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Water baptism

 

 

Read why baptism cannot save anyone without turning to God. And when should baptism be performed and in what form? You can read more here

 

 

Foreword

 

Water baptism is something that may be used as a means to salvation. People sometimes talk about the grace of baptism or, a baptismal covenant. They also claim that we can be born again through water baptism, thus being saved.

   But what is the truth? What is the significance of baptism? Can baptism alone win us the approval of God and take us to heaven? What does the Bible teach us about baptizing children? Below, we consider these questions and try to find answers.

  

 


1. Can water baptism save us?
2. What about baptizing children?
3. How is baptism done?
4. When is water baptism done?
 

 

1. Can water baptism save us?

  

It is claimed that we can receive salvation and be born again through baptism, and that we will also receive the Holy Spirit when we are being baptized.

   However, the next few examples (among many) show us that these claims cannot be true.

 

Paul and the Corinthians. One of the clearest indications that water baptism does not give us salvation is found in Paul’s letter to the Corithians.

   If we could be saved through baptism, why did Paul thank God for only having baptized a few persons in Corinth, then in a later section write that he wanted to do his best to save even a few persons? This apparent contradiction can only be understood if Paul did not believe water baptism would give salvation. Otherwise, he would not have written:

 

- (1 Cor 1:14-17) I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in my own name.

16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

 

- (1 Cor 9:19-22) For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more.

20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

 

The rebirth of the Corinthians. In the verses above, Paul wrote that he could not really remember whom he had baptized in Corinth; but then again, he did remember that the whole congregation had been born again through hearing the Gospel he had preached. This proves that he did not regard water baptism as a means of being born again:

 

- (1 Cor 4:15) For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

 

Water baptism and being born again are two quite different things. Paul did not use water baptism to save people. Instead, people were born again just as they are today: by receiving the Word of God through faith. This was what happened to the Corinthians. They were born again when they received the word of God into their hearts:

 

- (Luke 8:11-12) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

 

- (1 Peter 1:23) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and stays for ever.

 

- (James 1:18) Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

 

Examples in the Bible. Another indication that water baptism does not automatically guarantee salvation is found in the following description of Simon the sorcerer that appears in the Acts.  He was baptized but Peter still had to tell him that his heart was not right and that he would be damned if he did not repent. That he was baptized did not help him in any way, because his state of mind was wrong before God:

 

- (Acts 8:12,13,18-21) But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

20 But Peter said to him, Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter: for your heart is not right in the sight of God.

 

Other examples are found in a story that Jesus told his followers about five foolish virgins, and about another people who performed many miracles in His name. We can assume that all these people were baptized and were members of a congregation, but they were still not saved. The Lord said that he had never known them:

 

- (Matt 25:11-12) Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Truly I say to you, I know you not.

 

- (Matt 7:22, 23) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

 

Baptism and salvation are different events. There are some good illustrations in the Bible that teach us that water baptism and salvation are different events, and that they may happen at different times. The clearest examples of this are the thief on the cross, Cornelius and the disciples in Ephesus:

 

The thief. The story about the thief on the cross teaches us that salvation is not bound to water baptism. He was saved and went to paradise, even though he was not baptized. He was saved simply through having faith in Jesus and turning to Him:

 

- (Luke 23:39-43) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If you be Christ, save yourself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do not you fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss.

42 And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

43 And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, To day shall you be with me in paradise.

 

The story about Cornelius and his companions shows us another example of how water baptism and salvation are not always simultaneous events. They were filled with the Holy Spirit before they were baptized with water, meaning that they were certainly already saved when baptized. In effect, water baptism sealed their rebirth:

 

- (Acts10:44-48) While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

 

The disciples in Ephesus provide us with our third example. These disciples believed in Jesus before they were baptized with water by Paul. ("Disciple" is a word the Bible commonly uses for people who were reborn; Acts 6:1; 11:26; 13:52) It seems that these people were born again through the word of evangelist Apollos, before Paul visited the city (see Acts 18:24-28):

 

- (Acts 19:1-5) 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 to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?  And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to 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.

 

1 Peter 3:20, 21. One point used to reinforce the opinion that baptism is a means to salvation are the following words written by Peter: 

 

- (1 Peter 3:20, 21) Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

21 The like figure whereunto even baptism does 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:

 

We should note that all of these people in these verses were already reborn. Noah “was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God" (Gen 6:9) already before the Flood. He built an ark through faith (Hebr 11:7) showing that faith was present in everything he did. Also all those who received Paul’s letter were believers. He wrote that they were shielded through faith to salvation:

 

- (1 Peter 1:4, 5) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

We must conclude that the foundation for salvation is always one’s faith in Christ. Everything else comes after that. If we do not have faith, then water baptism will have no meaning. It becomes a meaningless ritual, and can take its place alongside countless other meaningless rituals.  The meaning of faith is explained in the verses below. Many teach us about justification through faith and a few connect faith with water baptism (Gal 3:26,27, Col 2:12, Mark 16:16 – also see Acts 8:36,37):

 

- (Gal 3:26,27) For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 

- (Col 2:12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.

