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January 17, 2011
What is Baptism In the true church, there are two ordinances for the believer: Baptism and the Lord's Super. (An ordinance is simply a rule, a law or a statute established by a sovereign power. What power is more sovereign than God?) Some people make much more out of these ordinances than they really are. They are ordinances. That is to say that they are actions the Lord wants us to take, but they have absolutely no bearing on whether we are saved or not. The first of the two ordinances we will look at is Baptism. What is the significance and the symbolism of baptism? How does someone get baptized? When should you get baptized? How does baptism affect your salvation? These are all questions you will be able to answer when you complete this study.
Eph 4:4-5 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
This first passage shows us that there should be only one baptism. There is only one Lord - Jesus. We are only saved once and after that salvation, there is only one baptism.
Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Col 2:12 compares baptism to burial. The entire baptism is symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Baptism is also symbolic of our death to sin and our walk in a new life. When one is saved, he should become dead to sin. Sin should no longer reign in his life. In fact, after salvation, the new believer is actually fully alive for the first time. Spiritually, we have been quickened or made alive. Remember, before someone is saved, their spirit is dead. There is a hole in their life where their spirit should be. Baptism does not regenerate the dead spirit and it does not wash away our sins. Baptism is merely a symbol of our death to sin and our resurrection into a new life. Baptism is also symbolic of Christ's physical death, burial and resurrection. Likewise, baptism can relate to our physical death and upcoming resurrection. Baptism is a very powerful, rich symbol, but it is only a symbol.
Mark 1:10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
John 3:23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
These verses are all telling us something about baptism. Notice how "much water" is required, how they were coming up out of the water and how they were "planted." All of these terms are showing us something. Many false forms of Christianity, including the practices of the Catholic church and her Protestant offspring (remember, a true Baptist is NOT a Protestant) practice "sprinkling." In other words, when they claim to baptize someone, they only sprinkle a little water over their head. This practice does not require "much water," does not require the one being baptized to "come up out of the water" and does not illustrate someone being planted. In fact, the Greek word which is transliterated as our English word "baptize" is βαπτίζω (baptizo). Literally, this word means "to immerse." Some speculate we have our English word baptize because of the political pressure placed upon the translators of the day. It is certain that they were faithful to the accurate translation of the Word of God, but it is equally certain that the religious and political powers which existed in that day (the Catholic church) did not want the Word of God accurately translated into the language of the common man. One doctrine they held on to was the doctrine baptism. They taught that baptism was required for salvation and must be performed on an infant. Teaching anything contrary to this was heresy. A complete and accurate translation of the word βαπτίζω and its variations to indicate immersion would result in death. To be faithful to the Scriptures and, quite literally, keep their heads, the translators did not translate, they transliterated. That means that they translated the individual letters into English letters, thus accurately and faithfully representing the Scriptures.
1 Cor 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
In the verses we have studied so far, we see baptism compared to being planted or buried. In this passage (1 Cor 15:1) we see how Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again out of that grave. When we compare 1 Cor 15:1 to Romans 6:5, we see that we are also planted in the likeness of Jesus' death and raised up out of that death. Baptism is a symbol of that death, burial and resurrection. Who Should Be Baptized? Again, there are many religions which have practices regarding baptism which are not Biblical. Who should be baptized is another aspect which has been perverted. Some believe that one must be baptized to be saved (or go to heaven). Some also believe that children and infants should be baptized to protect them from Hell. Both of these are un-Biblical teachings. In fact, I believe these are teaching which are condemning people to Hell. There are people who rely upon their baptism to prove they should go to heaven. It is almost as though they are planning to show their baptism certificate to get into the gates of heaven.
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Acts 8:36-37 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? (37) 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.
In each of the verses above, we see that receiving the Word of God through preaching and believing are before salvation. In other words, the example we see is that one must believe to be Scripturally baptized. This is further confirmed in this verse:
Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Acts 10:47 is asking if anyone who has the Holy Spirit (someone who has been saved) can be forbidden from being baptized? The answer is no. Being saved and having the Holy Spirit is a requirement to be saved.
Acts 16:30-33 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (32) And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
Again, the jailer was saved first, then baptized.
Acts 18:8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
They believed first, then were baptized.
Luke 23:39-43 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. (40) But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? (41) And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. (42) And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (43) And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Jesus promised to see this malefactor in paradise, yet he was never baptized. If baptism were required for salvation, this man could never have been saved. However, we know that Jesus’ promise is true and that Jesus saw this man in Paradise. Baptism was not required. Why Should We Be Baptized?
Mat 3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.(14) But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? (15) And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (17) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The very first thing we see is that Jesus thought it was important to be baptized. In fact, Jesus wanted to be baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” (vs. 15). Did Jesus need to do anything to be righteous? NO! However, Jesus did set an example for us. We also see that the father was pleased to see Jesus baptized.
Acts 2:38 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.
As the Father was pleased to see Jesus baptized, we can suppose that He would be pleased to see us baptized as well. However, we have a command to be baptized in Acts 2:38. Again, this is one of the passages which is often misapplied. Some teach that this passage means that we must be baptized to have our sins cleansed. This would contradict many other passages in Scripture: it would make baptism a work one could do to earn their salvation on their own. The very first error in this theory is the fact that there are no contradictions in Scripture. You cannot find one verse which contradicts anything else in Scripture. Knowing that there are no contradictions in Scripture, how do we explain this passage? Easily. Just as you could read this verse to indicate baptism is required to obtain the remission of sins, you could also read this verse in a way which indicates that we should be baptized because we have already obtained the remission of our sins. The latter meaning is grammatically correct and does not contradict the Scriptural teaching of Baptism in any way. In the next article, we will look at the second ordinance of the local church – the Lord’s Supper.