BELIEVER'S BAPTISM IN THE BIBLE
By Rick DeMichele
Rick DeMichele is pastor of Treasure Valley Baptist Church, 1300 S. Teare (facing I-84), Meridian, ID 83642. Phone: (208) 888-4545.
The purpose of this article is to examine the word of God concerning the subject of believer's baptism. Although there are seven baptisms in the Bible, we are concerned here with water baptism as it relates to the born-again Christian. We will examine some important questions which arise concerning one of the first steps in the new Christian's walk with the Lord, believer's baptism.
By "rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15), we can find practical answers to these questions and understand God's purpose for believer's baptism.
What then is believer's baptism? What is the purpose of it, since salvation is "by grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8,9)?
Water baptism is clearly a FIGURE or TYPE of something which already took place in the heart of the believer the moment he/she was saved (1 Pet. 3:21). Water baptism is the ordinance representing the identification of the Christian with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You are "crucified" (standing upright in water), you are "buried" (immersed into the water), and you are "resurrected into life" (raised out of the water). Water baptism then, is a picture of spiritual baptism as defined in Rom. 6:3-5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13. It is the outward testimony of the believer's inward faith. A sinner is saved the moment he places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is a visible testimony to that faith.
This is the SCRIPTURAL basis for water baptism. It PICTURES and PROCLAIMS four important things:
So then, water baptism is a picture of what transpired when you placed your faith and trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save you from your sins (Romans 6:3-5). It does not atone for sin. Only the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin (I John 1:7; Colossians 1:14).
Next, let's consider WHO should be baptized. The Bible makes it clear that scriptural baptism is BELIEVER'S baptism.
When the Philippian jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?" they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...." (Acts 16:30-34). Paul did not tell him to be baptized to be saved. His baptism came AFTER his believing, which sets the scriptural standard.
Who then should be baptized? According to the established Bible pattern, only those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Water baptism then, is NOT salvation, but obedience to a command by God concerning discipleship.
WHEN is the believer to be baptized? The Bible teaches that water baptism follows shortly after spiritual baptism (the new birth).
Notice the example of Paul (Acts 9:18), Cornelius (Acts 10:43-48), and the Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:33).
You were placed into the body of Christ by spiritual baptism at the moment you were saved (Galatians 3:26-27). Now you follow the miracle of spiritual baptism with physical immersion into water, according to Acts 8:38; 10:47; 16:33.
As to WHERE a believer is to be baptized, the obvious answer is in the presence of other believers, the local New Testament church. The Lord Jesus Christ gave the local
church the ordinance of water baptism (Matthew 28:18-20).
An ordinance is a ceremony appointed by Christ to be administered in the local church as a visible type of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.
HOW is a believer to be baptized? Immersion in water is the only scriptural method of baptism.
Spiritual baptism is the Christian's identification with Christ (Colossians 2:12). This is WHY we should submit to water baptism.
Romans 6:3-5 teaches us that it is literally a picture of your death, burial and resurrection with Christ. It is your first act of obedience to God after salvation. WHY be baptized? Consider the following:
We understand and believe that baptism is not a "sacrament" that imparts saving grace, but an ORDINANCE. We are not saved by baptism, but by faith in Jesus Christ and His blood..."cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
Baptism is the outward symbol of what has already transpired in the heart of the one who has trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for full salvation.
Have you taken this first step in your walk with the Lord? Have you been obedient to the word of God concerning this matter of believer's baptism? In Acts 2:41 we read, "Then they that GLADLY received his word were baptized..." What is your response?
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