What Baptism is NOT

First of all, we are saved by faith, not by baptism.  This means that being sprinkled when you were a baby does not save you.   The Bible says:


Eph 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  NKJV


A good way to remember this is by the example of the thief on the cross.  He only had the time and the ability to ask Jesus for mercy through faith.   There is no way he could have been baptized, yet Jesus told him (Luke 23:43) "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." NKJV.


What Baptism Is


Baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward change.   When John the Baptist baptized people in the Jordan river it was for repentance.   John said that (Matt 3:11 )" I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance.” NKJV  Repentance is the inward change of turning away from your sin against God.   You may ask, didn’t Jesus get baptized?   He did not have any sins he needed to repent of.   Indeed, John the Baptist realized this immediately, and Jesus Himself gives us the answer:


Matt 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?"


15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him.


16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying,"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." NKJV


So, Jesus got baptized because he was under the Law, and he needed to follow everything that would have been required of Him.   When we are saved the first thing that we do is to repent of our sins.  After we do that we then accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  After we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior then we confess Him before men, and identify ourselves with Jesus, usually through baptism.   The Bible describes this use of baptism as being buried with Jesus, and then being raised, just like Jesus was:


Rom 6:1-4

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 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.  NKJV


Col 2:12

12 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. NKJV


The original word that baptism comes from is “baptizo” and is a Greek word.  It was frequently used to describe the dipping of garments into a dye bath to dye them.   I think you can see from this, and from the previous discussion, that when you are baptized in water you are submerged, not sprinkled.


When are you Baptized


You can see from the previous discussion that you get baptized after you repent and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.   This means that you need to do it when you are past the age of accountability with God so that you know what it means to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  This varies from person to person as to whether or not they understand, but I suppose that the Jewish tradition that a boy needs to be around 13 years old would be a good guide.  


Although you are not saved by baptism, it is normal Christian behavior to make baptism one of the first things you do as a Christian.   In the early church, the Holy Spirit led Phillip to witness to an Ethiopian eunuch, who accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, and then asked to be baptized.


Acts 8:34-39

34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"


37 Then Philip said,"If you believe with all your heart, you may."


And he answered and said,"I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."  


38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. NKJV


In Ephesus Paul baptized new believers:


Acts 19:3-7

3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?"


So they said,"Into John's baptism."


4 Then Paul said,"John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."


5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all. NKJV


To conclude this discussion we should also note when Peter baptized some of the first Gentile believers,    In all these cases baptism was one of the first acts of obedience for the new Christian.   If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior you should definitely follow Him in Believer’s Baptism.  God be with you.


Acts 10:44-48

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.


Then Peter answered, 47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.  NKJV

This page was last updated on 16 January 2004
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