Why Was I Baptized?
The Bible describes many different baptisms: the baptism of Moses (1 Corinthians 10:1-4); baptism with fire (Matthew 3:1-4); the baptism of John (Luke 3:1-3; Acts 19:1-5); and even a baptism with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:1-4; Acts 1:1-5). However, Paul obviously did not believe that the baptism of John was sufficient for the disciples that he encountered when he first came to Ephesus. Paul instructed these disciples to believe on Christ Jesus and they were all baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-5). All baptisms are not the same. What could cause a person to need to be baptized again?
There Is One Baptism Today
In spite of all the different baptisms that we can read about in the Bible, there is one baptism that every Christian is supposed to have in common. You see, the baptism of Moses describes an Old Testament event. The baptisms of fire and of the Holy Spirit are administered by Jesus and there were only two cases of Holy Spirit baptism in the entire New Testament: the apostles (Acts 2); and Cornelius (Acts 10). The apostles received Holy Spirit baptism to empower them as credible and inspired witnesses of the resurrection. (Acts 1:8) Those who were in Cornelius’ household received Holy Spirit baptism to confirm that Gentiles could become Christians without being circumcised (Acts 11:17, 18; 15:7-9). As Paul writes to the Ephesians in the first century he says that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”. (Ephesians 4:5) Every Christian in the first century was not baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is not the one baptism that Paul spoke of in Ephesians.
Baptism In The Name Of Jesus Christ
This is the one baptism that every Christian is supposed to have in common. Let’s consider some reasons why this is the case.
Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for the remission of sins. The language of the New Testament is too plain to deny. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”. (Acts 2:38) Ananias told Saul of Tarsus: “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins”. (Acts 22:16)
Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ puts us into Christ. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”. (Galatians 3:27) Baptism marks the beginning of our relationship with Jesus in His body, the church. (1 Corinthians 12:13) Baptism is the point at which we die with the Lord and begin to walk in newness of life, living no longer for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and rose again. (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)
In view of the above facts from Scripture, it should not surprise us when Peter says baptism saves us. (1 Peter 3:21) At this point, one may ask, “Why does baptism save us? What about God’s grace?” Of course, Peter is not suggesting that baptism saves us by itself, nor is he denying the grace of God. After saying that baptism saves us, Peter goes on to say “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. The power of baptism to save does not come from us, but from God. Baptism is effective to save us because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and because God says that baptism saves us. Earlier in this same letter, Peter wrote that we are begotten again to a living hope according to His abundant mercy and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3) God’s mercy and our baptism work together through the resurrection of Jesus Christ to bring about our salvation.
Who Can Be Baptized?
Baptism is for believers. (Mark 16:16) “He who believes and is baptized will be saved;” it is not merely the believer who will be saved, nor is it merely the one who is baptized who will be saved. Those who would be baptized must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in order for their baptism to be effective.
Baptism is for those who are willing to confess the Lord Jesus with their mouths. (Romans 10:9, 10) Paul does not offer a choice between believing in Jesus and confessing Him. Both are necessary for salvation. Since belief is a prerequisite of baptism, and one must believe in Jesus and confess Him in order to be saved, we conclude that the confession of Jesus is also a prerequisite of baptism.
Baptism is for those who repent. (Acts 2:38) Since Peter says “repent” and “be baptized”, we conclude that repentance is also a prerequisite of baptism. When a person has done all of these things their sins are remitted by the mercy of God and through the power that was working through the resurrection of Jesus.
Why Was I Baptized?
Were you baptized because you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? When you were baptized, did you confess Jesus with your mouth and repent of your sins? There are many religious groups who baptize children and infants. In the case of children, it is doubtful that they are even capable of believing in Jesus, confessing Him, or repenting of their sins with the necessary level of understanding. In the case of infants, it is certain that they are not able to believe in Jesus, confess Him, and repent of their sins. Such a one would need to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins as a mature person, in the manner that we can read about in the Scriptures.
Were you baptized for the remission of sins, or because you believed that you were already saved before baptism? Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for the remission of sins. In other words, the remission of sins is the purpose of that baptism. If you were not baptized to have your sins washed away, you were not baptized with the one baptism of Ephesians.
There are a lot of different ideas in our world about baptism. We hope that we have shown from the Scriptures that what is at stake is the possibility of having our sins washed away or not having our sins washed away. Such a risk is certainly worth taking the time to think deeply about the purpose of baptism in the New Testament.