NEW TESTAMENT BAPTISM

 


The subject of baptism as set forth in the New Testament is one that is hotly debated among  people in the religious community.  Seldom can you find any two groups who agree on the  subject.  Some see no value at all to baptism, while others see it as essential to one's  salvation.  Some claim that any mode of "baptism" will work, while others argue that only baptism by immersion fits the teachings of the New Testament.  Needless to say, both cannot be correct. What does the New Testament teach on this subject?  Let us note the following.

MODE OF BAPTISM


As much as some have to say about this subject, especially those who claim it doesn't make any  difference, you would think that the Bible is silent on the matter.  However, it does not take one long to see, if they will be honest, that biblical baptism involves a "burial" – Romans 6:4;  Colossians 2:12. The purpose of such is to display a spiritual resurrection, which cannot be accomplished by any means other than a burial -Romans 6:4,5; Colossians 2:13.

 

BAPTIZED BY WHOM?


The question of who actually baptizes another is far less relevant that what some would have us to believe. Man's obedience is never determined by the spiritual   condition of another.  For example, when I take the Lord's Supper my properly doing so has nothing to do with the spiritual condition of the one who is waiting the table or passing the elements.  The same is true of singing, praying, or being taught by a preacher through the means of a sermon. 

 

I have known of men who committed adultery during the week, but continued to preach on Sunday as if there was nothing sinful in their lives.  Suppose you were taught and baptized by such an individual? What affect would his spiritual depravity have on your conversion?  Absolutely none!  To suggest that the one who baptizes another must be a faithful Christian, in order for that baptism to be valid, would put all of us in a state of not knowing about our soul's salvation until the   final word from the Lord at Judgment.  However, since we can "know that ye have eternal life" 1 John 5:13, we have to understand that another's spiritual life has nothing to do with our  spiritual condition.  All that matters is that we are "walking in the light" -1 John 1:7, or that we have a desire to do so as we seek what must be done to become a Christian.  If this is not true, then one would have to make sure that the person who has just taught him, and who is about to baptize him, is faithful to the Lord.  But how does one do that?  And, of course, the answer is he cannot. 

 

The "trust" that we have at the point of our baptism is not in the one doing the immersing, but in the One who gave the commandment to be immersed! – 2 Timothy 1:12. To argue other wise would also put us in a state of conflict with the Scriptures.  The Bible clearly teaches that "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him, " Ezekiel 18:20.  The whole point here is relative to individual responsibility.  Paul spoke clearly on this in Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10.  If in order for one to be properly baptized, a faithful Christian must baptize him, then there may well not be any true New Testament Christians living today.  The movement that began in the United States, referred to as the  Restoration Movement, and out of which came the restoration of the New Testament church, began with the baptism of men by denominational preachers. 

 

Various denominations attempt to build their case for existence by trying to trace backwards for  authority.  For example, the Catholic Church attempts to trace its origin to Peter as the first Pope.  The New Apostolic Church attempts to validate itself through a continued lineage of apostles.  It seems that some in the church would seek to validate their spiritual lives by men (i.e., the one who baptized them) rather than the gospel, which is "the power of God unto salvation” -Romans 1:16.  In doing this one almost, if not entirely, ends up with the same problem as is      discussed in I Corinthians 1:12,13 and I Corinthians 3:1-6 where people were pointing to who  baptized them instead of to God who saved them.  This lead Paul to say "I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius" - I Corinthians 1: 14.

 

It would seem to me that if the one who was to immerse another into Christ were all that important God would have provided some information on this matter in so far as "qualifications" are concerned.  Stop and think about it.  God has revealed what one must do to become a Christian (i.e. terms of "qualification" to become a Christian).  He, likewise, has revealed how we are to live the Christian life (i.e. terms of "qualification" for the Christian life).  When it comes to elders, deacons, and preachers, He has revealed their "qualifications."  Why, if the baptizer is so important, as some are incorrectly claiming, has He chosen to be silent on their "qualifications?" All of this points to what I am saying.  For a person to be properly  converted, all that matters is what he/she is doing.  The spiritual life of the one who does the immersion has no more to do with the rightness or wrongness of one's baptism than the spiritual life of another has any thing to do with my worship or life as a Christian.

 

WHO MAY BE BAPTIZED?


First, since infants and small children do not have sins on their "account" before God there is no reason for such to be baptized.  We can easily sum up this point by saying there is no reason for the saved to be saved again, and since baptism saves, people already in a saved condition are not in need of such – Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:21. New Testament baptism is for the "remission of sins" – Acts 2:38.  It serves to "wash away sins" – Acts 22:16.  Therefore, those who have reached an age whereby they are accountable to God for their actions are in need of baptism.  For a person to be properly baptized they must first believe in God – Mark 16:16. Having done this they must be willing to repent of their sins -Acts 2:38; 3:19. Then a confession is to be made in order that the one doing the baptism knows that he is baptizing a believer -Acts 8:37. Having done these things then one can be immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of sins – Galatians 3:27. Repentance plays an important role in all of this. If a believing person properly repents of their sin, whatever that sin is, then they are proper "candidates" for biblical baptism. For example, a believing woman who is in an unscriptural marriage must repent (i.e. get out of that marriage) before she can be properly baptized. Once she breaks from that unscriptural  marriage, as a believer, she has every right to be baptized. A believing person involved in a polygamous marriage, once they get out of that marriage through proper repentance, has every right in the world to be baptized. A believing person who was involved in a homosexual union, but who breaks with that union through repentance has every right to be baptized. A thief who has come to believe, and who is willing to turn from his sin through repentance, has every right to be baptized. Need I go on? We do not have the right to refuse to baptize a person who believes, repents, and confesses Christ regardless of where they came from in their spiritual life. Notice what Paul says in I Corinthians 6:9-11 in reference to this. Some of the Corinthians had been involved in the sins listed in verses 9 and 10. However, they had been "washed' and are now "sanctified' and "justified" by the authority of Jesus Christ. It seems some would want to say "Now, Paul, don't you know what you are saying isn't true?" Well, if it isn't true, then we might as well throw the whole book away! It is sad when people attempt to make the Word say more than what God intended for it to say! This is exactly what some are doing. When you refuse to baptize people who are  willing to separate themselves from sin and the world you commit a grievous sin against them and God. The Lord has called all men unto him – Matthew 11:28-30. Through obedience to the gospel they can have their sins forgiven. When we add additional requirements to what God has added, we stand condemned by the same scriptures as those who refuse to teach the whole council of God.

 

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