Lesson 11 : Baptism
What is baptism? Who should be baptized? What is the purpose of baptism? Only God can give us the answers to these questions.
God’s answers are found in the Bible. Let us learn what the Bible teaches about baptism.
Who Should Be Baptized ?
The Bible gives us certain requirements which we first must obey before we can be baptized.
One must believe in Jesus Christ before he can be baptized. Jesus said: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
How do we come to believe in Jesus? It is by hearing the Word of God. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
One must repent of his sins before he can be baptized. The Bible says: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38). Repentance must come before baptism.
Before one can be baptized, he must confess his faith in Christ. "… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9,10).
One must hear the Word of God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of his sins, and confess his faith before he can be baptized into Christ. A newborn baby or small child cannot be baptized. A baby cannot understand about Jesus. A baby cannot repent of sins when he has not done anything, either good or bad. A baby cannot confess his faith in Jesus. Since a baby cannot hear, believe, repent, or confess, he cannot be baptized. In the Bible we learn that only people old enough to hear, believe, repent, and confess were ever baptized.
"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" (Acts 8:12).
How Should One Be Baptized ?
There are two ways by which churches baptize people today. One is by pouring or sprinkling water on the person’s head. The other is by burying or immersing a person in water. Which one is correct baptism? The Bible gives the answer.
In the Bible baptism is called a burial. "…we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). If we want to bury a dead body, we will not sprinkle a little dirt on the head. We will cover the body completely. Baptism is a burial. Sprinkling water on the head of a person does not baptize him. He must be completely buried under the water.
"Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized" (John 3:23). John chose a place to baptize where there was much water. Sprinkling requires only a little water. But a burial in water requires much water. Therefore, John did not baptize by sprinkling. He baptized by burying in water.
"So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38,39). When Philip baptized the eunuch, both of them went down into the water. After the baptism, both of them came up out of the water. To sprinkle a person, it is not necessary to go down into the water. To baptize a person by burying him in water, it is necessary to go down into it. Therefore, Philip baptized the eunuch by burial, not sprinkling.
What is the proper way to baptize? The Bible teaches it is by a burial in water, and there are no examples of anyone being baptized by the sprinkling or pouring of water. Therefore sprinkling and pouring are not acceptable methods of baptism.
Why Be Baptized ?
There are four reasons why we must be baptized: First, we must be baptized if we want to be saved. Jesus Himself said: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). The apostle Peter said: "There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21).
Second, we must be baptized if we want to have our sins forgiven. The Bible says: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Third, we must be baptized if we want to be in Christ. To be "in Christ" means "to be a Christian." The Bible says: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
Fourth, we must bebaptized if we want to become a member of the body of Christ. The body of Christ is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23). The Bible says: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." (1 Corinthians 12:13).