What Does the Bible Say About Baptism?
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Introduction: In the Bible, baptism is first introduced in Matthew 3:2-12 when John the Baptist began his ministry as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. John preached a simple message to the Jews that they were to repent of their sins in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom, which meant the appearance of the Messiah. Matthew 3:13-17 records that Jesus came down to the Jordan River and was baptized by John.
The Gospel of John records John the Baptist’s proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah:
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34)
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for Jews. It was clear that the word “baptizo” means that John immersed those he baptized in water. In Matthew 3:16 the New Testament records, “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.” The description is clear that John and Jesus were in the River Jordan and when as John lifted Jesus up from being immersed, the Holy Spirit descended on Him.
Prior to Jesus’ ascension back into heaven He gave the command to His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This instituted the believer’s or Christian baptism. The disciples and those who followed them in preaching the Gospel were thus commanded to teach or disciple people of all nations and to baptize them.
Believer’s baptism is taught in the New Testament as being a symbol or a picture of what has happened in the life of the person who by faith has believed in Jesus Christ and been saved by His grace. It is an illustration of what has taken place in the new believer’s heart which cannot be outwardly observed when a person is saved. Baptism is further a testimony by which the new Christian gives public testimony that they have believed in Jesus Christ and have been born again. Through baptism the new convert is joining, identifying themselves as Christians, and becoming a member of a local New Testament church.
There are several aspects of baptism:
BAPTISM IS A “PICTURE” OF THE GOSPEL THAT PICTURES
THE DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1 4)
Being immersed in water pictures the death of Jesus Christ dying for our sins. Being raised from the water is portrayal of Jesus’ resurrection in which He conquered sin and death. Thus, being baptized by immersion, the believer visually shows the spiritual death, burial, and resurrection of the believer’s life. Baptism emphasizes to the new believer, and to those who witness the baptism, that as a Christian and child of God the Christian now is to live a godly life, resisting sin, and not giving it place in their lives.
“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.” (Romans 6:1-4)
Baptism always follows belief in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, but baptism is not necessary for a person to be saved and born again. It is not an act that one does to obtain salvation and no one in the New Testament was baptized who did not first believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ. After a person is saved, as the New Testament plainly shows, they then were baptized. The Bible does not refer to baptism as a sacrament which has any saving properties, or as a part of salvation.
Baptism by immersion beautifully pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) Putting a person under the water strikingly emphasizes the burial of Christ, being raised out of the water symbolizes Christ’s resurrection and the believer’s new life in Christ.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
In Romans 6:4, God accentuates the burial when it says, “therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death.” Baptism is a visual testimonial that our sins are forgiven by symbolizing they are buried with the Lord after he suffered and died for our sins on the Cross. As Romans 6:2, states the believer is dead to sin. Colossians adds that believers are alive unto Christ with God. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3)
THE AUTHORITY AND COMMAND TO BAPTIZE IS GIVEN TO HIS DISCIPLES AND AFTERWARD TO EACH LOCAL BIBLE BELIEVING NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH.
“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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19 20)
Acts 2 records that baptism is an ordinance of the local church and was begun on the Day of Pentecost. Those who believed and repent of their sins were baptized and added to the church in Jerusalem.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. . . .Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:41, 47)
Jesus commanded His disciples to disciple all nations (peoples), and to baptize those that believe as a picture and testimony of their faith in Christ. Baptism was not given to a particular church, but to all Bible believing New Testament churches alike. There is no example or mention of any particular church or church hierarchy having the sole authority to baptism. A baptism that is scriptural is one that is done in a Bible believing church. False and doctrinally unbiblical churches, nor cults have any authority to baptize. They by their teaching and practice show they do not believe God’s word and therefore are not approved or recognized by God. As stated earlier Acts 2:41-47 records that when the church was formed, those that believed were baptized and “added to the church” (local assembly).
In all the extant Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the equivalent of the English word “church” is never found. The New Testament emphatically knows nothing of a universal or catholic church. The word in the Greek New Testament is “ekklesia” and always means a called out local assembly or congregation. According to the New Testament there is not one worldwide church, but rather many autonomous local assemblies. The Roman, Eastern, Protestant, denominational “churches” including the cults such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are not biblically organized and have no authority to exercise any control over local congregations.
