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Baptism

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What part of the conversion process follows true repentance?

“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'” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
).

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16 Acts 22:16And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
American King James Version×
).

It is through baptism that we formally make our commitment to permanently turn from sin and surrender our lives to God.

Did Jesus and the apostles baptize the repentant?

“Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John …, He left Judea and departed again to Galilee” (John 4:1-3 John 4:1-3 1 When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
American King James Version×
).

“And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8 Acts 18:8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
American King James Version×
).

Does Jesus want His servants to continue baptizing new disciples?

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, '… 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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'” (Matthew 28:18-20 Matthew 28:18-20 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus commanded His disciples to continue baptizing after His death and resurrection. His promise to be with them until the end of the age—which has not yet occurred—shows that He intended for baptism to be a part of His followers' responsibilities through all intervening ages, including our own.

Why is baptism important?

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 Mark 16:16He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.
American King James Version×
).

Baptism goes right to the heart of God's forgiveness of our sins and His gift of salvation. Through His death Christ paid the penalty (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
) for our sins. At the Passover meal the night before His crucifixion, Jesus blessed a cup of wine and said to His disciples, “For this is [represents] My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28 Matthew 26:28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
American King James Version×
).

Paul explained that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 Romans 5:8But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
American King James Version×
). Then He added, “… Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (verse 9). Paul also wrote, “This is a faithful saying: 'For if we died with Him , we shall also live with Him'” (2 Timothy 2:11 2 Timothy 2:11It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
American King James Version×
).

In what way do we die with Christ?

“… Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3 Romans 6:3Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
American King James Version×
).

Baptism is a symbolic burial ceremony—commanded by Jesus Himself—through which we accept His death as a sacrifice for our sins. “For I delivered to you first of all,” wrote Paul, “that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
American King James Version×
).

Paul also explained: “… Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified [considered sinless] by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus , whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood …” (Romans 3:23-25 Romans 3:23-25 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Through the ceremony of baptism we become symbolically united with Christ in death. “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” (Romans 6:5-6 Romans 6:5-6 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
American King James Version×
).

What responsibility comes with baptism?

“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” (Romans 6:4 Romans 6:4Therefore 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.
American King James Version×
).

“In the same way you must regard yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God, in union with Christ Jesus. Therefore sin must no longer reign in your mortal body, exacting obedience to the body's desires. You must no longer put any part of it at sin's disposal, as an implement for doing wrong. Put yourselves instead at the disposal of God; think of yourselves as raised from death to life, and yield your bodies to God as implements for doing right” (verses 11-13, Revised English Bible).

Baptism signifies the end of a life of habitual sinning and the beginning of a new life devoted to righteousness. “… Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works ” (Titus 2:11-14 Titus 2:11-14 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
American King James Version×
).

Does this responsibility include living an obedient life?

“It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'” (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
American King James Version×
).

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: 'We ought to obey God rather than men'” (Acts 5:29 Acts 5:29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
American King James Version×
; compare 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×
).

The teachings of the entire Bible—both Old and New Testaments—become our guide to life. The New Testament explains how we should apply Old Testament teachings under the New Covenant. The emphasis of the New Covenant is on the proper implementation of the spirit—the intent—of God's laws.

No longer can we live however we want, ignoring God's instructions. Jesus made this abundantly clear: “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” (Matthew 7:21-23 Matthew 7:21-23 21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
American King James Version×
). We are to live lawfully, not lawlessly!

Why was Jesus baptized?

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' But Jesus answered him, 'Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he consented” (Matthew 3:13-15 Matthew 3:13-15 13 Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me? 15 And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan” (Mark 1:9 Mark 1:9And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus was born to be a perfect example for us as a physical human being. Though He never sinned and needed no forgiveness, He was baptized to show us the example we should follow. As He was baptized, so should we be baptized. He personally showed us that baptism is the way He has established for us to unite with Him in death so our sins can be forgiven.

Should children be baptized?

“And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8 Acts 18:8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
American King James Version×
).

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41 Acts 2:41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.
American King James Version×
).

“But when they believed … both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12 Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
American King James Version×
).

Baptism is for those mature enough to comprehend and believe the meaning of repentance and baptism. Except on rare occasions for some in their later teen years, most children are not old enough to evaluate why they sin. They simply are not mature enough to understand their own nature and what is wrong with it.

Children are precious to God. Jesus took little children into His arms and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16 Mark 10:13-16 13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.
American King James Version×
). But in every specific example of baptism mentioned in the Bible, we see that those being baptized were old enough and mature enough to understand repentance, baptism and the seriousness of their commitment. Only those who are mature enough to produce the fruits of repentance should be baptized.

Is it ever necessary to rebaptize adults?

“And he said to them, 'Into what then were you baptized?' So they said, 'Into John's baptism.' Then Paul said, 'John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.' When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:3-5 Acts 19:3-5 3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
American King James Version×
).

Although these people had been immersed by the baptism of John the Baptist, they had not received the Holy Spirit (verse 2). Only those who receive God's Spirit are converted disciples of Christ (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
American King James Version×
). Paul rebaptized them in the name of Jesus Christ so they would receive the Holy Spirit. Today many people have been baptized who never understood what sin is or what real repentance entailed. They, too, would need to be rebaptized to receive God's Spirit and be converted.

How should we be baptized?

“Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized” (John 3:23 John 3:23And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
American King James Version×
).

“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him” (Matthew 3:16 Matthew 3:16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him:
American King James Version×
).

Notice that John the Baptist chose a location where there was “much water” to baptize those who came to him. And Jesus “came up … from the water” when He was baptized. Why is this wording significant? The Greek word baptizo means to “immerse,” to “dip into” or to “submerge.”

Jesus set us an example of being fully submerged in water in a place where there was “much water” to make this possible. All other examples of baptisms by Christ's disciples mentioned in the Scriptures follow this pattern. For example, we read in Acts 8:38 Acts 8:38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
American King James Version×
that “both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he [Philip] baptized him.” There is no biblical example of any other form of water baptism.

The symbolism of baptism, as the burial of the old self, requires a ceremony picturing a true burial. Only baptism by immersion fulfills this symbolic requirement. Therefore, following the example of our Savior, we too should be fully immersed in water when we are baptized, symbolically burying the old self with Him in a watery grave.

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