Most religious denominations teach that a person must believe,
repent, and confess Jesus to be the Son of God in order
to be saved. But they do not teach that someone must be
baptized before he is saved. The Bible clearly teaches that
a person is not saved until after he is baptized into Christ.
In addition to the inspired writings in the Bible, it is
interesting to read the uninspired writings of Christians
from the second and third centuries since they taught that
one was not saved until after being baptized. In fact, the
doctrine of salvation without baptism into Christ began
with the Gnostics.
||Today, some people teach pouring and
sprinkling as a type of baptism, but their
teachings contradict the Bible. Some teach
that baptism is not necessary while others
teach and practice a baptism into something
other than Christ. The English word baptism
is a transliteration of the Greek word baptisma
and is defined as immerse - not sprinkle
or pour. Vines Expository Dictionary defines
baptism as "consisting of the processes
of immersion, submersion and emergence."
Therefore, in order for one to be baptized
in water, it is necessary to be submerged
under the water and then to emerge from
the water. Immersion cannot be obtained
through sprinkling or pouring. Furthermore,
history bares out that immersion in water
was exclusively practiced by First Century
Christians. Erroneous doctrines of sprinkling
and pouring did not come into existence
for many years after the apostolic age.
||There are many sources of information
in which we may gain an understanding of the history
of baptism. The best source is the early Christian
writings. Another source is The World Book Encyclopedia
which states that "early Christians practiced
immersion (submerging a person in water) as the method
of baptism." Also, one may examine Johnson's
Universal Cyclopedia, Edinburg Encyclopedia, and The
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.
||The only baptism practiced by early
Christians was immersion in water for the remission
of sins. Affusion was not practiced until A.D. 251
when it was ministered to Novation in place of immersion
because he was sick. After that time, sprinkling and
pouring were erroneously practiced by some people
and called "sick" or "clinical"
baptism because it was only ministered to those who
were sick. In A.D. 1331, at the Council of Ravenna,
sprinkling was recognized as a substitute for immersion
by the Catholic Church. Today, many religious denominations
practice sprinkling and pouring as a substitute for
The Bible and history reveal that, during the First
Century, godly men (including the apostles guided by
the Holy Spirit) exclusively practiced immersion (baptism)
in water for the remission of sins. But, over time,
men began to stray from the truth and teach a baptism
of sprinkling and pouring which are a heretical substitute
for Bible baptism. The word baptism is specific in the
act that is commanded - immersion in water. Among religious
leaders, there is not a dispute regarding the practice
of baptism in the First Century. But, the dispute is
whether God recognizes baptisms which He has not ordained
(e.g., sprinkling, pouring, infant baptism, etc.). Each
of us must decide whether we will practice the doctrines
of men or the doctrine of Christ (cf. Col. 2:18-23).
If we choose the doctrine of Christ, we must be baptized
(immersed) in water for the remission of our sins. If
we choose the doctrines of men, we will be eternally
Must we be baptized into Christ to be saved? There are
many false baptisms today. There is only one baptism that
is pleasing and acceptable to God (Eph. 4:5). Many churches
practice baptism as the means to join the church or as an
outward rite attempting to show that a person has been saved.
In the Bible, baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts
2:38) and thus was said to wash away sins (Acts 22:16) and
to now save us (1 Pet. 3:21).
For example, Baptist churches practice baptism as an act
of obedience wherein one confesses Christ. They teach that
baptism should be observed but that it is not essential
for salvation. The Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches says
regarding the obligation of baptism:
- All men are under obligation to repent of sin, and to
accept Christ as their only means of salvation. And all
believers in Christ are bound by the most sacred considerations
to obey their Lord's command, and confess him before men
in baptism. No one who trusts him for salvation can willingly
disregard his command, nor neglect the public profession
of faith which this ordinance affords.
- It is not a question as to whether he can be saved without
baptism, but whether he can be a true disciple, and refuse
or neglect thus to obey and confess his Savior. . . .
