What Is Baptism?
The word baptism used in the Bible always means to be immersed with water, unless it is plainly indicated in that particular passage of Scripture. Being baptized is a public profession of one’s faith and acceptance of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Water baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we stand in the water we are dead to sin with Christ on the cross, when we get emerged into the water our sins are buried in the tomb with Christ, then when we come up out of the water, we are resurrected into the newness of Christ, and our soul is alive with Christ.
Do not mistake baptism for salvation, a person that has been water baptized only is not saved, but that does not mean that one can lose their salvation if they are never water baptized. What is does mean is that one cannot truly understand the power of God in them until they are baptized in the water. I wasted twenty years of my life believing in something that was completely false. Nevertheless, I now know the truth, and Praise God I can live to tell others about my journey so they too can learn the truth and that no matter how long it takes God will get us on the correct path somehow.
Water Baptism is Only For Those Who Are Saved.
We find this in the Book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit directed Philip to speak to an eunuch about the Gospel, and he asked what he needed to do to be baptized. “And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” – Acts 8:34-39. The only way the eunuch could get baptized was by believing in Christ. This is why it is it does no good for a baby to be baptized, in order for a person to be baptized he/she must know what it means and believe in Christ, a baby does not know the difference so he/she is not saved.
Baptism is The Testimony of Ones Salvation
Baptism does not get one saved, but is a testimony of salvation. Therefore, it is meaningless prior to salvation. When Christ became my Saviour, all prior involvement, such as singing in the choir, church membership, attendance, and baptism were absolutely meaningless. When I was baptized after I was saved, this had meaning and fulfillment as I realized this was a testimony of my faith in Christ. I felt good about myself because I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do.
BAPTISM DOES NOT SAVE NOR HELP SAVE YOU
A favorite device of the Devil is to have man look to their works for their salvation instead of looking to Christ, he leads some to trust in their morality, some to depend upon church membership, some to depend upon confessions to priests; and some to trust in baptism. That is a fatal mistake. Scripture proves that people are saved by simple faith in Christ, without any act of righteousness, and baptism is never mentioned as a part of the plan of salvation. Baptism is an act of righteousness, it can in no way save you from death and hell. “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” – Titus 3:4-7
False Doctrine of The Scriptures
Some like to misinterpret the Scriptures to mean something other than what it actually is. For example Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38. Some people think that this verse contradicts the dozens of other plain statements in the Bible that a man is saved by grace through their faith alone, and immediately when they believe. What they fail to do is read the rest of the Scripture. This was on the day of Pentecost, those who did not believe were mocking the Apostles, Peter stood up and began speaking to the people and after he spoke to them this is what happened. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” – Acts 2:37-41. What Peter said to the people was that they ought to repent (ask for forgiveness) first, then be baptized to show their pardon of sins. When one repents of their own works, they receive the remission of sins. Then the obedient heart, following Christ in baptism, is the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, an entirely separate matter from salvation. The Scripture, then, does not mean that people ought to be baptized in order to be saved, it means that they ought to be baptized after they are saved in order to show that they are trusting only in Him for their salvation.
Another misinterpreted verse is one that Jesus said Himself, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:16. Christians are supposed to be baptized as soon as possible after they are saved. It is natural to think of baptism following salvation, as Jesus said that those who believed and were baptized are saved. He did not contradict the rest of the Bible, as you will see from the following words in the same verse, for He was quick to say. “But he that believeth not shall be damned.” The matter which settles it is believing in Him, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:18. John 3:18, shows that those who believe in Christ are not condemned, whether or not they have been baptized. It also settles that the reason man is condemned is “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Salvation is settled by belief in Christ, and only by that.
Incidentally, in Bible times they were usually baptized the same day, often the same hour of their conversion, even if it were midnight as in the case of the Philippian jailer. “And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” – Acts 16:27-33. In fact, baptism is a public profession of faith. One can see baptism; one cannot see faith in the heart.
TRUST JESUS FOR SALVATION
Now, one thing I would like to point out is that there are times when it is not possible for one to get baptized even though it is a command from Jesus, this proves that it is not baptism that gets one to heaven, it is Jesus. God has just one plan of salvation. It is not a process. It is not a series of steps. People are saved by grace through their faith in Jesus Christ, and there is no other way. Everything else that God asks of a sinner in order to be saved: repentance, prayer, coming to Christ, etc, is summed up and settled when one depends upon Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. One could not turn their mind or heart toward God (repentance), without having faith in Christ. You cannot come to Christ without believing on Him. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? ” – Rom. 10:14. Confession by the mouth simply proves faith in the heart which has already secured salvation. God has no other plan of salvation except that promised in John 3:16,18,36; John 5:24; John 6:47; Acts 16:30-31. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
People Saved in The Old Testament, Without Baptism
We have the record of many people in the Bible who were saved without baptism, God has never had, but one plan of salvation. In the Old Testament it was “not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” In fact, the eleventh chapter of Hebrews tells us of case after case of people in the Old Testament times who were saved by faith. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” – Acts 10:43. The only plan of salvation taught in the Old Testament was by faith in Christ, just as it was preached in the New Testament. Every Old Testament sacrifice and ceremony was a picture and shadow and type of the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!”
