What is Baptism?

What is baptism?  Baptism is a proclamation to the world of what Jesus is doing in your life.  When we put our faith in Jesus alone for salvation [1], the next step is to get baptized as a symbolism of the spiritual washing that Jesus has done in our lives [2].

Baptism is an act of obedience and baptism follows belief in Jesus [3].  Jesus instructs His followers to tell people the gospel and then to baptize them [4].  Additionally, when asked how to be saved in the Book of Acts, a man (apostle) named Peter instructs people to repent of their unbelief in Jesus and be baptized [5].

Baptism does NOT save us.  Salvation is secured by faith alone in Jesus [6].  We cannot add any ‘work’ to our salvation.  Baptism would be considered a ‘work.’  Paul, a New Testament writer and follower of Jesus,  argues this point in a book that he wrote [7].  The topic Paul was arguing against was circumcision, not baptism, but the same principle applies.  Preaching that one must be baptized to be saved is teaching a ‘different’ gospel (the true and only gospel teaches that salvation is by grace alone apart from any work) [8]. If you rely on a ‘work’ to save you, you are still under a curse (a term used in the Bible to describe our hopeless nature apart from the grace that Jesus offers us) and not grace [9]. Therefore, we conclude that baptism is a symbol of salvation and not a requirement for salvation.

Baptism is by full-immersion in water.  There is absolutely no other example found in the Bible.  Every time a baptism occurs, it occurs in a body of water.  For example, when Jesus was baptized, He got baptized in the Jordan River.  The Bible states that, “when He came up out of the water” [10] after He gets baptized insinuating that he was immersed in the water.  Also, in another Book in the Bible called Acts, someone traveling wants to get baptized.  It was not until he saw a large body of water that they stopped the caravan, went “down into the water,” and they “came up out of the water” to get baptized. [11]  We could easily assume that if they had a glass of water, they would not have had to stop when they saw a body of water to be baptized.  Baptism is only recorded in the Bible as one being fully immersed in water.  There is no other example.  As a matter of fact, the very word for baptism [12] means to plunge, dip, or immerse.

Only those who believe in Jesus should be baptized.  This position is called ‘Believer’s baptism.’  Infants are not to be baptized.  The Bible consistently shows how baptism takes place.  There is first a repentance from unbelief, then one gets baptized.  There is no evidence of this order ever being broken.  There are what are called ‘household’ baptisms in the Bible.  Some people that support infants being baptized use these as a proof texts to support their position.  These Bible verses, however, do not support this position.  When these ‘household’ baptisms take place, the Bible records that the Word of the Lord was spoken to them first [13]; that everyone rejoiced in the home [14];  that they devoted themselves to the work of the Lord [15]; and finally, they believed in the Lord as did everyone else in the household [16].  Infants cannot receive the Word of the Lord, they cannot rejoice over their salvation, they cannot devote themselves to the work of the Lord, and they cannot believe in the Lord Jesus. For this reason, we reject infant baptism and reject the idea that ‘household baptisms’ are in indication that infants should be baptized.  The means of true biblical baptism is only for believers in Jesus and by full immersion.

What if I was baptized as a baby?  Should I get baptized again?  The simple answer is yes…yes you should!  For our reasoning behind this answer, please see our prior question and response.

What if I was ‘sprinkled’ or had water poured over my head as a believer…should I be baptized again?  This question is trickier than the prior one.  I would contend that the answer to this question would be contingent on your own convictions pertaining to this topic.  As we stated earlier, baptism does not save you, thus the mode of baptism is not as important as your heart condition during your baptism regardless of how it occurred.  However, as followers of Jesus, we should constantly look to please Him and walk in obedience to Jesus.  At this point, I would encourage you to pray and ask for the Spirit of God to lead you as you seek out this question.

If I have already been baptized as a believer, should I be baptized again to recommit my life to the Lord if I have not been walking in obedience?  Our position on this question would be no you should not be.  Our walk as Christians is often one like a roller coaster.  We have seasons of walking close to the Lord and seasons of being distant from the Lord.  There will be times, regardless of being baptized or not, that we will sin and struggle in our relationship with God.  Our salvation is never contingent on what we do or do not do.  Our salvation is based off of what Jesus has already done for us on the cross.  Nothing changes our right standing before our Heavenly Father because of how gracious and faithful Jesus is.

1 Acts 4:12
2 Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:11-12
3 Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12
4 Matthew 28:19
5 Acts 2:38
6 Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23
7 Galatians 5:1-12
8 Galatians 1:6
9 Galatians 3:10; Galatians 5:4
10 Mark 1:10
11 Acts 8:38-39
12 Baptizo
13 Acts 16:32
14 Acts 16:34
15 1 Corinthians 16:15
16 Acts 18:8

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