G L Graves

I. Baptism Defined:  N.T. baptism is the public immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the right reasons.

1. Baptism = (Greek) Baptismo = immersion Acts 8:38 “They went down both into the water both Phillip and the eunuch and he baptized him.”

Matt. 3:16 “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straight way out of the water.” Moffat’s translation - “The moment he rose out of the water.”

The mode of N.T. baptism is immersion. There is no biblical record of it being practiced any other way.

2. It is for believers only:

Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized…” Notice which is first.

Acts 2:41 “They that gladly received his word were baptized.”

Acts 8:37 “Phillip said, ‘If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest (be baptized).”

Acts 9:6 Paul said, “Lord what wilt thou have me do?” and in verse 18 “…and He received sight forth with and arose and was baptized.”

Acts 18:8 “Crispus believed on the Lord with all his house and many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized.”

There is no record of infant baptism in the Bible. In the case of Lydia, the seller of purple, (Acts 16:14-15) and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:33), where the whole family was baptized, we presume all the family members believed just like the rest of our examples.

3. To be recognized as N.T. baptism one must be baptized for the right reasons.

Some wrong reasons are:

To receive the Holy Spirit (wrong). The Holy Spirit did descend upon Jesus, but this was a special situation. All the other examples indicate that the Holy Spirit comes in at conversion.

To wash away sins (wrong). However water baptism is symbolic of the spiritual cleansing.

In order to be saved (wrong). Water baptism has no effect on salvation. Salvation comes when Christ comes in (I John 5:12 ‘He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life.’). Water baptism comes later.

To be baptized for these reasons or other wrong reasons is not N.T. baptism.

In the N.T. baptism is simply an act of obedience, symbolic of what has already happened in Christ.

II. Baptism is symbolic of:

1. The believer’s faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior. Rom. 6:3-5 (NIV) ‘Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.’

2. The believer’s death to sin. Rom. 6:6 KJV ‘Knowing this, that our old man is crucified
with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.’

3. The burial of the old life (Rom. 6:6 above).

4. Resurrection to walk in newness of life in Jesus. Rom. 6:4 ‘Therefore 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.’

5. The final resurrection of the dead. Colossians 2:12 ‘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.’


III. Why be baptized?

1. Jesus was baptized. Peter said that Jesus left us an example that we should follow in his steps. I Peter 2:21 ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’

2. It is a public profession of faith that identifies one as a child of God with a people of God. Matt. 10:32 ‘Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.’

3. Jesus practiced baptism through his disciples. John 4:1-2 ‘Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.’

4. It was practiced by the early church:

Acts 2:41 – “They received His word and were baptized.”

Acts 8:12 – “They believed Phillip and they were baptized both men and women.”

Acts 9:18 – “Paul arose and was baptized.”

Acts 18:8 – “They believed on the Lord… and were baptized.”

5. Baptism was commanded by Peter:

“And Peter said unto them repent and be baptized every one of you.” (Acts 2:38)

Peter said: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized and he commanded them to be baptized.” (Acts 10:47)

6. Jesus commanded us to practice it.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19)

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