Now, all of these Old Testament saints were saved without baptism, for there is not a word in the Old Testament about baptism and no record of a single person’s ever being baptized before John the Baptist began it. Baptism, then, is not a part of God’s plan of salvation.
People Saved in The New Testament, Without Baptism
Since the same plan of salvation was preached in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and people were saved in the Old Testament without baptism, you would expect them to be saved in the New Testament without baptism, and they were. In Luke 7:37-50 is the story of a woman, a notorious sinner. Verses 47 to 50 in that seventh chapter of Luke tell us plainly that her sins were forgiven her and that her faith had saved her. “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, ARE FORGIVEN; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, THY SINS ARE FORGIVEN. And he said to the woman, THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE; go in peace.”
Jesus plainly stated that the woman was already forgiven and was already saved by faith. She knelt at the feet of Jesus, trusted Him, and went away a saved woman. She was saved without baptism.
In Luke 18:35-43 we are told about the healing and conversion of a blind man. Verse 42 tells plainly, in the words of Jesus Himself, just how he was saved: “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE.” Notice that salvation was received right there before he was baptized.
That is the same plan of salvation given throughout the book of John; in John 1:12, John 3:14-18, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 6:37, and many other places. It is the same plan taught by Peter after Pentecost, Acts 10:43. It was the same plan taught by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, Acts 13:38,39; Acts 16:30,31; Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 3:28 and Romans 4:5-8. People were saved in the Old Testament by faith without baptism, were saved during the life of Jesus by faith without baptism, and were saved after Pentecost by faith without baptism.
That publican, about whom the Savior has told us in Luke 18:13,14 was saved without baptism. Standing there in the temple, he prayed, saying. “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus tells us about him then, that, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified!” He was saved, then, without baptism.
Thief on Cross Saved, Without Baptism
The most remarkable case of this kind is the thief converted on the cross as told in Luke 23:39-43. When that poor man turned to the Lord Jesus and asked to be in His kingdom, the Lord Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.“,he died that day on the cross as we are told in the Scriptures and so he could not have been baptized. But that day, according to the express statement of the Saviour, he went with Jesus to paradise. And some happy day, all who trust in Christ will see him there.
No, baptism is not essential to salvation. Baptism follows, should follow immediately, but is not a part of God’s plan of salvation. When you are baptized, be sure that fact is made clear to those who look on. If you have this salvation, this change of heart by faith in Jesus Christ, then follow Jesus in baptism as soon as possible.
About Infant Baptism
One of the most aggravating things about the false doctrine of baptism is the fact that the world promotes infant baptism, even television promotes infant baptism. People have all this faith in God, yet have everything completely wrong because they go by what they are told rather than by seeing or learning the truth for themselves through the Bible. Many groups of Christians sprinkle or pour water upon infants and call it baptism. Some teach that it is necessary to save a child from hell while others see it only as a dedication to God and a way to add to the “covenant” community. There are many good reasons why infant baptism is wrong:
Infant Baptism is Unnecessary
Many feel that if infants die without baptism they will go to hell and thus baptism is the means to remove original sin and save them from hell. However, if that were the case then why do those who are baptized need to be later “confirmed” in personal faith? Apparently, after baptism they still possess a sinful nature, they still sin and they still die which are all the consequences of being related to Adam and original sin. Infants have no ability to rationally understand between right and wrong and therefore they will have no sin held against them if they die in that state.
When David’s infant child died he clearly knew he would see him again. The Bible clearly tells us that God does not punish the children for the sins of their fathers, but only for their own sins. “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” – II Samuel 12:18-23.
Both baptism and the Lord’s Supper are symbolic pictures of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They both portray aspects of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper emphasizes his death by his shed blood and broken body. Baptism emphasizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What is the significance of a symbol? The ONLY significance is found in correctly portraying the truth they are designed to picture.
When a symbol is distorted then so is the truth it is designed to reveal. In this case we are talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ. How does infant baptism distort the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ? It does so in many ways. First, it identifies the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone who has not personally repented of sins and believed it. Thus it pictures the salvation of unbelievers in the gospel. Hence, it distorts the proper object of salvation. Second, it distorts the gospel by omitting the BURIAL and RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ for which it was designed to portray. It is a serious error to omit the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ from any symbolic enactment of the gospel. When an infant is sprinkled, poured or immersed another gospel is being preached by symbolic enactment. How serious is it to “preach another gospel”, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
In conclusion, it is unnecessary, unscriptural, perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it identifies you historically with those who were the greatest persecutors of God’s people. All of these are good and solid reasons to leave such a church and find and join a true New Testament Church were the gospel is preached clearly in both the pulpit and in the ordinances as without scriptural baptism there can be no scriptural church. If you are not a member of one of Christ’s churches and you are yet without scriptural baptism, you have been deceived and just got wet.