Why Baptism?


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Jesus, Himself, was baptized:

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately, he went up from the water [which means He was submerged in the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:13-17.

Jesus commanded that His followers be baptized:

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20.

Baptism should occur after one believes and repents:

Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16. “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38. Belief and repentance should come before baptism; therefore, baptism is not for those who do not understand what they are doing, such as infants. Nowhere in the Bible do we see an example of baptism in the name of Jesus before faith in the person of Jesus occurred. In Acts chapter 8, the Apostle Philip came upon an African eunuch who was reading about Jesus in the book of Isaiah. After Philip interpreted the Scriptures for the eunuch he asked, “See here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son God’ . . . and he baptized him.” Acts 8: 36-39. Belief was a prerequisite to baptism for the eunuch. Other examples of belief then baptism can be found in Acts 8:12, “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” In Acts 16:32-34, the keeper of the prison was baptized with his household, but his whole household was first taught (verse 32), and they believed (verse 34). Finally, Acts 18:8 tells us, “And many of the Corinthians, hearing Paul believed and were baptized.” Notice the order: they heard, they believed, then they were baptized.

Re-baptism:

If you were baptized as an infant or small child, before true belief and repentance took place, you should be baptized again because you were not baptized according to the standards of the Bible. “And it happened that while Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?” They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord, Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.” Acts 19:1-6. In the preceding verses, we read the account of persons who had been baptized, but not based upon their faith in Jesus. They had followed the teaching of John the Baptist, who taught they should be looking for Christ to come in the future. Jesus had come, so the time for the baptism of John had passed. Since the time of their baptism by John and the death and resurrection of Jesus, these people had apparently become believers in Christ as they were called “disciples” in verse 1. As a result, Paul re-baptized them correctly, in the name of Jesus in accordance with their faith in Jesus.

Baptism alone does not provide eternal salvation

The failure to be baptized will not condemn a true believer in Christ to eternal punishment; the failure to believe in Christ will condemn a person. Mark 16:16. The Bible is clear that one’s eternal salvation is based upon faith alone in Christ alone, and is not based upon the work of man. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Baptism alone, therefore, will not bring about one’s eternal salvation.

The purpose of baptism:

In baptism we symbolically and naturally allow the water to cleanse our natural bodies of the filth of this world. This is just as Christ has cleansed our hearts of the filth of sin, and we arise out of the water new and clean in Him. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27. Though baptism is an act of obedience to Christ, it is more than the following of a ritualistic command. There is significance and power in a true water baptism, which should only occur after one understands what one is doing. If Jesus humbled Himself to be baptized, and the Bible said God was well pleased with His obedience and the heavens were opened to Jesus after this act; if Jesus commanded ALL of His followers to be baptized; if through faith and obedience followers of Christ are promised that wondrous signs will follow those who believe (see Mark 16:15-18); if in baptism the old man is buried and the new man reigns in Christ, then baptism is a necessary act for a follower of Christ. True baptism, though not a means to eternal salvation, is essential for the fulfillment of all God offers through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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