ABOUT WATER BAPTISM
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
Water. Water was around before the creation of the physical universe (Genesis 1). Scientist says over 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with it and there are 326 million cubic miles of water on the earth. Every living thing needs water to live, and every living thing is made of at least some water. Water is used for everything from cooking to bathing to generating electricity, and new uses are being found for it each day. Yet, sadly man has under utilized and even discounted its use as a means of getting to Heaven.
What is Water Baptism? The Greek word for baptism is “Baptisma,” which literally means “to immerse.” It is metaphorically described as a burial (Romans 6:3-4) where, just as Christ, died, was buried in a tomb and rose from death, we too die, are buried (in the water) and rise to live a new life in and for Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:27).
How Does Water Baptism Save? It is not magic water. The saving power behind water baptism is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). One is saved when he believes the message of the Gospel and in good conscience, pledges his life to God as he confesses Jesus and is immersed in water (1 Peter 3:18-21). Immersion in water allows the blood of Jesus to wash your past sins away (Matt. 26:28).
What Happens at Water Baptism? All spiritual blessings occur at baptism (Eph. 1:3). We will name only a few of them. (1) The individual receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5). (2) The individual receives the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; Matt. 3:16). (3) The individual is added to the universal church (not a particular denomination), but the worldwide household of God (Acts 2:47; Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16).
Who is a proper Candidate for Water Baptism? There are certain requirements one must meet before they can be baptized in water. They must have faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of the universe (Matt. 16:16; Gal. 3:26). They must have SIN and be repentant of it (Acts 2:36-37; Luke 13:3). They must confess the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Matt. 16:15-17). This confession is made both in word (Romans 10:9-10) and daily, as the result of a changed lifestyle (Romans 12:1-2).
Is Water Baptism Really Necessary for Salvation? Quite frankly, YES! Jesus said it was necessary for Him to get baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). Since all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Ps. 119:172), Jesus was baptized in water to obey a command of God given by John (Mark 1:4-5). Unlike us, Jesus had no sins to be forgiven or saved from (Heb. 4:15). However, He obeyed God’s command and showed us how and when one receives the indwelling Holy Spirit as a gift (Matt. 3:16; Acts 2:38). Water baptism (for all believing penitent people) has now been commanded by God through Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45-48). John 3:3-5 indicates that water baptism (along with faith and repentance) is required to enter the Kingdom of God.
Yes, the Bible teaches that water baptism is necessary for salvation. Just look at the Scriptures! When referring to Noah’s Ark, Peter writes, “In it only a few people (8 souls) were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also” (1 Pet. 3:20-21; cf. Mark 16:16). But you might say, “I haven’t been taught that and I don’t believe that. I can’t see anything in the water, therefore I am not going to obey the command to be baptized to be saved.” Well, maybe God will make an exception in your case. However, do you really think it wise to take that chance?
I was Baptized with Water as a Baby! Isn’t that Good Enough? First, you were not immersed (buried in the water) as the Scriptures command (Col. 2:12; cf. Acts 8:36-39). You were most likely merely sprinkled with water. According to Catholic Church documents, sprinkling became an acceptable mode for baptism in the 12th century because it was more convenient (Faith of Our Fathers). Many Protestant Churches have followed the Catholic example. Sprinkling water for baptism is therefore a man-made doctrine. It is unbiblical and therefore unacceptable by God as a mode of baptism.
However, even if one was immersed as a baby, remember, the water is not magical. The one being baptized must meet the requirements (see above) to receive the blessings associated with water baptism. Since a baby cannot and does not have faith, cannot confess Jesus, and is not capable of repentance, infant baptism is not biblical and therefore not valid.
I was Told to Pray Jesus into my Heart and I Would be Saved. What’s Wong with That? Simply stated, it is not biblical. No matter how hard you search the Scriptures you will not find authorization to pray a so-called “sinner’s prayer” for the forgiveness of your sins. Peter didn’t tell the believers in Acts 2 to repent and say a prayer. He told them to repent and “BE BAPTIZED” for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). Furthermore, Revelation 3:20 (the usual Scripture reference for the “sinner’s prayer” teaching) was written to lukewarm Christians as a means of firing them up. It was not written to non-Christians as a means to get them saved.