Baptism may not be essential to salvation, but it is essential
to obedience (Edward T. Hiscox, The Hiscox Guide for Baptist
Churches, Valley Forge, PA.: The Judson Press, 1964, Library
of Congress Catalog Card No. 64- 15797, pg. 86-87).
Then regards the efficacy of baptism Hiscox says:
- Baptism, therefore, is an act of obedience, and as such
brings the candidate into a more intimate and exclusive
fellowship with his Lord; but it possesses no power in
itself to remit sin, to change the heart, or to sanctify
the spirit (Hiscox, op. cit., pg. 88).
So, we can either believe the doctrines of men or the Bible.
The Bible says that we are baptized for the remission of
sins (Acts 2:38) and that in baptism our sins are washed
away (Acts 22:16); hence, we retain our sins until we are
baptized. And the Bible says that baptism is an antitype
which now saves us (1 Pet. 3:21). Which do you believe -
the doctrines of men or the Bible?
If you have been baptized or are considering being baptized,
you must carefully investigate the baptism which is being
administered. I know of some people who have thought that
they had been baptized with one baptism and later found
out that it was a completely different baptism than they
had believed. If you have been baptized, have you compared
your baptism to New Testament baptism?
In the New Testament, whether an individual had never been
baptized, had been baptized with a Jewish baptism, or had
been baptized with the baptism of John, it was imperative
to be baptized into Christ to be saved. Therefore, individuals
who had previously been baptized, perhaps as a proselyte
or with the baptism of John, were baptized again, but with
a different baptism - the baptism of Jesus Christ.
During Paul's second visit to Ephesus, he met some people
who were trying to follow Jesus. But because of their ignorance,
they had not been baptized in the name of Jesus. They had
only been baptized with the baptism of John. Paul taught
them the baptism of Jesus and upon hearing these things
the people were baptized again. This time, they were baptized
in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-5).
For us living today, it is important to understand that
the Bible teaches that anyone who may have been baptized,
but not baptized into Jesus, needs to be properly baptized
with the baptism of Jesus Christ to receive forgiveness
of his sins and stand in the saving grace of God.
All spiritual blessings are in Christ:
Only individuals baptized into Christ may receive
spiritual blessings. Notice the following Scriptures
and the blessings that are in Christ:
Spiritual blessings in Christ:
||"eternal life in Christ"
||"love of God which is in Christ"
|1 Cor. 1:2
||"sanctified in Christ"
||"redemption that is in Christ"
||"alive to God in Christ"
|1 Cor. 4:10
||"you are wise in Christ"
|1 Cor. 15:19
||"we have hope in Christ"
|2 Cor. 2:14
||"triumph in Christ"
||"you are all one in Christ"
||"no condemnation to those who are
||"who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ"
||"every good thing which is in you
|2 Tim. 1:9
||"grace which was given to us in
|2 Tim. 2:1
||"be strong in the grace that is
|2 Tim. 2:10
||"the salvation which is in Christ
Someone who has been baptized with a baptism other
than the one baptism (Eph. 4:5) that we learn about
in the Bible has not been baptized into Christ and cannot
be blessed with every spiritual blessing. Only the people
who are in Christ are sanctified and redeemed; therefore,
only people in Christ have eternal life.
Baptism is a death, burial, and resurrection: One who is
baptized into Christ is translated into the kingdom of Christ
(Col. 1:13; 2:11-13). In this translation, one dies, is
buried, and resurrects with Christ. Please read Romans 6:1-14
into Christ is baptism into His death
||buried with Him through baptism
into death to walk in newness of life
||united together in the likeness of His
death and resurrection
||the old man is crucified with
||those who have died with Christ
in baptism are freed from sin
||those having died with Christ
believe that they will live with Him
||likewise, reckon yourself to be dead
indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus
Although understanding God's working in baptism (in
its greatest detail) is not necessary to be saved, it
is interesting to learn of the many spiritual blessings
one receives in Christ (Eph. 1:3). We are buried with
Christ in baptism, becoming dead in our trespasses and
made alive together with Him (Col. 2:11-13).
