A sacrament is a ceremony through which Christians believe they receive God’s grace or are brought closer to God. Therefore, a sacrament is something that people can engage in with their senses but that has a deeper meaning too.

For Protestants, baptism and the Eucharist are sacraments. All four of the gospels mention Jesus carrying out both of these acts.

Many Christians believe that baptism is important because Jesus was baptised, and after his resurrection he told his disciples that they should be baptised too.

No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.John 3:5

John the Baptist was the first Jew to use baptism to symbolise the forgiveness of sins. It was John who baptised Jesus. Many Christians believe that baptising cleanses people from original sin.

Baptism is practised by nearly all Christian denominations as it is seen as an instruction from God and a way of following Jesus’ example. However, the denominations practise baptism in different ways.

Infant baptism

Some Christians believe baptism makes a Christian a member of God’s family. In many denominations babies are baptised, and this is known as infant baptism.

For Orthodox Christians, infant baptism involves total immersion. However, other denominations make the sign of the cross on the baby’s head using oil and use holy water on the forehead.

Jesus’ instructions were to "baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit", so these words are said during a baptism.Matthew 28:19

There are other elements to a baptism service, including promises made by godparents on behalf to the child to reject evil. In addition, at the end of the ceremony the priest gives a lit candle to the child’s guardians to keep for the child, which symbolises receiving the light of Christ.

Believers’ baptism

Baptists and Pentecostals believe baptism should only occur once somebody is an adult, as it is then that the individual can accept Christianity for themselves. This type of baptism is called believers’ baptism.

It is done using total immersion, where the person being baptised walks down into a pool and is fully submerged three times before walking out into their new life.

Two pastors fully submerge a man during his believers’ baptism

Some Christians prefer believers’ baptism because Jesus was baptised as an adult and because, as an adult, you are able to make decisions for yourself.


What does baptising do?

Cleanses original sin.