What Does Scriptural Baptism Require?

Let us consider a few remarks about “gospel obedience” culminating in water baptism as the final act of the “new birth”of the “water and Spirit,” as Jesus and Paul taught both in John 3:3-5 and Titus 3:3-5, and as the apostle Peter who would later write, “...baptism does also now save you...” taught in (1 Peter 3:21). Peter earlier told believing Jews on the birthday of Christ’s church to “...repent and be baptized...for the remission of your sins...” (Acts 2:38). He later told another audience to “repent and be converted...” (Acts 3:19). Obviously one isn’t converted and then baptized but as stated already, “baptism is the final act of the new birth” into Christ’s kingdom (John 3:5; Acts 2:40-41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:13-17; Rom. 6:3-4).

There is only one gospel plan of salvation and this follows the instructions given in the worldwide or “Great Commission” of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:45-49). That there are several prerequisites to “Scriptural baptism” may be seen by noticing all cases of conversion in the acts of the Apostles. One simply cannot be taught wrong and obey correctly. The case in Acts 19:1-7 along with Romans 6:16-18 shows this to be true. Those baptized with an improper understanding and into an unbiblical organization (relationship) have not been Scripturally baptized.

For example, there is much more to Scriptural baptism than just being baptized “for the remission of sins” or just “to obey Christ.” The Mormons who believe in a different God than you and I, do indeed baptize “for the remission of sins.” Who among us believes the Mormons to be our brethren in Christ? I certainly do not. The Baptist are baptized to obey Christ but they deny the essentiality of water baptism for the removal of alien sins. Therefore “Baptist baptism” is invalid, useless!

When Paul found folks who did not know the nature of the “one true God and of His Son, Jesus Christ” that was were his sermon began (Acts 17:16-31). Salvation is not only tied to the “new birth of the water and Spirit,” but to “knowing God” according to (1 John 5:19-20) which reads, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

The age old question “how much must one understand or know before one may be Scripturally baptized,” has been hashed and rehashed over and over without coming to a common understanding of this matter. I don’t pretend to be able to satisfy everyone’s longings to know the Biblical answer but I would call your attention to the facts as already presented, there is more to Scriptural baptism than just doing it “to obey Christ” or claiming to be doing it “for the remission of sins.” There are other prerequisites as already noted. Let me try and summarize them thus:

1). One must be properly taught about the one true God and His son (Acts 17:16-31; Matthew 16:13,15,17; Romans 1:1-4; Acts 2:22-37; John 6:44-45; 1 John 5:19-20).

2). One must truly be led to repentance which is promoted by “godly sorrow” (2 Corinthians 7:10; Acts 2:38a; Luke 13:3; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 17:30).

3). One must confess one’s faith in Jesus as “the Christ” before baptism for his baptism to be valid (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 8:37; 1 Timothy 6:13). When Philip went down to Samaria and preached unto them “Christ and the kingdom,” they were baptized both men and women (Acts 8:12-13). It appears that since we are “reconciled unto God in one body by the cross” and since we are to be “baptized into one body” (Ephesians 2:13-17;1 Corinthians 12:13), that one doesn’t accidentally enter into this one universal body of the redeemed without some understanding that scriptural baptism does indeed bring one into the kingdom, the church of our Lord (Hebrews 12:22-28; Colossians 1:13-14). The same blood of Christ is associated with the kingdom that is associated with the church (Colossians 1:14; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25). I doubt that one ends up in the body of Christ unknowingly. See again (Romans 6:16-18; Acts 19:1-7).

We have taught (and rightly so) for years that it takes the sum of God’s word to know the truth. This is likewise true with regard to “the plan of salvation from alien sins,” we must look at the “Great Commission” as given by Christ then look at each case of conversion and notice that the teachers took into account where the person was whom they attempted to teach and convert and that was where they began. This answers why Peter didn’t have to teach his massive audience on Pentecost about the nature of the “one true God.” They knew Him already. He did have to convince them that Jesus Christ whom they had crucified was His Son and he applied the prophesies with which they were familiar, to this man Jesus whom they had taken and by wicked hands had crucified and slain whom God had raised and exalted to His own right hand on David’s throne (Acts 2:22-47).

Relatively little is said about who does the actual baptizing. What is emphasized is what the person requesting baptism understands. Here is where I believe we often miss it! We say something like “those folks on Pentecost only heard one sermon” and that’s right. However, as already noted they were familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures and all Peter needed to convince them of was that Jesus was indeed the Messiah for whom they had been longing for many generations. When this was accomplished some three thousand yielded to King Jesus as they repented and were immersed for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38,40-41).

4). Scriptural baptism is “into the name of Christ.” Everyone who is baptized, is baptized into some name. One doesn’t have the right to the “name of Christ” until and unless one has been Scripturally baptized I contend, based upon Paul’s writing in (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-6), that “in the name of” also means “by that one’s authority,” but in reading the context where Paul condemned the wearing of names other than that of the one by whose authority they had been baptized, Paul asked the Corinthians, “...were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (v-13b) for some were wearing Paul’s name. He was thankful that he had not personally baptized many of them “less anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name” (v-15).

To prove my point above, let us set up a scenario. Let’s say a group of churches decided to engage in a mass meeting and each preacher who preaches, preaches the gospel making believers. Let’s suppose that several people come forward at the invitation what would these folks be called at this point? According to Protestants they would all be saved by “faith alone,” and so if they were correct, each of those who “came forward” according to their own doctrinal position would be “Christians.” If the preachers present happen to be A. Methodist. B. Presbyterian. C. Lutheran. Guess what? None of these folks would be members of denomination A. B. or C, nor would they wear their name. Now they divide the “spoils” of their joint meeting. Mr. A. goes through a ritual called baptism by his denomination and guess what? Now his “convert” becomes a Methodist. Mr. B. goes through his ritual and his “convert” becomes a Presbyterian. The same with Mr. C. his “convert” becomes a Lutheran. See, folks are “baptized into some name.” The only name into which one may be scripturally baptized is into the name of Christ. When this is done, one takes the name of Christ or “Christian” just as God has said would happen (Isaiah 56:5; 62:2; Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16; Acts 26:28; 1 Cor. 1:10-12; Acts 4:10-12). Then folks are indeed united in the one body just as the Bible teaches folks must be to please the Lord (1 Cor. 12:12-20; Ephesians 2:13-17; 4:1-6; 5:22-33).

Scriptural baptism stands between the alien sinner and the following blessings:

If you have yet to be “Scripturally baptized,” we urge you to get in touch with us and let us assist you in becoming a Christian, a member of the church that Jesus bled and died to bring into being. The church is a relationship not an organization. It is better viewed as an “organism” a living active organism, the “house of God” being made up of all of His children who have been “born again of the water and of the Spirit” just as Jesus told Nicodemus one must be to see or to enter into the kingdom (John 3:3-5).

Friends, life is too short and eternity is too long (endlessness) for any of us to take chances with our immortal souls. If you find that you have obeyed the gospel in times past, but you are not presently “walking in the light” and have lost fellowship with Christ, repent and return. (1 John 1:6-7, 9; Acts 8:22; Gal. 6:1-4).

By Kenneth E. Thomas

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