An Answer to An Important Question: “What do you believe is the role of baptism?”

This is another question that was on the list of questions given to me today.

Baptism is a huge subject. There are many, many scriptures about baptism. The first time a baptism is recorded in the New Testament is when John the Baptist was baptizing in Matthew three, and then Jesus was baptized in Matthew 3:13-17. When Jesus came to be baptized, John the Baptist tried to stop him because John was preaching baptism toward repentance and forgiveness, but John the Baptist didn’t think Jesus needed to be baptized because Jesus hadn’t sinned at all. Jesus told him to let him be baptized. Why did Jesus say he was baptized? In verse 15 of chapter 3, Jesus said it was the right thing to do, and that he must do everything that is right. Jesus was leaving an example for the rest of us. Jesus talks about baptism in John 3:3-5, Jesus talks about repentance and baptism when he says that we must be born of the water and the spirit if we want to enter the kingdom of Heaven. That means that just baptism, the water, is not enough, but we also need to repent. Just getting wet doesn’t do the job, but both repentance and baptism go together. Jesus also said in Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15 & 16 to go into all the world and teach the gospel and baptize the believers in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit.

In Acts 2:38, the first day of the church on the Day of Pentecost, when all the Jews from all over the earth were gathered listening to him, Peter said to them: “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness’ of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That scriptures is pretty straight forward, and if you keep reading, that promise is for everyone, and those who do it, in the last verse of that chapter, it says they make up the church. The thing that seems to bother people is the part about the Holy Spirit, If you read in Galaians 5:22-23, you will see what we receive when we get the gift of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” Yes, in the New Testament times, there were some who got the miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit, but they were for that time, not for now. 1 Corinthians 12 records miraculous gifts they had, and that they were given to build up the church. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says these kinds of gifts will be done away with. If you keep reading in 1 Corinthians 13, it says when we grow up, we no longer need the miracles, and what is left is “faith, hope, and love.” Acts 8 explains that not everyone gets the miraculous gifts when they are baptized and how they got them. Philip had the gift of doing miracles, verses 6 & 7, but when the people were baptized in verse 12, he was unable to give them the same gift he had from the Holy Spirit. He had to send for the apostles in verses 14-17, and then Peter and John came and put their hands on the people, and then they received the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit. Well, if Phillip could do miracles, but not give the miraculous gift, but the apostles could give the miraculous gift, ten it seems only the apostles could give this gift. What happened when the apostles died? No one could give the miraculous gift any more.

There are many, many places in Acts that talk about baptism. It was an integral part of what the apostles and the disciples of Christ were teaching. In the end of chapter 8 of Acts, the Ethiopian was being taught my Phillip, and he saw water and asked to be baptized. In Acts 9:18, the apostle Paul was baptized. In Acts 10:47 & 48, Cornelius was baptized. And the list can just keep going. In Acts 19, Paul found some people who had been baptized by the baptism of John, but they had no idea what the Holy Spirit was, so Paul taught them and baptized them a second time so they could have the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Going on from Acts, 1 Peter 3:21 & 22 says, “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also——-not the removal of the dirt from the body, but a pledge of a good conscience toward God. ” Are we willing to bow ourselves and do what God wants us to do? He has asked for repentance and baptism, but if we refuse, it is not bowing ourselves to God.

Another scriptures that is very important when you talk about baptism in Romans 6:1-14 is very clear about baptism and repentance. When we repent, we die to sin; that is what repentance is. We decide not to sin any more. Just as Christ died on the cross, we are to also die to sin. After that, Jesus was buried in the tomb, and we are to also be buried in the waters of baptism. Jesus rose from the grave to have a new life, and in the same way, we come out of the grave to live a new life. We have left all the old ways behind us, and our sins have been washing away in baptism. We are a new person. Hebrews 9:11-28 explains that for a covenant, or agreement, between God and man to be real, it much be done with blood. We can reach the blood of Jesus when we are baptized. Romans 6 explains how we can reach the blood of Jesus., and then, that agreement between each of us and God is made real.

As Jesus said in John 3, if we want to go to Heaven, we need to repent and be baptized. At the end of Matthew and Luke, Jesus emphasizes that belief must come along with repentance and baptism. As Acts 2 said, if we want to receive forgiveness for our sins, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and become part of the church, we must be baptized. Jesus said in John 3 that it was with water that we are baptized. 1 Peter 3:21 &22 tells us it is with water, and it is a commitment to God. In Acts 19, it is clear that it is okay to be baptized a second time when we understand baptism better. Hebrews lets us know how important it is to come into contact with the blood of Christ. We are ratifying the agreement between God and us when we are baptized. Jesus even left us an example of him being baptized. He said in Matthew 3 that baptism was good and right, and he wanted to do everything that was right. And, by the way, since baptism comes with belief and baptism, why would anyone baptize a baby who can’t believe or repent? In Matthew 18:2-4, Jesus says that unless we humble ourselves and become like the children, we will not go to Heaven. Children are pure and humble, and they listen to what Jesus says. If we are to become like them to go to Heaven, it means children are going to Heaven. We don’t have to worry about baptizing babies. If anything bad happens to them, they will go to Heaven. There are more scriptures about baptism, but these basically answer the question.

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