Baptism is not the removal of dirt from the body, but a pledge of a good conscience to live and follow Christ in faith. Water was also judgment, negative God wiped out evil people in the flood, but left the righteous. Exodus shows God freeing his people from bondage. Baptism is symbolic of being united to God’s people within the church. I have chosen the topic of baptism because I have heard so many times that people think they are saved just because they were either christened as a baby or baptized as an adult.
Term generally meaning “to dip” or “immerse,” but representing a group of words employed to signify a religious rite for ritual cleansing. In Judaism there were ritual ablutions, Qumran lustrations, and proselyte baptism. In the NT it became the rite of initiation into the Christian community. The concept not only referred to the cultic rite but also was interpreted theologically as a dying and rising with Christ. I also believe it to be symbolic of a person having repented and died to the old self and raised into the new creation with Christ 2 Corinthians 5:17. I also believe that it’s a public confession of faith acknowledging Christ before others Mathew 10:32. Baptism is not a sacrament necessary for salvation, as the thief on the cross gave his deathbed confession and was unable to be baptized by water. Luke 23:43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Baptism has been a source of division amongst the different denominations of Christian churches of our day. So many people that I have met think they are going to heaven because they were sprinkled with water by the Roman Catholic Church. I also think this is popular because this does not require anyone to repent of their sins nor does it require them to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Jesus. Mathew 16:24. The debate is whether Gods performs a divine work in baptism or whether baptism is a human response to a divine work.
Baptism Theology- Roman Catholicism.
Baptism is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).6 Though others use the wordsacrament, the RCC and Eastern Orthodox (EO) perspective is different in that they believe the sacraments are effective simply by the completion of the sacrament (known as ex opere operato).7 Ludwig Ott explains the meaning of this view of grace: “The formula ‘ex opere operato’ asserts, negatively, that the sacramental grace is not conferred by reason of the subjective activity of the recipient, and positively, that the sacramental grace is caused by the validly operated sacramental sign.”8 One should not understand from this RCC teaching that the faith of the adult person is excluded in the act of baptism, only that it is not “an efficient cause of grace.”9 Thus, the sacrament of baptism can save a person (as in the case of an infant) apart from faith.10
Against the teachings of the Reformation, the Council of Trent declared that “there could be no justification without Baptism or the desire for the same….”11 This alternative to water baptism includes baptism by blood or of desire. The former relates to martyrdom on the part of an unbaptized person by reason of his or her confession of Christian faith or that person’s practice of Christian virtue.12 The latter relates to the desire of a person to be baptized who is somehow hindered in being baptized.13 RCC dogma has extended this baptism of desire since Vatican II to allow even those outside the pale of Christianity to be saved if they would have been baptized if they had known the truth.14 In RCC theology, baptism takes away all sins, original sin and all personal sins, as well as punishment for sin. Baptism also restores sanctifying grace to the soul. It does not, however, take away all the consequences of original sin such as death, suffering, ignorance, and the inclination to sin.15
Baptism Theology- Eastern Orthodox
Similar to the RCC, the Eastern Orthodox churches (EO)16 (e.g., Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Rumanian, and Serbian) believe baptism causes forgiveness of sins: “Through Baptism we receive a full forgiveness of all sin, whether original or actual; we ‘put on Christ,’ becoming members of His Body the Church.”17 The EO affirm that through baptism sins are washed away and the baptized share in the death and resurrection of Christ and also in His nature.18 For adults, however, there must be awareness and repentance of sins.19 When one is immersed20 into water, the believer “communes with God in a mystical way; thus the Church uses the word ‘Mysteries’ to designate the sacraments by which the grace humans need in life to commune with God, is given to them. The sacraments are the means by which man experiences salvation in this world as a taste of the eternal life and kingdom which is to come.”21
Baptism Theology- Anglican/Episcopalian
The Church of England (CE) and the Episcopal Church (EC) consider baptism as the time when one renounces the sources of sin (devil, world, and flesh), confesses faith, and receives forgiveness of sins, according to The Book of Common Prayer.22 The Anglican 39 Articles indicates that baptism is not only a sign of profession but is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. Baptism serves as an instrument that grafts the baptized into the church and is the means by which the promises of forgiveness of sin and adoption as sons of God by the Holy Spirit are visibly signed and sealed.23
