Imagine that you are an investigator. For this case, your objective is to discover what the Bible teaches about baptism. What questions might you ask in your search for the answers you are seeking? A good starting place might be to ask the who, what, when, where, why, and how of baptism. In this article we will gather the evidence from the Bible and answer these important questions concerning baptism.
What is baptism?
You may have asked yourself this question before, or perhaps you have asked others. Well, rather taking any man’s opinion, we want to know what the Bible says. So, according to the Bible, what is baptism? Due to the limited space, let’s briefly read and then consider several verses. At this point please take the time to read Matthew 3:5, 6; John 3:23; Acts 8:36-39; Romans 6:4; and Colossians 2:12.
After reading these verses, you should have noticed a few things: baptism involves water, and plenty of it! Also, it is described in definition and practice as a burial. The conclusion we should draw from these texts is that baptism is immersion in water.
Where should one be baptized?
Once we know the “what” of baptism, the “where” of baptism is a relatively easy question to answer. Consider Matthew 3:5, 6 and Acts 8:36-39 again. If baptism is immersion in water, then I should be baptized wherever there is sufficient water for me to be immersed.
Why should one be baptized?
This particular question tends to generate a variety of answers. Frequent answers include being admitted into a church, washing away original sin, and lastly in order to have sins washed away.
As we did before, let us ask again: what does the Bible say? Please read Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; and 1 Peter 3:21. What does each of these verses connect to baptism in some shape or form? All of these verses promise the forgiveness of sins or salvation to the one who is baptized.
Perhaps the simplest way of stating is that God, in His grace and mercy, promises the forgiveness of sins to those who are baptized.
How Does Baptism Save?
This is an interesting question. How is possible that anyone can think that being placed in water can bring about eternal salvation? While a very good question, if we look back through biblical history, we will notice that God has never asked us to understand the “how” something works.
Do you remember the story of Naaman as recorded in 2 Kings 5? Naaman, was a leprous man, but the prophet of God had given him instructions for how to be cleansed of his illness. Naaman was told to go the Jordan River and dip seven times to be cleansed from his leprosy (2 Kings 5:10). When Naaman did just that, he was cleansed. How? How did dipping seven times in the Jordan River cleanse Naaman? While we may struggle to understand the specifics, when Naaman obeyed God, he was cleansed.
Baptism, in many ways, works very similarly. However, Romans 6:3, 4 may help us with this question. As we are baptized, our bodies not only contact the water but the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from our sins. Praise God for the blood of His Son!
Who Should Be Baptized?
The Bible teaches us that baptism is for those who hear and believe the Gospel (Mark 16:15, 16), those who repent (Acts 2:38), and men and women (Acts 18:18).
In short, baptism is for all of sufficient age who understand how lost they are without Jesus Christ and their need to be cleansed from their sins.
When Should One Be Baptized?
Again, this question receives many answers. Oftentimes, those who don’t understand the “why” of baptism frequently wait to be baptized, but this is not the biblical pattern.
Notice the urgency to be baptized in these examples from the book of Acts. In Acts 2:36-41, over 3, 000 people were baptized that day. The Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:35, 36) interrupted Philip as he spoke in order to be baptized. Finally, in Acts 16:25, 30-34, the jailer and his household were baptized at some time past midnight.
The appropriate time to be baptized is when one realizes his lost condition and desires to remedy the problem as soon as possible.
What the Bible teaches concerning baptism is not too difficult to understand. Let us ask one more question: will you be obedient to what the Scriptures teaching regarding baptism?