For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

What the Bible Says About Baptism

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. (John 3:5)
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16)
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. . . (Acts 2:38).

John the Baptist, whom God sent to prepare the way of the Lord, preached and administered the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:24;Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Luke 3:3-4).And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. He came baptizing in order to manifest Christ to Israel. (John 1:31)And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. His baptism was a transitory one designed to prepare the Jewish people for Christ’s message and Christian baptism. John made no attempt to abolish the Jewish law, but he supplemented it, expecting his converts to live a repented, moral life as defined by the law and to wait for the One who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost. John’s baptism was pre-Christian, for the New Testament church was not yet founded. In fact, John’s disciples were rebaptized in Jesus’ name after the Day of Pentecost (Acts 19:15).And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 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. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Birth of Water

What does it actually mean to be born of water?

  • Some have taught that the birth of the water is when a person was born in the natural.
  • Others teach that the birth of the water is the same as the birth of the spirit.
  • Others teach it is merely a cleansing by the Word (that water is only symbolic here).
  • Then, there are those who teach it is the act of water baptism, not merely a ceremony, but a work of God when sins are remitted.
Jesus taught that there is a birth of water and spirit that completes the new birth. Fleshly birth is one thing, but spiritual birth is something else.

Regardless of its present or future application, one must be born again in order to partake of the kingdom of God. No one will comprehend or enter into all the benefits of the new birth, joy, peace, and the spiritual rule of God or the future of the new heavens and new earth without being born again.

Christ's Command

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He commanded His disciples to go into all the world, to preach the gospel, to make disciples, and to baptize them (Matthew 28:19).Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: He expected all believers to be baptized, and He promised salvation to those who believed and were baptized (Mark 16:16).He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned. The Pharisees “rejected the counsel of God” by refusing John’s baptism (Luke 7:30),But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. and we will be guilty of the same if we refuse the Lord’s baptism.

Part of Salvation

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: (I Peter 3:21).
Noah built the ark and obeyed God. The same water that drowned the unbelievers; that same water lifted the ark above destruction and saved the believers. Baptism is like the water of Noah’s day; it is the test of obedience. You obey, you enter into the ark of your salvation. Baptism has become a means of salvation for us, not because it washes dirt from our physical bodies but because it provides us with a good conscience before God. Since God washes away sins at baptism, it is a request or an appeal to Him to give us a conscience free from condemnation.

Now if Noah said, Lord I’m going to trust in you and believe on you. I’m not going to build an ark, that’s work. That would be salvation by works God. I’m just going to trust in you. What would have happened? He would have drowned. Because your faith is proven to be real by your obedience. You can’t do it your way. You have to do it God’s way. He is the one that is saving you, so he tells you what to do.

It expresses by faith in God by obedience to His Word

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).

The Scriptural Mode

The scriptural mode of baptism is immersion in water, and only this method retains the biblical symbolism of baptism as a burial - (Matthew 3:16;And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (Romans 6:4).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.

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 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. 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. (Acts 8:36-39)

Faith and Repentance Need to Come First

Faith in Christ and repentance from sin are necessary to its validity; thus infant baptism is not proper - (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.

And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:6-11)
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 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. 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. (Acts 8:36-39)

From the World Book Encyclopedia, Volume One, Page 651, we quote, “At first all baptism was by complete immersion.” And in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume Two, Page 263, we find, “In the early centuries, all were baptized by immersion in streams, pools, and baptisteries.” Immersion was not convenient after the Roman Catholic Church instituted infant baptism; the mode was changed to sprinkling. (See Britannica Encyclopedia, Eleventh Edition, Volume Three, Pages 365-366.)

Significance of Water Baptism

The biblical significance of water baptism is as follows:

  1. God remits sins at water baptism (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. 22:16).“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” God erases the record of sin and cancels its penalty. He washes away sins, burying them forever.

  2. Baptism is part of the new birth (John 3:5;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. Titus 3:5).Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

  3. Baptism identifies a person with Jesus’ burial (Romans 6:4;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. It indicates he died to sin by repentance and is burying his past sins, the dominion of sin, and the sinful lifestyle. (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 walk in newness of life.

  4. Water baptism is part of the one baptism of water and Spirit that places believers into Christ (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 walk in newness of life. Galatians 3:27;For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Ephesians 4:5).One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism It identifies them personally with Jesus and is part of the entrance into his family.

Part of Spiritual Circumcision

Baptism is part of spiritual circumcision. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 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. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” (Colossians 2:11-13).

Invoking the Name of Jesus

The Bible teaches the baptism should be administered in the name of Jesus Christ. This means invoking the name of Jesus orally (Acts 22:16;And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. James 2:7)Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? and rebaptizing those who have been baptized some other way.

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, 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. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 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. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:1-5).
The name of Jesus in the baptismal formula expresses faith in His true identity, atoning work, and saving power and authority. The name of Jesus is the only saving name, the name by which to receive remission of sins, the highest name, and the name in which Christians are to say and do all things. (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. 10:43;To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Colossians 3:17).And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Thus using Jesus’ name is the proper way to fulfill all the purposes for baptism.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

The Bible records five historical accounts of baptism in the New Testament church that describe a name or formula. In each case the name is Jesus. (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. 8:16;(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 10:48;And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. 19:5;When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 22:16)And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. The epistles also allude to the Jesus Name formula (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 Even Matthew 28:19, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: refers to this formula, for it describes a singular name that represents all the redemptive manifestations of the Godhead, and that name is Jesus. - Zechariah 14:9;And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. Matthew 1:21;And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. John 5:43;I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 14:26.But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (Revelation 22:3-4)

Moreover, Jesus is the name described in the other Great Commission accounts

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (Mark 16:17)
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47).