Baptism Theology- Lutheran
For Lutherans, baptism is a sacrament that conveys forgiveness of sins and gives eternal salvation to those who believe.24 The reasoning, however, differs from that of the RCC and the EO. Each certainly believes the Holy Spirit works through the act of baptism (not the water in itself) to effect salvation, but Lutherans stress the importance of the combination of the Word with the sacrament to cause this spiritual work to occur. 25 Lutherans, therefore, do not consider the act of baptism to be a human work of merit bringing forgiveness but a work of God, through human hands, whereby He conveys grace to the believing and repentant soul: “To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized not by men but by God himself. Although it is performed by men’s hands, it is nevertheless truly God’s own act. From this fact everyone can easily conclude that it is of much greater value than the work of any man or saint. For what work can man do that is greater than God’s work?”26
Consequently, even though the Spirit uses baptism to convey forgiveness, the water apart from the Word is no different than bath water.27 It is required that the work be God’s work, but faith is necessary to receive God’s work, which is necessary for salvation.28 C. F. W. Walther clarifies this doctrine: “It is of paramount importance that I believe, that I regard, not the water in Baptism, but the promise which Christ has attached to the water. It is this promise that requires the water; for only to it has the promise been attached.”29 When one thinks of Lutheranism, one turns to the great doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide) as advocated by Martin Luther and the Lutheran church. Lutherans do not believe, then, that baptism saves in addition to faith. In the words of Walther in his comment on Mark 16:16: “He does not say: ‘He that is baptized and believeth,’ but the reverse. Faith is the primary necessity; Baptism is something to which faith holds. Moreover, the Lord continues: ‘But he that believeth not shall be damned.’ This shows that even if a person could not have Baptism administered to himself, he would be saved, as long as he believed.”30 The person’s response to the act of baptism, then, is the same as the person’s response to the spoken gospel. The Word of God enters the ears and baptism enters the eyes. It is, as Augustine said, “a visible word.” Neither the Word nor the sacrament is a work in addition to faith but the means by which faith is created and in which the unredeemed believes unto salvation.31
Baptism Theology- Reformed Churches
The sixteenth-century Reformers who did not follow the Lutherans on the sacraments are generally the originators of Reformed Theology. Though these men used the term “sacrament” for baptism, they nonetheless perceived the meaning of baptism differently from both the RCC and the Lutheran Church. While Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli agreed on much regarding baptism while in opposition to the RCC, they also differed on important points. For example, they agreed that the forgiving grace of God imparted in the sacraments related to the guilt of sin due to Adam’s fall and not the inherited sin nature. Moreover, they agreed that the sacraments are signs and seals attached to the Word, having no virtue apart from the Word. Lastly, they concurred that the sacrament did not have any fruit apart from faith in the recipient (in contrast to ex opere operato).32 The difference pertained to Luther’s struggles with the Anabaptists, which led him to put greater emphasis on the nature of the divine institution of the sacrament than on the subjective state of the recipient. Moreover, Calvin and Zwingli both agreed that baptism was a sign and proof of faith, but they differed in emphasis. The former saw the benefit of baptism as an instrument of God to provide nourishment to the believer. The latter saw the sacrament as a memorial of profession, in which a person could look to baptism for a reminder of God’s saving work apart from human effort.33 The Reformed thinkers also saw baptism as an initiation into the community of the faithful, similar to the function of circumcision in the Old Testament. James Bordwine succinctly states the Reformed view found in the Westminster
Confession of Faith:
Should only pastors baptize?
Usually baptism is done by the leaders of the church that are considered elders. However, there is no definitive proof in the New Testament that they are the only ones who should officiate baptism. Baptism is also a public confession of faith Matthew 10:32.
- All believers are priests of God. There is no particular cast of priests that limits ministry to a certain few 1 Peter 2:9. Other aspects of the ministry may be determined by gifts, godliness and spiritual maturity.
- Acts 8:38, Philip baptized the Ethiopian after leading him to the Lord. He had chosen to help in the service of the windows who were being neglected. He was not a deacon nor did he have a formal position of authority.