 

- (Mark 16:16) He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.

 

- (John 5:24) Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.

 

- (John 15:3) Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.

 

- (John 20:31) But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.

 

- (Acts 10:43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.

 

- (Acts 13:38,39) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

- (Rom 1:15-17) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

 

- (Rom 3:22,25,26,28) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe: for there is no difference:

25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

 

- (1 Cor 1:21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 

 

- (1 Cor 15:1,2) Moreover, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand;

2 By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain.

 

- (Hebr 4:2) For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

 

- (Eph 1:13) In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise

 

- (2 Tim 3:15) And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

 

The grace of baptism may be associated with water baptism. People have thought that we can always return to the grace of baptism, and that a faith that is built upon baptism will deliver us to Heaven. Some say that Christ and all His heavenly treasures are given to us through the grace of baptism

   It is good to note, however, that the term “grace of baptism" is not found in the Holy Bible, and use of that term presents some problems:

 

Do we concentrate on Christ or water baptism? The first problem of the grace of baptism is that we may start to concentrate more on our baptism than on Christ – "This is when I was baptized.” Galatians made that mistake: they tried to find comfort through their own actions and by doing various ceremonies. However, Paul tried to turn their emphasis toward Christ alone because there is no other foundation for our salvation:

 

- (Gal 3:1,2) O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2 This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

 

- (1 Cor 3:11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

     

Those who are not baptized. If receiving the grace of God were bound to water baptism, it would mean that anyone who did not have time to be baptized could not be saved, even if they did experience a living faith in Christ. For example, the thief on the cross as described by Luke received the promise from Jesus that he would enter paradise that day. If baptism were required to enter into Heaven, then this kind of a person would have been kept outside paradise (Luke 23:42,43). However, he did go there, which means that water baptism did not affect his eternal destiny.

   Therefore, we must understand that grace is not received through water baptism but through faith in Jesus Christ. It is associated with His person. Otherwise baptism would become our act that we must do to be saved. If we do not trust in Jesus, then receiving water baptism cannot help us. Grace was given already 2000 years ago through Jesus Christ, not just now through water baptism or anything else.

 

- (John 1:17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

 

- (1 Cor 1:4) I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

 

 

2. What about baptizing children?

 

Water baptism has often been given to small children. People have baptized children who cannot have a similar kind of a biblical faith than older people can. This has been justified by the following points:

 

"Forbid them not." Baptizing children may be encouraged because people do not want to hinder their access to Jesus. Support for this position is found in the next Gospel verses:

 

- (Mark 10:13-16) And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15 Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.

 

Looking at these verses, we should note that the point was not water baptism but blessing the children by Jesus putting His hands on them. Baptizing children and blessing them are two different matters then.

   If Jesus had really wanted to baptize these children, this would have been a good chance for Him to do so. However, He did not do it, even though the Bible teaches that He – or actually His disciples - baptized many other people:

 

- (John 4:1,2) When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

2 Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,

 

Matt 28:19,20. Another thing used to justify baptizing children is the command Jesus gave in Matthew 28. It might be understood from some Bible translations (like the Finnish translation from 1938) that people are made disciples by baptism and teaching. The command says as follows:

 

- (Matt 28:19,20) Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.

 

It is, however, good to note that these verses include three participles in the original language, which are in a way "equal" to each other. The original version is as follows:

 

"By going make disciples of all nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, by teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

 

We must, therefore, understand that these verses contain three verbs that are in order.  The two last verbs are not subordinate to the first verb, but follow after (First make them disciples, then baptize them, after which teach them.) This verse could have been translated as "Go... baptize... teach.” This order – first make disciples, then baptize, and then teach them to obey everything – also appears in other translations.

   However, if disciples really were made by using these two ways: 1) baptizing and 2) teaching them to obey everything, we would end up with quite a remarkable heresy, where a person would have to – in addition to being baptized – know all the commands of Jesus before he or she could be deemed a disciple and a saved person. Salvation would then actually be based on our actions and on how well we have learned the Bible by heart. This is clearly not what the Bible teaches. Quite the opposite is true: we can be immediately saved by simply receiving Jesus into our hearts:

 

- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

 

We must understand that Matt 28:19, 20 is a command given to the disciples. If preaching and faith could only come after baptism then who could the disciples have baptized? Would it not have been impossible to obey this command? In that society disciples were not allowed to baptize adults or children without consent. If they could not preach to adults, and people could not grow in faith without hearing them preach the Gospel, then how could the disciples have found anyone to baptize?