Who May Be Baptized? What is the process of conversion
These questions have been answered by men in what
may seem to be a wise fashion (such as in the case of
infant baptism and salvation by faith alone). But if
we do not appeal to the Scriptures, our answer will
not be pleasing to God. For example, there is one religious
group that has a vote about whether they think one may
be baptized. Such things as taking votes appear nowhere
in the New Testament.
In order for us to appeal to the Bible, we need to review
the eight accounts of conversion in the book of Acts. You
may desire to read these accounts to refresh your memory.
The people who could become Christians as recorded in the
book of Acts may become Christians today.
Accounts of conversion in Acts
||thousands converted on the day of Pentecost
||Philip preached and converted many in Samaria
||the Ethiopian eunuch was converted and rejoiced
||Paul was converted
||Cornelius and many others were converted
||Lydia and her household were converted
||the Philippian jailer and his family were converted
||many of the Corinthians were converted
After review of the eight accounts of conversion in
Acts, notice that the Bible says:
||that in all eight of the
conversion accounts the people heard (were taught)
the word of God before being baptized
||that in six
of the conversion accounts the people believed (had
faith) before being baptized
||that in one
of the conversion accounts the people repented before
||that in one
of the conversion accounts a person confessed Jesus
to be the Son of God before being baptized
||that in all
eight accounts the people were baptized
We also know from other Bible passages that hearing
the gospel, faith, repentance, confession of Jesus,
and baptism are necessary to be saved. But, it is interesting
to me that the two things which are specifically recorded
in all eight conversion accounts are hearing the word
Why do you think this is the case? First, let me suggest
that the conversion process does not begin until one hears
(is taught) the word of God (cf. Rom. 10:17). Subsequently,
one will either believe with an obedient heart, or disbelieve.
Those who believe will repent of past sins in obedience
to God, will confess Jesus to be the Son of God, and will
be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. Secondly,
let me suggest that the conversion process is complete with
baptism. Baptism is recorded in each account to show the
completion of the people's conversion to Christ.
For example, notice the Ethiopian eunuch. The conversion
process began when Philip began to preach from Isaiah. But,
when did he rejoice - after Philip began to preach, after
believing in Jesus, or after confessing Jesus? He rejoiced
after being baptized since he had nothing in which to rejoice
until after being baptized (Acts 8:25-29).
So, we must either stand by the Bible or the doctrines
of men. The Bible teaches that one who has heard the word,
believes, repents, and confesses Jesus to be the Son of
God may be baptized into Christ and is therefore saved.
If we make other provisions such as voting or salvation
by faith alone, are we not attempting to make ourselves
Some people teach a heretical doctrine of salvation
There are some people teaching that an individual
is saved before baptism and others teaching that an
individual is saved without baptism. I urge you to be
mindful of the following passages:
who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he
who does not believe will be condemned."
|1 Pet. 3:21
||"There is also an antitype which
now saves us, namely baptism ..."
||"Arise and be baptized, and wash
away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
||"Or do you not know that as many
of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized
into His death?"
||"... who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ
|2 Tim. 2:1
||"... be strong in the grace that
is in Christ Jesus."
|2 Tim. 2:10
||"... that they also may obtain
the salvation which is in Christ Jesus ..."
||"In Him you were also circumcised
with the circumcision made without hands, by putting
off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision
of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you
also were raised with Him through faith in the working
of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being
dead in your trespasses and the circumcision of your
flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having
forgiven you all trespasses,"
||"... even when we were dead in
our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ
(by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together,
and made us sit together in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show
the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus."
