What Is Baptism?--by Timothy A. Southall

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First, we need to know who commanded individuals to be baptized and why. The last thing Jesus said before He ascended into heaven was what is commonly referred to as "the great commission:"

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16 (NIV)

It was Jesus who commanded that we are to be baptized so we can become His disciples and be saved.

Doing what Jesus commanded us to do is doing the will of God. Jesus said if we love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15, 23; 1 John 5:1-3). He also said that those who don't love Him won't obey His teachings (John 14:24). If we obey Him, we will remain in His love (John 15:10). Whoever obeys Jesus lives in Him (1 John 3:24). Do you love Him?

Those who know Jesus obey what He commands (1 John 2:3). If we obey Jesus' commandments, it pleases Him and we receive from Him what we ask (1 John 3:22). Jesus commanded the we be baptized.

Baptism is required in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Only those who obey Jesus will receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-16; Acts 5:32).

Baptism is when your sins are forgiven and washed away (Acts 22:16). Baptism saves you and is a pledge of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:18-21). Baptism is when we are buried with Christ to be raised to a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). Baptism is when we enter into Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27).

In every conversion in the Bible, the individual or individuals were baptized. The 3,000 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41), the Samaritans (Acts 8:9-12), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), Saul/Paul (Acts 9:1-19; Acts 22:3-16), Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44-48), Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), the jailer (Acts 16:16-34), the Corinthians (Acts 18:1-8), and the Ephesians (Acts 19:1-7) were baptized.

Who are the biblical candidates for baptism? In Mark 16:16, the Bible teaches that those who believe and are baptized will be saved. Belief is required before one is baptized. In Acts 2:38, God's Word says to repent and be baptized. Repentance is required before one is baptized. 1 Peter 3:21 states that baptism is the pledge of a good conscience toward God. These scriptures indicate that those who believe in Christ, repent of their sins, and are aware of their conscience toward God are candidates for baptism.

Baptism is done by immersing in water. The word baptized is translated from the original Greek word baptizo, which means to immerse, submerge, dip, plunge. Baptizo does not mean sprinkle or pour (like some may want you to believe). If Jesus had wanted people to have water sprinkled on them, He would have had the early church writers inspired to use the Greek word rhantizo. If Jesus had wanted people to have water poured on them, He would have had the early church writers inspired to use the Greek word katacheo. But He didn't. They were inspired to use the word baptizo, which means to immerse. The Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

As one can see, baptism (immersion in water) is biblical. Have you been obedient to Christ? Have you been baptized the one and only biblical way? Have your sins been washed away? Have you entered into Christ?

Copyright © 2005 Timothy A. Southall. All rights reserved.