- 1 Corinthians 1:12-17 Paul had most of the converts baptized. They are not specified if some were pastors of elders, otherwise Paul may have mentioned it.
Rebaptism is necessary because an infant cannot choose to repent of their sins, only adults can repent. Luke 13:5 So if you were baptized before you found the Lord as an infant, or you really were “dedicated to the Lord,” not baptized in the biblical sense. You need to do what the Bible says. Once the Gospel has come to you and you found Jesus Christ as Savior, you need to be baptized “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Mathew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Baptism Theology Article ID: DB055-1 | By: H. Wayne House. I wanted to share Lighthouse Community Church of Dania Beach’s baptism statement. This is given to people who want to become member of the congregation. They must complete a Bible class 101, 201 and 301 before they can become members and also be baptized. Rick Warren had created these basic outlines for his own church and he soon realized that other churches could also benefit from what he has written. So Pastor Warren encourages other churches to use his format and tailor it to their own church doctrine.
- What is the meaning of baptism?
Baptism illustrates Christs death and resurrection
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV)
12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. Colossians 2:12 (NIV)
- Baptism illustrates my new life as a Christian.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4
Why be baptized by emersion?
Because Jesus was baptized that way
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. Matthew 3:16
Bible.com or January 1, 2001 article 2016 Grace Church Article. All Rights Reserved
Baptism in the Bible was done by emersion.
38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:38-39
The word “Baptize” means to “Dip Under” water.
The Greek word baptizo means, “to immerse or dip under water”.
Baptize, Baptism. These two words are not native to the English language. Therefore. They do not have any intrinsic meaning of their own. The only rightful meaning they can have is the one that is derived from the Greek word of which they are the spelling. The verb is spelled baptizō (βαπτιζω), from which with a slight change in spelling we get our word “baptize.” The noun is baptisma (βαπτισμα), and taking off the last letter, we have “baptism.”
Who should be baptized?
Everyone who has believed in Christ.
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41
12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 8:12
Lighthouse Community Church waits until their children are old enough to believe and understand the true meaning of baptism before they are baptized. However, the church practices baby dedications which is a ceremony intended to be a covenant between their parents and God on behalf of the child. The parents promise to raise their child in the faith until the child is old enough to make their own personal confession of Christ. Baptism is only for those old enough to believe. The purpose is to publically confess your personal commitment to Christ. At Lighthouse Church, it is strongly recommended that every member be baptized the way Jesus demonstrated. Lighthouse Community Church gives instructions to the sheep prior to getting baptized. They are taken through Bible 101, 201 and 301 prior to baptism.
The plan of action for baptisms
When should you be baptized?
As soon a person has believed
While we believe that one should be baptized as soon as possible after their surrender to Christ, LCC recognizes that there exists much misunderstanding among various faith traditions about the biblical meaning of baptism. Therefore, to protect believers and uphold integrity, LCC asks all baptizes to complete the Next Steps 101 course or meet with a pastor prior to baptism. This process will take approximately four weeks.
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41
35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  [a] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. Acts 8:35-38
There is no reason to delay your obedience. As soon as you have decided to receive Christ into your life, you can and should be baptized. If you wait until you are perfect, you’ll never feel “good enough”! It is important to remember that baptism is a personal statement of faith, not a family tradition.
I asked one of the students from my class Yvonne Weir, to share with me her understanding of baptism.
As a pastor, I believe in, and encourage water baptism by immersion as opposed to effusion or sprinkling. Christ was baptized by this method not because He sinned and needed repentance, but simply as an example for believers to follow. In fact, He said in Matthew 3:145 “Let it be so now: it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (NIV). Today, there are many denominations are spending countless hours trying to discredit those who are not in agreement with their beliefs, but the important thing for us to do is to pattern our lives after Christ by simply following His example.
-Yvonne M. Weir
List of Resources Used
Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 257. All scripture will be taken from the NIV
Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997).
Bible.com or January 1, 2001 article
2016 Grace Church Article. All Rights Reserved
Baptism Theology Article ID: DB055-1 | By: H. Wayne House
Yvonne M. Weir, student at TEDS