Understanding Baptism

Understanding Baptism


  • First of all we must know that there are two ordinances (Laws) that Christ established in the local church. 1) Baptism 2) Lord’s Supper
  • We teach and preach every year about “The Lord’s Supper (Also called Communion)” but often we fail to preach or teach about “Baptism” and many people have the wrong idea of Baptism.
  • Many churches have failed in their teachings of Baptism because the pastors are ignorant (unlearned) in the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
  • The Bible says in Jesus words specifically in Matthew 28:19…Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
  • In Acts 2:38, The Holy Spirit said…Repent and be ye baptized.
  • And on the day of Pentecost there were 3000 people baptized into the church to set the example for the church.


I. Five Reasons Why Professing People Do Not Get Baptized

  A) The Person Is Ignorant

  • Now don’t get sleeves rolled up over nothing here.
  • What I mean is, they are unlearned, not trained, not taught.
  • I have always heard and repeated… A person is only as good as their teacher.
  • If you have good teachers, then you will have good students. If you have a bad teacher, you will have bad students.
  • This is why Christ told the disciples to “Go ye into all the world and teach the gospel.” Because there were many people going to hell in the local churches of that time because they were following the church leaders advice who had really become complacent and unlearned.
  • Also Paul had said several times…
  1. Romans 1:13…Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, Paul didn’t want them to be “ignorant” or in other words… unlearned, not knowing what God wants you to know.
  2. Romans 10:3…For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness,
  3. Romans 11:25…For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. Now, this is good… Paul here is telling the church in Rome that he is telling them that God is saving the remnant of Israel, and for them not to be “high minded(Prideful, better than the Gentiles), and etc. But you notice that Paul said that Israel had become “blind.” This means unlearned, not seeing the truth.
  • 17 times Paul uses the word ignorant in the New Testament and all 17 times he is not calling people “stupid,” but rather telling them they are uneducated, not taught properly.

    B) People are Proud

  • This is a matter of “spiritual” pride.
  • Some people may put it off being baptized for quite some time for whatever reason, and now it becomes an embarrassment to them that they have yet to be baptized.
  • In Acts 8:36… Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch… “what doth hinder me to be baptized? In other words… “What’s stopping you from becoming baptized?”

  C) People are Indifferent

  • They don’t want to be bothered. Now sometimes this is the case if a person has to go down to the river, or another church to be baptized.
  • They don’t think it is important to do it right away.
  • They don’t see it as a priority.
  • Women may say… “I just got my hair done on Saturday.”

D) They are Rebellious

  • When a person accepts the Lord as their personal Saviour, it is a command of God to be baptized telling the church and the world that I have totally emersed myself in Jesus Christ and His doctrines.
  • The fact is, that they don’t want people to think that they are fully into being a Christian.
  • Generally, this is because they are still wanting to hold on to certain sins in their life and not wanting to take the Christ-like plunge into the God pool.

  E) They are Unregenerate

  • The word “unregenerate” means that they are not really a Christian at all. They never really accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord of their life.
  • This means there is no moving of the Spirit of God in them to create a desire to do the right thing by being baptized making a public profession of faith.


II. What Is Baptism?

  A) From the physical viewpoint

  • From a physical viewpoint: It is a ceremony by which a person is immersed, dunked, or submerged into water.
  • When a person is physically submersed under water, that is the physical act of baptism.

