Online Articles

Online Articles

Baptism - Is it really necessary?


1) Jesus commanded it

In the great commission, Jesus commanded His closest disciples (and by extension us) to go into all nations and to baptize.

(Mat 28:19-20 NKJ)  19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.


Not only does Jesus command His closest disciples to baptize, but additionally extends this authority to those whom His disciples would teach, us!  If it lacked such importance, why would Jesus have commanded it to be done?


1)  Baptism is directly linked to the removal of sin


(Act 22:16 NKJ)  16 `And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'


Notice here that sins are washed away when one is baptized.  Washing as we know it includes WATER.  The only element in the context with water is baptism by water.


2) Baptism must be done for the right reason

Some people are baptized for the wrong reasons, which may include: as a symbol already being saved, to please men, to obey God (but not understanding what for) and for removal of filth of the flesh (as a bath, in a literal sense), among other reasons.  One must be baptized for the right reasons in order for the baptism to take effect.  Most of us have done some sort of swimming in our lives where we submerged ourselves entirely underneath some body of water.  Did this event equate to our being baptized (and thus saved)?  If not, why not?  There is more to it than that!  It must be done the way God has required it.  We must recognize that we are doing it for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and as an appeal to God for a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21) into Christ (Romans 6:3-4). 


In 1 Peter 3:21 some versions translate the word as an "answer", others as "an appeal".  I think an appeal makes more sense, as the Greek word is often defined this way:

10524  ἐπερώτημα, ατος, τό as what is asked; (1) question; (2) appeal, request (1P 3.21)


Baptism is an appeal or request to God for the saving of oneself!!!  If one does not know or understand why they are being baptized, can they really be appealing for God to remove their sin?  Notice in Acts 19:3-5 that the disciples had been baptized into John's baptism (one of repentance) and not INTO Christ.  Paul has them be baptized again in the name of the Lord Jesus in verse 5.  It is necessary to baptize oneself again if your reasons for baptizing to begin with were incorrect.


2) Baptism is directly linked to salvation

(1Pe 3:21 NKJ)  21 There is also an antitype which now saves us-- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

What does baptism do?  It saves us!  It is an antitype (something that was foreshadowed or identified with an earlier type) to the flood which is described earlier in the context.  The waters of the flood, although killing most of man-kind, also saved Noah and his family from death.  Baptism does the same today.  It condemns those to death who refuse it, while consequently saving those who submit themselves to God's mechanism which He has chosen.


3) There is an urgency for baptism

If one believes baptism to be nothing but a symbolic picture that equates to one already having been saved ("An outward sign of an inward grace"), then it is no wonder that those who adhere to this doctrine see no need to hasten to be baptized.  What rush is there to show that you've already been saved?  The bible does not teach this.  In fact, in Acts 22:16 says:

(Act 22:16 NKJ)  16 `And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

A strong sense of urgency is indicated in the question "Why are you waiting?"  Baptism should not wait.  The importance of baptism must be something greater than a showing of something great that already has happened.


4) Baptism is also a relationship/covenant with God.

(Col 2:11-13 NKJ)  11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,


Paul is mainly talking to Jews under the Law of Moses who believed circumcision was what brought them into a covenant and saving relationship with God to identify themselves as His people (given to Abraham and his descendants).  However, Paul throughout his ministry points to the fact that circumcision made with hands is no longer of any value, and that the true circumcision (spiritual circumcision of the heart - "not made with hands") is what really makes us "alive together with Him".  What is the element that lets us be "spiritually circumcised"?  Verse 11 and 12 say: "By the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism."  As circumcision was a covenant with God in a physical sense to Jews, it is now a spiritual covenant we make with God as His saved people.  Have you made this covenant with God?


5) Baptism is a dying INTO Christ

Those who are "dead" in sin need newness of life.  What do you do with a dead person?  You bury them!!!!  Thus, God came up with a manner to undergo exactly what Christ did (died on a cross and was resurrected to be back with His Father in heaven) that we might follow Him in doing the same, but symbolically.  We go under the water (just as the dead are baptized (immersed) into the ground) and arise to newness of life.


(Rom 6:3-7 NKJ)  3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised 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 united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.


When one is baptized, they die with Christ.  Verse 7 says it all:  He who has died has been freed from sin.  The verbiage "baptized into Christ" is very special too.  Throughout the New Testament the idea of being in the body of Christ is common.  Christ is the head of the body, the church (Colossians 1 and 2).  We enter INTO Christ through baptism (into His body) as is indicated by the verbiage in verse 3 of Romans 6 above.  If you are not found in Christ's body, then where does that leave you?