Three Times Wet–Part 2

            Jesus included water baptism in His Great Commission to His disciples before His ascension.  “ And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:18-19).  Notice that Jesus didn’t make baptism a requirement for salvation.  Similarly, circumcision didn’t save any male Jews.  Where does baptism fit in then?

            Paul puts things in perspective in Romans 6:3-6.  “Know ye 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  Baptism paints a symbolic picture of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  It’s traditionally done as a means to show other Christians that one has accepted Christ as Savior and is willing to repent of sinful ways and follow Him.  In the days of the early church, it was often done immediately after someone became a Christian..  John the Baptist dunked or immersed those he baptized, and the symbolism indicated by Paul points to baptism by immersion.

            If baptism had any merit, I should be in good shape, since I was sprinkled once and immersed twice.  Why twice?  My wife and I once belonged to a Southern Baptist church which insisted we each be rebaptized.  It was a mistake I’d never repeat.  The Scriptures don’t call for it.  When someone is truly born again and baptized afterward, it shouldn’t matter which church or denomination did the baptism (I Cor. 12:12-14).  If you’ve followed Scripture, don’t let anyone pressure you over this.  What about Acts 19?  “And it came to pass, that….Paul….finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (vv. 1-6).  Apparently these men weren’t born again.  They needed to know that John’s baptism pointed to Christ and salvation through faith in Him, which is accompanied by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

            Did you know Paul downplayed baptism?  I Cor. 1:13-17 says, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

            Think on these parting shots.  The New Testament doesn’t mention baptism of babies.  Nor does it dogmatically mandate baptism prior to joining a local church.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Study, Salvation, Thoughts from John

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