  B) From a ceremonial viewpoint

  • The two verbs used in the New Testament are baptō and baptizō.
  • Baptō is only used four times. It always means to dip, to dip into, in all those cases, it means to submerged or immerse.
  • The stronger word than baptō, an intensive form of baptō is baptizō, from which we get baptize. Baptizō is used many times in contrast to the four times that baptō is used. It always means to dip completely and is the word to drown.
  • The noun that is used is baptismos, always, in the book of Acts, refers to a Christian being immersed into water.
  • So linguistically, the terminology always refers to immersion or submerging in water.
  • In fact, baptism became a technical term for immersion so that it was transliterated rather than translated
  • To translate means to give the meaning.
  • To transliterate means to take the pronunciation of a word from one language to another without giving its meaning.
  • In other words, baptizō became baptize. That doesn’t give it the meaning (immerse), and you could take every use of baptō, baptizō, baptismos, and translate it immerse or immersion because that’s its meaning.
  • But because it has become a technical term for the ceremony of immersion, they transliterated it out of the original and left it baptize.
  • Even in English, that word has come to mean immerse or plunge into water.
  • It has been a known fact throughout the history of the Old and New Testament churches that baptism is explained to mean that a person is to be dipped into water, not water sprinkled onto a person, or dabbed on their forehead.
  • BIBLICAL PROOF – Look at Matthew 3:5, 6…These verses are of course talking about John the Baptist
  • Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, They went to where John the Baptist was always baptizing people. The river Jordan. He was way out in the wilderness.
  • 6) And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Now, they would not walk all the way over to the Jordan river just to get sprinkled with a few drops of water, or dab it on their forehead.
  • You would go to a big body of water to immerse yourself.
  • You can further see this account of John the Baptist in Mark 1:5.
  • But in John 3:23, you will see an account that says this.. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.  
  • Why did he need much water? Because he had multitudes of people who needed to be submerged into water. Much water was necessary for baptism.
  • Then we go back to the book of Acts chapter 8 again, verse 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.
  • “And when they were come up out of the water,” there again, absolutely crystal clear that this is a submerging ceremony in which a person goes down into the water, is then dipped into the water, dunked into the water, immersed into the water, and lifted back out.
  • Note This one very important fact… immersion is the only kind of baptism that paints a picture of it’s purpose.

  C) It is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection

  • This is the picture of two things.
  1. Your death (killing your desires for sin), Your burial (burying your bad habits), and Your resurrection (Your promise to God to walk in a new life, anew way, a new heart, with new desires).
  2. Christ’s death (His death on the cross), Christ’s burial (Burial in the earthly tomb), His resurrection (His resurrection from the dead on the 3rd day).
  • Through baptism, the believer is united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
  • Only immersion symbolizes death, burial, into the water, and resurrection of new life coming out.

  D) There are three kinds of Baptism

  • The three types of baptism that the bible talks about are…
  1. WATER baptism – What we are discussing today
  2. Baptism with the HOLY SPIRITI Corinthians 12 tells us about it, and that is another sermon at another time.
  3. Baptism of FIRE – This is the judgment of God on unbelievers mentioned in Revelation 20:15.
  • You should remember a recent message that brought out the fact of John the Baptist who prophesied in Matthew 3:11… I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
  • Some one might ask … Why is a “picture” of baptism so important?”
  • ANSWER: Baptism is a “teaching aid” of God.
  • Anyone who is mindful, taught, and educated in the Word of God (Bible) must know that God, His Son, the Holy Spirit and His disciples, has taught and still teaches us through pictures, analogies, parables, and illustrations.
  • WHY is it important to teach in this manner? Because God made us and knows that those types of teaching aids stick in the mind better than verbiage.
  • In fact, you go back to the Old Testament – You will note that God gave them many pictures, many ceremonies, many object lessons.
  • All the major events, for example, the history of Israel was commemorated by some kind of object lesson, some kind of memorial.
  • And all of the major spiritual truths were basically illustrated by some kind of symbol, some kind of analogy, some kind of picture, and these basically were for teaching aids.
  • EXAMPLE: On the 8th day of a male child’s birth, he must be circumcised. Then the other children may ask their father after the ceremonial circumcision… “Father, why did you do that to little Noah?” The ceremony then becomes a tool for teaching the next generation as to “Why” they do it.
  • How many of you know why they circumcise little boys according to the Old Testament? It is to pass on spiritual truth to the next generation. And the truth is this:
  • There is sin within man upon birth. It is in our nature, and all we can do is procreate sinners with the organ of the male.
  • So man, at the very point of his procreative organ must recognize that he produces wickedness and is in desperate need of a spiritual cutting away, or a cleansing.
  • This circumcision is a demonstration of how the heart and the soul of man need desperately the cleansing from sin.
  • God has always demonstrated to us that “BLOOD” is the cleansing agent for sin.
  • It was demonstrated through the sacrificial animals, through circumcision, and through His son the final sacrifice for mankind.
  • Can you imagine a child standing in the temple seeing thousands of sheep being slaughtered in the sacrifices of the Passover? It was a teaching tool for the parents to explain their gratefulness for the Passover of the death angel on the night of their freedom from bondage. Again “blood” was required for this freedom.
  • Folks, today all those ceremonies are gone.
  • Christ gave us two new ceremonies in the church. Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
  • The Lord’s Supper is a picture of the physical death and sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Baptism is a physical picture of our personal death and burial to sin, and a resurrection to a new life in Christ Jesus.
  • It is a tool used to signify our New Life with Christ.
  • That is BAPTISM.


