The Lighted Way
All About Baptism

For many, a marriage ceremony seems unncessary. So long as you pledge your undying love to someone there is no need to actually go through some format to seal it. This same philosophy is sometimes applied to baptism as well. What is the point of being baptised? Isn't it enough to just pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart? Having done this, aren't you already saved? Why then, should you be baptised? This study will answer this and other questions about the subject of baptism. I think you will find that baptism is very important to God. Let's see why:

1. Is baptism really necessary?

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16

"We are buried with Him (Jesus) by baptism..." Romans 6:4

Baptism is our part in the death of Christ. Remember, He was dying for you. But, in order to fully accept His death on your behalf and then become the new creature Christ intends for you to be, you must also taste that spiritual death. You die during baptism, symbolically of course. This act, symbolic though it be to us on earth, has great meaning in heaven. We are told that we must believe and BE BAPTIZED to be saved! You can't get any more spiritually vital than that!

2. But, what about the thief on the cross? He wasn't baptized!

"For He (God) knoweth our frame (our weaknesses); He remembereth that we are dust (merely created beings)." Psalm 103:14

God is merciful to us. He only expects us to do what we are able to do. The thief on the cross was dying. There would never be an opportunity for him to be baptised. Our God is a just God. Certainly it is not just or fair to expect someone to something that cannot happen. In these cases, God makes up the difference! For this, we must praise Him for His goodness. But there is a big difference between being thankful for God's mercy in times when we are truly unable to comply with His will, and simply taking His mercy for granted. It would be very presumptuous of us to believe that we could avoid this important step, which Scripture clearly says we need to take, simply because a poor guy tied to a cross couldn't get down and do it! The logic doesn't follow... as I am sure you can see.

We must do all that we are able to do. God holds us accountable to the same level as our ability to obey. In this text, God promises us that He understands we are "dust". This means He recognizes our limitations. If the theif could have come down off the cross, he certainly would have obeyed God's instructions and become baptized.

3. There are many kinds of baptisms... Does it matter which one you do?

"One Lord, one faith, one baptism..." Ephesians 4:5

Satan loves to muddy up the water. One of his most successful deceptions is throwing a bunch of things into the mix in order to confuse and cause many to be misled. There is only one true form of baptism - as it says in Ephesians 4. All the other so-called baptisms are Satan's counterfeits. They are not according to Scripture.

Think about the story of Cain and Abel. The two children of Adam and Eve were very opposite in likes and dispositions. They were twins, yet never have two siblings been more far apart. Abel was obedient to God's will. He offered the lamb upon the alter of sacrifice as atonement for his sins. Cain, on the other hand, believed that his best fruit and vegetables (after all he was a farmer) would be more personally meaningful. Both are offering to God. Both are giving their very best (Abel gave his best lamb and cain gave his best produce). But God had been specific! God had said that only blood could atone for sin. Ultimately, that lamb's blood pointed to the promise of the real Lamb -Jesus Christ. God rejected Cain's sacrifice, but sent fire to consume Abel's. In this way, God honored Abel's obedience to His specified instructions.

We are told that the method of baptism doesn't matter. It is the spirit that counts. Isn't that the same rationale that Cain used when he offered God produce instead of blood? Cain's spirit was right... He didn't offer God rotten veggies! He gave God his best stuff! Cain had the idea that God did deserve the best. But Cain was wrong about one key thing. When God gives specific instructions, He expects to follow them specifically!

"Obey, I beseech (beg) thee, the voice of the Lord." Jeremiah 38:20

There are fourteen methods of baptism. Yet, of them, only one is Biblical. Only one of them actually follows Biblical instructions, as given by God. Lets look at the baptism buffet, and then we will study to identify the one that is of God.

