The subject of Christian baptism has long been a controversial one and consequently there are many differing viewpoints. Some believe that the sprinkling or pouring of water on a person is baptism. Others believe that babies should be baptized and still others believe that baptism is nothing more than a sign of salvation.
Many will say that baptism is not essential for salvation. However, the New Testament connects baptism by immersion with salvation in many passages. In fact, the two are so intricately tied together that one cannot separate them without doing irreparable damage to both. Please review the following Scriptures for evidence of this connection: Mark 16:15-16; 1 Peter 3:21 and John 3:5.
The “remission of sins” is identified by the Holy Spirit as one of the purposes of immersion (Acts 2:38). Since sin is that which separates us from our Creator, the claims of many religious groups that one can be saved without being baptized are clearly false (Isaiah 59:1-2). One cannot be saved until the sin which has estranged them from God has been dealt with.
It is necessary to add that while baptism is indeed for the remission of sins this is not the totality of the Holy Spirit’s revelation as to the purpose of baptism. The Scriptures further reveal that we are “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:27). It is also at baptism that we are added to the Lord’s body, His church (Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 12:13). It is at baptism that we are united in the likeness of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:4-5). We are baptized into Christ, into His church which He bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28). At baptism our sins are remitted, washed away to be remembered no more (Hebrews 8:12). This wonderful conversion happens not at the point of faith, nor at the point of repentance, nor at the point of confession. Though each of these is absolutely necessary, none of them is identified as the means by which we enter Christ - baptism is. Conversion is completed when one is placed into Christ by being baptized into His body (1 Corinthians 12:13)!
A Scriptural understanding of the purpose of baptism is absolutely essential; you see one cannot be baptized into Christ with a misplaced faith. Colossians 2:12 says we are “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” At baptism our faith must be in the operation of God. We must understand the entire purpose of baptism including remission of sins and being place into Christ and His church. This would necessarily include an understanding of the distinct nature of the Lord’s church, His kingdom.
Jesus said to Nicodemus “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Those at Colossae, who were buried with Christ in baptism, were, at the same time, delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13) and according to Matthew 16:18-19, this kingdom is the church. This church belongs to Christ thus it is identified as the church of Christ Romans 16:16. This church was established following Jesus ascension on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2. As Peter preached the message on that wonderful day those who gladly received the word were baptized and the chapter concludes with the phrase “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Those who believed and obeyed the message preached by Peter were added to the other Christians in that city who made up the local church of Christ, the kingdom of God. It is important for us to understand that when we obey the Lord’s command to be baptized we are not added to a system of religion marked by division, in which each group does as it sees fit, but a system of religion that is unified in its devotion and obedience to Jesus Christ.
To those who have been sprinkled, who have had water poured on them, who have been baptized as a sign of salvation, who have been baptized by immersion into a church that is not Christ’s church, let me say “… why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
If you have a Bible question, please call (830) 868-9911, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit worship services. The church of Christ in Johnson City meets on Sunday at 10am for Bible Class, 11am for Worship, 6pm for Worship and on Wednesday at 7pm for Bible Class.