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. Today it has come to be more commonly identified with Christianity, some even believing water baptism to be synonymous with salvation. But, just how important is water baptism? Let’s take a walk through scripture to see: [A sermon preached by Dr. Arnold Lastinger. Published with permission]
1. What Water B
aptism is not?
1.1 Pre-requisite for Salvation
A. It’s a misinterpretation of 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 21. (Corresponding to that [rescue through the flood], baptism [which is an expression of a believer’s new life in Christ] now saves you, not by removing dirt from the body, but by an appeal to God for a good (clear) conscience, [demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,)
B. The Greek word “antitupon” used here in place of “corresponding” implies an impression left by a seal, not the seal itself while “eperotema” used in place of “appeal” implies the expected response in a covenant agreement.
C. If water baptism is a pre-requisite for salvation, then why would Paul say in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 14, “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius.”
1.2 Pre-requisite for Heaven
A. Some have even cut holes in the ice to baptize immediately, lest the new believer miss heaven.
B. The penitent thief on the cross had no opportunity to receive water baptism yet Jesus promised he will be in paradise at that very moment in history.
C. This idea is called “Baptismal Regeneration.” It’s in direct contradiction with the scripture and the doctrine of being saved by faith.
1.3 Literal Washing away of Sin
A. The water used in water baptism is Symbolic of blood-washing (Hebrews 9:14; Revelation 1:5).
B. This idea presupposes that sin is physical or tangible and can be washed away by mere water. It’s absurd and nonsensical!
C. What would you do with the water when nothing less than a blood sacrifice could save you.
2. What Water B
2.1 Water baptism is rooted in the Old Testament (Exodus 30:17-21) and practiced by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-17). Experienced and commanded by Jesus (Matthew 28:19)
2.2 Water baptism was practiced in the early church (Acts 8:36-35; 10:47-48; 16:33; 19:5) and commanded by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38 (closely allied with salvation)
2.3 Water baptism was practiced by Paul (Acts 19:5). Demands obedience to Christ’s command (Acts 2:38 – see again 1 Peter 3:21 “…the pledge of good conscience..) Note: While not being baptized may not keep you out of heaven, a rebellious refusal to obey Christ indicates your level of commitment!
3. What does it symbolize?
3.1 We saw in 1 Peter 3:21 that it’s an “antitupos” or a type of salvation (just as Noah’s ark was a type of salvation) It also symbolizes the cleansing blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5)
3.2 It is identification with Christ that makes a bold statement to the world, (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:8-12).
3.3 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 do you execute It?
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?
4.1 The Greek word, “baptizo” means “to dip” or “immerse”. It was transliterated. Biblical precedent strongly suggests immersion (Matthew 3:6; Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:38, 39)
4.2 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?
4.3 How about the formula? “In Jesus’ Name” or “Of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost”? Numerous references to “In Jesus’ Name” (denotes not a formula, but the type of baptism, as opposed to “John’s baptism”) Jesus Himself gave us the formula (Matthew 28:19)
5. When do you execute It?
5.1 After true repentance (Acts 2:38). A symbol is insignificant without reality, therefore baptism without true repentance is meaningless.
5.2 Therefore: Infant baptism is meaningless. It is a carryover from baptismal regeneration theology. Any baptism without true repentance is without meaning.
5.3 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 absolutely needed?
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! Food for thought. If you cannot make a commitment to receive water baptism how can God expect you to be committed to much greater tasks.
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.
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