Water Baptism

The meaning of baptism is very important to the Christian and their Christian life, for it is in a life of obedience that we see God's purposes and desires. We need to keep in front of us the right and proper attitude in baptism.

We need to realize that baptism never saves. There are many who say that if you are not baptized, you are not saved. In saying that they have missed the point of the cross of Jesus Christ and its atoning power. As our Lord was hanging upon the cross between the two thieves, He said to the one, "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise." This shows the ability of God to save apart from baptism.

We need to realize that baptism is an act of obedience. As we are baptized, it is in response, or correspondence, to what Christ has done for us. We too, must make our decision of death, that is, death to self, knowing that the resurrection is in the life and standards of Christ.

Baptism is not to add to what Christ has done, it is not to complete what Christ has done, nor is it to compete with what Christ has done. Rather, it is an external witness to those around us, and a witness to the world in which we live, that there has been an internal work done by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the work of Christ. Thus, the key to the glory of baptism is that though it is a physical act, behind it lies a tremendous amount of spiritual types and symbols. First, behind the external baptism, there lies the true baptism which is that of the shed blood of Christ. Second, behind the external action, there lies the inward operation of the Spirit, moving us to live, move and act in faith.

As we study the New Testament, the life of Christ, and what the apostles left as examples for us, we see that baptism is the full act of immersion. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find affusion, which is the act of pouring water upon your head; nor do we find aspersion, which is having water sprinkled on your head or face. We do find, that throughout the Holy Scriptures, the word baptize (in the Greek), means "to dip or to fully immerse" or "immersion of the whole body". Thus, in keeping with the teaching of Christ and the New Testament pictures and types, we see in immersion (the surrounding of water), a metaphor of a burial. As we go down under the water, we are "burying" ourselves to sin and self. As we are under the water, we are aware of how helpless we are. But, as the arm of the one who is baptizing us brings us up, we learn a most precious lesson. It has to be a power and strength outside myself to bring me up. Thus, God brings me forth by His mighty arms into a new and holy life. Baptism is the grave of the old man and the resurrection of the new. As we sink below the water, the believer buries there all his corrupt affection and past sins. As he emerges, he is regenerated, quickened into a new living hope.

Romans 6:3-6 "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that they body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."

Colossians 2:12-13 "...buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,..."

1 Peter 3:18-21 "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us-baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..."

Remember: Water baptism is a picture of what has already taken place in the hearts of God's children.

The doctrine of Baptism

1. The remission of sin - Acts 22:16

2. The regeneration of the new birth - John 3:5, Titus 3:6

3. Being grafted into Christ - Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3-6

Who Can Receive Water Baptism?

Anyone who has professed Christ Jesus, repented for their sins, and are trusting and living by faith in the Son of God.

Further Scriptures Concerning Water Baptism

Matthew 3:16; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:22; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:26-39; Acts 10:47-48; Acts 16:14-15; Acts 19:4-5; Acts 22:16

In each of the above cases, the person being baptized was a believer. Thus, we need to stress the importance of knowing the scriptural basis of baptism. Without the ability to know or understand, water baptism would be a meaningless ritual.