The preceding nine Scriptures teach four undeniable
truths regarding salvation. Although some people have
attempted to skew the simple truth of the gospel by
going beyond God's written word or by taking away from
God's word, we must take to heart these four Bible teachings
and examine our lives. Carefully note:
who are baptized will be saved. Those who are
not baptized will not be saved (Mark 16:16). Those
who only believe as the demons (James 2:19), without
obedience to God, will be condemned.
now saves us (1 Pet. 3:21). Our sins are washed
away in baptism (Acts 22:16).
||It is necessary
to be in Christ to be saved. We enter into Christ
by being baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3). No other
baptism than "baptism into Christ" will
satisfy God's command. Only in Christ may we receive
every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). And, only in
Christ may we contact the grace of God (2 Tim. 2:1).
Therefore without baptism into Christ, we do not receive
spiritual blessings nor do we contact God's grace
(cf. Eph. 1:3; 2:8).
of God is salvation (Eph. 2:8). Specifically,
the grace of God is salvation by being made alive
together with Christ (Eph. 2:5). In baptism, we are
buried and raised with Christ (Col. 2:11) henceforth
being made alive (Col. 2:13). Therefore, without baptism
into Christ, we do not contact the grace of God to
be made alive with Christ. If you have been baptized
into something or someone other than Christ, you have
not been made alive with Christ; therefore, you have
not contacted the grace of God.
What does the Bible teach in respect to infant baptism?
Review (above) the accounts of conversion in Acts.
The final paragraph of that section concludes that we
must either stand by the Bible or the doctrines of men.
The Bible teaches that one who has heard the word, believes,
repents, and confesses Jesus to be the Son of God may
be baptized into Christ and is therefore saved. If we
make other provisions such as voting or salvation by
faith alone, are we not attempting to make ourselves
An infant cannot hear (understand in order to obey) the
word of God, cannot believe in God, cannot repent of sin
(he has no sin), and cannot confess Jesus to be the Son
of God. Therefore, an infant cannot be baptized with the
baptism of Christ.
But an infant can be baptized with a baptism of men. Baptism
of infants is not from God and means nothing in respect
The apostle Paul informs us of the difference in just getting
wet (like in a bath tub) and being baptized with the baptism
of Christ. He said: "In Him you were also circumcised
with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off
the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of
Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were
raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who
raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses
and the circumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together
with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col.
2:11-13). The difference in baptism and just getting wet
is faith in the working of God. An infant does not have
faith in the working of God when he is baptized; therefore,
he has only gotten wet.
Furthermore, the Bible does not say anything about infant
baptism. Therefore, by the exclusion of infant baptism in
the Holy Scriptures, we too must exclude infant baptism
to be pleasing to God. Infants began to be baptized because
of a false doctrine professing that infants were born in
sin (doctrine of original sin), but the Bible teaches that
they are safe (Matt. 19:14; 18:3). Infants were never commanded
to be baptized nor were parents commanded to baptize infants.
But the Bible says that "both men and women were baptized"
(Acts 8:12) - not infants.
Although loving parents may desire their infant children
to be baptized in attempts of securing their salvation,
we must not go beyond God's word (1 Cor. 4:6). God has instructed
parents to bring their children "up in the training
and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4) which includes
preparing them to obey the gospel at such time as they may
do so of their own volition. If you were baptized with a
baptism of men, as is the case with infant baptism, you
must be baptized with the baptism of Christ to receive God's
blessing of eternal life.
Peter warns of the false prophets that would enter the
church saying: "But there were also false prophets
among the people, even as there will be false teachers among
you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even
denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves
swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive
ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed"
(2 Pet. 2:1-2). Furthermore, Paul warns Timothy of the approaching
apostasy and says: "Now the Spirit expressly says that
in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving
heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking
lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with
a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain
from foods which God created ..." (1 Tim. 4:1-3). So,
it is of no surprise that false doctrines have entered the
world inclusive of baptizing infants.
We must conclude that one does not enter into Christ through
infant baptism, and that infant baptism is contrary to the
word of God. Infant baptism is a false doctrine of men and
not of God.
Have you been baptized with the baptism of Christ?
Have you been buried and raised with Christ in baptism?
Have you been baptized into Christ wherein you receive
every spiritual blessing?
If not, why not obey Jesus Christ today?