It seems strange that anyone would ever question the necessity of baptism in becoming a Christian. So much is said concerning
this subject in the New Testament. Jesus said, "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" - Matthew 28:18,19. Why should anyone
deny this universal commandment? Yet, countless thousands of religious people do just that.
It is true that a number of questions regarding baptism may perplex the student. Such questions as "Who should be baptized?"
"How is baptism accomplished?" "Why should one be baptized?" will all present themselves to the thoughtful person. And, the answers
are not difficult to find if we go to the right source - the Bible. Confusion concerning baptism has come about because of the
conflicting, erroneous answers given by denominationalism over the years. Let us turn our backs on the babel of human tradition and
seek guidance only from the Word of God.
Certainly it is important to know who is a proper subject for baptism. The student should understand that the Bible gives several
prerequisites to be met before one can be scripturally baptized. In the commission Jesus said,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them." Teaching must precede baptism. Therefore, the untaught, or those
incapable of being taught, should not be baptized.
Again, man must believe in Christ before baptism. Mark's account of the commission says,
"He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (16:16). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Thus,
to baptize one without faith or before faith is in clear violation of the commandment and renders the act null and void.
Repentance must precede baptism. Peter's words are, "Repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). The individual who hears the gospel
and believes it wants to turn away from his sins. It is only when such a change of mind takes place that one is truly subject to baptism.
He who wants to be baptized and then continue in his sinful practices understands neither the meaning of Christianity nor the purpose of
What about "infant baptism?" Most arguments in favor of such would be stopped before they started if the above divine prerequisites
were considered. Babies cannot be taught to understand the gospel. They are too young to believe in Jesus and are incapable of
repentance. Hence, little children are not subjects of Bible baptism. They have no need of it. Baptism is for sinners, but babies are
in a state of innocence. Jesus affirms this when he says of little children, "for such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14).
Surely He would not have said this if children were polluted with sin inherited or otherwise. There is not a single case of infant
baptism found in Scripture. This means that infant baptism is without divine approval a tradition of men that seeks to make of none
effect God's command that one first be taught, believe, and repent of sins before baptism (See Matthew 15:6, 9).
Some say that baptism is sprinkling of water. Others say that it is an immersion. Some feel that it makes no difference. But it is clear that baptism cannot mean
both "sprinkling" and "immersion." Which of these meanings is the correct one? The Greek dictionaries teach that baptism means immersion. Thayer says
concerning baptism: "A word peculiar to N.T. and eccl. writ., immersion, submersion" (Greek-English Lexicon of the N.T., p. 94). The Greek word for sprinkle is
"rantizo" a different word entirely.
The New Testament clearly teaches that baptism is an immersion. John's baptism required much water (read John 3:23). Jesus went into the water to be baptized
(Matthew 3:16). The eunuch's baptism is most helpful. We read that the chariot was stopped and that both he and Philip went down into the water in order to be
baptized (See Acts 8:38, also lesson 3).
The Bible calls baptism a burial. Colossians 2:12 says, "Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God,
who raised Him from the dead." Notice the action of baptism as graphically described in Romans 6:3-6: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the
glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in
the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be
slaves of sin."
Baptism, then, is a true likeness of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Our old man of sin is to be crucified; we are to be buried in a watery grave of
baptism; we are to be raised to walk in newness of life. Only immersion will fit this beautiful description of the new birth.
Notice what others have said about these passages:
Certainly this is our most important question. If baptism is not essential to salvation, it matters little who is baptized, how it is done, or if one is baptized at
all. On the other hand, if baptism is essential to salvation, all need to know about its requirements.
The New Testament teaches that one must be baptized to become a Christian. It ranks with faith and repentance in the commandments of Christ. If one can become a
Christian without baptism, then he may become a Christian without faith or repentance.
Notice why God commands baptism (please study each scripture reference):
"There is also an antitype which now saves us baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21).
As can be seen from this study of the Bible, three things are necessary to scriptural baptism: the right subject, the right action, and the right purpose.
An infant is not a scriptural subject for baptism. Sprinkling with water is not Bible baptism. Those being baptized, thinking they are already saved before
baptism, are not scripturally baptized.
What of your baptism? Were you christened as a baby? Were you sprinkled upon rather than being immersed into water? Were you misinformed as to baptism's purpose,
being told that "baptism does NOT save us"? If so, your baptism is not the one commanded by the Son of God and you have yet to submit yourself to it.
The Bible teaches an individual responsibility in this matter. Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16). Peter said,
"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized" (Acts 2:38). "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15). So, it is up to you whether
you obey the command to be baptized or not. If you are no longer a babe, you have the ability to study God's Word and to distinguish between false doctrine and
Bible doctrine, between human tradition and divine commandment.
It is not overstating the case to say that your eternal salvation depends on your attitude toward this divine command. Re-examine your baptism again. Compare it
with all the scriptures given in this lesson. Then, if your baptism is not exactly like the one commanded by Christ in the New Testament, do not hesitate one moment
to submit yourself to the Lord's command. We will be happy to assist you in your obedience to the gospel. We will be delighted to discuss with you in person Bible
baptism, the Christian life, and the church of Christ. Why not contact us today?
Salvation — Mark 16:16.
Remission of sins — Acts 2:38.
Washing away of sins — Acts 22:16.
Death of Christ — Romans 6:3.
Blood of Christ — John 19:34, Romans 6:3-4.
Being a new creature — Romans 6:5, 2 Corinthians
Putting on Christ — Galatians 3:26, 27.
Cleansing — Ephesians 5:26.
Sanctification — Ephesians 5:26.
Putting off the body of sins — Colossians 2:11-13.
Forgiveness — Colossians 2:13.
Kingdom — John 3:5.
Good conscience — 1 Peter 3:21.
Holy Spirit — Acts 2:38, 5:32.
Body (church) of Christ — 1 Corinthians 12:13,
Being a child of God — Galatians 3:26, 27.
the name of Christ — 1 Corinthians 1:12-17.
Use this space to write in any questions you may have:
(Maximum characters: 300)
You have characters left.
Enter your e-mail address here:
Please double-check that you have answered all of the questions, then
your lesson for grading.
Copyright (c) Know Your Bible Course 2011