were baptized. Baptism is performed upon confession of faith before the world.
III. The Meaning of Baptism
Baptism is to be remembered by every believer. It is a sign of coming to God to repent of a sin-ruled, self-ruled life; it is the evidence of a heart that has found a Savior. Baptism symbolizes cleansing, (Acts 22:16). We are promised that all who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into the Holy Spirit; He is in us and with us, (Rom. 6:3-8).
If the right administration of the sacraments is one of the informing principles of a true gospel church, then we must administer the sacraments as we understand the scripture to teach them; therefore, follow the Regulative Principle of Worship and do not compromise. Individuals who have been baptized as infants, who were baptized by pouring or sprinkling, or who were baptized without being truly saved, need to pray and talk to their pastor.
In believer's (or disciple's) baptism, the person being baptized gives up his life to walk in newness of life unto God and in Christ.