Why Be Baptized?
Among our Lord's last words to his disciples was the charge to preach the saving gospel to all men. In Matthew Chapter 28,verse 19, he said, "Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". The question before us is what was and is the action of that baptism commanded by Christ and his apostles. The Bible clearly describes the action of Christian baptism as a burial in water, for baptism is a likeness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
We are not saved by our own goodness, but by the goodness, the love, and the favor of God. We are not saved by our own merit, but by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus shed his precious blood in his death and as penitent belie vers in Christ we contact his saving blood by going through a likeness to his death, his burial, and his resurrection. Listen to the Apostle Paul's vivid description of baptism in Romans 6, verses 3 through 5. "Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." Here the Bible clearly describes the baptism which was taught and practiced in the early church and which puts one "into Jesus Christ" as a burial. Paul said, "We are buried with him by baptism into death". Again, in Colossians Chapter 2, verse 12, we read that we are "buried with him in baptism". Nowhere in the Bible is the action of Christian baptism described as being anything other than "a burial", or an immersion in water.
In Mark Chapter 1, verse 5, we find that John baptized in water. The passage reads, "And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan...". Again, in Mark Chapter 1, verse 9, we find that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan."
In John Chapter 3,verse 23, we find John's reason for selecting the place where he baptized those who came to him. "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized."
Now let us notice carefully the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by Philip the evangelist. The two men were riding in a chariot. Philip was preaching Jesus unto the eunuch. In Acts Chapter 8, beginning with verse 36, we read, "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, ' See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?' And Philip said, 'If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest'. And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God'. And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down both into the water, and both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the enuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing".
From these verses of scripture we find that baptism requires "much water" and a "going down into water". We see that it is a "burial" in water and a "resurrection". Also we see it requires a "coming up out of the water". Only immersion fits the New Testament description of Christian baptism.
If you believe in Jesus and want to receive the remission of your sins; as a penitent person, be buried with Christ in baptism to "wash away your sins". Romans Chapter 6, verses 3,4, and Acts Chapter 22, verse 16.
There are two main points of view about why a person should be baptized. One view holds that baptism is a purely symbolic act which should be done in order to show that we have recently been saved. The other view says that, while baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, that it is more than just a symbol. This view holds that baptism is a direct and vital command of the Lord which must be obeyed in order to receive salvation. If you have been baptized, think back for a moment about why you were you baptized. Was it because you felt that you had recently been saved, or were you baptized in order to be saved? And now with this question in mind, let's turn to the Bible to see what God really says about why a person should be baptized. In Acts Chapter 2, verse 38, the Apostle Peter in his great sermon on the day of Pentecost said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". The Bible says in this passage that both repentance and baptism are equally necessary for the remission of sins. When we remember that Peter was speaking by the inspiration of God, this verse should forever settle this question in our own minds. Baptism, according to the Bible, is not because we have already been saved. But Does baptism really wash away sins? Some say no! The Bible says yes. In other related scriptures we read that "Baptism doth also now save us" (I Peter 3: 20,21). The Apostle Paul adds that we are not even in Christ until we have been scripturally baptized. We read this in Galatians 3: 27, and in Romans 6: 3,4). If you have never obeyed the Lord by being baptized for the remission of sins as the Bible requires, may we encourage you to do so today. If you need assistance in obeying the Lord in this vital matter, please feel free to contact the Church of Christ nearest you.
The Bible not only teaches us what baptism is, but also teaches us who is to be baptized. The Bible clearly sets forth conditions that must be in the heart of the individual who has heard the gospel preached and desires to be baptized.
In Mark Chapter 16, verse 16, Jesus says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved". Therefore, one must be a believer in order to be a subject of baptism. In Acts Chapter 8, Philip instructed the eunuch who was reading in Isaiah Chapter 53. The eunuch wondered if the prophet was speaking of himself or another. Philip made it abundantly clear as he preached unto him Jesus. They came to a certain water and the eunuch says, "Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?". At verse 37, Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest". And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God".
In Chapter 2 of the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter for the first time in the Christian age answers the question of those who wanted to be free from their sins. In verse 38 he says, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". In Romans Chapter 6, verse 4, Paul tells us we are raised from baptism to walk in a newness of life.
From these verses we see that a penitent, believing individual who is willing to confess the Lord can be baptized in order to walk in the newness of life. A person failing to qualify in any one of these areas should not be baptized. For example, since an infant cannot be a believer, the infant should not be baptized. If a person is baptized to please someone else rather than being a sincere believer in Christ, this person should not be baptized. If a person in unwilling to cease the practice of sin and live a new life in Christ Jesus, he should not be baptized. The student who is interested in further study along this line should read carefully the entire chapters from which verses have been quoted in this study.
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