"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." - Matthew 3:16-17

Water Baptism

Garland M. Robinson

WATER BAPTISM is a COMMAND of God! To the household of Cornelius we read, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he COMMANDED THEM TO BE BAPTIZED in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:47-48). Rest assured that no one can be saved when they do not comply with God's commands! In John 15:14 Jesus said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."

Immersion in water culminates EVERY example of conversion in the New Testament. It is the crowning act that carries one from being a "sinner" to a "saint." You NEVER read of one being saved BEFORE they were baptized. You NEVER read of one being told to PRAY before they were baptized. Baptism is directly linked with "remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), "believing" (Acts 8:12), "rejoicing" (Acts 8:38-39), "sins washed away" (Acts 22:16), "remission of sins" (Acts 10:43 & 47), an "open heart" "faithfulness" (Acts 16:14-15), "rejoicing" (Acts 16:30-34), and "hearing and believing" (Acts 18:8).

Just before Jesus ascended back into heaven, he told his apostles to preach the gospel to every creature under heaven and then baptize those who wanted to be saved!

BAPTISM IS AN IMMERSION

There are three separate actions performed today in the religious world by those who profess to baptize in compliance to the New Testament. There are religious bodies that "sprinkle" water on the recipient of baptism, some "pour" water on their subject, while still others "immerse" the one desiring baptism. In some churches one even has their choice! Does the Bible give any clue as to the action/mode of baptism? Is it permissible to practice anyone of the three?

The Greek word for "baptize" is "baptizo." It is found 80 times in the Greek New Testament and is translated: "baptize," "wash," "baptist," and "baptized."

What is the meaning of this word? Note these statements from Greek Lexicons and scholars:

The word means "immerse," "to submerge," "to cover over" and NEVER anything else!

Not only does the word "baptizo" describe the action/mode of baptism - the Bible gives examples of its action: John the Baptist (John 3:23) and Philip the evangelist (Acts 8:36-39). These two examples completely describe how it was done in the New Testament.

"And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was MUCH WATER there: and they came, and were baptized" (John 3:23).

"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they WENT DOWN BOTH INTO THE WATER, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were COME UP OUT OF THE WATER, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:36-39).

According to these divine examples, baptism requires "much water," "going down into water" and "coming up out of water." Sprinkling and pouring do not meet any of these requirements. Immersion, however, meets all of them!

BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST

"All spiritual blessings" are IN Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN Christ"(Ephesians 1:3).

There is "no condemnation" IN Christ. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1).

We are a "new creature" IN Christ. "Therefore if any man be IN Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5: 17).

"The saved" are IN Christ. "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (II Timothy 2:10).

Since "ALL spiritual blessings are IN Christ," there is "NO condemnation IN Christ," we are "new creatures IN Christ," and the "saved are IN Christ," the logical question for anyone to ask is: "HOW do I get INTO Christ?"

The Bible does not leave us to question as to HOW one gets INTO Christ. God makes it so plain that even a child can understand! It's so simple the "wise of this world" stumble over it. It confounds those who look for something greater (I Corinthians 1:18-21)!

Water baptism is the act by which one gets INTO Christ. Never do you read in any place where one accepts, believes, repents, or confesses INTO Christ. Each of these steps are UNTO, going toward being a child of God. But its only by the act of water baptism that one "passes from death to life" - from the "old to the new" life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4).

HOW does one get INTO Christ? Let the Bible answer. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized INTO Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (Romans 6:3) A sinner gets INTO Christ by being baptized into him! Remember, that's where salvation is (II Timothy 2:10)!

WHEN does one get INTO Christ? If baptism is HOW one gets INTO Christ, WHEN does one get into Christ is the next question. Again, let the Bible answer. "For as many of you as have been baptized INTO Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). When does one "put on Christ?" WHEN they are baptized!

You will read in vain to try and find any other way by which one gets INTO Christ than water baptism. Jesus forever settled the question in Mark 16:16, "He that BELIEVETH and is BAPTIZED shall be SAVED." Have a child read this verse and then ask this question: "What did Jesus say you have to do to be saved?" The honest heart of a child cannot but answer exactly as this verse says! One needs help to misunderstand what Jesus commanded. Has your heart become so calloused that it refuses to believe and obey what your eyes read?

THE PURPOSE OF BAPTISM

There is no subject of the New Testament any more clear and distinct than the purpose of water baptism. There should be no confusion over this vital subject. Yet, there are many statements made by the various denominations: "It is the outward sign of an inward grace," "One should be baptized because they are saved," "Baptism is to make one a member of our church," "You do not need to be baptized."

Why be baptized? What does the Bible teach concerning it?

  1. A person is baptized in order to OBEY THE LORD. It is a command of God (Acts 10:48). It is not an optional part of the gospel. Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say" (John 6:46)? When the apostles went into all the world, they did exactly as they were commanded (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
  2. A person is baptized to BE UNITED WITH CHRIST. Acts 4:12 says, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." To enjoy the blessings that are found IN Christ (Ephesians 1:3), one must be united with him. The only way to be united with him is to be baptized into him (Romans 6:3-4).
  3. A person is baptized in order to BECOME A CHILD OF GOD. Great privileges are provided to those who are "sons of God" (Ephesians 1:3). "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27).
  4. A person is baptized in order to BE BORN AGAIN. Jesus told Nicodemus one had to be "born again" to enter the kingdom of heaven. (John 3:3). This new birth is explained in verse 5 as being born "of water and the spirit." The new birth is further explained in Romans 6:3-6 when one is baptized and raised to "walk a newness of life." The "old" is buried and the "new" is raised.
  5. A person is baptized in order to BECOME A NEW CREATURE. Baptism puts one into Christ (Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27 and if "any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). In baptism, we are "buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Colossians 2: 12).
  6. A person is baptized in order to BE SAVED FROM THEIR SINS. "Repent and be baptized...for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). "Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16). "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16, I Peter 3:21).
  7. A person is baptized in order to BE CLEANSED BY CHRIST'S BLOOD. "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). HOW does Christ's blood take away our sins? It washes them away. "Washed...from our sins in his own blood" (Revelation 1:5). "These ...have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14). WHEN does it wash them away? When one is baptized! "Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22: 16).

