“Now That I Am Saved, Where Do I Start?”
Baptism is one of the most frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines of the Christian faith. This lesson is intended to give the new believer a clear understanding of the importance, purpose, and method of believer’s water baptism. This will be accomplished by comparing Scripture with Scripture – disregarding the “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9
The Importance of Baptism.
By reading Matthew 3:13-15 we can see that baptism was the first thing Jesus did before beginning His public ministry.
In Matthew 3:13-17, it is clear that Jesus was baptized in obedience to His Father’s will. In verse 15, He said “…Suffer [allow] it to be so now: for thus it becometh [is fitting for] us to fulfill all righteousness.” The Lord Jesus Christ’s baptism was a demonstration of submission and obedience, which are the single most important things to realize regarding baptism.
In Acts 10:48 we see that baptism was not requested but commanded by Peter. Would it be correct to say that something commanded by the apostles and exemplified by Christ was important for a Christian?
Before anyone can be taught to follow Jesus Christ, they must first be willing to submit to baptism, a very important first step of obedience, Luke 6:46.
The purpose of baptism.
The primary purpose of New Testament water baptism is the outward manifestation of an inward change. Water baptism is a picture of what happened at the moment of salvation. Consider the three stages of baptism. Standing in the water, placed under the water, coming up out of the water.
Thus, baptism pictures three things about the Lord Jesus Christ:
His Death (standing in the water)
His burial (placed under the water)
His resurrection (coming up out of the water See: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Baptism also pictures a threefold spiritual reality. Three things that happen to every believer at the moment of salvation: We were spiritually “ baptized into Jesus Christ” Romans 6:3. That is, supernaturally placed IN Christ (not by water but by the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 12:13 & Acts 1:5)
By this spiritual baptism, we were: “…baptized into his death” Romans 6:3. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism…” Romans 6:4 “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead (resurrected) …even so we” Romans 6:4. Consider Galatians 2:20.
Water Baptism can’t Save
Baptism is NOT essential for salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it quite clear that man is saved “by grace through faith”, without works including baptism.
Carefully read Acts 10:44-48. Did the people believe and receive the Holy Spirit (that is were they saved) before or after they were baptized?
Read Luke 23:39-43. Where did the penitent thief go upon death? Was he baptized after he believed? Also, consider 1 Corinthians 1:17. If baptism were an essential part of salvation how could Paul have made such a statement?
Who should be baptized?
The clearest case of an individual’s baptism in the Bible is the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-39. In verse 36, the eunuch asked, “…what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Philip then answered with the condition of baptism in verse 37, “…If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Then the eunuch’s response sealed the matter, “…I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
The only requirements for baptism are the requirements for salvation found in Acts 20:21 & Romans 10:9-10.
There are NO cases of baptism in the Bible of anyone but believers. Nor is there anywhere in the Scriptures an instance of a baby being baptized… how could an infant believe in their heart and confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus?
What is the Biblical method of Baptism?
Again Acts 8:26-39 gives the clearest example. In verses 38-39, both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water and came up out of the water.
In Matthew 3:16, Jesus was baptized in the same manner.
As previously seen baptism is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. The only way to bury someone is to put him or her completely underground. The biblical method of baptism is complete immersion.
No one in the Bible was ever sprinkled because no one can be buried by sprinkling dirt on them. The Greek word for baptism is “baptisma” which means immersion.
Where should I be baptized?
Since baptism is meant to be a public confession of your faith in Jesus Christ, most often it will be in a baptistry in a “Bible-believing Church.” Many times people will be baptized in creeks or rivers, which is fine; the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized in the River Jordan. The actual place of baptism is not important. The act of public testimony of your identification with the Lord Jesus Christ is the important point. If you have not followed the Lord in baptism, you are living in open disobedience to the revealed will of God.