Reflections on the Holy Scripture

The word "Baptism" is a very tricky word to describe. Some people use it as the word describing the process of showing the world you are a Christian. Some say that it is what you need to get done to your baby so that God will bless them. Here, we will take a look at the original "baptism", and what it means to be baptized.

Ok, so what is baptism? Baptism in its simplest form is when someone, normally a pastor nowadays, immerses you into water for a second and then brings you back up1. Baptism is shown throughout the New Testament as a symbolic way of repentance of sins and dedication of one's life to God. In all ways, baptism is symbolic of the same thing today, and though baptism is not required to be saved, baptism is the key way to show that you have dedicated your life to Christ. This article is meant to clarify how this is.

Baptism: A Symbol

It is important to note that baptism is best displayed as an act of full immersion into the water. We catch this subtle detail by carefully reading the three passages in which Jesus Himself was baptised, Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22. Reading Matthew 3:13-17 carefully (emphasis added), we find this:

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[ saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

~ Matthew 3:13-17 NKJV

Why does a complete immersion matter here? Let us then look at what it means to be baptised and what it symbolically represents.

Take a look at Romans 6:3:

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

~ Romans 6:3 NKJV

Here, we see why the process of baptism is a symbol and in a way acknowledgment of our dedication to Jesus Christ. Jesus died for all of our sins (see Getting Saved) meaning that He took on all of our sins as if He was the One who had done them, not us. Now imagine the water as Jesus Christ. In Romans 6:3, we are told that we were baptised into Jesus and likewise into His death. And considering that baptism entails an immersion, we are consequentially immersed entirely into Jesus.

Thus being baptised into Him, we are made clean as we come out leaving our sins with Him, all because of His death. The baptism is like a symbol of our becoming saved in His blood.

Baptism and Salvation

A common question among Christians is whether or not baptism is needed for salvation. The simple answer to this question is, "No, it is not." We can say this with confidence because in many verses throughout the Bible, we see God teach that faith alone is sufficient for salvation. People who claim that baptism is necessary use verses such as Acts 2:38 and 1 Peter 3:21 to back up their claim. However, in context, these verses don't talk about water baptism being necessary for salvation. Let's look at these two verses to help clarify what they are really saying.

38Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

~ Acts 2:38 NKJV

Here, Peter is not teaching how to be saved. Notice that there is no mention whatsoever of faith, which we know the Bible teaches we need to have to be saved. Peter is talking about obedience to God, which includes repentance and baptism. So, this verse teaches that while baptism isn't required of us, it is still something every Christian should do.

Now let's look at the other verse:

21There 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,

~ 1 Peter 3:21 NKJV

Now, an "antitype" is something that was foreshadowed by a previous symbol, which 1 Peter 3:20 indicates is Noah and his family being saved from The Flood in the Ark. However, all of this only came about because Noah had faith in God when He told him he was going to send a flood. Also, directly in the verse, it says, "not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God," which means that it is not baptism in water that saves us but being "baptized," or "immersed," into Christ.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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