A Beginner’s Guide to Baptism
A quick introduction to Credobaptism.
21 OCTOBER 2017 · 10:00 CET
Today we are going to take a quick look at the doctrine of baptism. We hope to answer the following four questions:
- Who should we baptize?
- What is the correct mode of baptism?
- Is baptism necessary to be saved?
- What does baptism (not) mean?
Let’s kick off with the first question.
1.- Who Should We Baptize?
We baptize those who have made a credible profession of faith in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized...” (Acts 2:41).
- “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 8:12).
- “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47).
In the three cases we observe that those who believed the Gospel were baptized. They were conscious about what they were doing. The following three texts could not be applied to infants:
- “Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
- “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
- “Buried with him in baptism wherein you also are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
So who should we baptize? Answer: Those who have made a credible profession of faith in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2.- The Mode of Baptism
We believe Scripture teaches baptism by immersion for three reasons:
- The Greek verb for baptize is best translated as immerse or submerge.
- Various New Testament passages indicate that baptism was by immersion. In Mark 1:5 many were baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Mark 1:10 reveals that Jesus came up out of the water after his baptism. John 3:23 explains that the Baptist baptized near Salim because “there was much water there” hinting that folk were immersed when baptized.
- Given that baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12), it would seem fitting that immersion would be the best representation of such a sign.
So, which is our preferred mode of baptism? Answer: Baptism by immersion.
3.- Is Baptism Necessary to Be Saved?
Baptism is not necessary to be saved; however, it is a clear command of the Lord Christ. A truly converted person will long to be baptized in order to be faithful to Christ and his apostles.
- “Then Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him” (John 3:13).
- “Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).
- “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 you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2.28).
A good example of a saved non-baptized believer was the thief upon the cross (Luke 23:43). Christ promised him that he would soon be in paradise, even though the criminal had not been baptized.
Nevertheless, if the offender had been converted in normal circumstances, he doubtlessly would have been baptized in order to obey the Lord’s command.
So, is baptism necessary to be saved? Answer: No, it’s not necessary; but it is extremely important.
4.- What Does Baptism (Not) Mean?
As we have already pointed out, baptism represents Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. By means of our baptism, we are confessing publically that we now belong to Christ.
It symbolizes that we are dead to Christ and alive unto God (Romans 6:3-4). This is the reason why we baptize believers alone.
Before being baptized, we should dispel two false theories:
1. Baptism regenerates no one. Baptismal water has no type of miraculous power which can turn unbelievers into believers. Regeneration is a powerful work of the Spirit of God in the soul of the saint. Once regenerated by the Spirit, a regenerated person should seek to be baptized.
2. Baptism cleanses no one from sin. Once again, baptismal water has no type of miraculous power which can cleanse us from our sins. The force which purifies us from sin is not the water but the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- “How much more shall the blood of Christ... purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).
- “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
What does baptism mean? It signifies our union with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. What does baptism not mean? It does not mean that the baptismal water can regenerate us or cleanse us from sin.