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.
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
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?
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
Rising from the water symbolises a resurrection to a new life
Jesus. So a “baptism” that does not involve full
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
“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.
|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
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.
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
Is it really necessary?
Some say that baptism is an “optional extra” to
But the Bible leaves us in no doubt about what God wants us
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.
||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.
should it come only because of a warm fuzzy feeling. Baptism
a very important decision—the biggest you will ever
need to give careful thought to any big decision and baptism
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
good enough and you need your sins forgiven. What matters
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
After baptism, you begin a new life. You have taken a vow,
have given a life-long commitment. You have joined the family
of God as one of his adopted children. You can enjoy having
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
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?
is it used in the New Testament. How does this help our
understanding of baptism?
5. Where does the phrase “born again” occur in
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
Whittaker (published by Muriel Whittaker, 1995). This
short letter of 6 pages discusses when a person should be
• The Christadelphians: what they believe and preach
Harry Tennant (published by The Christadelphian, 1986),
Chapter 21 “Why should I not be baptised?”. 10
• Wrested scriptures by Ron Abel (published by The Christadelphians,
Pasadena). Pages 150–153 deal with passages
about baptism that are frequently misinterpreted.
29. Forgiving one another
35. The sacrifice of Jesus