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                                                             BIBLE STUDY - WATER BAPTISM.

Water baptism symbolizes the death, burial and ressurection of Jesus. Water baptism or immersion by single immersion in water can be seen very clearly connected to the death, burial and ressurection of Jesus Christ, in the Bible. Romans 6:3,4 ‘Know ye 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’. Colossians 2:12, ‘Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead’.

Jesus commanded; those that accepted Him as personal savior must be baptised. Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The Apostles commanded it; Acts 10:48, ‘And Peter commanded them to be baptised in the Name of the Lord’. Water baptism is merely an outward symbol of the baptism into Christ's death and into the body of Christ and so into the family of God.

Jesus Himself was baptized, Matthew 3:13 - 17; Mark 1:9 - 11; Luke 3:21 - 22 etc. There are some promises attached to the baptism commandment. Acts 2:38, ‘Then Peter said unto them; Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ Water baptism is a step of obedience; 1 Peter 3:21, ‘The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’

Baptism is exclusively for those that accepted Jesus Christ as personal saviour. Those that is able to believe in Jesus Christ. Mark 16:16, ‘And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’ Note that a person has to be able to believe first. A new “Afrikaans” Bible change the wording to; ‘he that is baptised and believe’ to suite their doctrine. Imagine all the other distortions in that Bible.

I have been looking at ‘water baptism’ in the Bible for more than 40 years. There are hundreds of ideas and books on water baptism. We will be looking at some technical ideas on water baptism in the next study. Water baptism is one of the sacraments of Jesus. What is a sacrament? A sacrament is something that Jesus introduced. It is something that the followers of Jesus must submit to, and do.

The word "baptidzo", or baptize, meant immersion and never means to sprinkle or pour. There is no example in any Greek literature through many ages where the word has lost its original meaning, or where it means a partial application of water by sprinkling or pouring. Every passage where the word is used in the New Testament either requires or allows the meaning of immerse.

The mode of baptism is by single immersion in water. Why to immerse once only? Jesus was not buried three times, He was not put in the grave and then taken out and put back and taken out again and put back and raised from the dead. Most of the churches that practice 3 three times immersion or sprinkling has build a baptismal doctrine on Matthew 28:19. We also do not baptise in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit but the name.

Jesus went down into the river for He went straightway out of the water. Philip and the eunuch went down both into the water and came up out of the water. John baptised near Salem , in the river Jordan because there was much water there. The testimony and practice of the early church fathers was immersion. Therefore, no modern church has the right to change or modify the New Testament method and commands on baptism. The Roman Catholic Church introduced infant ‘baptism’ - Aspersion is the sprinkling of water on the head. Affusion is the pouring of water over the head, because as they thought it was more ‘convenient’.

Some churches teach that there is no remission of sin if you are not baptised, in other words you will not go to Heaven if you are not baptised. No intelligent person can believe this. Such a theory takes salvation out of the hands of Christ and places it in the hands of other mediators between God and man, the administrators of water baptism. This makes the work of Christ of no avail until some man performs the water baptism. In other words, the work of Christ cannot save the soul until that person is baptised.

We must understand that baptism will not keep us out of Heaven but disobedience can prevent us from making the rapture of the Church. In other words we do not have to be baptised to go to Heaven but if we understand baptism or the Holy Spirit deals with us that we must be baptised then we must be baptised.

Water Baptism is an important issue, but it’s something we either do, or submit to, thus it can be twisted into an act of self - righteousness, rather than the symbol it’s suppose to be. Carnal minded, or natural thinking people want to have a hand of control in their salvation, or they want to be the special of the special, to have something none of the rest of us have, to be elevated above the rest of the body of Christ, often they take something to make it appear as if they are the only ones doing it right. The right “Name”, the right “place”, the “right” water, the “right” method, making it more than it is, which is very dangerous. When we take anything God has given us, then elevate it’s importance, or it’s capability above what God has, we just turned the thing of God into an idol. Traditions begin as “good ideas” by someone who really didn’t place a great deal of importance on the tradition, but the next generation does, as they make it doctrine. One element evident in water baptism is how it’s conducted by the members of the body of Christ, yet the only requirement for the candidate is to believe. Unless the requirement is satisfied, it wasn’t a baptism. The water can be pure Jordan water, or salt water, or running water, or dish water, the method can be exactly as John used, the perfect pronunciation of the name in the original language, yet if the candidate cannot profess a belief, it’s all for nothing.

Water baptism for the believer is an act of obedience that in Scripture was always done as a response to realizing and accepting what Jesus Christ did for him/her on the cross. Going down in the water is symbolic of being buried with Christ in His death and coming out of the water is symbolic of being raised up with Christ in newness of life.

Should a person be re - baptised?

Only if you were not a believing Christian when you were baptised, then you should. Paul re - baptised Ephesians believers, showing that a dead ritual is not sufficient, it must be in faith, see Acts 19:4 - 5. If after prayer and study, you do not feel in your heart, that your water baptism was an actual fulfilment of the principles taught in scripture, then you may be rebaptised.

Infant baptism?

There is no support for infant - baptism in any Scripture and there is no case where infants were baptised. No passage even implies such a practice. The Bible demands faith and repentance as necessary before baptism and this, no child can do until he/she is old enough to understand sin and what to do to be saved. However, we will not argue with those that think sprinkling a baby is water baptism. If you go in on what else they believe you can only pray for their blindness. Martin Luther seemed to believe that God is going to send infants to Hell unless they are ceremoniously sprinkled. I wonder also what Luther, or the Catholic Church would say with regard to unborn babies who die as a result of abortion/murder or through miscarriage. Are these going to Hell because they were not yet sprinkled?

Baptism is not in place of circumcision.

Some churches claim that sprinkling babies or baptism came in stead of circumcision, Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter 5:2 - 4, "Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing". 

There was more than one water baptism in the New Testament.

We also read in the New Testament that there was more than one type of water baptism. There was the baptism of John the Baptist; Matthew. 3:11, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Luke 7:29; Acts 19:1 - 6, "John indeed baptised with a baptism of repentance, saying to people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ". So we read that they were baptised again. Take note that

we have the baptism of John, unto repentance and that of the believer; in the name of Christ, unto the forgiveness of sin by the death, burial and ressurection of Christ.

Water baptism is for those who have acknowledged their sins and their need of Christ's salvation, and who are willing to repent - change their ways and follow the Lord, Matthew. 3:6-8; Acts 22:16; Romans 10:9-13. In other words it is for those who are sorry for their sins and have agreed with God that they should change their ways and ask for His help in doing so. And just as important, they have acknowledged that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for them on the cross; to pay the price of their forgiveness, so that they may be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life.

Years ago God open my understanding to see what Paul explained in Romans 7:1 - 4   "Or do you not know, brethren that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man". So we see that we have to be dead for the world to belong to someone else, Christ Jesus.

Water baptism is an outward sign to the world that someone is publicly declaring their faith in the Lord. Going down into the water is symbolic of our old nature being "buried" with Him in His baptism of death, Romans 6:3-11; Luke 12:50; Mark 10:36-40, ‘and coming up out of the water is symbolic of our being raised with Him in order that we might live a new life that is pleasing to God’.

                                                            Compiled by: Chris Mengel Snr.

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