Baptism

Beginning Bible Studies, Lesson 11 of 15

What is baptism? Who should be baptized? What is the purpose of baptism? Only God can give us the answers to these questions.

God’s answers are found in the Bible. Let us learn what the Bible teaches about baptism.

WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?

The Bible gives us certain requirements which we first must obey before we can be baptized.

One must believe in Jesus Christ before he can be baptized. Jesus said: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16).

How do we come to believe in Jesus? It is by hearing the Word of God. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

One must repent of his sins before he can be baptized. The Bible says: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins..." (Acts 2:38). Repentance must come before baptism.

Before one can be baptized, he must confess his faith in Christ. "…because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God 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." (Romans 10:9,10).

One must hear the Word of God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of his sins, and confess his faith before he can be baptized into Christ. A newborn baby or small child cannot be baptized. A baby cannot understand about Jesus. A baby cannot repent of sins when he has not done anything, either good or bad. A baby cannot confess his faith in Jesus. Since a baby cannot hear, believe, repent, or confess, he cannot be baptized. In the Bible we learn that only people old enough to hear, believe, repent, and confess were ever baptized.

"But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12).

HOW SHOULD ONE BE BAPTIZED?

There are two ways by which churches baptize people today. One is by pouring or sprinkling water on the person’s head. The other is by burying or immersing a person in water. Which one is correct baptism? The Bible gives the answer.

In the Bible baptism is called a burial. "We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). If we want to bury a dead body, we will not sprinkle a little dirt on the head. We will cover the body completely. Baptism is a burial. Sprinkling water on the head of a person does not baptize him. He must be completely buried under the water.

"And John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized" (John 3:23). John chose a place to baptize where there was much water. Sprinkling requires only a little water. But a burial in water requires much water. Therefore, John did not baptize by sprinkling. He baptized by burying in water.

"And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing." (Acts 8:38,39). When Philip baptized the eunuch, both of them went down into the water. After the baptism, both of them came up out of the water. To sprinkle a person, it is not necessary to go down into the water. To baptize a person by burying him in water, it is necessary to go down into it. Therefore, Philip baptized the eunuch by burial, not sprinkling.

What is the proper way to baptize? The Bible teaches it is by a burial in water. Therefore sprinkling is not true baptism.

WHY BE BAPTIZED?

There are four reasons why we must be baptized: First, we must be baptized if we want to be saved. Jesus Himself said: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). The apostle Peter said: "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).

Second, we must be baptized if we want to have our sins forgiven. The Bible says: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

Third, we must be baptized if we want to be in Christ. To be "in Christ" means "to be a Christian." The Bible says: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

Fourth, we must be baptized if we want to become a member of the body of Christ. The body of Christ is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23). The Bible says: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body..." (1 Corinthians 12:13).

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