Summary: A clear explanation of Bible baptism: It is INSUFFICIENT (to save); ILLUSTRATIVE (of Christ’s death, burial & resurrection); IDENTIFICATION (with Christ and the core Gospel truths); INTENTIONAL (not for babies); IMITATION (of Christ); & IMPORTANT.

Believers and Baptism

Chuck Sligh

August 22, 2010

TEXT: Matthew 3:13-17 – “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”


Today, at the end of this service, Josh Murray will be baptized out at one of the lakes. Over the last few weeks we’ve been studying the sole biblical condition for salvation—faith.

So I thought this would be an appropriate time to talk about water baptism since so many people think it is necessary for salvation. There’s a lot of confusion about baptism and a lot of different things taught about it. On top of that, some go to seed on the subject while others ignore it altogether.

Illus. – The story’s told of the pastor who preached on nothing but water baptism. Week after week he would preach about baptism. Finally in desperation, the deacons requested that he allow them to pick his Scripture text for the following Sunday’s message. He agreed, so they assigned him the text Genesis 1:1.

“There,” they said, “let’s see him get a sermon on baptism out of THAT verse.”

When he got up to preach, he announced the agreed upon text. His opening sentence then followed, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth is two-thirds water. Today’s subject is WATER BAPTISM.”

Here’s a preacher who had obviously gone to seed on the subject of baptism, but to IGNORE the Biblical teaching on baptism is equally wrong.

What does the Bible teach about water baptism?

• Is it necessary for salvation?

• Who’s it for?

• Is it optional?

• How important is it?

• What does it mean?

• Is any mode of baptism, whether sprinkling, pouring or full immersion, acceptable?

I’ll seek to answer each of these questions today from our only authority—the Bible. Let’s look at six truths about baptism, each beginning with an “I” to remember more easily.


What I mean is that water baptism is insufficient to save you from sin. Baptism does not impart to you any grace, merit, or goodness before a holy God. It does not take away original sin.

Jesus was the perfect Son of God who never sinned, so He certainly did not need salvation from sin, but in our text we see that He came to John to be baptized.

The Bible is very clear that the only way to be saved is by believing in Jesus for our salvation, not by anything WE do, even if it’s religious in nature. There are only three verses in the Bible that SEEM to imply that baptism is necessary for salvation, but a closer examination of the context and the original language clears up every one of them, as any good commentary will do.

On the other hand, there are scores, if not hundreds, of Bible verses that teach in unequivocal terms that salvation is obtained by faith in Jesus for your salvation. To save us time, I’ve printed some of these out for you for you to read on your own (at the end of this sermon). Obviously, if baptism were necessary for salvation, Jesus and these writers of Scripture would have been grossly negligent to say that we’re saved by believing in Jesus Christ for our salvation without mentioning the co-condition of baptism!

Add to this the fact that the thief on the cross simply BELIEVED in Jesus, but obviously was not be baptized—yet Jesus assured him that “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

And what do you do with John 4:2, where John tells us that “…Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.” or 1 Corinthians 1:17, where Paul says, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” – If baptism were a condition of salvation, is it even remotely conceivable that Jesus and Paul would have delegated this soul-saving responsibility to others?—I think not.

Obviously, as important as baptism is, it is INSUFFICIENT to save.

II. SECOND, BAPTISM IS ILLUSTRATIVE – In Romans 6:3-4, Paul says, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 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.”

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