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Baptism: From A Scriptural Viewpoint

Friday, January 9, 2009 13 comments

I have recently seen discussions and have been asked questions about baptism. All of this has led me to look at scripture and try to answer questions regarding baptism. Questions concerning infant baptism, sprinkling verses immersion, and its correlation with salvation.

First I think it is important to distinguish the two types of baptism. There is water baptism and spiritual baptism. If water baptism is mistaken for spiritual baptism it is easily interpreted that baptism is necessary for salvation. A verse that depicts spiritual baptism is 1 Corinthians 12:13

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all made to drink into one Spirit."

Paul was not referring to water baptism here. He was referring to spiritual baptism which is experienced by all who believe at the moment of salvation.

Romans 8:9 "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His."

An additional verse in Matthew where John the Baptist describes the difference:

Matthew 3:11 "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Therefore when Romans 6:3-4 says "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." This surely describes the symbolism that takes place during water baptism (death, burial and resurrection).

Baptism is not necessary for salvation. A clear indication of this is the thief on the cross. Luke 23"42-43 "Then he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'" The thief was never baptized.

The main verse I have seen those who believe baptism is necessary for salvation use Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Take note that the latter part of this verse list unbelief as condemnation not the lack of baptism. The belief that baptism in necessary for salvation conflicts with the rest of the Bible (Romans 3:21-28; Ephesians 2:8-10).

As I previously stated, believers are spiritually baptized upon salvation, so who participates in water baptism? The Bible indicates that believers are baptized.

Acts 2:41 "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them."

Acts 8:36-37 "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, 'See here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?' Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'"

As you may have notice, water baptism is something that takes place soon after conversion.

Acts 16:31-33 "So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.' Then they spoke the word of the lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized."

So this leads to why we should be baptized. Is it because of tradition or church policy? Absolutely NOT! Baptism is a divine command from Jesus.

Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"

Something that is also discussed is how we are suppose to be baptized. There are many different methods that are practiced today: pouring, sprinkling and others. The word baptism comes from baptizo which means to plunge, submerge, or immerse. Going back to Philip and the eunuch scripture says "Philip and the eunuch went down into the water" Acts 8:38. In John 3:23 John was baptizing "because there was much water there." This goes back to the symbolism that takes place: Lowered = falling as in death, Immersed = as in burial, and Standing = as in the resurrection.

Christians are to be baptized because it is the command of Christ; only those who have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and have experienced the new birth are to be baptized. Baptism is the first public step commanded that the believer is to accomplish soon after their salvation. Baptism is thus a an act of obedience to Christ and also an outward demonstration of identifying with Jesus Christ and His death at the cross, His burial, and His resurrection.

13 comments: to “ Baptism: From A Scriptural Viewpoint so far...

  • DILinator January 9, 2009 at 11:03 PM

    Very well said Craig, and good Scripture backing for your points! It's a much debated topic amongst Christian circles, but it's really pretty clear if you look at the Scriptures like you have. It's a shame so many people have led their personal preference or religious upbringing cloud their understanding on the matter. Thanks for the post!

  • steve martin January 9, 2009 at 11:43 PM

    Acts 2:38 states that we are to repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of sins and to recieve the Holy Spirit.

    And the promise is for you and your children.

    1st Peter 3:20-22 describes hoe water baptism saves you.

    Christ commanded baptism and He never commanded us to do anything where He wouldn't actually be present for us.

    Since He is the One doing the baptism, He is there and His promise is good no matter who or how old the person is.

    In the Great Commission in Matthew, Jesus tells us to "go into the world, baptising and teaching all people ..." Baptism is mentioned first. In this context if baptism meant 'getting the holy spirit', the Jesus would be telling us to go and give people the holy spirit, which we can't do..only God can do. So He meant for us to baptise...water baptism.

    Christ actually does something in baptism.

  • Craig January 10, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    Thanks for the comments and I hope we can have a good and fruitful dialog on this matter.

    Acts 2:38 does not mean that baptism is not result in the remission of sin. The problem with that interpretation is that it conflicts with other scripture (John 3:36; Romans 4:1-17; Galatians 3:8; Ephesians 2:8-9)

    1 Peter 3:20 when it says "eight souls were saved by water" Here water was the means of judgment not the means of salvation.

    3:21 "There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism" As I stated in my post, water baptism is about symbolism. Just as the flood wiped away the old sinful world, water baptism represents one's break from his old sinful life and an entrance into a new life. In the previous verses in 13-20 Peter is talking about having the courage to take public action and stand for Christ through baptism. Here Peter is saying that baptism saves us from temptation to sacrifice their good consciences in order to avoid persecution. At the end of this verse Peter adds "through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" I think this is added to make it clear that baptism does not save.

  • steve martin January 10, 2009 at 4:45 PM


    1st Peter 3:21 says, "Baptism, which corresponds to this now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience through the resurecctiom of Jesus Christ."

    That doesn't say anything about what we do, but rather what Christ has done,

    Early the text atates that eight persons were saved by water. it doesn't say they were judged...it clearly says 'saved'.

    Almost every reference to baptism in the new Testament is in the context of water baptism.

    For about a thousand years (from 500 to 1500 AD) just about every Christian had been baptised as a baby and that includes just about every great Church Father. None of them that I am aware of were re-baptised. Christ kept them in the promise of their original baptisms...as infants.

    The main principle here is grace before faith.

    Faith first puts the onus on us, and grave first puts the onus on God where it belongs.

    Thanks Craig!

  • steve martin January 10, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    Of course I meant to say 'grace' (not 'grave')...

  • MikeT January 12, 2009 at 8:38 AM

    I thought you had to be baptized into the Roman Church and follow the pope into heaven...

  • Layneh January 12, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    Great post!

    I think this is a great topic, and am glad to see healthy debate on the topic.

    The Bible isnt always clear, and requires searching out answers. We need to thoroughly read the passages to see which kind of baptism is taking place. That is based on the assumption Steve M. agrees there are two kinds of baptism.

    In Acts2:38, like Steve has pointed out, we are to repent. To me, that would signify a spiritual baptism.

    1 Peter3:20-22 is talking about spiritual salvation. Its pointing out how Noah, and his family, were saved from the flood, with a boat. Thus, saved through the water... The example is a metaphor, the boat, Christ; water, sin.

    The boat, while being prepared, was mocked. However, when time came, it saved the holy, obeying people (Noah's family).

    This is a perfect example really, of spiritual baptism.

  • steve martin January 15, 2009 at 9:55 PM


    There are two types of baptism in the New Testament...John's (repentance and expression of one's commitment to God)...and Jesus' baptism, the one where He forgives sin and gives the Holy Spirit.

    It is the latter one which is the one that God does for us when we are baptised in His triune Name.

    It is the latter one which has real power.

    The former one is...well...pretty much useless as salvation goes.

    I know many Christians win't agree to that, and that is ok. But I do believe thay ought hear about the baptism that really carries the freight, though.

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