For example of the meaning of the word in Acts 19:32, the word translated “assembly” is the Greek word “Ekklesia.” Here it refers to a group of idol makers. This shows us the word simply means a meeting. The word must have a modifier to reveal the identity of those meeting. You cannot translate the English word “church” back into Koine Greek. There is no word in Koine Greek like the English word “church.” The modern Greek word “church” is “ky-ria-kon” which is a Medieval Anglo-Saxon word that did not come into use until the 1500’s. The word “ekklesia” is found 115 times in the New Testament. It is correctly translated three times “assembly” in Acts 19. The word simply means “assembly.”
For example, it is used to refer to the assembly at Corinth, (“Unto the church “ekklesia” of God “theos” which “o” is “wv” at “ev” Corinth “Korinthos”). This is the same use of the word when referring to the “ekklesia” at Antioch, Jerusalem, Ephesus, the assembly that met at Aquila and Priscilla’s house and assemblies meeting in other people’s homes. In referring to the Macedonian and Asia assemblies the word is always plural, meaning churches…not one church made up of a number of smaller churches. For an article that explains the mistranslation of the word “ekklesia” and why the word “church” was used instead of “assembly” in the English word “church” go to http://bible-truth.org/Ekklesia.html If you wish to read an article that explains what is a true biblical New Testament church as the Lord Jesus Christ instituted it, please read the article at http://bible-truth.org/church.htm titled “The Biblical Basis of a New Testament Church.”
BAPTISM DOES NOT SAVE NOR IS IT NECESSARY FOR SALVATION.
God says plainly that works, rituals, and ceremonies do not save.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8 9)
The Lord emphatically teaches that salvation is given by God’s grace when a person by faith believes and stresses that salvation is not merited by any work which would include baptism. Baptism is an act or work and the New Testament teaches that rituals and works do not save or have any saving merit. (Also see Romans 4:5, Titus 3:5).
Baptism, church membership, nor any good works does not merit or impart salvation. Salvation is an act of God’s grace which means unmerited favor. Salvation is received when one by faith accepts the free gift of salvation. A performed work offered to God for Him to accept for our salvation, is in fact asking God to accept our works not Christ’s sacrifice for sin on the cross. Christ died on the cross and paid the sin debt of the world (1 John 2:2). The debt is already paid by Christ and He is offering to forgive our sins if we believe and put our trust in His provision of our salvation. No man is righteous and has no righteousness to offer for his sins.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10 12)
Saying that baptism saves or has saving properties is saying that we are adding to what Christ did in suffering for our sins and providing in part our own salvation. Of course man is a sinner and cannot offer anything for his sin. God’s word says,
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:24 26)
The Apostle Paul explained this to the Colossians saying,
“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. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:12 15)
A man who believes in Jesus Christ by faith is accepting Christ’s suffering and sacrifice for his sins. It is Jesus who paid for sins and only He can justify the man lost in his sins and trespasses. No church or religion can add to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Some believe that baptism imparts some special status with God. That too is not found in the Bible and is a false belief. Baptism is a prerequisite for church membership in a local congregation. By submitting to believer’s baptism and joining the local assembly the new convert is publicly showing they have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Further, they are showing they are in agreement with the word of God that their assembly believes and practices.
Some churches practice infant baptism. Yet in the Bible there is no record or mention of anyone being baptized who had not already professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. No infants were ever baptized according to God’s word. Every example of baptism in the New Testament plainly states those that were baptized had first believed in Jesus Christ. An infant has no capacity to believe. This false practice comes from the unbiblical idea that their church is the means of salvation. In other words, you have to join, and be a member of their church to be saved and go to heaven. Infant baptism then makes a child a member of that church, thus the church asserts that the child is now under the protection of that church and is assured they will eventually go to heaven. That simply is not taught anywhere in the Bible. A true New Testament “church” is an assembly of baptized believers who join together and meet to worship, be taught God’s word, and to honor the Lord.
There are many serious problems with pedo or infant baptism.
1. An infant cannot understand the Gospel nor can they believe in Jesus Christ. Their minds are not mature enough to comprehend sin or salvation.
2. Infant baptism is by sprinkling, and sprinkling is not the biblical mode of true baptism. The word “baptizo” means one thing and that is to immerse or dip.
3. One is saved by faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone and no church is given the authority to impart God’s blessing on anyone or to convey any special status with God. Salvation is a personal matter between a person and God. A church is to proclaim the Gospel and God’s truth, but it is up to the individual as to whether they believe it or not. Only those who are truly saved in Jesus Christ are to be scripturally baptized and they only can become the legitimate members of a church. When God writes their name in the Lamb’s Book Of Life at the moment they receive Christ, then we can add them to a church as members. To add someone to the local church as a member without them being saved would be to promote a false sense of security to that person thinking that they are saved when in reality they are not. John 14:6 tells us that ..”no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
4. In actuality, a baptized infant is not a Christian unless when they become mature, they exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ. Their baptism is not the baptism taught in God’s word and it signifies a false concept that baptism conveys salvation and that sprinkling an infant initiates it into salvation.