    We must, therefore, understand that in the society of those days – just like in the current mission – one could not start with water baptism. The Gospel must always be preached first. As a consequence of preaching, people believe; and after believing they can be baptized by water. Water baptism really is always a result of faith.

 

Baptizing entire households. A third claim used to justify baptism of children is based on household baptisms. When there is not any direct reference to baptizing children in the New Testament - or to the system of godparents or to the grace of water baptism found in the NT – some think that household baptisms are an indication that small children were baptized.

    However, even though the people who were baptized on the Pentecost also had children, only those were baptized who received salvation. We find no mention about baptizing others. If they had baptized other people, then it would have led, after some decades to the church being comprised of mostly non-believers.

 

- (Acts 2:41) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.

 

We can also see from the household baptisms how receiving of the Word of God always preceded water baptism. This is mentioned in connection with four household baptisms, and there are a total of five household baptisms in the New Testament. These appear in the New Testament as follows:

 

The household of Cornelius

 

(Acts 11:14) Who shall tell you words, whereby you and all your house shall be saved.

 

- (Acts 10:1,2,33,43-48) There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.

33 Immediately therefore I sent to you; and you have well done that you are come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded you of God.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.

44 While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

 

- (Acts15:7-9) And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said to them, Men and brothers, you know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

8 And God, which knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did to us;

9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

 

The household of Lydia

 

- (Acts 16:13–15, 40) And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke to the women which resorted thither.

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.

15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she sought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brothers, they comforted them, and departed.

 

The household of the keeper of the prison

 

- (Acts 16:27,31-34) And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.

32 And they spoke to him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

 

The household of Crispus

 

- (Acts 18:5,8) And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

 

The household of Stephan

 

- (1 Cor 1:16,) And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

 

- (1 Cor 16:15,16) I beseech you, brothers, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

16 That you submit yourselves to such, and to every one that helps with us, and labors.

 

A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE and choice. When the New Testament text describes water baptism and the baptism of households, it is always associated with repentance, faith, trusting God's promises, and asking for a clear conscience in front of God. These all are actions that small babies cannot yet take because they simply cannot experience a similar change of mind. They have not developed faith in biblical promises like older people. Children cannot properly understand these issues, and that is why they cannot be held responsible in the same way as other people.

   In the New Testament we can easily find clear reports of the Apostles’ preaching the word of God and encouraging people to repent and change the way they related to God. This led to the baptism of believers. This was the action taken by Apostles from the very beginning:

 

- (Luke 24:47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

 

- (Acts 2:37,38) Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

 

- (Acts 3:19) Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

 

- (Acts 4:4) However, many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

 

 - (Acts 8:12) But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

 

- (Acts 11:20,21) And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spoke to the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.

 

- (Acts 17:2-4) And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ.

4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

 

- (Acts 17:10-12) And the brothers immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

 

- (Acts 18:4,5) And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

 

- (Acts 20:21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

- (Acts 26:18-20) To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision:

20 But showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

 

- (1 Peter 3:20, 21) Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

21 The like figure whereunto even baptism does 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

 

What problems ARE CAUSED BY THE BAPTISM OF CHILDREN? If we believe in baptizing children, we will experience problems because this idea cannot be found in the word of God. We can come to regard all nonbelievers, and any who were baptized as children, to be included in the body of Christ; we conclude that the church body is the same as those in the world.  This shows that we do not understand that the early church was made up of believers and saints (Romans 1:7, 1 Cor 1:2, 2 Cor 1:1, Eph 1:1, Phil 1:1, Col 1:2, etc.), and that it increased only through addition of those who had newly received salvation (Acts 2:47), not by those born from the flesh (John 3:6).

   The word “church” was not even known at that time; people started to use it when the concepts of "the world" and "the congregation" got mixed up and apostasy entered the congregation. (The OT always uses the word “congregation”, never “the church”.) The current view, in which all unbelievers are members of the church, is clearly shown as the logical consequence of apostasy.

   However, the worst thing about the baptism of children is that it leads people to think that they are saved because they were baptized as children. It is very dangerous when people are lulled into a peace of mind because they were baptized as children.

