Baptism Refs
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Is baptism a religious ritual, unnecessary formality, something for babies or an essential act of faith? In this chapter we discuss what baptism is, what it isn’t, and what God has said about its importance.

Romans 6:3–14

The struggle between good and evil has been going on since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Jesus has won the battle for us by never sinning and by taking on himself the sins of us all. He is the champion over sin.
We can be on his winning side by denouncing sin and vowing to follow his example by being baptised.

1. Of what is baptism a symbol? (v3–4)
2. To what do we “die” when we are baptised? (v6)
3. How does baptism show we are followers of Jesus?
4. Who are we serving before baptism?
5. Who should we serve after baptism?

Symbolism
What you do through baptism is similar to what Jesus did when he died and was resurrected.

Jesus: died → buried in tomb → resurrected → eternal life
Us: die to sin → buried under water → rise out of water → new life in Jesus

Full immersion in water symbolises the burial of your old self. Rising from the water symbolises a resurrection to a new life in Jesus. So a “baptism” that does not involve full immersion in water does not fulfil this symbolism.

There is no doubt that full immersion was the custom in the first century. When Philip baptised an Ethiopian eunuch, we
read

“Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water . . . ” (Acts 8:38–39)

Meaning of baptism:
Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3–4; Colossians 2:12; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21.
Commands to be baptised:
Matthew 28:18–20; Mark 1:4; 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:37–38.
Examples of baptism:
Matthew 3:6,13–16; John 3:23; Acts 2:41; 8:12–13; 8:36–39; 9:18; 10:47–48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5.
Figurative baptism:
Mark 10:38–39; Luke 12:50; 1 Corinthians 10:2; 1 Peter 3:20–21.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit:
Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5; 11:15–16.

Dying to live!
While baptism is about dying to sin, it is also about living to God.
Romans 6:11 Baptism is a death that leads to new life. We become a new person, our old self and its sinful ways are symbolically killed on the cross with Jesus. Before baptism we serve sin, but afterwards we serve God. Romans 6:6–11

If you are a new disciple or thinking about becoming baptised, you must think about how you can change your behaviour to suit this new master. Did your old self swear or gossip?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up. (Ephesians 4:29)

Did your old self sin sexually?

You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Did your old self love money and possessions?

. . . do good, be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:18)

Those who have been baptised for some time need to think about what further changes they need to make to become more like Jesus.

Is it really necessary?
Some say that baptism is an “optional extra” to following God. But the Bible leaves us in no doubt about what God wants us to do.

Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

Baptism is essential if we are to be saved from sin and death and to have eternal life.

Christening
Many churches “christen” or “baptise” babies by sprinkling them with water. This is not Bible baptism. It is not found anywhere in the Bible and it does not show the symbols described in Romans 6. Baptism is intended to be an act of faith for believers and so it is not possible for babies.

The decision to be baptised
It is unlikely to come with a bolt of lightning from the sky. Nor should it come only because of a warm fuzzy feeling. Baptism is
a very important decision—the biggest you will ever make. You need to give careful thought to any big decision and baptism is
no exception. But do not put off making a decision. Face the issues that worry you, read the Bible, pray for understanding, talk to others, take action!

The essential things before baptism are to believe the gospel concerning Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, and to repent of your sins. If you believe the gospel, your conscience will insist you must be baptised. Peter described baptism as the“pledge of a good conscience toward God”.
1 Peter 3:21

Don’t think you are not “good enough” to be baptised. Baptism is an admission that you are not good enough! You will never be
good enough and you need your sins forgiven. What matters is that God is good enough to forgive even you. When we repent of our sins and are baptised, God forgives us. Our sins are washed away, they no longer create a barrier between us and God.

After baptism, you begin a new life. You have taken a vow, you have given a life-long commitment. You have joined the family of God as one of his adopted children. You can enjoy having a loving Father who cares for you and guides you, and you can look forward to eternal life in his kingdom.
Romans 8:12–17


1. (a) What should motivate a person to be baptised?
(b) Is there anything that should prevent a person being baptised?
2. What did John the Baptist mean when he said “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8)?
3. Why was Jesus baptised?


1. Rewrite Romans 6:3–14 in your own words.
2. Explain 1 Peter 3:21. Can you think of other Old Testament examples of symbolic baptism?
3. If you are not baptised, write a list of things that are stopping you and plan ways to deal with them.
4. What does the Greek word for “baptism” mean? How else is it used in the New Testament. How does this help our understanding of baptism?
5. Where does the phrase “born again” occur in the Bible.
Does it just mean baptism or something more?


• Thine is the kingdom by Peter J Southgate (published by Dawn Book Supply, second ed., 1997). Chapter 10 (27 pages) gives a clear overview of how we should respond to the Gospel message including baptism.
• BB Study 10
• Further letters to George and Jenny, Chapter 9, by Harry Whittaker (published by Muriel Whittaker, 1995). This short letter of 6 pages discusses when a person should be baptised.
• The Christadelphians: what they believe and preach by Harry Tennant (published by The Christadelphian, 1986), Chapter 21 “Why should I not be baptised?”. 10 pages.
• Wrested scriptures by Ron Abel (published by The Christadelphians, Pasadena). Pages 150–153 deal with passages about baptism that are frequently misinterpreted.


28. Repentance
29. Forgiving one another
35. The sacrifice of Jesus
38. Grace

 
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