Welcome to the third and final lesson on preparing for water baptism. This series of lessons is for people who want to know more about water baptism and be prepared for this step in their Christian walk. In this lesson, we will focus on salvation is not dependent on Baptism, the reason for baptism by immersion, and a few other miscellaneous factors pertaining to water baptism.
At the end of this lesson, both the student and the teacher would decide if the student is ready to be baptized. Also see that you are free to download, copy, print, share and use this note for teaching others as long as the original idea is not altered and republished elsewhere or on the web. [Used with permission from the Assemblies of God of Ceylon. Scripture quotations are taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org]
1. Is Salvation dependent on Baptism?
Previously we learned that water baptism is not synonymous with salvation. We will dive deeper into the facts today and what happens when a person dies after accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savior but miss the opportunity to receive water baptism.
1.1 Due to inadequate knowledge
A person who dies without getting baptized because of not fully knowing the Lord’s command to do so will not lose his place in heaven. It would be so similar if it is due to a lack of time prior to death or other practical consideration.
He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who has not believed will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)
Note that Mark says whoever believes and is baptized will be saved while whoever doesn’t believe will be condemned. He doesn’t say whoever doesn’t believe and doesn’t baptize will be condemned! Also, we are not saved by acts of righteousness but by faith.
For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
1.2 Shame and other Reasons
A person who avoids being baptized due to pride or shame of confessing His name or acknowledging publicly the need for repentance, then his or her commitment to the Lord has to be questioned. Consider the undermentioned statement by Jesus.
For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the [heavenly] Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)
When Jesus himself was baptized (Matthew 3:13-15), He said He was doing it “to fulfill all righteousness.” Baptism is not a pre-condition for salvation but rather a product that should follow.
1.3 Due to mere Ignorance
Once again ignorance is a symbol of the lack of commitment to Christ. A committed Christian won’t ignore the Lord’s command to be baptized. Besides one cannot encourage others to receive baptism unless he himself is willing to be baptized in water. Consider the words of Paul the Apostle.
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. (Philippians 4:8)
2. Why Water Baptism by Immersion?
Christian churches currently practice immersion (in which the person is entirely submerged), affusion (that is, pouring), and aspersion (sprinkling) as the three water baptismal modalities (or procedures). We baptize in water by immersion. Given below are two main reasons for using this method.
2.1 The best Representation:
We believe that water baptism by immersion is the best in bringing out the meaning of baptism, which is identification with death, burial, and resurrection. Being put under water signifies death and burial and coming up out of the water signifies resurrection.
We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways]. For if we have become one with Him [permanently united] in the likeness of His death, we will also certainly be [one with Him and share fully] in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6:4-5)
2.2 The meaning of “Baptize”:
The Greek word for baptism ‘baptizo’ means “to immerse or overwhelm something”, such as to dip or to immerse a person as in dying cloth. You immerse it completely in the dye until the nature of the cloth is changed.
Now John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there; and people were coming and were being baptized (John 3:23)
2.3 Reasons for not Immersing:
Immersion was the method employed by the early Church in the first few centuries, with affusion being used only when there was not enough water for immersion and aspersion being used for those who were too ill or frail for either immersion or affusion. Such exceptions are permissible in special cases. For example, although the Bible doesn’t say it specifically Philip met the Ethiopian Eunuch in a desert place. Consider these verses (emphasis mine)
But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south to the road that runs from Jerusalem down to Gaza.” (This is a desert road). (Acts 8:26)
As they continued along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch exclaimed, “Look! Water! What forbids me from being baptized?” [Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] And he ordered that the chariot be stopped; and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. (Acts 8:36-38)
Since the water was scarce in that area it’s possible they could have stood, let us say, ankle-deep in the water while one of them scooped up some water and poured it over the other’s head. Therefore our advice use baptism by water by immersion whenever possible and settle for pouring or sprinkling when circumstances don’t permit immersion.
3. What if I was baptized as a Child?
As water baptism is voluntary and willful identification with Christ we do not subscribe to infant baptism, as infants are incapable of making up their minds or of exercising their faith. The Bible is clear on this matter (emphasis mine).
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart [with remorse and anxiety], and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what are we to do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent [change your old way of thinking, turn from your sinful ways, accept and follow Jesus as the Messiah] and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ because of the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38)
4. Anything else I should be aware of?
Last but not least there are three truths we want you to be aware of even as you are reaching the end of preparation for water baptism which we have mentioned below.
4.1 Living a life of Obedience:
You obey the Master’s command after receiving water baptism and decide to live a life yielded to Him. Remember, water baptism doesn’t take away your willpower. You can continue to sin in secret. The only way to overcome temptations is to live a life completely surrendered to the will of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus promised judgment to those who pretend to be his disciples.
If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6)
4.2 Your Personal Life Story:
In the class, you should have given a testimony of your salvation experience. On the day of water baptism, you will give a brief testimony that glorifies the Lord. Do not dwell long on your misdeeds of the past but mention briefly the newness of life the Lord has brought into your life. Do not run down your former belief system, instead tell the people how marvelously you have been brought from darkness to light, and of the God, you have decided to serve!
4.3 Water Baptism Formula:
In keeping with the instruction in Mathew 28:19, you are baptized “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Josh Buice from “Delivered by Grace” explains the reason for this formula in his blog post titled “Why We Must Baptize in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?” I highly recommend that you read and gain further clarification.
Be appropriately dressed for this solemn occasion, avoiding clothes that attempt to make a bold statement! As you get immersed in water since your clothes tend to get transparent and/or stick to your body, it is recommended to wear dark colors and adequate undergarments to avoid embarrassment. Ladies are encouraged to wear long dresses to reduce the tendency of skirts to float on water.
Note: Please tell the Pastor in advance if you have any special needs or limitations that need to be considered. Be assured that with understanding and care any setbacks could be overcome to allow you to have a blessed experience in following the Lord in water baptism. In the meantime, if you are a preacher looking for a sermon to preach at your special baptismal service feel free to check “Biblical Perspectives of Water Baptism.”
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