   Charles G. Finney, who lived in the 19th century, provided a good example of this (Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 211). He wrote about people who thought that they were Christians because they had been baptized and went to the Holy Communion, even though they had not been born again. This made it difficult for them to receive salvation:

 

In many respects, there were many touching and interesting things in this revival. It moved among people who did not have any kind of understanding of spiritual revivals. The Germans thought that they were "Christians" because they had been baptized and went to the Communion. Almost all people who were asked whether they wanted to be born again, answered that they had Communion on that and that day, given by a priest called so and so. And when I asked whether they thought this was "religion", they said yes. And so did their priest. When I walked beside him at Doctor Green’s funeral, he told me that he “had made” about 160 Christians by water baptism and the Holy Communion in that congregation. This priest himself did not seem to know any other way to Christianity than the teaching of the catechism, water baptism, and the Holy Communion. This was the general idea the revival had to face.

 

The next example also well describes how people can be led into believing that they are children of God on the grounds of being baptized as children, even though they may later completely deny God and not live for Him. This example provided by the well known Finnish preacher Niilo Yli-Vainio (Kristitty vai käännynnäinen, p. 35) is not even unusual; it describes the condition of those people who were baptized as children. It shows us that receiving baptism as children is of no use later:

 

Both powerfully assured their listeners that they had been baptized as children and were the children of God.

   After the speeches, the priest came to the chamber, which was also full of people. I was there as well. I asked the priest, - Are all of these listeners disciples? He replied, - Yes, they are.

   Beside me stood a man from the village. I asked him, - Are you a believer? The man immediately answered, - I am not. I asked, - Well, have you been baptized as a child? The man answered, - Yes. I turned to the priest and said, - This man says that he was baptized as a child, but that he is not a believer. People around us listened to our conversation.

   There was an old man in the meeting, an important person in the village. Some villagers called him the Anti Christ, because he had told the villagers that there was no God. But from what the dean and vicar were saying, one could get the idea that he too was a disciple, because he had been baptized as a child. The only non-disciples in that meeting, then, were we who had preached revival to the village, and those who had just publicly confessed their belief in Jesus.

  

 

3. How is baptism done?

  

When we think about the actual ritual of water baptism, we can sometimes be confused about which is the right way to do it. Is it the full immersion baptism or sprinkling of water that is practiced in some churches?

   The Bible does not teach much about this, but some verses connected to this seem to refer to the full immersion baptism. The verb babtidzein, which appears in the next Bible verses and is considered to mean "putting inside water" in the original language, especially refers to it. (The same verb also appears in the Septuaginta, the Greek translation of the OT. 2 King 5:14 tells us about the Syrian war chief Naaman’s dive into the Jordan.) Similarly, stories about the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus support immersion. Consider the following verses:

 

- (Matt 3:13-16) Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me?

15 And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him

 

- (Mark 1:5) And there went out to him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

 

- (Mark 1:9, 10) And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending on him

 

- (John 3:22,23) After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

 

- (Acts 8:35-39) Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

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.

 

- (Rom 6:3-4) Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

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.

 

- (Col 2:12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.

 

 

4. When is water baptism done?

 

 We have already shown that water baptism cannot save us and take us to Heaven, and that we first need a change of mind in relation to God and need to receive Jesus Christ into our life (John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name). Only then will we be saved, if we personally turn to Him (John 5:40).

   The sequence of events leading up to our water baptism is also associated with this: we must first receive the word of God and believe in it, then water baptism follows. In the days of the early church, the order was that people first received the Gospel and then went on to be baptized. Consider this in light of the following verses from the Acts:

 

- (Acts 2:40,41) And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.

 

- (Acts 8:5, 6,12) Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them.

6 And the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

 

- (Acts 8:35-39) Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

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.

 

- (Acts 9:17,18) And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to you in the way as you came, has sent me, that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight immediately, and arose, and was baptized.

 

- (Acts 10:44,47,48) While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

 

- (Acts16:13-15) And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke to the women which resorted thither.

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.

15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she sought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

 

- (Acts 16:30-34) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.

32 And they spoke to him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

                                                           

- (Acts 18:5,8) And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

 

- (Acts 19:1-5) 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 to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?  And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to 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.

 

More on this topic:

Are you a foolish virgin? It is possible to be a member of the church and attend church, but still be a foolish virgin, or unsaved person. What are the characteristics of such religiosity?

Theoretical belief. Many have faith in God, having outward forms of Christianity, and some are even church workers, but they still do not know the matter of salvation

Religiousness or faith? What is the difference between religiosity and saving faith in Jesus and God? They are not the same thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life

 

 

  

 

Grap to eternal life!

 

More on this topic:

Are you a foolish virgin? It is possible to be a member of the church and attend church, but still be a foolish virgin, or unsaved person. What are the characteristics of such religiosity?

Theoretical belief. Many have faith in God, having outward forms of Christianity, and some are even church workers, but they still do not know the matter of salvation

Religiousness or faith? What is the difference between religiosity and saving faith in Jesus and God? They are not the same thing