Firm Foundations Two (15 of 55) What Is Baptism?

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What Is Baptism?

Baptism is when a believer’s whole body is immersed into water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as a testimony of his faith in Jesus alone for salvation. It is a symbol that expresses a believer’s decision to believe in and follow Jesus.

The Testimony Of Baptism

  • Baptism is often called a believer’s first step of obedience after salvation, because as a follower of Jesus, he is being obedient to Jesus’ command to be baptized.
    Matthew 28:18–20; 1 John 2:3
  • Baptism reminds us that we are saved by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. When we believe in Jesus, spiritually, our old-self is buried with Him, we die to sin, and we are raised to live for God.
    1 Corinthians 15:1–4; Romans 6:1–11; Colossians 2:12
  • Baptism is an outward testimony to the church and others that a person has started to believe in Jesus Christ, they are now a Christian, and they desire to identify as His follower and with His church.
    Acts 2:41
  • Baptism is not part of salvation, nor does it wash away your sins. We are saved by grace through faith. Only Jesus’ blood washes away our sin.
    Ephesians 1:7; 2:8–9; 1 John 1:7; Colossians 1:20

The Requirements Of Baptism

  • The Bible gives us commands and many examples of baptism that we need to follow, not adding to or taking away from them. We cannot change baptism to fit our circumstances or culture. It is a specific symbol to be fulfilled in a specific way and all Christians should desire to be baptized in the proper way according to the Bible.
    Acts 2:38–41; 8:36–40; 16:25–34
  • The first requirement is salvation. In the book of Acts, baptism always followed salvation and never preceded it. Baptism is the outward symbol of your internal belief in Jesus.
    Acts 2:41; 8:38; 9:17,18; 10:48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:4,5
  • The second requirement is to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a clear command that is given by Jesus Himself.
    Matthew 28:18–20
  • The third requirement is to be baptized by immersion. Your whole body should be immersed into the water and then should come back out. This is the only mode that can properly display our spiritual union with Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.
    Romans 6:4; Acts 8:38–39
  • The fourth requirement is that baptism must be administered. You cannot baptize yourself. Every example of believer’s baptism in the New Testament is administered by male Christians in the church. Therefore, based on these examples and the teaching that women are not to have positions of authority in the church, women should not baptize.
    John 4:1–3; 1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 1:11–16
  • If you were not baptized according to the above requirements, then you have not received biblical baptism. Therefore, you need to be baptized. Biblical baptism is received after salvation; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; by immersion in water; and administered by a male Christian in the church as an expression of your faith in Jesus.
    Acts 19:1–9

Concerns About Baptism

  • What if I believed baptism as part of my salvation? According to the Bible, you are not baptized, nor are you saved. If you believe that you have to trust in Jesus plus get baptized to be saved, then you are not a Christian. Salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ plus nothing else. You need to repent of your works and confess Jesus as Lord for salvation. Only then as a response to your salvation can you be baptized, knowing baptism has not part in your salvation.
  • What if I was baptized as a baby or before I was saved? According to the Bible, you have not been biblically baptized. Children and/or babies who cannot make a firm salvation decision for themselves cannot be baptized. A person can only be baptized after salvation. If you are saved, then you should be biblically baptized.
  • What if I was baptized by sprinkling or not baptized by immersion? According to the Bible, you have not been biblically baptized. There are no examples of sprinkling in the Bible. If you are saved, then you should be biblically baptized.
  • What if I was baptized by someone unqualified? Although the focus of Scripture is not on the person who baptizes, but on the person being baptized, it seems that those who can administer baptism are limited to male Christians in the church. You should desire that your baptism is performed in this way. If this man later falls into sin, your baptism would still be valid if it was performed under the authority of a real local church.
  • What if I do not get baptized? First, salvation is only by the grace of God. If you do not get baptized, you can still be a Christian. Second, since baptism is a kind of obedience (in which Christians should take joy in obeying the Lord) you would need to ask yourself why you do not want to get baptized in obedience to the Lord’s command. This could be a sign that you are not a true believer.
  • What if I cannot or do not have the opportunity to be baptized? If you cannot be baptized due to circumstances out of your control then the Lord knows your situation. There is no special ranking for those who are baptized and those who are not. The man hanging on the cross that believed in Jesus never was baptized (by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit after salvation).

Review Questions

  • Baptism is an expression of what decision?
  • What are the four requirements of baptism?
  • Can babies or small children be baptized? Why or why not?
  • Is baptism part of salvation? Why or why not?
  • Why would a person need to be baptized again?

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