III. The History of Baptism

  A) Where does it come from?

  • We go back before the New Testament, and God had His people, Israel, and they were the people who received the law, the promises, the prophets, the covenants. They were God’s people. They worshiped the true God, they had the true revelation of the true God. But there were a lot of other nations around them called Gentile nations, and frequently the Gentiles would want to identify with Israel. They would want to worship the true God in the true way. They would want to become Jews, as it were, not racially, that’s impossible, but religiously, spiritually. So they would desire to enter into Judaism.
  • In order for a Gentile to do that(A Gentile was called a proselyte) The Jews developed a system of “proselyte induction” into Judaism.
  • This induction had three parts… Milah, Tebula, and Corbin.
  1. This is where baptism first appears in the traditions of Judaism related to Gentile proselytes. MILAH– this was the first part, this was circumcision – No matter how old the men were, they were circumcised. Why? This unique sign of the people of God was to demonstrate that they were sinful at the very level of their life organ. In other words, sin begets sin, as in Adam, all died and the whole race was polluted, and so they were circumcised as a confession that they had an innate depravity that needed purging and cleansing and was thus symbolized by that purging, cleansing act of circumcision.
  2. The second stage was TEBULA – this was immersion into water. Having been circumcised, the Gentile proselyte was then immersed in water. Why? Because they said it identifies a Gentile as dying to the Gentile world. The old life is dead, the old life apart from God, apart from the promises of God, apart from the knowledge of God, apart from the truth of God, that is dead and he comes forth a new person with a new life and a new family and a new relationship to the true God.
  3. The third step was CORBIN, and this was an animal sacrifice. When the animal was sacrificed on the altar, the blood was sprinkled on the Gentile (the proselyte), symbolizing that he needed cleansing for his daily sins. Not only did he need cleansing for his wicked nature but for his daily sins.
  • I believe that it is needful to help you understand that in the Old Testament people were baptized with the sacrificial blood of animals.
  • John the Baptist was the last Old Testament prophets that changed baptizing with blood into baptizing with water.
  • John the Baptist’s role was to prepare the way for Christ (Forerunner). How is he going to do that? Well, he knows that the coming Christ will be holy. He knows that the coming Christ will demand righteousness. So he preaches repentance and holiness and righteousness, and he calls everyone to repent for the kingdom is near, repent for the King is coming, turn from your sin, and then he baptizes them as an illustration, as a visible symbol of that inward turning.
  • So here comes John the Baptist, asking Jews to be immersed in water.
  • This is a humbling thing because in the mind of a Jew, he’s a child of the covenant. In the mind of the Jew, he doesn’t need to be brought through some kind of proselytizing ceremony to be inducted into the people of God.
  • The people were flooding out to John, according to Matthew 3, and they were being baptized in large numbers willingly.
  • WHY? Because they were admitting that Jews had been disobedient, ungodly, sinful, and apostate in terms of a right relationship to God and they, too, needed to be washed, they need to have something die, and they need to be brought into a new relationship with God.
  • Acts 19:4…Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  
  • Jesus comes to be baptized; Look at Matthew 3:13… Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
  • John is baptizing all these repentant Jews who felt redeemed by the action taken, and up walks Jesus. John knew who He was because on a previous occasion John said… “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.”
  • John knows that Jesus is NOT A SINNER. Jesus doesn’t need to repent. So WHY does Jesus want to be baptized?
  • That is why John said back up in Matthew 3: 14…But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? In other words, John said… “You should be baptizing me.”
  • But Jesus – in verse 15 of Matthew 3…And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
  • The word “suffer/suffered” is an Old English word for “allow” or “permit.”
  • Then when Jesus says … “for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” This means “…for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
  • How did Jesus fulfill the righteousness of God?
  • Answer; By doing that which is right in God’s eyes.
  • God expected everyone to be baptized. We must remember that God is no “respecter of persons.” Even His own Son!

