Just prior to the Lord's
ascension into heaven he gave a commandment to His disciples.
Matthew 28:19,20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Christ's disciples clearly
understood what that commandment meant. The first part of the commandment
was to disciple or "teach all nations." That teaching involved
challenging believers to publicly acknowledge their faith by being baptized.
The early Christians knew exactly what they were doing at the time of
baptism. Since that time, however, much confusion has developed causing
a number of questions for new Christians.
I. Is Baptism required for
A. Baptism is not necessary
There are those who teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. That
teaching is known as Baptismal Regeneration. However, the Bible clearly
teaches that salvation is by faith in Christ alone! (Ephesians 2:8,9
Titus 3:5 Romans 10:9,10)
B. There are several problems with Baptismal Regeneration.
The rest of the Bible simply does not teach that Baptism is required
to go to heaven. There is no way the thief on the cross was ever baptized
(Luke 23:39-43). There are a number of believers in scripture whose
baptism is never recorded-- i.e.The woman at the well, The nobleman
(John 4) Dionysius and Damaris in Athens (Acts 17). These believers
surely were baptized at a later date, but if baptism is required for
salvation they could not have been called "believers." The
Lord Jesus Christ himself and the Apostle Paul did not personally baptize
believers. If baptism was required for salvation they surely would have
(John 4:2 Cor. 1:14) The passages used to prove "Baptismal Regeneration"
must be equitably and judiciously interpreted based on sound exegesis.
In Acts 2:38 the word "for" in the original greek may also
mean "because of." In light of the rest of scripture that
translation would best read " be baptized every one of you in the
name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins."
In Acts 22:16 Ananias was quoted saying Arise, and be baptized, and
wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. In reading the
actual account of Paul's salvation it is clear he "believed"
three days prior to his baptism. Acts 9:5-19
I Peter 3:18-21 draws a comparison between the flood of Noah cleansing
the world of sin and baptism. Please notice in that passage that Peter
uses baptism "figuratively." "In like figure unto which
even baptism doth now save..." Peter was not talking about the
outward washing of the body; he was speaking of what is really necessary-
an inward spiritual cleansing that comes only through Christ.
II. Is "Water
Various modes of baptism are used. Immersion is the complete covering
by water of the believer.
Sprinkling and pouring are
other means used by some churches out of tradition. The thinking behind
sprinkling and pouring often is expressed as a picture of the Holy Spirit
coming down upon a believer. The Greek words which are translated "to
pour or to sprinkle" are never found in connection with baptism.
The primary meaning of the
greek word baptizo is "to immerse" or "to dip. Baptizo
is a dyer's term. It pictures an object of one color being dipped into
a solution that produces a totally different color. Baptism pictures
the "washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5) Though your sins
be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18). Baptism
also pictures what Christ did for us in salvation. "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" (Romans 6:4).
Our English Bibles use the Greek word "baptized" without translating
it into our own language. The reason is obvious when one considers the
historical background. Sprinkling was already in use in Britain and
widely accepted. The translators did not use the word "immerse"
or Adip, for to do so would have declared the truth but would have contradicted
the popular practice of the church of England. The transliteration "baptize"
avoided any discrepancy.
Biblical accounts clearly
indicate immersion as the practice. Mark 1:9,10 "And it came to
pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was
baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water,
he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon
Acts 8:36-39, "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. And when they were
come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip,
that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. "
III. Who should be baptized?
The key idea of baptism is "identification." Anyone who is
a part of God's family should be baptized. The book of Acts records
eight cases of baptism. In each case its a believer who has received
the word (Acts 2:41 8:12 9:18 10:48 Acts 16:30-34 18:8 19:1-5). Throughout
the New Testament the teaching is unanimous. Believers are the ones
who get baptized. Some groups have a tradition called infant baptism
They insist that children must have a covenant relationship to God through
their believing parents. Most of these groups do not teach that the
baptized children will automatically grow up to be Christians, but that
when they reach the age of accountability they must make a profession
of faith for themselves. Some baptize babies as a removal of original
sin. [Contradicts I John 1:7] Some baptize babies as an act of the dedication
of the child to the Lord. *****The problem is that there exists no Scriptural
basis for infant baptism.
IV. Why should we be baptized?
We are baptized as an act of obedience to Christ (Matthew 28:19,20).
We are baptized as a testimony to the world. The key idea behind baptism
is identification. With whom are you going to be identified? We are
identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism
is a testimony of your standing in Christ. As you are immersed, you
are testifying that you are crucified with Christ. You are dead to the
Old Man. As you are raised, you are testifying of your new life in Christ
(Ephesians 2:6 4:22-24). Baptism is a picture of what God has provided:
Salvation, Power over the old sin nature, Life in Christ.
V. When should you be baptized?
As soon as you are saved and willing to obey God's commands. Many believers
were baptized immediately upon their conversion (Acts 2:41 8:12 9:18).
You should have a basic understanding of the reasons for baptism, but
do not delay! Proverbs 27:1 says, Boast not thyself of to morrow; for
thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.