I have recently believed on the Lord Jesus. How long should I wait before I get baptised?
Why wait? Nowhere does Scripture suggest that there should be any length of time between conversion and baptism—in fact it gives examples of quite the contrary. The teaching of God’s word is that baptism is a thing that cannot wait. Traditional church practice may tell us otherwise, but we are to obey God and not man. The moment a person is converted he should get baptised—without delay. Thus for example the Ethiopian eunuch, (Acts 8: 26–40), was baptised as soon as water became available: “Behold water; what hinders my being baptised?” (v36). He was just converted, yet baptism was immediate. He did not return to Jerusalem to meet the saints, and ask for a so–called “baptism meeting” to be arranged—he was baptised there and then. Take as a second example, the Philippian jailor. When was he converted? About midnight! When was he baptised? “The same hour of the night.” (Acts 16: 33) That is what is so astounding. It was done that night. You might have thought that they would have at least waited for the break of day before baptising him. After all what a grand testimony it would have been! A rough character like a Roman jailor getting saved! Nor were the other Phillipian saints (Acts 16: 14, 15) gathered together for the baptism -- even if that had been convenient in the middle of the night! Scripture is quite explicit: he was baptised “the same hour of the night”.
Take the apostle Paul. It is quite plain that he was baptised within minutes of meeting Ananias: “and immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose and was baptised”, (Acts 9: 18). Ananias was the first Christian that Paul met subsequent to his conversion! Even more remarkable is the fact that he was baptised before he took any food, (Compare Acts 9: 9, 18, 19). It is abundantly clear from these Scriptures that there was the shortest possible delay between conversion and baptism. Why the need for haste? It is because of what baptism means. Baptism speaks of burial—burial of dead persons—and dead persons are not to be left around unburied for any length of time! In the natural sphere persons are buried rapidly, particularly in the East (see John 11: 17, Acts 5: 6, 10), and the same principle should operate in the spiritual realm. To arrange baptisms days or weeks in advance is manifestly unscriptural.
Further to this, Scripture regards baptism as the uniform of the Christian. (Gal. 3: 27—the word for “putting on Christ” in baptism is the same word as used for putting on a garment). Just as when a man takes the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen on joining the Army, the very next thing is the donning of his uniform. So it is to be with the Christian soldier. The very hour of conversion is the hour to be baptised—I must get off the ground of the world that crucified my Saviour as quickly as I can. To remain, (though it may be for perhaps only a few days), is plainly incompatible with my being a lover of the Lord Jesus. Remember the jailer was baptised the same hour.