Some form of water baptism is almost universally practiced in all religions. It is not distinctively Christian, although Jesus adopted it as a way of His followers’ identifying with Christianity. It has come to be more commonly identified with Christianity, some even believing it to be synonymous with salvation. But, just how important is water baptism? Let’s take a walk through scripture to see:
1. What water baptism is not?
A. Salvation: Misinterpretation, 1 Peter 3:21
I. “figure” = “antitupon” (the impression left by a seal, not the seal itself)
II. “pledge” = “eperotema” (the expected response in a covenant agreement)
III. Logic: If baptism = salvation, then why would Paul say, “I thank God that I baptized none.” (I Corinthians 1:14)
B. Pre-requisite for Heaven
I. Some have even cut holes in the ice to baptize immediately, lest the new believer miss heaven.)
II. The thief on the cross had no opportunity to be baptized.
III. This idea is called “baptismal regeneration.”
C. The actual washing away of sin
I. Symbolic of blood-washing (Hebrews 9:14; John. 1:7; Revelation 1:5)
II. This idea pre-supposes that sin is physical/tangible and can be washed away by mere water. (Absurd!)
III. What would you do with the water?
2. What water baptism is?
A. Rooted in Old Testament (Exodus 30:17-21) and practiced by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-17). Experienced and commanded by Jesus (Matthew 28:19)
B. Practiced in the early church (Acts 16:33; Acts 8:36-35; Acts 10:47-48; Acts 19:5) and commanded by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38 (closely allied with salvation)
C. Practiced by Paul (Acts 19:5).
D. Obedience to Christ’s command (Acts 2:38 – see also 1 Peter 3:21 “the pledge of a good conscience..) Note: While not being baptized may not keep you out of heaven, a rebellious refusal to obey Christ might!
3. What does it symbolize?
A. 1 Peter 3:21 An “antitupos” of salvation (just as Noah’s ark was a type of salvation)
B. Symbolizes the cleansing blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5)
C. It is identification with Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:8-12)
D. It is a testimony to mankind that we are separating ourselves from the world (1 John 2:15-17). Even the very act of immersion requires cessation of breathing (death), submersion below the surface (burial), and rising up again (resurrection) What a symbol!
4. How is it done?
Three forms have been practiced throughout history: Immersion, pouring, and sprinkling. In the beginning, immersion was the preferred mode but pouring and sprinkling came into favor because of convenience. Which is biblical?
A. The Greek word, “baptizo” means “to dip” or “immerse”. It was transliterated.
B. Biblical precedent strongly suggests immersion (Matthew 3:6; Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:38, 39)
C. The origin of pouring and sprinkling (Logic) – If you believed that baptism was salvation, then even infants and dying people needed baptism… . inconvenient by immersion . . easy by sprinkling. Should we allow convenience to dictate the depth of our obedience?
D. How about the formula? “In Jesus’ Name” or “Of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost”? Numerous references to “In Jesus’ Name” (denotes not formula, but the type of baptism, as opposed to “John’s baptism”) Jesus Himself gave us the formula (Matthew 28:19)
5. When is it done?
A. After true repentance (Acts 2:38). A symbol is insignificant without the reality, therefore baptism without true repentance is meaningless.
B. Therefore: Infant baptism is meaningless. It is a carryover from baptismal regeneration theology. Any baptism without true repentance is without meaning.
C. If it symbolizes cleansing, then it should take place after the cleansing has taken place. Therefore a prodigal returning home should be baptized again.
6. Is it necessary?
Yes. As an act of obedience to our Lord’s command. Remember: not being baptized may not keep you out of Heaven, but a rebellious refusal to obey King Jesus just might!
Some of you have never been baptized in water, because you didn’t think it was important. Now, you may be embarrassed because you think everyone will think you already are already baptized. Forget what everybody else may think and be obedient to God. Join our next group of baptismal candidates now.Taken from Rev. Dr. Arnold Lastinger’s personal sermon notes collection