Intermediate Bible Studies
12. What About Baptism?
What About Baptism?
There is so much unnecessary disagreement in the religious world over baptism. The denominational world says things like this:
We are saved by faith only; then we are to be baptized. Baptism is not for salvation and has nothing to do with salvation because we are saved before we are baptized. Baptism can be a pouring, a sprinkling, or an immersion; it does not matter. Baptism is not just for adults but also for babies and for little children. Baptism is only the outward sign of an inward grace. Baptism is only spiritual and has nothing to do with water and saving baptism is not water baptism. (It's funny that even the Reformers basically never stooped to such foolish deceptions! This is a modern day heretical contrivance. The Reformers knew that when Scripture referred to baptism in most contexts it had to do with "water baptism.") God does not save us in baptism and place us in Christ and his church when we are baptized because we are already there when we just believe. In baptism our sins are not washed away. Baptism is only a work and we are not saved by any kind of works but by faith alone. Baptism has nothing to do with being saved by grace. Etc. The fact is, if you listen to most who hold the “Faith Only” position, when it comes to all the passages that mention baptism, they do not explain them; rather they try to explain them away! For a couple of special studies that deal with various arguments that many make against baptism for the forgiveness of sins please go to the end of this article.
To learn the truth, all you really need to do is simply read what the Word of God actually says on this important Bible subject. It is not that hard. You can understand what the truth is about baptism. Forget what men and man-made denominationalism say about baptism. And don’t resort to any fancy theories or deceptive linguistic and grammatical tricks to explain away the necessity of baptism. Read it for yourself and believe! Here are the verses:
Matthew 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came to them and spoke unto them, saying, ‘All authority has been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go you therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’”
Mark 16:15-16 – “And he said unto them, ‘Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieves shall be condemned.’”
John 3:3,5 – “Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except one be born anew (“again” – NIV), he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ . . . Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and [the] Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’”
Acts 2:38-41,47 – “And Peter [said] unto them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins (“so that your sins may be forgiven” – NIV; "for the forgiveness of your sins" – ESV); and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.’ And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ They then that (gladly – NKJV) received his word were baptized: and there were added [unto them] in that day about three thousand souls. . . . And the Lord added to them (“to the church” – NKJV) day by day those that were saved.”
Acts 8:35-38 – “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, ‘Behold, here is water what does hinder me to be baptized?’ And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he (Philip) baptized him (the eunuch).”
Acts 22:16 – “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.”
Romans 6:1-23 – “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? Or are you ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with [him] in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that has died is justified from sin. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death no more has dominion over him. For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he lives, he lives unto God. Even so reckon you also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts thereof: neither present your members unto sin [as] instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law, but under grace. What then, shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid. Know you not, that to whom you present yourselves [as] servants unto obedience, his servants you are whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were servants of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto you were delivered; and being made free from sin, you became servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you presented your members [as] servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members [as] servants to righteousness unto sanctification. For when you were servants of sin, you were free in regard of righteousness. What fruit then had you at that time in the things whereof you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life. For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I Corinthians 6:11 – "And such (sinners) were some of you: but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."
I Corinthians 12:13 – “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
Galatians 3:26-29 – “For you are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for you all are one [man] in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.” (It must be noted that the baptismal meaning of "put off/put on" is also found not only in Romans 6:3,6 but also in Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:22-24 and Colossians 3:1-17!)
Ephesians 4:4-6 – “[There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 – "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her; that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word..."
Colossians 2:9-15,20 – “For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power: in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, [I say], did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he has taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross; having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. […] If you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourself to its rules…”
Titus 3:4-7 – “But when the kindness of God our Savior, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works [done] in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Hebrews 10:22-23 – "Let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from and evil conscience, and having our body washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope..."
I Peter 3:20-22 – “The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: which also after a true likeness does now save you, [even] baptism (“this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also” – NIV), not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation (“pledge” – NIV) of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ; who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
All Examples of Conversion in the Book of Acts: (1) Pentecost – Acts 2:1-41; 2:44; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1,7; (2) The Samaritans and Simon – Acts 8:4-25; (3) The Ethiopian – Acts 8:26-40; (4) Paul – Acts 9:1-19; 22:6-16; 26:12-18; (5) Those of Lydda and Sharon – Acts 9:35; (6) The Believers of Joppa – Acts 9:42; (7) Cornelius – Acts 10:1-11:18; 15:7-11; (8) The Believers of Antioch – Acts 11:19-21,24; (9) Sergius Paulus and the Gentiles – Acts 13:6-12; (10) The Gentiles of Pisidian Antioch – Acts 13:13-48; (11) The Jews and Gentiles at Iconium – Acts 14:1-7; (12) Those of Derbe – Acts 14:21; (13) Lydia – Acts 16:13-15; (14) The Jailer – Acts 16:25-34; (15) Some in Thessalonica – Acts 17:4; (16) The Bereans – Acts 17:10-12; (17) A few Athenians – Acts 17:34; (18) Crispus and the Corinthians – Acts 18:1-8 cf. I Corinthians 15:1-2; II Corinthians 1:21-22; (19) Some in Achaia – Acts 18:27; (20) The Ephesians – Acts 19:1-7,17-20 cf. Ephesians 1:3-14; (21) Some Jews in Rome – Acts 28:24
Wait a minute! If these are all the examples of conversion in the Book of Acts, why don't they all specifically mention baptism? Good question! If you will notice, they also don't all specifically mention faith either! What? That's right, go back and notice that none of the cases of conversion in Acts are recorded in exactly the same way, using exactly the very same words. Luke actually uses quite a lot of variety in his descriptions of the cases of conversion. It's a matter of great literary style and in doing so he shows us all the various facets of conversion and salvation.
So, what are we to do with the tremendous variety that Luke has given us in describing the cases of conversion? That's easy! Take them all and put them together using the principle of "the whole counsel of God." See Acts 20:27. Remember, you don't know anything about what God has said until you know everything that he has said on any given matter! Just as faith was a part of every single case of conversion, so was repentance and confession and baptism. To say that not everyone who was saved was baptized is just as foolish as saying that not everyone who was saved believed or repented or confessed the Name of Christ. In the New Testament there was no such thing as an "unbaptized believer." Thus, there is no way to be saved without being baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Dear friend, please "make your calling and your election sure" (II Peter 1:10) – make sure that you are really saved according to the principle of "the obedience of faith." See Romans 1:5; 16:26 cf. Galatians 5:6. Make sure that you have been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
(All Scripture quotations are taken from the American Standard Version [revised] unless otherwise noted.)
For an important study on "The Thief on the Cross" go here!
For another important study on "The Conversion of the Jews and Gentiles" go here!