Importance of Water Baptism
Water Baptism does not save or cause a person to become regenerate. It is a step that follows repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and is a part of a saved person's walk of obedience (along the path that leads to eternity). Water Baptism is important for the following three reasons....
· It is a command of the LORD (and not an option)...
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
In fact, The Lord has equated belief IN HIM (with Baptism following), as evidence of one’s faith...
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(NIV) The person who argues that Mark 16:16 did not say that ‘whoever does not believe (and is not baptized) will be condemned’ speaks with a mouthpiece of deception; for common sense dictates that in the Christian context, a person who does not believe cannot be baptized in the first place.
· It was a practice of the early Christian Church...
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
(NIV) Emphasis Mine
35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"
38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
· Besides being a public profession of our faith, it identifies us with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection...
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
The Apostle Paul says (in the verses above) that Water Baptism signifies the death (and burial) of our old self so that we may rise with Jesus in newness of life.
Even if, for this reason alone, it would be rather strange (and bewildering) for any Born-Again Christian to choose not to participate in this ordinance.
There is no example in the New Testament Church from the Book of Acts or the epistles of a saved person not having been baptized in water.
THE THIEF ON THE CROSS
The thief on the cross (Luke 23:42,43) should not be taken as an example of a person who was not baptized, as he lived in a pre-Christian era before the death and resurrection of JESUS. I reiterate, the thief on the cross cannot be A CHRISTIAN, FOR A CHRISTIAN MUST BELIEVE IN HIS HEART THAT GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD…
9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
In other words, Jesus must have already been raised from the dead for anyone to be a Christian. The thief on the cross died some time before Jesus rose from the dead. HE WAS AN OLD TESTAMENT SAINT AND NOT A CHRISTIAN so the commandment in Mark 16:16 does not apply to him.
The hypothetical case of a dying man accepting Christ on his death-bed (without being water-baptized) should not be used as an example to defy God’s command.
I believe that God will give ample opportunity for all genuinely saved Christians to be water baptized (in accordance with His Word). Finding an excuse to circumvent God’s Command (to be Baptized) is rebellion in its crudest form!
QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO WATER BAPTISM
·THE INFERENCE ONE GETS FROM YOUR ARTICLE ON WATER BAPTISM IS THAT SALVATION IS NOT JUST AN ENTRY POINT ONLY. PLEASE ELABORATE…
Take a close look at the verse below…
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Salvation has two distinct components, namely, the ‘GATE’ and the ‘ROAD’. Although allegorical, there are deep spiritual truths embedded in this verse. The ‘GATE’ is the entry point of salvation represented by Repentance and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The road is the path towards final redemption culminating in the Marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). Paul exhorts us to run the race in such a way as to get the prize (1 Cor 9:24). If salvation was just an entry point there would be no race to run at all. As stated in Matt 7:14, there must be a road that leads to final Glory and Eternity. Read Matthew 7:21-23 and you will realize that the ‘Once saved always saved’ theology is just a myth. Do not be deceived! There are hurdles to cross in the race to Eternity and Water Baptism is one of the mandatory hurdles we need to cross.
· CAN A BABY OR YOUNG CHILD BE BAPTIZED IN WATER?
AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
The Scriptures give us some guidelines as a far as an “Age of Accountability” is concerned. In the case of the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to observe this festival yearly and to teach their children that this festival commemorates God’s deliverance of the Israelites from death (God ‘passed over’ their homes on seeing the blood of the sacrificial lambs on their doorposts and lintels in Egypt) during the time of Moses (Exodus 12:26,27).
Now, if you examine the Scriptures below carefully, you will see that the boy Jesus was taken to the Passover Festival only at the age of twelve signifying that he had reached an age of accountability before the Lord at this age.
41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.
42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.
(NIV) Emphasis Mine
The Bethany Parallel Commentary on the Old
Testament has this to say...
“...We are also told that the age at which young people were deemed capable of vowing was 13 for boys and 12 for girls.”6
This means that the Jews hold a thirteen-year old boy and a twelve-year old girl accountable before God.
The same commentary further on, mentions that the boy Samuel started his ministry at the age of twelve.7
Water Baptism requires active repentance (an act of will) and a profession of faith (in the Lord Jesus) on the part of the person baptized. It is virtually impossible for a baby or young child to exercise this FACULTY. In line with the argument above, it would be more prudent to baptize a child when he reaches the accepted age of accountability i.e. about the age of 12 years. Churches who baptize babies and very young children are doing a grave injustice to them; for they may grow up in a state of deception thinking that they need not actively repent, profess faith in the Lord or undergo water baptism again as they have already been “baptized” as a baby (or young child).
· What is the acceptable mode of administering Water Baptism?
The verb “to baptize” is baptizo in greek.
It means “to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet)”...used
only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of
the ordinance of Christian baptism.8
The New International Version describes Jesus as “coming up out of the water” (implying submersion) when referring to Water Baptism in Matthew Chapter 3 verse 16...
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
(NIV) Emphasis Mine.
Again, in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, the King James Version says that they “WENT DOWN” into the water and subsequently “CAME UP OUT OF THE WATER”. Here, again, immersion is implied.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
(KJV) Emphasis Mine
As mentioned before in the preceding section, Water Baptism signifies the death (and burial) of our old self...
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (NIV) Emphasis mine.
Burial is "immersion" in the ground, so to
speak; Water Baptism, which also signifies the death and burial of our old self,
should therefore by inference, be immersion into the water. We also need to
point out at this juncture that the word Baptizo in Greek differs from
the word rhantizo (as used in Hebrews 9:13), which is translated
"sprinkled" in English. Water Baptism is, therefore, equated with immersion and
not sprinkling in the Bible.
The practice of “sprinkling” (and by inference “pouring”) for Water Baptism, is therefore, sheer defiance of Scriptural Facts and precedents recorded for our guidance in God’s Word.
One would be foolhardy to operate outside the umbrella of God’s Word especially in the light of the Lord’s Command in Mark 16:16.
· What did Jesus mean when He said that Water Baptism was meant to “fulfill all righteousness”?
14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this TO FULFILL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS." Then John consented.
(NIV) Emphasis Mine
We need to be reminded that Christian Baptism (Unlike John’s Baptism) is not a Baptism of Repentance; for our Lord was sinless yet He needed to be Water-Baptized.
In the New Testament Church, one is Water Baptized only after Salvation i.e. after Repentance and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian Baptism is essentially the FULFILMENT OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS ACQUIRED BY FAITH and our Lord’s Water Baptism symbolized this important fact.
By identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have, in essence, shown that we have acquired our Lord’s Righteousness through Faith in His Work-Water Baptism being a public proclamation of this fact. So, in line with the Words of our Lord in Mark 16:16, all Born-Again Believers need to be Water-Baptized in order to fulfill (or bring to completion) the Righteousness of Jesus which was acquired by Faith.
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