  B) Another Meaning to Baptism

  • Romans 6:3.. Know ye 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. 5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his 6)Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
  • We are dying with Him. We are buried with Him, and we rise with Him.
  • It is water baptism that symbolizes that spiritual reality, and when Peter says in I Peter 3:21 these words, he makes that distinction. He says, “Baptism now saves you.” What baptism? “Not the removal of dirt from the flesh,” not the water baptism.
  • It is the spiritual union that saves you. “That is the washing of regeneration,” Titus 3:5. “That is the washing away of your sins,” Acts 22:16.


IV. How Is Immersion Related to Salvation?

  A) Baptism is the immediate proof of salvation

  • When a believer becomes baptized immediately after salvation, they are taking the first step of obedience to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Salvation basically produces obedience.
  • If you claim to be saved, then you will have no problem being obedient.
  • A good example of that was on the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 believed, 3,000 were baptized, 3,000 continued in the apostles’ doctrine, prayer, fellowship, and the breaking of bread.
  • Everybody was baptized immediately. That’s God’s standard. That’s God’s command. The apostles insisted on it.
  • You’re talking on the day of Pentecost, about 3,000 people in the city of Jerusalem – where a few weeks before Jesus Christ had been crucified as a charlatan and a fraud and one who posed a threat both to Jewish religion and Roman authority. He was mocked and spit on and crucified as a false religious leader, and basically it was a matter of putting your life on the line to identify with Christ.
  • So any Jew that was baptized on the day of Pentecost in the name of Jesus Christ was taking a bold step, alienation from the culture, alienation from the synagogue, alienation from family, alienation from everything.
  • Why was it different than today?
  • THEN – 3000 people saved, 3000 were baptized and 3000 continued in their worship and service to God through the local church.
  • TODAY – 3000 get saved, maybe 1000 get baptized and 600 continue.
  • There was no way they were going to be alienated from their entire culture and perhaps lose their life. Baptism was therefore, the inseparable token of salvation.
  • So very often in the New Testament as you read, it uses the word baptism instead of saved because the way you knew someone was saved was because they baptized.
  • If a convert was not willing to be baptized, there was little confidence in his repentance. If he was willing to be baptized, he paid a high price, revealed his true heart of repentance.
  • So when Jesus says in Matthew 28:19…Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: He means bringing them to salvation, which is demonstrated in a willingness to be baptized and to pay the price of identification with Jesus Christ publicly.
  • That’s exactly what it means in Romans 10:9…That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
  • The believing is what saves, the confessing is what affirms the reality of that believing.
  • Acts 2:38…Then Peter said unto them, 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.
  • If you take this verse literally it would mean that baptism (or dipping your body in water) will cause your sins to go into remission, and that it is the water that gives you the filling of the Holy Spirit. WRONG.
  • This baptism is “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Peter did not say to get baptized in the river Jordan, or in the water, he said to get baptized in the NAME of Jesus Christ.
  • This means to take on the very habits, demeanor, thoughts and actions of Jesus. We are to emulate Christ. The name of Jesus should flow in every vein of our being. This is being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

  B) Does Baptism get you to heaven?

  • The thief on the cross didn’t.
  • If you are reluctant to be baptized there is question about your willingness to be obedient.
  • Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments,”
  • Jesus also said, “How can you say, Lord, Lord, to Me and not do the things I say,”
  • A person who refuses to get baptized would be one who wouldn’t confess Jesus publicly, therefore one whom Jesus wouldn’t confess to His Father.
  • Salvation is very clear… In Ephesians 2:8 …For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  “grace through faith”
  • Baptism is simply the demonstrator of real faith and real transformation which issues in obedience and the first act of obedience was baptism.
  • Baptism does not make you holy.
  • Baptism does not save you.
  • Baptism does not secure you.
  • Baptism does not provide some ongoing power.
  • All baptism does is demonstrate your obedience and give you the joy of obedience and the blessing of obedience.
  • Do you know how many people go through baptism and never darken the doorway of the church, not do they read their bible, or pray? Millions. They are not saved, nor did baptism save them, change them or empower them.

