It is written:
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
We come to the conclusion of our studies on baptism in the New Testament. To be sure, our studies could have included other texts (i.e., 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-8; Hebrews 10:22; the household baptisms of Acts, etc.); and, we may examine these in greater detail in future lessons. Nevertheless, with these studies firmly in mind, let’s conclude with some simple facts we have learned along the way.
First, baptism is shown to be a practice which predates Christianity in both Judaism and paganism. In regards to Judaism, this includes proselyte baptism.
Second, baptism was an immersion in water. The original words of the Bible languages, the Biblical illustrations and descriptions of baptism, the writings of the rabbis, the testimony of the church fathers, and the acknowledgement of modern day scholarship, all confirm this. Baptism is not sprinkling and pouring of water: it is immersion.
Third, baptism is in water. When the Bible talks about Holy Spirit baptism, it is always shown to be different from water baptism, and context makes it clear which such is under consideration.
Fourth, baptism was only for those who could hear the Word of God, believe the Word of God, repent of their sins, confess their faith in Jesus Christ, and personally choose to be baptized. As such, there is no record of infant baptism or the baptism of small children in the Scriptures. There is also no record of the doctrines of original sin and hereditary total depravity in God’s Word, in Judaism, or in early Christianity. Such was a doctrine brought in through the door of paganism, not the Bible.
Fifth, baptism preceded the forgiveness of sins. It was only in the act of baptism that sinners since the death of Christ are able to contact the blood of Jesus and be cleansed and added to the body of Christ. There is no “sinner’s prayer” salvation in the Word of God. Indeed, baptism is where one was made a child of God and adopted into His family!
Sixth, the minimum knowledge requirement for a person to be baptized was understanding that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who had died for mankind, been buried, risen from the dead on the third day, and that we must repent of our sins. Indeed, the only example of rebaptism we read about in the New Testament was with a group of people who did not have the understanding of these facts when they were baptized the first time. Therefore, rebaptism is something which should be carefully considered. While it is sometimes necessary, it often is not.
Seventh, in the New Testament there are over thirty blessings and benefits attached to baptism. As a child of God grows in the grace and knowledge of Christ, he grows in his understanding and appreciation of this event throughout his Christian life.
Eighth, baptism is only the beginning of the Christian walk. Christians will continue to be tempted and to sin. They must continually walk with Christ, trusting in His blood to cleanse them from all sin as they walk day by day with Jesus.
Ninth, there is a sense in which baptism is spiritual warfare. In this rite, we are granted victory over Satan and his forces as we answer God’s call for redemption, appeal to Him for forgiveness, and pledge ourselves to Him and His cause.
Let me encourage each one who has studied with me throughout these lessons: if you have not been baptized into Christ, please give your life to Him in faith and repentance and be buried with Him in baptism today. Nothing is more important then your soul!
If you were baptized without faith and repentance in Christ, then please be baptized today!
If you were baptized as an infant, by sprinkling and pouring of water, then this was not valid baptism. Please be baptized today!
If you were baptized denominationally and if you are convicted to be rebaptized, then please do so today!
If you are a denominational teacher who has taught erroneous doctrines regarding baptism (whether things like original sin, infant baptism, sinners’ prayer salvation, etc.): will you please reconsider your teaching and let the Scriptures guide you? None of us understands God’s Word perfectly-over the years I have changed my views on several topics as I have studied further in the Scriptures-yet we must be teachable and willing to follow where the Lord Jesus leads.
Oh, I know that you may face backlash and opposition from those within your denomination. Yet perhaps that is the greatest evidence that it is time to renounce denominationalism and embrace the Scriptural plea of New Testament Christianity.
The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you!
Indeed, if I can help you in any way, please contact me.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.