A. Baptism by Trine Immersion (3x)
B. Baptism by Rose Petals
C. Baptism by Oil
D. Baptism by Water
E. Baptism by Affusion (water poured on you)
F. Baptism without Water at all
G. Baptism by Wine (having wine poured on you)
H. Baptism by Sprinkling (having water sprinkled on you)
I. Baptism by Telephone (you don't even have to go to church for this one)
J. Baptism by Mail (yet another at home approach)
K. Baptism by the Holy Spirit Only (no water- just the Spirit)
L. Baptism by Immersion (being bodily put under the water)
M. Baptism by Salt (having salt sprinkled or poured on you)
N. No Baptism is Required (some religions say you don't need baptism at all)

4. The Bible says that Jesus is our Example (John 13:15 & 1 Peter 2:21). This means we must do as He did. So what method of baptism did Jesus use?

"Jesus... was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened." Mark 1:9-10

Jesus was not on the bank of the Jordan river, as many believe. This text tells us that Jesus was baptized IN THE JORDAN RIVER. As Jesus was baptized by John, we must also note that John always found a place to baptize where "there was much water" (John 3:23) so that it would be deep enough. Why? Jesus was baptized by immersion! This means that His body was put completely under the water and then brought up.

Even the word "baptism" points to immersion. "Baptism" comes from the Greek word "baptizo". This literally means "to dip under, submerge, immerse". There are eight different Greek words in the New Testament used to describe how liquids are applied. But among these various words, some clearly meaning "sprinkle", or "pour on", or "submerge/immerse", only the one meaning "submerge and immerse" is ever used for baptism. Once again, all it takes is little Bible study and God's meaning and truth becomes clear. Satan cannot muddy the waters for a Bible student. God is clear. We must always study to find His truth on any subject.

5. Didn't the disciples change the method of baptism?

"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." Acts 8:38-39

Philip as a leader in the early church. But he used immersion, following the Example of Jesus, and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in the same way John baptized Jesus.

Paul, in fact warned against anyone ever teaching something contrary to what Jesus taught. He said that anyone who changed Jesus' teaching was "accursed" (Galations 1:8). The disciples did not change baptism. They wouldn't dare! God had shown man how it was to be done. And they obeyed God's specific instructions.

6. Since Jesus and the Early Christian Church taught baptism by immersion, who introduced all the other forms of baptism in the world today?

"In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:9

"Why do ye also transgress (disobey) the commandment of God by your tradition (by the way you've always been taught)? Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition (you've decided that the way you always did things is good enough to disregard God's instructions)." Matthew 15:3,6

Misguided men introduced other forms of baptism. This was in direct conflict with God's Word. Is tradition good enough? Is it acceptable to continue doing something your way, or must you change your way to be in harmony with God's way? We must change! God made the rules. As our Creator, our Judge, and our Savior that is His right! We must get back to the Bible way of doing things! Scripture puts it really well:

"...Earnestly contend (fight for) the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 3

7. How do you get ready for baptism?

A. You must be taught/learn God's requirements
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations (first you learn), baptizing them... Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20

B. You must believe the truth of God's Word and make it your Ultimate Source of Truth
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mark 16:16

C. You must be truly sorry for and turn away from your sins... Be converted.
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Acts 2:38
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." Acts 3:19

8. What does baptism symbolize?

As was mentioned at the beginning of this study, baptism is symbol of death. In baptism, the eyes are closed, the hands are folded, the breathing is suspended - as in death. You are buried in the water. Two wonderful things happen under the water. One, your sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). Two, you die to sin... the old lifestyle you lived, the temptations you fell prey to, the unkindness, selfishness, ungodliness of your former life is left beneath the water! And you come up from the water as a new creature. Like a worm turning into a butterfly, you are completely changed. You are made beautiful in Jesus!

"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, ever so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man (our old life) is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth (from this moment on) we should not serve sin (we no longer are slaves to sin)." Romans 6:4-6

Here we can once again see that all other forms of baptism are insufficent. Only with immersion is the symbol of death completely played out.