  C) Who is right about Baptism?

  • The Quakers (Friends Church, the Salvation Army, Hyper-dispensationalists) – all deny that baptism has any place in the believer’s life. They reject it altogether.
  • Church of Christ – believe that Baptism is part of your salvation and Baptism saves you. (You can’t be saved without water.) Does it need to be distilled, or pure underground stream water, or ocean water because salt is a purifier?
  • Mormons (I call them Morons) and they baptize each other for the dead – proxy baptism. It’s not uncommon in one year alone for them to have three million proxy baptisms for three million dead people.
  • Roman Catholic Church – introduced something that has really threatened the sanity of the church with regard to this ordinance. It’s called “infant baptism.” The Roman Catholic Church began infant baptism as a ritual of regeneration. You must understand that Roman Catholic theology teaches that water cleanses a baby from original sin and results in regeneration. Until the Middle Ages they immersed all the babies and then they started sprinkling them after that.
  • And Roman Catholic theology teaches that if a baby dies without being christened or without being baptized, sprinkled goes to the “Limbo of the Innocents” where they will live forever enjoying a natural bliss without any vision of God. And so they want to baptize every Catholic baby so that if it dies, it can go to a bliss that has the vision of God and not get stuck in the second-class category known as the Limbo of the Innocents. They believe literally that that baptism has the regenerative capability of ushering that baby into the presence of God.
  • Martin Luther, was strong on justification by faith but also associated himself with Roman infant baptism and the sacramentalism. In fact, he wrote a book called The Small Baptismal Book in 1526. Here’s the prayer that the priest prays and the Lutheran clergyman prays at the baptism of an infant: “O Almighty, I invoke Thee concerning this child, Thy servant, who asks for the gift of Thy baptism and desires Thy grace through the spiritual new birth. Receive him, O Lord, and thus extend now the good to him who knocks that he may obtain the eternal blessing of this heavenly bath and receive the promised kingdom of Thy gift through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
  • They are praying that the bath will save the baby. So why did Jesus die on the cross if a bath will save you? Get a brain folks. This is not right!
  • During the baptism of the baby the ceremony further continues when the parents are supposed to answer the clergy … “Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works and nature?” The parents reply, “Yes” on behalf of the baby. “Dost thou believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son and in the Holy Spirit and in the one Christian church?” The parents say, “Yes.” Then the baby is baptized. After the baby is baptized they close in a ritualistic prayer…“The Almighty God hath begotten thee anew through water and the Holy Spirit and has forgiven thee all thy sins. Amen.”
  • May I remind you and encourage you to check this out… Where in God’s Holy Book is the mention of baptizing babies?
  • God never ordained this ritual. It won’t hold water! Pardon the pun.
  • So, Why did they do it?
  • Early on, the Roman Catholic Church did it to secure everybody into the system. They wanted to wrap everybody into the system and so they baptized all the babies, made them quote/unquote “Christians,” then they belonged to the church, they were under the control of the church, they were under the domination of the church.
  • What obviously threatened the Roman church was a group of people (Ana-Baptist) who came along, and said, “Infant baptism is wrong. Baptism is only for Christians, it’s only for believers. It’s only for people who consciously put their faith in Jesus Christ, and infant baptism matters for nothing—it is pointless, useless, it means nothing.” The Ana-Baptist went around preaching the gospel during the Middle Ages, and started seeing people converted to Christ, and people being converted were then baptized and so they were called the “re-baptizers” by the Catholic church. Historically they’re known as the “Anabaptists,” ana being the Greek word for again. They were the re-baptizers. The Baptists soon became the object of hatred to the Catholic and Protestant church.   Some of the Protestants even killed some of the Anabaptists. They kept control of their people by baptizing the babies. The Anabaptists were a threat to their power, too.

  D) Should I get Baptized again?

  • If you were not baptized according to the New Testament, if you were not immersed in water after a conscious commitment of your life to Jesus Christ after you became saved, then you need to be baptized.
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ recognized baptism had a heavenly purpose.
  • He understood that it was God-ordained. In Matthew 21:25…The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? Here we see Jesus asking the religious leaders this question…. He never answered them, because they did not understand Him, nor would they believe what He said.