Exploring Baptism

Note: This topic has been written on a sixth-grade level in order to provide understanding to both adults and children.

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The dictionary defines baptism as “a Christian sacrament marked by symbolic use of water to rid the recipient of original sin and resulting in admission into Christianity; a ceremony, trial, or experience by which one is initiated, purified, or given a name.” Baptism is an act that purifies us. The Bible says that Jesus is coming back for a bride who is without spot or wrinkle.

WHY DO WE BAPTIZE?

  • To follow Jesus’ example (He was baptized by John; Matthew 3:13-15). Jesus is the greatest example of how we should live. He was baptized as an example to us; He showed us “what to do” in order to be rid of our sin.
  • Baptism represents the death of Christ (Romans 6:3-5). Just as Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and then rose again, we must do the same. Our baptism is symbolic of the old, sinful man dying and the new, clean man being reborn. What do you do when someone dies? You bury them. When we are baptized, our sins are washed away!
  • A part of our salvation (it is necessary to be baptized in order to be saved) (Mark 16:16). Jesus stated plainly that we cannot be saved without baptism. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached about Jesus being the Messiah. When the Jews asked what they should do, he told them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

HOW DO WE BAPTIZE?

If we look at the word Jesus and the apostles used, we find that it means to immerse, submerge, or to make fully wet. (Strong’s Greek: baptizo {bap-tid’-zo} 1. to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge; of vessels sunk.)

  • Immersion (Matthew 3:16-17, Acts 8:38). All of these scriptures require one to be completely immersed, or to go completely under the water. You can’t come out of, go down into, or be buried in a few drops of water. When you bury something, you don’t just throw a handful of dirt on it – you cover it completely. It is the same with baptism – one must be completely covered with water.
  • In the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16). On the Day of Pentecost, Peter commanded us to baptize in the name of Jesus. Throughout the book of Acts, the Bible records that the early church baptized in the name of Jesus. The disciples had just spent 3½ years with Jesus. Having been that close to Him, you would expect that they would know exactly how He would expect them to baptize.

IS BAPTISM NECESSARY?

  • Commanded by Jesus “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…” (Matthew 28:19 KJV) That name is Jesus!
  • God (or the Father) was called Jehovah (Yahweh) in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the Son was plainly called Jesus. However, you will find no name that specifically refers to the Holy Ghost. According to a Trinitarian interpretation, they should be baptizing by stating “Jehovah (Yahweh), Jesus, and ?” Therein lies the “3 versus 1” dilemma, as the only name that can be attributed to the Holy Ghost is Jesus. Because a Trinitarian cannot find three names, titles are used instead.
  • “Then Jesus said to them, “So wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…” (Mark 16:15-16 GOD’S WORD) Jesus left no room for a mistake. You must be baptized in order to find salvation.
  • Practiced by Jesus and the disciples. Did you know that the disciples baptized others while Jesus was still on the earth? (John 4:1-2 CEV)
  • Commanded by Peter (Acts 2:38). Peter was very specific in his command to the Jews at Pentecost. They were told to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Again, He had just spent 3½ years baptizing followers of Jesus. Surely, there had been many discussions with Jesus about how to baptize, so the disciples did not disagree about this – they all baptized in the name of Jesus. (Acts 10:46-48) The first Gentile (non-Jew) converts were commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus.

 DOES IT MATTER HOW YOU ARE BAPTIZED?

  • Disciples of John were required to be re-baptized (Acts 19:3-6). When Paul met some of the disciples of John the Baptist, he directed them to be baptized again in the name of Jesus. It was not enough to simply be baptized; they had to be baptized correctly.

 Additional scriptures to studyColossians 2:12Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5

Copyright © 2003 Growing with God by Mark and Glenda Alphin

Definitions derived from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of American English

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version.—Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.—Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995

Scripture quotations marked (GOD’S WORD) are taken from the Holy Bible, God’s Word Translation. GOD’S WORD is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations.

Scripture quotations marked (CEV) are taken from the Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, ã1995 by the American Bible Society.