Baptism = to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet)
The immersion or dipping of a believer in water symbolizing the complete renewal and change in the believer's life and testifying to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the way of salvation.
Mat 3:7,8 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Luke 3:7,8 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
John the Baptist immersed repented sinners: those who had a change of mind and heart.
John 1:6 - 8 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
Mat 3:1 - 11 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 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. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Repentance = a genuine sorrow for and turning from sin baptism requires:
A) repentance = Feeling remorse, a resolve to reform one's life, by imply. reversal
B) confession of sins = to acknowledge or agree fully, admit to sin
sin = to miss the mark, your faults, offend, trespass
C) evidence of changed lives = clear/apparent
D) believe on Christ Jesus, who was to come
Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
Mat 3:13 - 17 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 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.
John also baptized Jesus, who never sinned. Jesus said that His own baptism was to fulfill all righteousness. In this way He was able to identify with sinful man and to be an example for us to follow.
John 4:1, 2 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
disciples = a learner, i.e. pupil
Baptism comes after conviction of sin, repentance of sin, confession of Christ as Lord and Savior.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Baptism is for believers, Repents comes before being baptized. Water baptism apart from personal commitment to Christ makes no difference in the life of anyone. Baptism occurs when a person trusts Jesus as Lord and Savior and obeys the command to be submerged in water and raised from it as a picture of the salvation experience that has occurred.
Acts 8:34 - 38 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 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? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 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.
Philip said, . . . If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest be baptized.
To be baptized is a symbol that a person has died to the old way of life and has been raised to a new kind of life-eternal life in Christ.
Rom 6:1- 8 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Col 3:1 - 3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
One must be buried through baptism into death, not literally but spiritually. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we must be raised to live a new life. Burial and resurrection of the believer in baptism bears witness to Christ's death and resurrection, declares our death to the old sinful nature and resurrection to a new life, and points to the coming day when we will be raised from the dead to live forever with the Lord. We have died to an old sinful nature, we cannot go on living in sin.
1 Pet 3:18 - 22 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
We are saved by grace through faith.
Luke 23:39 -43 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
The repentant thief went at death to where Jesus went. Jesus called the place paradise. Paradise is another word for heaven. At death we go immediately to be with our Lord. The thief on the cross had been saved without being baptized.
Being baptized is not a requirement of salvation, but it is a requirement of obedience and the answer of a good conscience toward God the Father. All the meanings of baptism are significant; baptism is a picture of having come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Being baptized is never the event but, rather, the picture of the event. So the pattern of obedience is to come to Christ in trust and then to picture that through the symbol of baptism.
It is not too late for you to call out to Jesus for salvation. The criminal's prayer was answered. You can pray the same prayer in faith and be sure He will answer.