Baptism - It’s Necessity and Method
What is the gospel? The Apostle Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
The Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Is believing enough? Is knowing the gospel enough? Does the word of God declare to us that we have to go a step further? If so, what is that step?
The same author, Apostle Paul wrote:
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
According to Paul it is of utmost importance that we know God and also that we obey the Gospel. So how does one obey the Gospel? Specifically, how do we obey the death portion of the Gospel?
Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12 both loudly declare this by saying we are buried with Him in baptism. This is how we obey the burial part of baptism.
Let’s examine the 3 greatest preachers of the New Testament: Jesus, Peter and Paul
Jesus our Messiah, God manifested in the flesh preached this:
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Jesus taught that one must be born again. How does this happen? It happens through birth of water and birth of Spirit. This was the message of Jesus. We find agreement throughout the New Testament. Specifically with the Apostle Peter.
Peter preached 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.
In Acts 2, on the birthday of the church, Peter and the Apostles were asked “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) They had just heard the message of Jesus the Messiah and the prophecies concerning His life as well as His ministry.
They asked the Apostles “what shall we do?”. Notice these individuals said “men and brethren”, indicating that all of the Apostles were asked “what must we do? We have heard the message, now what is required of us?”. Their response was not varied. In fact all of the Apostles answered through the very voice of the Apostle Peter who declared you must repent. You must be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost. They did not have different answers because the Bible declares that all that believed were together and had all things common, especially their doctrine.
(Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common)
Going on to the Apostle Paul. We’ve looked at Jesus and we’ve looked at the Apostle Peter. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul preached about water as well as Spirit.
Now let’s see what the Apostle Paul had to say.
In the book of Acts chapter 19
1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Once again what do we find? When Paul preached, he preached baptism in Jesus name and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. What do we have? We have birth of water and we have birth of the Spirit. We have great continuity throughout the gospels with what Jesus said in the book of John, chapter 3. Peter preached the same message in Acts 2:38. The great Apostle Paul preached the same message in Acts chapter 19.
Paul was so insistent about baptism that he re-baptized those that were baptized by John, baptizing them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
SO HOW SHOULD WE BE BAPTIZED?
It’s important to recognize that sprinkling was not a valid form of baptism. Baptism is intimately connected to the mikvah of the Jews, which required immersion. This was the connectivity between the testaments we find with the washing and dipping in water. In fact the word baptism means “to immerse” not to sprinkle, moreover we’ve already read about being buried with Him in baptism. Jesus was completely in the earth. He was completely entombed. So must we also be completely buried in the watery grave of baptism.
So how are we to be baptized? Yes we should be baptized by immersion, but we find something else in the scriptures that is incredibly important. The Apostles only baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
There is not a single instance in the scriptures that they baptized any other way,
but in the name of Jesus Christ.
They preached the same message as was first delivered on the birthday of the church in Acts chapter 2. We believe Acts 2:38 whole heartedly. The reason why we highlight Acts 2:38 so fervently is because Acts 2:38 is the encapsulated plan of salvation. So, understanding that no one in the entirety of the ministry of the Apostles was baptized any other way than in the name of Jesus - this begs an important question, what about Matthew 28:19?
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Is this an inconsistency in the scripture? The answer is clearly no. So why then did the Apostles only baptize in the name of Jesus?
Did they obey or disobey? A great question and a very important one.
First of all, the Apostles knew who the Father, Son and Holy Ghost was. Amazingly though, there is something very spiritual, deeply spiritual that happened during the time of the time of the great commission. No other writer actually mentions it except for Luke. In the book of Luke he tells us what happened
Luke 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
So when Jesus was giving the great commission, something deeply spiritual happened. A revelation if you will. He opened their understanding. It suddenly became very clear to them. So when He told them to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, they knew exactly what name to use, and that name is the name of Jesus.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
From the very beginning, the very cradle of humanity, man has struggled to find absolution. Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord. They did their best to cover their own sin and shame with leaves, but that was not enough. Genesis tells us that God made for them coats of skins (Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.)
which indicates to us that an innocent animal in the garden of Eden died for them to cover their sin and their shame. It was not enough for Adam and Eve to confess that they believed that the animal had died, but rather they were required to wear that tailor made garment that God had prepared for them. We too are required to wear the garment that God has tailor made for us. For only God truly knows our size. Only God truly knows how to cover our sin and our shame.
How do we do it? How do we put on this sacrifice? The Bible tells us. In the book of Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh…
So just as in the beginning in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had to wear the sacrifice. But what about you and I? We are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to wear the sacrifice, but how do we do that?
Paul tells us very clearly in Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
It is true to this day, the only way to cover our sin and our shame - is not by the means of man, but its by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. That’s how we put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t cover our own sin. We can’t cover our own shame. We can’t hide our life and our sins from the Lord. He truly knows our lives and He truly knows our hearts. He greatly desires for us to wear that garment that He tailor made for us. That garment is baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ.
So put on that garment of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. Let your sins be remitted. Let your shame be covered. There’s no one who’s too dirty. The waters of baptism can wash away all of your sin. No matter what you have done in your life, no one is too far gone that they can’t be touched by the grace and mercy of God extended to us through the gospel. We want to encourage you today.
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
God bless you today.
*this study presented by Jeremy Lang, D.D.