All students of the inspired word of God will agree that baptism is taught in the sacred scriptures. Sadly, the religious world is divided over what is taught. This brief look at baptism is designed to see what the scriptures say. The feelings, interpretations, and such like, of the writer, scholars, preachers, and any other cannot overshadow what the author of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:8, 9) has to say about His teaching on baptism. Forgetting what others have said and are saying; direct your attention now to what Jesus says.
First, John the Baptist, immerser, came preaching baptism in water unto repentance, baptizing many in the Jordan River, including Jesus. (Matthew 3:1, 5-7, 13-17). John was believed to be a prophet by many (Matthew 21:26), and Jesus said, “Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.” (Luke 7:26). According to Jesus, John’s baptism was from heaven. (Matthew 21:25). John’s baptism required a going down into the water. This is implied because “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:…” (Matthew 3:16). John’s baptism was preparatory, leading up to the baptism of Jesus. Some did not understand this. For example, “A certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.” (Acts 18:24, 25). This was years after John had died, and after the church had begun on Pentecost. (Acts 2). “Aquila and Priscilla…took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of the Lord more perfectly.” (Acts 18:26). Please notice that Apollos was eloquent (Greek, LOGIOS, fluent, i. e. an orator) in speech, mighty (Greek, DUNATOS, powerful, capable, strong) in the scriptures, spake and taught diligently (Greek, AKRIBOS, exactly, perfectly), as he knew it, the things of the Lord, but we must remember that he knew only the baptism of John. He obviously did not know that John’s baptism was no longer valid. As proof of this, read Acts 19:1-7. Paul came to Ephesus, where he found twelve male disciples who had received John’s baptism. (Acts 19:4). Paul told them, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” (Verse 4). “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Verse 5). It is clear from these two inspired accounts that John’s actions, including his baptism, were to “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1:3). John pointed to “He…who coming after me, is preferred before me,…” (John 1:27-30). Read this entire chapter to see people being turned to Jesus.
The Pharisee and ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus, came to Jesus. (John 3:1, 2). Jesus told him that he had to be born again, then explained, “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (Verses 3-5). Both Jesus and John the immerser baptized those who came to them. (John 3:22, 23). Jesus did not physically baptize them, but He did it through His disciples, and baptizing more than John. (John 4:1, 2). The same was said of Paul. He was responsible for multitudes of conversions, though he personally baptized but a few. (Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:14). The purpose of this was stated in verse 15, “Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.” People today do not wash their hands for great lengths of time after shaking the hand of some celebrity. What might some have done if they had been personally baptized by Jesus or Paul?
After His resurrection from the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, Jesus sent His apostles to every creature (Mark 16:15) in every nation (Matthew 28:19) to preach His saving gospel (Romans 1:16) to them, baptizing penitent believers “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16). Those who were baptized were added unto them, the church. (Acts 2:41, 47; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22, 23). If those who were baptized were added unto them, the church, by implication, those who were not baptized were not added unto them, were not added to the church. Since “Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23), where would that leave all not in the body, the church, if not outside and lost? These verses speak to the great importance of salvation and church membership.
Paul told the church at Ephesus that there is “one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:5). If John’s baptism were still in effect, there would be two baptisms. Paul, inspired of God, said “one.” By the way, that harmonizes with Acts 18:24 through 19:7. This “one baptism” is the one you read about in Acts 2:38, 41 (those saved on Pentecost and thereafter); 8:12, 13 (the Samaritans and Simon the sorcerer); 9:18 and 22:16 (Saul of Tarsus); 10:47, 48 (Cornelius); 16:15, 33 (Lydia and the Philippian jailor); 18:8 (the Corinthians); and 19:1-7 (the twelve disciples). The “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5, is a baptism by burial or planting (Romans 6:1-5; Colossians 2:12), in water (Acts 8:38, 39), “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), to “wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16). This last act, “baptism doth also now save us.” (1 Peter 3:20, 21). It is in baptism that we enter the body, the church. (1 Corinthians 12:13). Paul wrote, “For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27). This baptism is “into” (ASV) or KJV, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), It is by their authority, at their direction that we are baptized into the Three, the Godhead.
One will also see the order of steps one takes to become a Christian. The Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized. (Acts 18:8). Compare Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Hearing the word of God leads to faith. Faith would then lead one to repent of sin, which comes prior to baptism. (Acts 2:38). One who has believed and repented would then be ready to confess one’s faith in Jesus as the Son of God. (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9, 10). That would then bring one to the point where one would be moved to be buried in baptism, into Jesus’ death, to contact the saving blood of the Lamb of God willingly and sacrificially poured out for the sins of the world. Notice that Jesus blood was shed in His death on the cross. (John 19:34). We are “justified by his blood.” (Romans 5:9; Matthew 26:28). This is done when we are “baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3) to contact the saving shed blood of the sinless Son of God.
Remember, the baptism of Jesus was given to save every penitent believer who confesses the Deity of Christ from Pentecost until the end of the world. You were able to read and study these things, so you are one of those people God wants to save from eternal destruction. Baptism was, and is, for those who can believe (a baby cannot), repent (a baby has nothing of which it needs to repent), and confess Christ as the Son of God (a baby cannot do this). Those who cannot do these things need not be baptized. One will know when the age of accountability is reached, when there is an understanding of these things, accompanied by the ability to do them.
Questions: Please answer the following questions and check answers below.
(1) Was the baptism of John permanent, for all time, that is, is it still in effect?
(2) Is Bible baptism accomplished, by sprinkling, pouring, or burial, immersion?
(3) Does faith only save one (James 2:14-26), or does baptism save us when we obey God?
(4) Can one be saved without the blood of Jesus or baptism?
(5) Does one enter the church prior to baptism?
(6) How many baptisms are there?
(7) Is one saved before one enters Christ?
(8) How and when does one enter Christ?
(9) Who is the answer, and is He right?
(10)Have I been baptized according to the scriptures? __________ If not, what should I now do ____________________________________________?
Answers to the 10 questions above: (1) No (2) Burial, Immersion (3) Baptism (4) No (5) No (6) One (7) No (8) In and at the time of baptism (9) Jesus Yes (10) Dear reader, you know what you did, and you now know whether or not it was the Lord’s way. If you honestly and mistakenly did not do the will of God as He outlined it, do so at this very hour. Cf. Acts 16:33. The person who gave you this short study will be happy to assist you, or you may write to the address hereon.