9. So, once I am baptized I may never sin again!? What if I fall?

"If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." 2 Corinthians 8:12

Waiting until you are sure you'll never fail before being baptized is like telling a baby not to try walking until he's sure he'll never slip! Jesus called becoming a Christian being "born again". You are a new baby in Jesus when you are baptized. Your sinful and dirty past is forgiven and forgotten by God after baptism. But God knows that you start out as a baby. He doesn't expect more of you than you have to give with His strength. He expects you will be learning and growing daily. But, as you learn, He expects you to follow Him. You will slip and fall, just as all babies do. You will need God's forgiveness and cleansing each time. And, just as a parent lifts their fallen toddler and dusts off her pants, God will lift and clean you once again. But as you grow closer to God you will fall less and less. This is developing spiritual maturity.

10. How can I prepare for baptism?

You can be baptized the moment you are truly converted. This has happened when you no longer look lovingly on your life of sin. You aren't saying, "Wow, if I get baptized, I'll have to give up _____________, and quit _____________, and there'll be no more of ____________________, in my life!" This focus on what will be lost, demonstrates that your heart isn't really God's yet. When you are converted, you want Jesus more than anything. All this world looks dark and dim in comparison with the glorious life you will live following Jesus.

Conversion can happen very quickly. For the Ethiopian, he was converted and baptized in one day! (Acts 8:26-39). Saul, who became Paul was baptized three days after his conversion (Acts 9:1-18). Whether or not you are ready is between you and God. If you are not ready, ask God to keep working on you! You truly need to come to the place where you surrender fully to Him. Only then can you be saved!

11. What happens to me when I am converted and baptized?

A. God forgives and forgets your past.
B. God miraculously transforms you into a new spiritual being.
C. God adobts you as His own son or daughter

Baptism is wondrous gift of God. You CAN be reborn. You CAN be a partaker of God's Divine nature. You can be a child of God, on whom God looks and says, "This is My beloved son/daughter, in whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17. That is what He said about Jesus at His baptism. And, when you are baptised, you start your walk in following in Jesus footsteps. You have become an heir of heaven, a child of God!

12. A baby needs a family!

Remember, baptism is the process of being reborn, spiritually. You will need a great support system to help you grow and mature. You are a precious baby in Jesus! God has a special family designed to help you develop. Its called His church. God designed that we wouldn't be baptized and then left on our own. New babies don't yet know how to feed themselves. The process of getting nourishment from the Word of God is one that you learn through time. In the meantime, you need others to give you strength, to pray for you, and to love you!

"Ye are called into one body." (Colossians 3:15), "He (Christ) is the head of the body, the church." (Colossians 1:18).

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

"The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47)

13. What does baptism NOT do?

A. Baptism does NOT magically change the heart of mankind. It is symbol of that change having taken place. Remember, you must be CONVERTED first, and THEN baptized. This conversion process is called "being born of the Spirit". This happens first, and then being born of water.

B. Baptism does NOT necessarily make you feel better. Salvation is not about feelings. Its about faith and obedience. You have followed Jesus' instructions - you believe (no matter how you feel) that He has forgiven, cleansed, and made you new.

C. Baptism does NOT remove temptations. But you are given the strength to stand against them!
"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5
No temptation will come without a "way of escape". (1 Corinthians 10:13)

D. Baptism does NOT guarantee salvation. Without true conversion and a committment to follow Jesus, the mere act of baptism is not enough. Baptism is a vital and meaningful part of salvation, but it cannot make up for a lack of the "baptism of the Spirit". You need both!

If you have completed this study, then you are interested in following God. You want to learn about what pleases Him. You want to be saved! Praise God! That is an important first step. The next step is conversion. Do you really want Jesus in your life, more than anything this world can offer you? Do you know that He alone can satisfy? Just to have His meaning in your life, is it worth anything that you might sacrifice? Oh do you want Jesus, more than anything?

Pray with me, if you do: "Lord, take the things that I might want. And all the things that seem so dear, I'd rather have You, Lord than any praise that men may give to me. I want You to have control. Please be the breath of life in me! I'd rather have You, Lord. Yes, I'd rather have You than anything! Amen."

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