A Basic Understanding Of Baptism
Salvation is the wonderful work of God whereby He delivers us for the wrath to come by forgiving us all sin and placing us into His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is entirely a work of God’s grace and does not require any work from us. As a matter of fact God makes it crystal clear that we are saved apart for any works we can do. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any many should boast.”
Baptism on the other hand is a work that we must do. It must then follow our salvation. Once you are saved and have that assurance, you then show the world that you truly believe in Jesus Christ and have trusted His death, burial and resurrection for your salvation. You show this by going into the water and being briefly buried and raised again.
Salvation and baptism are closely linked. Salvation is God’s work when we believe on His Son. Baptism is a work we perform not in order to be saved but to demonstrate to men that we are saved. It is a tangible evidence or proof of our faith.
After a person trusts Jesus Christ as Saviour and is born again, the first step of obedience is to follow the Lord in believers baptism. Baptism is not a part of nor a step in a process of salvation. It is simply a public testimony before men that you have trusted in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for your salvation.
Baptism gives a clear conscience.
I Peter 3:21, “The like figure where unto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” As Noah was saved from the wrath of God by the water which brought the wrath, we are saved from a guilty conscience by the waters of baptism. It does not wash away the filthy sins of the flesh. They have already been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. Baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ which saved you.
Baptism is a burial and resurrection.
The Greek word for baptize means to “immerse.” The illustrations in Scripture indicate immersion. Matthew 3:16, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water….” Acts 8:38-39, “…and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water….” The proper mode of baptism requires a complete burial in water. This cannot be done by sprinkling or pouring. This can only be done by being immersed in water deep enough for you to picture burial and resurrection.
Baptism is only for believers.
Acts 2:41, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 8:36-37, “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Baptism is for believers only. Infants cannot believe and should not be baptized. If you went through a baptism before you were saved, you are not baptized in a way acceptable to the Lord. You should obey Him now.
Baptism is an identification.
It identifies you with Christ. He died, was buried, and rose again.. He was briefly entombed in the earth. We are briefly entombed in the water. We declare that we have been raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-6).
It identifies you with the faith. Ephesians 4:3-6, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” There is only one faith that is acceptable for salvation. There is only one baptism that is acceptable.
It identifies you with the family of believers. Baptism completes the second requisite for church membership and unites us with the local church where we are baptized. The one baptism that is acceptable cannot be separated from church membership. Acts 2:38, 41, 47, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost….Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls…. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” When you obey the Lord in baptism, you are to be united with the local church which authorizes it. Church membership is important and must not be overlooked or avoided. The Lord will add you to a local church where He can train you for His service and begin to use you to help others.