The Voice 3.08: February 24, 2013

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The Voice

What the Bible Says About Baptism

And Peter said unto them, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

While the Bible’s teachings regarding baptism are not difficult to understand, many times the doctrines of men have confused the issue and have left many people in the dark. Let us consider what the Bible says about baptism.

Baptism is immersion. The Greek word transliterated into English as “baptism” is baptizo, and it means quite literally “to immerse”. This is made manifest in Acts 8:38-39, where Philip and the eunuch “go down” into the water and “come up” from the water. The Bible makes no mention of baptism as sprinkling or pouring, and the idea of “modes” of baptism makes no sense; how can there be “modes” of immersion?

Baptisms in the New Testament are for the purpose of the remission of sin. Not only does baptism mean immersion, the Greek word does not only refer to a religious event: any kind of immersion is a “baptism” of sorts. This is important to recognize, for it means that there can be many purposes for immersion. One can be immersed to be physically cleansed (cf. 1 Peter 3:21), or to join a church, or to make a public profession. The Bible gives one clear purpose for baptism: the remission of sin (Acts 2:38). If we are immersed for a different reason, we should not expect that immersion to have the result of cleansing from sin.

Baptism is in water, but is not about the water. It is manifest from Acts 8:36-39, Acts 10:47-48, and Acts 19:1-9 that baptism was done in water. The “baptism of the Spirit” occurred on two occasions, the day of Pentecost and when Peter preached to Cornelius (Acts 1:4-5, Acts 2:1-15; Acts 10:43-46, Acts 11:15-17), and is not seen at any other occasion. The “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5, therefore, is manifestly immersion in water for the remission of sin. Nevertheless, baptism is not about water: it is about the one being baptized submitting to God and appealing for cleansing through the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 3:21). As we have seen previously, to be immersed in water for any other reason than the remission of sin is just getting wet!

Baptism is the only means described in the New Testament of obtaining the remission of sin, and is necessary for salvation. While the Bible speaks often regarding the believer receiving forgiveness of sins on account of Jesus’ blood (Romans 5:9, Ephesians 1:7, etc.), the Bible only describes in one place exactly how we come into contact with that blood: baptism (Acts 2:38). Without baptism, there is no guarantee of remission of past sin, and it is that sin that separates us from God in the first place (Isaiah 59:1, Romans 3:23). When seen in this way, it is easy to understand why baptism is necessary for salvation, as established in Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-7, and 1 Peter 3:21.

Baptism is a type of death and resurrection. Paul, in Romans 6:3-7, establishes that baptism parallels the death and resurrection of Christ. As Jesus died and was raised on the third day, so we are baptized into His death, putting to death the man of sin, and rising from the waters of baptism a new creature, walking now in newness of life. If the Bible ever mentions a clear point of delineation between the life in sin and death and the life in righteousness and eternity, it is here and it is the point of baptism!

Baptism is the “antitype” to the Flood. In 1 Peter 3:20-21, Peter establishes that baptism is the “antitype,” a contrary or parallel type, to Noah and the flood in Genesis 6-9. We can establish the nature of the contrast: as Noah and his family were preserved by remaining on top of the water, and all who were underneath perished, so now those who go under the waters of baptism are saved, while those who would “remain dry” will be condemned.

I hope that you can now see what the Bible teaches about baptism. Please consider yourself in light of this message: were you immersed in water for the remission of your sins? If you were sprinkled as a baby, or if you were dipped or had water poured on you to join a church or to make a public profession, you have not been immersed in water for the remission of your sins. Consider the following Scriptures; are you willing to risk your soul on your “baptism,” if indeed you had anything so called? We are always open to studying with you and helping you be right with God!

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3).

And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

Ethan R. Longhenry

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