In the first century, ancient writing called the Didache describes baptism. Immersion was customary, but if it were not possible, the baptizer could pour water three times over a person’s head, invoking the Holy Trinity. Today, this manner of pouring water is practiced by Catholics who have children baptized as infants to wash away the Original Sin that they are born with; parents also make a covenant with God to raise the baptized child in their Catholic faith. Baptists and other Christian religions use immersion because Jesus Christ was baptized in this manner. Those being baptized are also old enough to comprehend the significance of their baptism. Being capable of such understanding, they can, then, profess their commitment to Jesus Christ and His teachings.
Significantly, the word for baptize in Greek is baptizo, meaning “to submerge or dip underwater.” In the New Testament, one of the apostles named Philip baptizes a man by submerging him in water. This man “came up out of the water…” (Acts 8:38). Water cleanses, and the man’s rising from the water is symbolic of his rebirth of religious faith and his spiritual cleansing. Similarly, when people put their faith in Jesus Christ as the leader of their lives, they are enriched.
There are religious sects that hold that children be baptized when they are old enough to understand the meaning of their baptism and be old enough to recall the ceremony. These sects hold that since the baptism of infants is not recorded in scripture, there is no evidence of early churches having such a practice.
There is also the baptism of the Holy Spirit (also known as receiving the Holy Spirit). The initial sign of such is when a person speaks in tongues, consistent with the Day of Pentecost experience referred to in Acts 2.
Because the baptism of infants is not found in scripture, nor is there evidence of this practice in early churches, it follows that the biblical purpose for baptism includes the public profession of a person’s willing commitment to Christ. It also follows that every person should be baptized in the manner demonstrated by Jesus, with immersion in water.