What Do We Know About Bible Baptism?
Most churches practice some form of baptism. The purpose of these baptisms differs greatly. Most preachers say that baptism is one of those things that we should not waste much time on. Yet, the importance of baptism is set forth in scripture. "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) Baptism is a burial in water so that one may enter into Christ and His church. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27) Let us observe some important questions about baptism.
From the Bible we learn that baptism is really important. Baptism is a very important and often misunderstood subject. Baptism is important because it is commanded by Christ. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:15-16) Baptism is to be done by the authority of Jesus with its purpose being remissions of sins. "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." (Acts 2:38)
The blood of Jesus was shed in His death. "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." (John 19:34) Baptism is important because it brings one into contact with the death and blood of Jesus. "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." (Romans 6:3-4)
Baptism is important because it puts one into Christ. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) The Bible teaches that baptism is necessary for our salvation. "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." (1 Peter 3:21)
Every command of God is important and baptism is a command of God. "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days." (Acts 10:48) It is very clearly taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of a lost soul. Have you been baptized as the Lord commanded?
From the Bible we learn that baptism must be done for the right purpose. There is a definite reason for every command of Christ. This is true of the command to observe the Lord's Supper. It must be done in the way and for the reason commanded by God. "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 11:27) Unless we obey for the proper purpose our obedience is not acceptable. This is also true of God's commandment to be baptized. Baptism must be done for the purpose Christ intended. Following faith, repentance and confession one must be baptized to be saved. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16) Christ places salvation after baptism, not before.
Baptism brings about the new birth. The new life begins after baptism. Those who are baptized into Christ arise from baptism to a newness of life. "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)
Baptism puts one into the body or church of Christ. The body is the church. (Colossians 1:18) By the direction of the Holy Spirit through the word of God people are baptized into Christ's one body or church. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
The purpose of baptism is clear and man must not corrupt it. One must be baptized to be saved. Have you been baptized according to the scriptures?
From the Bible we learn that baptism is an burial in water and it is not sprinkling or pouring. The method of baptism is just as important as the purpose. Bible baptism is a burial in water. Jesus was baptized by going down into the water and coming up out of the water. "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." (Matthew 3:16) The baptism submitted to by Jesus was both a burial and it was in water. Mark wrote, "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 him." (Mark 1:9-10)
When John baptized people "much water" was required. "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized." (John 3:23)
On two occasions the Bible plainly says baptism is a burial. Paul wrote to the Romans and said, "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) To the Colossians he said, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:12) Man has several methods of baptism, but God has only one. Bible baptism is always a burial in water for salvation. Have you been baptized according to the scripture?
From the Bible we learn who may be baptized. The doctrines of men say babies may be baptized. The Bible says those who gladly receive the word were baptized. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41)
The Bible teaches that only those who believe may be baptized. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16)
The Bible teaches that those who repent may be baptized. Repentance is a change of heart leading to a change of life. "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." (Acts 2:38)
Men and women were baptized but babies were never baptized. "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." (Acts 8:12)
The Bible teaches that baptism is essential to one's salvation. Have you been baptized according to the Lord's commands? If not, you should be. "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Those that become children of God have reason to rejoice. (Acts 8:39) Rejoicing follows man's response to God's good news of forgiveness by the death of Jesus.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA