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NOTE: The Gospel stories begin and end with the subject of baptism. Obviously this is a very important teaching to Jesus (Matthew 28:18, 19).
NOTE: The Bible ordinance of baptism symbolizes the washing away of sin from a person's life, as well as the new birth.
NOTE: At least 15 different ceremonies are called baptism today, but according to the Bible, there is only one true baptism.
NOTE: The Greek word "baptizo" means "submerge," "plunge under," or "immerse." A person has not been baptized unless he has been completely submerged, or buried, in water. This word "baptizo" is always used in the Bible in reference to the sacred ordinance of baptism. The Greek words for "sprinkling" or "pouring" are never used.
NOTE: John baptized Jesus by immersion in the same river where Naaman was cleansed from leprosy. Note that they were "in" Jordan (not on the riverbank) and that Jesus came "up out" of the water. This is why John was baptizing in "Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there" John 3:23. Christians are to follow the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21), who was baptized by immersion "to fulfil all righteousness." Matthew 3:15.
NOTE: Baptism symbolizes Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. There is first death to sin, then burial of the old life of sin in the water, and finally resurrection from the water to a new life. Baptism by immersion fits the symbolism perfectly. The life of sin dies, then there is brief suspension of breath while the person being baptized is leaned backward into the water until the body is fully covered, or buried, in the water. Then the person is raised up out of the water, taking a fresh breath as a newborn baby, to live an entirely new life, symbolizing the resurrection. No other form of baptism fits this Bible symbolism. Some say they keep Sunday holy in honor of the resurrection, but this practice is never mentioned in the Bible.
NOTE: Baptism is clearly mandated by Scripture as essential. However, when baptism is impossible, as it was for the thief on the cross, Jesus gives that person credit for His baptism (Matthew 3:15).
NOTE: Baptism is like the marriage ceremony. The Bible says, "For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name." Isaiah 54:5. As a woman takes her husband's name in marriage, so Christians take the name of Christ--thereafter to be called Christians. Both ceremonies must be based on love and commitment if they are to be meaningful. Baptism is as essential to the Christian life as a wedding is to a marriage.
NOTE: Peter followed this command when on the day of Pentecost he told the penitent people, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ." Acts 2:38.
NOTE: Since an infant cannot comply with any of the above steps, obviously it is not scriptural to baptize a child until he is old enough to comprehend the gospel.
NOTE: Baptism by immersion was the only form of baptism practiced during Bible times and for centuries after the cross. But then, misguided men introduced other forms of baptism for the sake of convenience. Thus, God's sacred ordinance of baptism was distorted and its rich symbolic meaning obscured.
NOTE: No! Notice that while Peter was preaching (Acts 10:44-48), the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening, many of whom had not been baptized. But even though they had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter insisted that they be baptized in water as well.
NOTE: One day when Paul was preaching in Ephesus, he found 12 men who had been baptized by John the Baptist, but who had never heard of the Holy Spirit. So upon receiving this substantial new light, they were rebaptized. Likewise, if a person has completely lost his Christian experience, he should be rebaptized upon returning to the Lord. Rebaptism is also appropriate if a person was not baptized in the biblical method.
NOTE: The Scriptures are unequivocal. All of God's people are called into one body, which is the church, and we enter it by baptism. After birth, a baby must be placed in a family for nurturing, protection, and growth.
NOTE: When any of God's children repent of their sins and are baptized, He is well pleased.
The Model BaptismJesus was not baptized because He needed cleansing from sin, for He was sinless (1 Peter 2:22). This is why John the Baptist was so perplexed when Jesus came to the Jordan River, asking to be baptized by him. John said, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" Matthew 3:14.So why was Jesus baptized? There are three main reasons. First, He was baptized in behalf of those who cannot be baptized themselves. Sometimes when people accept the Lord in prison or in a hospital, circumstances do not allow them to be baptized. Jesus gives them credit for His baptism. The thief on the cross was one example (Luke 23:43). Second, Jesus was baptized as an example, that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). And third, Jesus was baptized so we can, by studying His experience, know what to expect by faith.To illustrate, let's take the following verses word by word and see what we can expect from our baptism. Matthew 3:16 and 17 reads: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.""The heavens were opened" = We receive access to God."He saw" = Our spiritual eyes are now opened, giving us new understanding and perception."The Spirit of God" = We recognize His leading."Descending like a dove" = Peace gently enters our hearts."A voice from heaven" = We will begin to hear that still, small voice."My beloved son" = We are adopted into His royal family and become citizens of a different country."I am well pleased" = God gives us complete acceptance and forgiveness.