Step Into The Water
Understanding The Call To Be Baptized
Why Be Baptized?
• Scriptural baptism pleases the Lord. Whenever we follow the example and command of our Lord Jesus Christ, we please our heavenly Father (Matthew 3:13-17, 28:18-20).
• Scriptural baptism is part of our testimony to the world. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). Not only does baptism publicly testify of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; it also points to the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
What is the believer’s baptism?
The Bible describes salvation as a free offer of grace that is received by faith; instead of being dependent upon man’s own ability, effort, or righteousness (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:10, 23; Isaiah 64:6).
So why is there a significance placed on baptism?
Water baptism is a FIGURE or TYPE of something which already took place in the heart of the believer the moment he or she was saved (1 Pet. 3:21).
• You are “crucified”: As you go into the water, you show forth by faith that you had already willingly offered your life to the Lord.
• You are “buried”: As you are immersed into the water, you show forth by faith that the old you has already been put to death.
• You are “resurrected”: As you are raised out of the water, you show forth by faith that God has already transformed you unto a new life, a new purpose, and a new destiny.
Water baptism then, is a picture of spiritual baptism as defined in Romans 6:3-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:13. It is the outward testimony of the believer’s inward faith. A sinner is saved and sanctified the moment he places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-13; Hebrews 10:10); and baptism is that visible testimony of the salvation experience; not a means to achieve, or secure, salvation.
6 visible truths to consider:
• Scriptural baptism publicly IDENTIFIES the believer with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 6:1-11).
• Scriptural baptism publicly PROCLAIMS the super-natural work of being transformed from sinner to saint through faith in Christ (Colossians 3:1-2; Ephesians 2:1,5,10; 2 Corinthians 5:17,21).
• Scriptural baptism publicly CONFESSES one’s belief in the Trinity of the Godhead (Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 13:14).
• Scriptural baptism publicly REVEALS our new position in the Family of God (Galatians 3:22-27; Romans 8:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 2:6).
• Scriptural baptism publicly SHOWS obedience to the commands of Christ (Luke 6:46; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:15; 1 John 2:4-5, 3:16-18).
• Scriptural baptism publicly ACKNOWLEDGES new Ownership and Lordship of our life (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Peter 3:15).
So then, water baptism is a picture of what transpired when you placed your faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Baptism does not atone for, or wash away, sin. Only the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin (I John 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:22; Revelation 7:9-17); and only Christ can perform the necessary work of propitiating our sin; so that we might be justified in the sight of God the Father, and free from His coming wrath (Romans 4:20-25; 1 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:2-3).
Who then should be baptized?
The Bible makes it clear that scriptural baptism is a BELIEVER’S baptism.
• In Acts 2:41 we observe that they received the word, THEN they were baptized (brings context to Acts 2:38).
• In Acts 8:12,36,37 we find that they believed, THEN they were baptized.
• In Acts 10:43,44,47, it is plain to see that those who believed received the Holy Ghost, and THEN they were baptized. (Unsaved people do not receive the Holy Ghost).
When the Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved….” (Acts 16:30-34). Paul did not tell him to be baptized to be saved. His baptism came AFTER his believing; which sets the scriptural standard.
Only those who accept Jesus Christ by faith should be baptized; to do otherwise is to contradict scripture.
Why does baptism not save?
• It was never intended to. God long ago ordained the plan of salvation to be through His Son Jesus Christ; and the Bible teaches that eternal salvation is contained within the person and work of Jesus. (John 1:4,29, 3:16, 14:6; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Revelation 5:9, 13:8)
• Mankind is incapable of good works. Since the fall of mankind in the Garden, man has been separated from God; and since the natural state of man is sinful, he cannot be counted as righteous; nor can any of his deeds be counted as righteous; therefore, man cannot simply be baptized and receive salvation. (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:1-24; Isaiah 59:1-2; John 3:3,17-18; Romans 3:10,23,28; John 8:37-45; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9)
• Good works are super-natural. Redemption, and the washing of regeneration, is a super-natural act only capable through an almighty God. When a person believes by faith, they receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which enables them to now perform works that God sees as good; but these good works are post salvation. This is why people are to be baptized after being born-again; because baptism is ordained as an act of righteousness. Remember, Jesus was already righteous when He was baptized. (Titus 3:1-7; Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 3:15-17, 5:13-16; Mark 1:24; Philippians 3:8-11)
• Jesus proved salvation by faith. The thief on the cross never had a chance to be baptized; and since God is no respecter of persons, we either have to believe that Jesus saved the thief, or that Jesus was a liar. Jesus said we must be born-again to receive everlasting life. (Luke 23:39-43; Romans 2:11, 3:4; John 3:1-36)
• What of those who disagree? Using certain scriptures, or parts of scriptures, like Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16, and then ignore the totality of God’s Word, is disingenuous and dangerous. When we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal truth in context, we will see clearly what God desires.
Questions To Ponder
• If baptism is able to save the sinner, or is able to secure or complete salvation for the sinner, why does the Bible teach justification by faith? (Romans 3:21- 4:25; Galatians 2:15-21)
• If baptism is essential for salvation, why did Jesus not baptize everyone He encountered; and why would the Apostle Paul say that he was not sent to baptize; since God desires all to be saved? (1 Corinthians 1:17; John 4:1-2, 6:38; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4)
• If the act of baptism secures salvation, why did Christ have to die? Is God’s only Son not a sufficient sacrifice? (Matthew 16:21, Hebrews 1:1-4, 5:5-9, 7:22-28, 8:6, 9:11-26, 10:3-10, 13:12; 1 Peter 1:19)
• If man were able to attain salvation in his own strength, would that lead him to be prideful and boastful; instead of humble and contrite? (1 Corinthians 1:11-31; Ephesians 2:9; Psalm 51; Luke 18:9-14)
There is no scriptural basis for being re-baptized as a believer. The only reason a person should be re-baptized, is if they come to realize that they were not actually saved the first time they were baptized. Baptism carries no extended measure of grace, nor is it meant bestow some spiritual gift; therefore, re-baptism for the sake of being baptized again, does not afford one greater faith; nor does it deliver one from ongoing sin.
Baptism For Church Membership
There is no scriptural basis for being re-baptized to be accepted as a member of a church. A church should very well expect its members to be baptized, since church members should be born-again believers; but a Christian who has already been baptized, should not be compelled to be re-baptized in order to be accepted as a member of a congregation.