Jews underwent baptism to symbolize God’s forgiveness and restoration to purity, but many of them did this frequently because, just like the Old Testament’s sacrificial system, it did not have the power to be a once-and-for-all baptism or sacrifice. Because of Jesus’ supremacy however, Christians have traditionally adopted the practice of being baptized only once. This is because Christ’s sacrifice for his people is not just for the cleansing all one’s past sins, but all of one’s future sins as well. As such, there is no need for additional baptisms any more than there is for more accepting of Christ. Once is enough.
Christian baptism also serves as a public expression of a person’s commitment to following Jesus and voluntarily placing herself or himself under Christ’s authority and leadership. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in the crucified, buried, and risen savior. It represents the believer’s death to sin, burial, and resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ.
From the very beginning, the practice of Christian baptism has been for believers to be fully immersed by water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In later traditions, some Christians adopted other means of baptism such as sprinkling water on one’s forehead or by pouring water over their head. While different than the traditions of Jesus’ day, these alternate means are valid when the person being baptized publicly acknowledges Christ, his authority and his salvation. Those are the key elements for any baptism, immersion or otherwise. The power and forgiveness comes in and through Jesus, not the water.