5. The New Testament is clear that God’s word says to “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38) Infants cannot repent because they have no ability to understand sin.
6. Infant baptism forces on a child something they cannot understand, comprehend, or accept, and that is repentance for sin and belief and trust in Jesus Christ.
7. Most of all….infant baptism is not found in God’s word. The verses such as Acts 16:30-32 specifically state that those who were baptized believed. They exercised saving faith in Jesus Christ and afterwards were baptized. The passages does not state any infants were present, nor were baptized.
Believers are baptized into His death (Rom. 6:4). It is Christ’s sole act of redemption in dying for sin that saves. Christians are a part of his death.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14 15)
1 Corinthians 10:2, states that the children of Israel were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. ( read verses 3-4) They were identified with Moses who was a servant of God. Because of their belief in God they went down into the Red Sea and their action of following Moses showed their faith. It was their faith in God and the miracle of God’s parting the Red Sea that saved them.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
WHO IS THE PROPER CANDIDATE?
Only a saved person should be baptized. That means one who has believed on Jesus Christ and by faith has received Him as their personal Savior.
Acts 8:26-39, the Eunuch asked to be baptized. When the Eunuch desired to be baptized Philip said to him, “If thou believeth with all thine heart, thou mayest.” The eunuch confessed he did believe and was then baptized. Note that in V38, they left the chariot and went down into the water and after the Eunuch was baptized by immersion they came up out of the water. Clearly this is baptism by immersion. (More will be said on that a little further)
If a lost man is baptized then it is a picture of a lie. If a lost man who has not believed in Jesus Christ is baptized, the symbolism is saying he is confessing he believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior when in fact he does not. No one should be baptized who does not have a clear testimony of believing in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.
The Biblical mode of Baptism is to be immersed. Sprinkling, pouring, etc. are not biblical modes of baptism. These practices do not picture the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The Greek word is “baptizo” means to immerse and has no other meaning. When the Bible was being translated, the translators were told to translate the word “baptizo” in a neutral way so as not to offend the Catholics who sprinkled or the New Testament churches that immersed. So the translators compromised and transliterated the word baptizo into new English word “baptism.” However, the Greek text is emphatic that the word means to immerse or dip into the water. Sprinkling is not baptism. God is very clear on this.
Any other mode of baptism makes light of the death and resurrection of Christ. Those that practice these false methods of baptism have not obeyed the first commandment of their professed Lord. God chose the method of baptism to be a picture of the Gospel. The person who is being baptized is identifying himself with Christ.
Baptism is to be done in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Matt. 28:19-20. In this passage, called the “Great Commission” Jesus commanded that believers were to go into the world and preach the Gospel and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both the evangelism of the world and baptism were to be done in the name of the Trinity. Biblical baptisms are those that are done by true Bible believing assemblies that follow the New Testament as its sole rule and authority for its faith and practice. God has not given any church or individual the right to change what He put in place and instructed.
Some false modern churches baptize in Jesus’ name only. That is a violation of God’s word and denies the Trinity. The reason these false churches baptize in Jesus’ name only is that they do not believe in the Trinity and thus are false churches believing and practicing a false religion. They are a false church preaching a false Gospel and baptism.
Examples of baptism in the New Testament:
The 3000 at Pentecost (Acts 2:41)
The Eunuch (Acts 8:36-38)
Cornelius and his household who believed and were saved. After they were saved they were baptized. (Acts 10:47-48) The Philippians Jailer (Acts 16:31)
New converts were commanded to be baptized by Peter. (Acts 10:47-48)
John the Baptist’s disciples when they heard that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and believed, they followed in the believer’s baptism. (Acts 19:3-5)
Baptism is the first act of submission or obedience to Christ after one is saved. (Matt. 28:19-20) Those who recognize themselves to be sinners and by faith in Jesus Christ believe the word of God….are saved, have their sins forgiven and receive eternal life.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:9 11)
A true believer will not be ashamed of being a child of God. They love the Lord and want to do as He says and thus they willingly and eagerly submit to believer’s baptism by immersion.
Baptism is a public declaration of being saved and identifying oneself with their Savior. Whatever the circumstance, a true believer will obey the Lord and not be ashamed or hide their salvation.