What about the Thief on the Cross? He was Never Baptized! There is good reason for that. (1) Until Jesus was resurrected, the Mosaic Law was still in effect. Jesus did not command water baptism until after His death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 28:18-20). Therefore, appealing to the thief for your salvation is like appealing to Moses or David. Can you be saved using the same standard of salvation that they used? (2) Water baptism, as Romans 6 says, is a time where we are immersed into the death of Jesus. A New Testament baptism for forgiveness of sins and reception of the Holy Spirit before Jesus died is therefore non-existent.
Wasn’t the Philippian Jailer told his ONLY requirement for salvation was to Believe (Acts 16:31)? Friends, belief includes more than the mental acknowledgement of a truth. Belief includes obedience (James 2:17-26). Please keep reading in Acts 16. In verse 32 we learn that the jailer and his household were taught what to believe about Jesus. Once taught, verse 33 says he and his house obeyed what they believed (had been taught- Romans 10:17). Their belief (verse 34) caused them to be baptized in water to get into Christ where salvation is at (Gal. 3:27; 2 Tim. 2:10). Thus, he was saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) as he obeyed God (cf. Heb 5:9).
Didn’t Saul become a Christian when he called Jesus “Lord” on the road to Damascus? NO! Even though Saul (Paul) recognized Jesus as Lord and prayed and fasted for three days, he was still not forgiven (or saved) by God. Acts 22:16 tells us his sins were washed away when he got up and was baptized, calling on the name of the Lord.
Isn’t Water Baptism a Work and therefore NOT Required for Salvation? Water baptism is a work of obedience to a command of God (Mark 16:15-16). Belief, repentance, and confession are also works of obedience to commands of God (cf. John 6:29; 8:24; Acts 17:30; Matt. 10:32-33; 1 John 2:22-23). Obedience to all the commands of God are required for salvation (Matt. 7:21; Acts 5:32; Heb. 5:9). A work that does NOT save is doing something for salvation that is NOT a command of God (like sprinkling water on someone or praying the so-called “sinner’s prayer”).
In Mark 16:16, Jesus didn’t say anything about one who Believes and isn’t Baptized, so therefore it’s not required. WRONG! When God tells man what to do, that ends the matter. Jesus placed belief AND water baptism together for salvation. Naturally, if one does not believe water baptism is necessary for salvation he will not be baptized for that reason. The person who claims to believe in Jesus, but refuses to obey Him (by being immersed in water for salvation) really does not believe. Since Jesus did not offer salvation without baptism, what right does anyone have to say otherwise?
I was Baptized in water to Join my Church. Is this Biblical? NO! Paul criticized as divisive those who were baptized into anything other than Christ (1 Cor. 1:13ff). One does not become a Baptist or a Catholic or any other denominational member when baptized with water. The New Covenant baptism commanded by Jesus is where one becomes simply a Christian and is ADDED to (you cannot join) the universal church (or body) of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 2:41, 47).
Isn’t Water Baptism merely an Outward sign of an Inward expression? In other words, isn’t it just Symbolic of what has already taken place? Not really! When a man marries a woman they obviously have strong feelings for each other. Before the ceremony takes place, they love each other and they have pledged their commitment to one another. However, in the eyes of God and the law, they are not married until the official ceremony takes place. Similarly, inwardly you may love Jesus and have pledged your commitment to Him; however, you are not married to Him officially until your baptism INTO Him takes place (Rom. 6:3-4). You put Christ on, thus becoming the bride of Christ (Rom. 7:4; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:2) at the point of water baptism (Gal. 3:27).
I received the Holy Spirit when either (1) I first believed, (2) A preacher laid his hands on me, or (3) I received my Confirmation. Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His baptism in water (Luke 3:21-22). Peter says we receive the Holy Spirit during water baptism also (Acts 2:38). Why are you the exception?
I was baptized as an adult, so therefore I’m going to Heaven. Loved one, you cannot be taught wrong and baptized right. You must obey God’s form of teaching (the Gospel) from your heart or understanding (Rom. 6:17). You may have been immersed in water as an adult, but if you did not believe it was for salvation, you simply got wet. You can correct your error by submitting to immersion in water again, but this time with the correct understanding (see Acts 19:1-5 for an example of this). Only those who obey God from the heart and remain faithful to Him unto death will receive the crown of life eternal (Rev. 2:10).