Last night, at the end of services, a girl of 14 came forward and confessed her belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. She had grown up attending our congregation, so it was an especially happy moment for the rest of us.
After her confession, we sang another song or two, after which, the curtain to the baptistry opened, revealing Aileen (the girl) and Randy, our preacher. Randy said, “Aileen, based on your confession that Jesus is the Son of God, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins.” He lowered Aileen completely into the water, then brought her back up. A new Christian was born!
Now, I know some of you might be thinking that the baptism was completely unnecessary; that once she confessed her faith in Christ, she was saved. The baptism was just an outward sign of something that had already occurred. But think back to the scriptures that deal with baptism. What do they say about it?
I’ll try not to make this post too long, but when taken as a whole, the Bible paints a very clear picture that shows baptism is definitely required for salvation. Let’s look at a few of those key passages now:
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. – Mark 16:16
According to this passage, what is required for salvation? Belief and baptism.
19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[d] – Matt 28:19-20
Jesus gives his disciples a command in the first phrase of this passage: “go” and “make.” What follows are participles that explain how to fulfill that command. In other words, how do you make a disciple? By baptizing them and teaching them (verses 19-20).
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38
What is salvation? It’s the forgiveness of sins, or the remission of sins. This passage tells us that in order to obtain that, we have to repent and be baptized.
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 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. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. – Romans 6:3-7
This passage might be one of the clearest. It shows us why baptism is important and what it represents. It symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Isn’t it fitting that God would provide something like that for us to take part in in order to have our sins “washed away!” It’s only after baptism that we are able to rise to “walk in newness of life.” It’s through baptism that we are able to “put to death” that “old man” of sin.
21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ – 1 Pet 3:21
Here’s another passage that is pretty clear, once you understand what an antitype is. This passage (including the surrounding verses) makes the point that Noah and his family were saved by the ark, and in the same way, baptism saves us today.
These are not the only passages that deal with baptism, but I think they are enough to make a compelling case for its necessity. However, this is a concept that is rejected by much of the religious world today. Hopefully, seeing these passages will at least encourage more study from those who may have always held a different position on the subject.
I certainly welcome any discussion on the topic, and if you would like to look over a discussion that was held about it last year, go to groups.myspace.com/thegreattriumvirate and click on the thread titled “Religious Understanding.” It’s pretty lengthy, but well worth the read for anyone who’s interested. You can also check out the thread “Six Months to Change an Eternity” if you would like.