Baptism: the Do’s and Don’ts

In Matthew 3:6 the people were baptized of John in Jordan, confessing their sins.

[baptized] – G0907 = to immerse, submerge; to make whelmed (i. e. fully wet).  It NEVER means to get partially wet, therefore “sprinkling” is not “baptizing”.  Why does it matter?  Because being immersed into water symbolizes death and burial with Christ (Rom 6:4 & Col 2:12), sprinkling doesn’t.

styles of baptism

Why Immersion Is Baptism

In Acts 8:27-39, a rich eunuch traveled on a chariot and learned the gospel from Phillip, and though it’s not written, it’s understood that Phillip explained that to be saved, the eunuch must be baptized.  The rich eunuch must have been carrying food and water on his chariot for the journey since he was traveling all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem.  So when he learned of the requirement to be baptized, why didn’t he say to Phillip, “Hey, I’ve got some jugs of water in the chariot that you could sprinkle me with”?  BECAUSE THAT’S NOT BAPTISM!  He saw a body of water (Acts 8:36), they went DOWN INTO the water (Acts 8:38), Phillip “immersed – G0907” the eunuch, then they CAME UP OUT OF the water (Acts 8:39).  The language and situation all imply submersion and never even hint of sprinkling or that sprinkling is acceptable even once.


Baptism & Sacrifice

Baptism is like sacrifice in that you sacrifice yourself to God.  So then, comparing to the sacrifice of Cain and Able, Cain scarified food that came out of the cursed ground (Gen 3:17), which God  didn’t respect (Gen 4:5) because there can’t be a remission for sins without blood (Heb 9:22), even if your heart is in the right place.  The point is that if God didn’t respect Cain’s sacrifice, which wasn’t how we are taught to sacrifice, is it safe to believe that God will respect another form of baptism that we weren’t taught to perform, no matter if your heart is right?


Forced Baptism

Forced baptism doesn’t work.  As you see, the people John baptized came to him of their own choice and confessed their sins.  A person can’t receive the “baptism of repentance” (Acts 19:4) if they don’t sincerely repent.  To be baptized, you must “believe with all your heart” (Acts 8:37).


Baptizing Infants

Baptizing infants is the same as forced baptism and is unscriptural.  Circumcision was done when a boy was 8 days old (Lev 12:3), but the new covenant is different in that a Christian must preach/teach the gospel before he baptizes, which means a person must learn the gospel and understand it before they’re baptized (Matt 28:19-20 & Mark 16:15).  An infant, who has nothing to repent of and practically no understanding of anything can’t receive the gospel and therefore shouldn’t be baptized.  An infant can’t “confess the Lord Jesus” (Rom 10:9), much less say anything.  Plus, Jesus said we ought to “be converted and become like little children” to enter the Kingdom (Matt 18:3).  If we are supposed to repent and become like little children, what are little children supposed to repent of and become like?  Not even Jesus was baptized until he was about 30 (Luke 3:23), so let that be an example to us.


The Thief on The Cross

Baptism is necessary for salvation; it saves us (1Pet 3:21).  Baptism is symbolic of dying & being buried with Christ, and also raised back to life with Christ (Col 2:12 & Gal 2:20).  The thief on the cross literally died with Christ (Luke 23:32 & Luke 23:42-43); we only symbolically die with Christ.  That’s why the thief on the cross didn’t require baptism.


Self Baptism

Also, we can’t baptize ourselves.  If we could, I guess Jesus would have.


Confessing Sins at Baptism

[confessing their sins] – Why confess sins at baptism?  Because our “old man” or former self, is crucified with Him, which is how Jesus paid for our sins (Gal 3:13), and then from that point on, we don’t sin anymore (Rom 6:1-6).  If you don’t confess your sins at baptism, when do you?  If you have repented from your sins, you don’t continue sinning or you have turned back to your old ways (2Pet 2:22).  Why ask for forgiveness from past sins that are already forgiven which He doesn’t remember (Heb 8:12)?

Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

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