Summary: Bible answers to seven common questions about baptism
PERSPECTIVES ON BIBLICAL BAPTISM
1. Baptism is an extremely important subject because of the connection made in the Bible between baptism and salvation.
a. 1 Peter 3:21 (NASB) And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
b. Acts 2:36-38 (NKJV) "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
2. Most believers in Christ understand that the Bible teaches that people should be baptized. However, there is tremendous confusion caused by conflicting teaching by various denominational groups about baptism. As people begin to study New Testament teaching about baptism, they often have questions about whether or not they have been baptized the way the Bible teaches.
3. In this study, we will try to help you find Bible answers to some of the questions you might have about baptism. All we ask is that you study with an open mind and with a heart prepared to do whatever you become convinced the Bible teaches you to do. There is no way that I can avoid leaving the impression with some of you that I am saying you’re wrong in what you’ve always thought about baptism. My aim is certainly not to insult your intelligence. It is not to criticize your parents, your preachers, or others who have taught you about baptism. I do have an obligation, however, to challenge your assumptions and call on you to look to the Bible for answers to the confusion which exists about baptism.
SEVEN QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT YOUR BAPTISM:
I. Did I have the right authority for my baptism?
A. From God or man? This is a vital question, because all the conflicting doctrines about baptism cannot all come from God. We must beware of "teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" [Matthew 15:9]. Likewise, we must be careful about following those man-made doctrines, especially on a matter as important as baptism.
B. Acts 19:1-5 provides the only New Testament example of people being "re-baptized" because something was wrong with their first baptism. Paul met a group of about twelve men who had been baptized with John’s baptism (apparently by Apollos years after the death of John and the establishment of the church). Paul taught them that John had baptized with a baptism of repentance teaching people that they should believe on the One who would come after, that is, on Christ Jesus [Acts 19:4]. When those men heard Paul’s teaching, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus [Acts 19:5]. Being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus means acting according to His authority. Jesus commanded baptism. He gave the Great Commission which said to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" [Matthew 28:19 (NKJV)].
C. Any baptism which differs from the baptism commanded by Christ cannot be baptism in the name of Christ! As we study through the subject of baptism, if you find any discrepancies between what the Bible teaches about baptism and what you have experienced, you must be honest enough to acknowledge that your baptism is from man instead of from Christ.
II. Did my baptism take place at the right time in my life?
A. Some have been baptized when they were too young to understand what they were doing. Christianity is a religion of understanding. Following a ritual without knowing what you are doing accomplishes nothing in real Christianity.
B. Baptism is an act of submission to the will of God. We come before the Lord asking "What must I do to be saved?" [Acts 16:30 (NKJV) And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"] Whatever answer the Lord gives (through the teaching of the Bible) must be followed.
C. When Saul of Tarsus asked a similar question [Acts 9:6], the Lord sent Ananias to tell him to arise and be baptized and wash away his sins [Acts 22:16]. Saul had to be able to understand that his choice was either to obey or to disobey. Ananias was not going to throw him into the water and force him under. Saul had to make a voluntary decision to do what the Lord commanded. Acts 9:18 tells us that he arose and was baptized.