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Understanding Baptism

water baptismUnderstanding Baptism

Most preachers today are almost unanimous in teaching that a person must believe, repent, and confess Jesus to be the Savior and Son of God in order to be saved but left out the instruction for baptism. Others teach that ‘pouring’ and ‘sprinkling’ is what it takes to be baptized and is understood to be a modern form of baptism. What does the Bible say?

The English word baptism is a transliteration of the Greek word 'baptizó' and is defined as “dip under” “submerge”, and “immerse”. A contrasting word 'rhantizó' means ‘sprinkle’ or ‘pour’. Vines Expository Dictionary defines baptism as "consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence." Therefore, in order for one to be baptized in water, it is necessary to be 'submerged' under the water and then to emerge from the water. Immersion cannot be obtained through sprinkling or pouring.

Furthermore, a quick review of its history will prove that immersion in water was exclusively practiced by first century Christians. Erroneous doctrines and practice of sprinkling and pouring did not come into existence for many years after the apostolic age.

In his epistle to the Romans, apostle Paul provided us a very clear and straightforward teaching on the symbol of baptism:
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life...
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin...
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:3-6, 11)
He further elucidated,
“[You were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead...
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses...” (Colossians 2:12-13)

Moreover, Paul reminds us that after our ‘death’ through baptism, our emerging from water as we walk into the ‘newness of life’(Romans 6:4) means that it is no longer us who live but Christ lives in us:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Through our immersion in water, we rehearse the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. This symbolically pictures the death of our old, sinful self and reminds us of Jesus' selfless sacrifice so we can be forgiven of sin and given a new life. Thus, baptism arguably is the most important decision a believer will make, as it will affect every moment of his or her life.
Jesus Christ: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16

“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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

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