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Baptism: The Clear Teaching of Scripture

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Watch Baptism: The Clear Teaching of Scripture video.

Matthew 3:13-17

I. What is baptism? How and when should it be performed? Christians answer these questions in different ways, in part because of denominational differences. I don’t know what your tradition teaches you, but I’d like to look at what the Bible says about the role of baptism in the life of a believer. Through the inerrant and infallible Word of God, we know what the Father expects of us concerning this ordinance.

II. The Baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:15-17)

A. His baptism was required “to fulfill all righteousness” (v. 15), even though He was sinless.

B. It was a means for Jesus to identify with sinful man as He prepared for His ministry.

C. Baptism symbolized His death, burial, and resurrection.

D. After Jesus was baptized, the “heavens were opened” and the Father expressed His approval of His Son (vv. 16-17).  

III. Baptism is not equivalent to salvation.

A. Baptism is included in the Great Commission: we are to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

B. However, the Word of God makes it clear that a person’s sins are forgiven based on belief in Christ rather than through baptism.

1. The Ethiopian eunuch’s baptism (Acts 8:35-37)

2. Paul’s teaching about grace (Eph. 2:8-9)

3. The jailer’s conversion (Acts 16:31)

4. The plan of salvation (Rom. 10:9)

5. The thief on the cross (Luke 23:42-43)

IV. Who should be baptized?

A. Only those who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus should be baptized.

B. Infant baptism is not scriptural, since babies cannot make a conscious choice to believe in Jesus for salvation. It also can give false assurance of salvation to those who have never made a personal commitment to follow Christ.

V. How should we be baptized?

A. Baptizo, the Greek word we translate as baptize, means “to immerse.” It was used in Jesus’ day to describe the action of a ship sinking, a cloth being dipped in dye, or someone being submerged under water. It symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord in a way that sprinkling or pouring does not (see Rom. 6:4).

B. If you aren’t baptized by immersion, will you spend eternity separated from God? No, not if you have received Christ as your Savior. But unless you are dying or have other health reasons that prohibit immersion, you should seek to be baptized according to the example of Scripture.

VI. Six Reasons Why Every Believer Should Be Baptized

Baptism is . . .

A. A command from Jesus. He told the apostles to make disciples and baptize them (Matt. 28:19).  

B. A public confession of our faith. In other words, don’t be afraid to tell others about your relationship to Jesus Christ (Mark 8:38; see also Ps. 107:2).

C. A picture of salvation. Through baptism, we illustrate death to our old way of living—and a new beginning in Christ (see John 3:3).

D.  An identification with the body of Christ. Baptism is a symbol that unites us with all believers worldwide, regardless of denomination (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:5).

E. A tangible way to declare that you follow Christ. Commemorating your decision to follow Christ is a good reminder to you and others of this important step.

F. A declaration of belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Baptism also illustrates the promise that at the end of time, every believer will be resurrected and live forever in His presence (Rom. 6:4-5).

VII. Conclusion:

Have you ever been baptized according to Scripture? Maybe you can’t answer yes because you’ve never put your trust in Jesus Christ. Confess that He is Lord and ask Him to forgive your sins. As soon as possible, you should find a way to participate in this ordinance of God.

Perhaps you received Jesus as Savior long ago but were never immersed as a testimony of your new life. If so, I pray that you will obey what God has commanded in His Word. Baptism is an experience ordained by our loving heavenly Father—one that you won’t regret or forget.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


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