Then the second thing a new convert is to do in obedience to the Lord, is to submit to believer’s baptism, which is a public testimony of their now being a Christian, and join a local church. Joining a local church is God’s plan for his children to fellowship, serve Him, carry the Gospel and learn about Christ.
The New Testament knows nothing of believers serving the Lord apart from being in a local assembly. The local assembly was instituted at Pentecost as Acts 2 records. Baptism places the person who is saved into the local church or congregation. Acts 2:42, says these that were saved continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and prayers. Verse 46 explains that the early church continued in one accord.. Verse 47, states the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
BAPTISM IN GOD’S PLAN FOR THE BELIEVER
God’s plan for the believer is to join a local assembly of believers and fellowship, worship, show his thankfulness to the Lord in giving tithes and offering, and work with other believers in carrying on the Lord’s work in that area. Baptism is the symbol of our common bond and shows our commitment to the Lord first and to each other.
SHOULD A TRUE BIBLE BELIEVING BAPTIST CHURCH
ACCEPT THE BAPTISM OF A CHURCH IN DOCTRINAL ERROR?
Through baptism a new convert joins and become a member of a church. By baptism he further identifies himself with the beliefs of the assembly he joins. If the beliefs of the assembly that baptizes the new convert are in error, then the person being baptized is identified with that error and his baptism does not picture biblical truth. The baptism of a false or doctrinally unsound church is improper and not a biblical believer’s baptism.
Ephesians 4:5 says there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Through Paul God commanded the Corinthian church saying, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” (1 Corinthians 11:2) An assembly (church) of believers is not at liberty to change or alter the clear commands of God’s word. Jesus Christ is the head of the believer and the local assembly. (Eph. 5:23) Pastors and church members are to be stewards of the Lord, teaching and practicing without compromise or error His inerrant word.
Often Christians come from other assemblies to present themselves for membership in a Bible believing Baptist church. The first question that must be answered is, are they truly saved? Have they biblically believed and received Jesus Christ as their Savior? If the person presenting themselves for membership has a clear testimony that they have believed and have trusted in Jesus Christ and His shed blood alone for their salvation, then the next question is to determine if they have received a true scriptural baptism.
The validity of their baptism rests on the validity of the assembly that baptized them. If the church that baptized them is in doctrinal error in teaching or practice then their baptism was not scriptural. They may have joined a church that is in error in their teaching and practices of the Word. Their baptism then identified them with the teaching of that assembly. Then they should be baptised in a Bible believing New Testament church in order to identify themselves with God’s truths that the new church is upholding.
For some this presents a problem, because they do not understand the importance of baptism nor in the need to identify with God’s uncompromised truth. Being baptized in the new church is a testimony of their agreement with the teachings of that church. It furthers shows one’s desire to always stand for truth. Paul said, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17)
In Jude the Lord instructs the child of God stating, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3)
No true child of God should be offended at an assembly who wishes to uphold God’s truths to the lost and dying world. This is the kind of church a Christian should want to be a part of and should willingly honor the Lord in submitting to being baptized into the membership and fellowship with these fellow believers. (For an article on Alien Baptism go to: http://bible-truth.org/AlienBaptism.html )
HOW DOES A PERSON RECEIVE SALVATION?
1. First recognize ourselves as the sinners we are.
Rom. 3:10, 23; Isa. 64:6
2. Understand that there is a penalty for being a sinner. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.
3. Ephesians 2:8-9, tell us that the grace of God that saves, because we believe and that NOT of ourselves.
4. Romans 10:9-10, Tells us confession of your faith is made with our mouths that we believe Christ’s death burial and resurrection. It is with the heart that we believe. If we are ashamed of the Lord He will be ashamed of us.
5. John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
6. Romans 5:8, “For God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
7. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
8. Revelation 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Hear the truth, believe the truth, accept the truth, ASK Jesus to save you! Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 1 John 5:13
What will happen and what will be said at your baptism:
You will enter the water with a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before a saved assemble of believers. You will place your hand over your nose, grabbing your wrist with the other hand, the minister will say these words below, then you will be assisted in being submersed for a brief moment under the water, where you will also be assisted in standing back up, the people will respond with amen.….
Upon Your Profession Of Faith
In the Lord Jesus Christ
And Your Obedience To His Command,
I Now Baptize You Our
(brother / sister)
In The Name Of The
Father, Son, And The Holy Ghost,
Buried In His Likeness
Raised To Walk In Newness Of Life