THERE IS ONE BAPTISM

Actually, there are five baptisms mentioned in the New Testament: John's baptism (in water, Luke 3:16), the baptism of suffering (human suffering, Mark 10:39), baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16), baptism of fire (hell fire, Matthew 3:11), and the baptism of the great commission (in water, Acts 8:36-39). But, Ephesians 4:5 says there is "ONE" baptism. How are these reconciled? The answer is to look at each of the five baptisms and see their design.

  1. "John's baptism" was an immersion in water at the hands of John the baptist in preparation for the Messiah. It was limited and temporary in that it only lasted Until Christ died on the cross (Mark 1:4; Acts 19:3-5).
  2. "The baptism of suffering" consisted of personal affliction brought about by wicked men. The disciples of Jesus would experience much the same "suffering" as did Jesus which would result in their ultimate glory (Mark 10:39).
  3. "Holy Spirit baptism" was promised by Jesus to the apostles and not to every Christian (John 16:13; Acts 2:1-4). The Spirit guided them into all truth. There's no record of it being received by members of the church in general, though a "special occasion" at the house of Cornelius occurred which was to convince the Jews that God also accepted the Gentiles (Acts 10).
  4. "The baptism of fire" will be administered by Jesus and is designed to punish the wicked in hell at the end of time (Matthew 3:11-12; Revelation 20:11-12, 13-15. No one wants this baptism!
  5. "The baptism of the Great Commission" (Christ's baptism) was to be administered by the disciples upon all believers who had repented of their sins (Acts 2:38). It was commanded to be done as long as the world stands (Mark 16:15-16). The purpose of it is for the forgiveness of sins and salvation of the soul (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; I Peter 3:21).

Out of these five, which baptism is the "one baptism" of Ephesians 4:5? This "one baptism" is not "John's baptism" for it was superseded by Christ's baptism. It is not the "baptism of suffering" because it is inflicted by wicked men. It is not "Holy Spirit baptism" for it was not promised to everyone and was only received by the twelve to reveal all truth unto them. It is not "the baptism of fire" because it is reserved for the wicked after this life is over. "The baptism of the Great Commission" is the only one of the five that was to be practiced throughout the remaining age to the end of the world. Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Those who believed and repented of their sins were then to be baptized in water for the forgiveness of their sins (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, 22:16). It's in "water baptism" that we reenact the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-6).

By the time the book of Ephesians was written in 63 A.D., only ONE baptism was known, NOT TWO, THREE, FOUR or FIVE! The "one baptism" is to be administered to every sinner who believes, repents and wants his sins washed away in the precious blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5, Acts 22:16). Learn what the Bible has to say on the subject of baptism and then respect it enough to obey it!

The ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4:5 then is WATER BAPTISM which was commanded by Jesus to be administered to all who believe in Christ and repent of their sins as stated in the great commission Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:16). Will you be baptized today?!

BAPTISM STANDS BETWEEN

Baptism stands between the sinner and being saved from sins. Note these many scriptures, which vividly point this out:

SINNER BAPTISM SALVATION Mark 16:16
SINNER BAPTISM REMISSION OF SINS ACTS 2:38
SINNER BAPTISM THE NEW LIFE ROMANS 6:4
SINNER BAPTISM SIN DESTROYED ROMANS 6:6
SINNER BAPTISM WASHING ACTS 22:16
SINNER BAPTISM CALLING ACTS 22:16
SINNER BAPTISM KINGDOM JOHN 3:5
SINNER BAPTISM CLEANSING EPHESIANS 5:26
SINNER BAPTISM DEAD TO SIN ROMANS 6:7-12>
SINNER BAPTISM FREE FROM SIN ROMANS 6:18
SINNER BAPTISM SALVATION I PETER 3:21>
SINNER BAPTISM FORGIVENESS COLOSSIANS 2:11-12
SINNER BAPTISM CHRIST'S BLOOD ROMANS 6:3
SINNER BAPTISM A CHILD OF GOD GALATIANS 3:26-27
SINNER BAPTISM DEATH OF CHRIST ROMANS 6:3
SINNER BAPTISM NEW CREATURE ROMANS 6:5; II CORINTHIANS 5:17
SINNER BAPTISM GOOD CONSCIENCE I PETER 3:21
SINNER BAPTISM PUTTING ON CHRIST GALATIANS 3:26-27
SINNER BAPTISM RAISED WITH CHRIST EPHESIANS 2:6
SINNER BAPTISM PUTTING OFF SINS COLOSSIANS 2:11-12
SINNER BAPTISM SANCTIFICATION EPHESIANS 5:26
SINNER BAPTISM BODY OF CHRIST I CORINTHIANS 12:13
SINNER BAPTISM WEARING NAME OF CHRIST I CORINTHIANS 1:13

CONCLUSION

The first public act of Christ was his baptism (Matthew 3:13-15, 16-17). The last thing he ever said on earth was to tell his disciples to go into all the world and baptize penitent believers (Matthew 28:18-20). How then can anyone belittle the importance of water baptism? It is the turning point from the old man of sin to the new life in Christ. Why do you wait dear sinner, "arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).