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Spring Warrior Church of Christ

7432 S. Red Padgett Road


Perry, FL 32348
584-5176

Prove All Things Vol. 1 No. 10

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21

What is Baptism? By Jeff Himmel, jshimmel@perry.gulfnet.com [4/11/01]

The Greek word rendered baptize means to dip or immerse. But you don’t have
to know Greek to know that baptism is immersion. Consider these indicators.

John 3:23 says that John the baptizer was baptizing at Aenon near Salim
“because there was much water there.”

Acts 8 tells of Philip teaching the gospel to a man from Ethiopia. The man’s
baptism is described in verses 38-39. They both went down into the water, Philip
baptized him, and they came up out of the water.

Baptism is a burial, a likeness of Jesus’ burial and resurrection following His


death. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order
that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too
might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). “[H]aving been buried with Him in
baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of
God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).

Some religious groups “baptize” people by sprinkling or pouring water on them.


But that is not the same thing as dipping or immersing. Nothing in these verses or any
others even remotely suggests sprinkling or pouring as the action in baptism. Those
practices did not begin until several centuries after the time of Jesus.

What Is Its Purpose?

Again, let the Bible answer.

“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).

“Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts

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22:16).

“Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus have
been baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3).

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . .” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with
Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

“And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you . . .” (1 Peter 3:21).

Baptism is an act of faith which puts us into Christ, whose blood washes our sins
away. It unites us with Christ; we die to sin and are raised to “newness of life” (Romans
6:4-5). We become members of His body, which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). Our
sins are forgiven; we are saved.

Who Is It For?

The purposes of baptism are to save or wash away sins, and to add one to Christ
or to His body, the church. These purposes indicate that baptism is for the lost -- those
outside of Christ. Yet not every lost person is ready to be baptized. Other things must
come first.

When the Ethiopian asked, “What prevents me from being baptized,” Philip
answered that he could if he believed (Acts 8:36-37). So baptism is for those who
believe. Belief or faith comes by hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). Before a person is
ready to be baptized, he must hear and believe the gospel. Baptism without faith is just
getting wet.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter told those who believed in Jesus to repent and be
baptized (Acts 2:38). So baptism is for those who repent. Repentance is a change of
heart, a determination to turn away from sin. One who is not ready to live as Jesus
directs is not yet ready to be baptized. Baptism without repentance is just getting wet.

Applications

The practice of baptizing babies is foreign to the New Testament. As we’ve seen,
baptism is for penitent believers. Babies have no capacity to understand or believe the
gospel, nor have they committed any sins of which to repent.

The practice of being baptized to show that one is already saved is also contrary
to the Bible. Not a single passage says that is baptism’s purpose. Besides, salvation is

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only in Christ, and baptism is what puts the believer into Christ (Romans 6:3). If a
person is saved without baptism, then he is saved outside of Christ.

The Ethiopian confessed his faith in Christ, as all who would be saved must
(Romans 10:9-10). At that point nothing prevented him from being baptized and
enjoying salvation in Christ. He took advantage of the first opportunity. How about
you? What prevents you from being baptized?

Bibleweb.com, Copyright © 2001 Jeff Himmel All Rights Reserved

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