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Biblical Teaching on Water Baptism

A detailed and anointed water baptism Christian Bible teaching on the spiritual significance of baptism can be found at Christ-Centered Mall.


Water Baptism

Old Man is Dead


Water Baptism Teaching


Questions and Answers

Below are five common questions regarding water baptism.

#1Doesn't being "born of water"
imply water baptism?

The verse in question here is John 3:5, which reads: "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'."

If you assume that being "born of water" means water baptism, you might conclude that water baptism is essential for salvation. However, it is dangerous to isolate a verse out of context. The context of John chapter 3 is Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus about birth. In verse 3, Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Notice that there are no other stipulations to seeing the Kingdom of God; you simply must be born again.

Well, Nicodemus didn't understand what Jesus meant by "born again," so he asked, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" Nicodemus puzzled over the concept of two births: a first (natural) birth and a second (spiritual) birth. Jesus replied, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." With this statement, Jesus clarified that a man had to be "born of water" (referring to conception in the water of the human womb), as well as "born of the Spirit" (birth by the Holy Spirit), in order to enter His Kingdom.

It's really quite simple: you have to be born once before you can be born twice. Those who insist that Jesus added a water baptism stipulation in John 3:5 are ultimately saying that Jesus didn't tell the whole truth in John 3:3. So, taken in context, John 3:5 has nothing to do with water baptism; it has everything to do with birth.

#2Is it biblical to baptize a baby?

No, there is no scriptural basis for infant baptism. How can you be baptized into One on Whom you do not believe? Baptism is an act of faith by one who chooses to identify his life with Christ, and a baby is not yet able to make such a choice.

There are some who believe that an unbaptized infant is in danger of dying without salvation, but Jesus said the Kingdom of God belongs to children as well as to anyone who will enter it as a little child. "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14). And again, "Verily I say unto you, 'Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein'" (Mark 10:15).

Additionally, water baptism should involve a person's total immersion in water (not sprinkling), because it is a testimony of the person's death, burial, and resurrection in Christ. Biblically, only youth and adults who were able to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus were baptized. They in turn would lead their families and young children into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

#3Is it okay to be baptized more
than once?

A new believer should be baptized once in obedience to the command of Jesus. Some people, however, may have been baptized earlier in their life (such as in the case of infant baptism) without understanding the significance of baptism, or perhaps they did not truly repent and receive Jesus as their Savior. In such cases it is very important to be re-baptized as a public profession of faith.

Also, a backslider (prodigal son) who has returned to Jesus may want to be baptized again, which is appropriate as long as he understands it is not necessary for his salvation and will not make him any more spiritual than someone who was baptized once. Remember that water baptism itself does not save anyone; rather, water baptism is a public, outward demonstration of a person's repentance and saving faith.

#4Should a person be baptized in
the name of Jesus only, or in
the name of the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit?

Actually, both ways are found in Scripture. On the day of Pentecost, baptism was done in the name of Jesus. The Jews who had gathered for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit heard Peter say, "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" (Acts 2:38). Thus, they were baptized into the name of Jesus, for there is "no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Traditionally, however, water baptism is done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19. But either way is correct, for there is still only "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). There is not a ritualistic formula for water baptism, nor does it matter whether a person is baptized in a river, lake, pool, or church baptistry. Baptism is all about faith, identifying with Christ, and walking in newness of life. Christians are to be known for their love arising out of a new life in Jesus, not for how or where they were baptized.

#5What about the LDS teaching
on baptism for the dead — is it
biblical?

Interestingly, the LDS doctrine of water baptism on behalf of the dead doesn't come from the Book of Mormon but from a flawed interpretation of Paul's statement in I Corinthians 15:29, which reads, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" At first glance it might seem that Paul was advocating such a practice, but it is always important to let Scripture interpret itself and not isolate a verse out of context.

I Corinthians 15 was written to prove the validity of resurrection. Verse 12 says, "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Paul continues in verses 13-49 by refuting false teachers who deny the resurrection. This is where Paul's mention of baptism for the dead comes in. He pointed out that those who deny the resurrection, yet engage in proxy baptism, contradict themselves because baptism implies hope of a future resurrection! Thus, far from endorsing baptizing the dead, Paul associates that rite with a group of false teachers.

We have already seen that baptism is of no value without inward repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Paul even stated that he was called not to baptize but to preach the Gospel (I Corinthians 1:16), further indicating that water baptism doesn't carry the same indispensable importance as faith in Christ. Aside from that, each person will give account of himself to God (Romans 14:12). The Bible says that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:23), and, "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever)" (Psalm 49:7-8). Practicing baptism for the dead places faith in a ritual to cover another person's sins instead of in Jesus Christ. Such a baptism contradicts Scripture and is therefore meaningless and void.

Conclusion

Water baptism is a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Although water baptism in itself does not save, it does identify us with Christ: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:13).

When God baptizes you into Christ, you become part of the Body of Christ, which is the worldwide family of God. Thus, water baptism is not a meaningless ritual or even a mere duty; it is an awesome privilege for the child of God.

This Christian Bible teaching was written by David Holt Boshart, Jr. and his wife Shari Boshart.
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Water Baptism Bible Study and Christian Teaching

A Christian Bible study and biblical teaching on water baptism, the word baptizo, and the meaning of being baptized in water is just one of many biblical studies and teachings which can be found at Christ-Centered Mall.