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                     "IS YOUR BAPTISM SCRIPTURAL?"


INTRODUCTION

1. The necessity of baptism is quite clear in the Scriptures...
   a. Jesus commanded baptism - Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16
   b. His apostles and teachers commanded baptism - Ac 2:38; 10:47-48

2. Many denominations practice some form of baptism, yet vary as to..
   a. The mode of baptism (immersion, pouring, sprinkling)
   b. The subject of baptism (infants, those old enough to repent and
      believe)
   c. The purpose of baptism (to be saved, to show that one is saved)

3. The Bible teaches that there is one baptism (Ep 4:5)...
   a. Just as there is only one Lord, one faith
   b. We can no more say there can be different baptisms than there can
      be different Lords!

4. Which raises several questions.  One may have been baptized in some
   manner...
   a. But was it scriptural?
   b. Was it the one baptism commanded by the Lord?
   c. Might one need to be re-baptized (or rather, scripturally baptized
      for the first time)?

[To aid us in answering such questions, let's first consider...]

I. AN EXAMPLE OF RE-BAPTISM

   A. THE DISCIPLES AT EPHESUS...
      1. Paul found some "disciples" at Ephesus - Ac 19:1
      2. He inquired as to whether they received the Spirit when they
         believed - Ac 19:2
      3. From the context, we know Paul had in mind the miraculous
         reception of the Spirit by the laying on of hands by an apostle
         - Ac 19:6-7; cf. 8:17-19
      4. Their lack of knowledge regarding the Spirit made Paul question
         their baptism - Ac 19:2-3a
         a. Christ commanded a baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit
            - cf. Mt 28:19
         b. How could they have been scripturally baptized if they had
            not even heard of the Spirit?
      5. They had been baptized into John's baptism - Ac 19:3b
      6. Paul explains that John's baptism was to prepare people for
         Christ - Ac 19:4
      7. Hearing the difference, they were baptized in the name of the
         Lord Jesus - Ac 19:5
      -- Thus we have an example of "re-baptism" in the New Testament

   B. REGARDING THEIR RE-BAPTISM...
      1. They had been previously "baptized"
      2. But their baptism was lacking in some way
         a. Even though it was immersion
         b. Even though it was "for the remission of sins" - cf. Mk 1:4
      3. But their baptism was not in the name of Jesus (see below) - Ac
         2:38; 10:48; 19:5
      -- Because their baptism lacked an essential element, "re-baptism"
         was necessary!

[May we not conclude that if our baptism lacks an essential element,
then "re-baptism" is necessary?  To determine whether "re-baptism" is
required of us, let's review the...]

II. ELEMENTS OF SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM

   A. THE PROPER MODE...
      1. Baptism in the New Testament was a burial - Ro 6:3; Col 2:12
      2. The Greek word baptizo means "to immerse, to plunge, to dip"
      3. "For thirteen hundred years was baptism an immersion of the
         person under water." - Brenner (Catholic)
      4. "Baptism means immersion; and it was immersion...Unless it had
         been so, Paul's analogical argument about our being buried with
         Christ in baptism would have had no meaning. Nothing could have
         been simpler than baptism in its first form. When a convert
         declared his faith in Christ, he was taken at once to the
         nearest pool or stream of water and plunged into it, and
         henceforward he was recognized as one of the Christian
         community." - Cunningham (Episcopalian)
      -- The Biblical mode of baptism is immersion in water!

   B. THE PROPER AUTHORITY...
      1. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ - Ac 2:38; 10:48; 19:5
      2. That is, by His authority, and not by the authority of someone
         else
      3. Which would have been a baptism into the name of the Father,
         the Holy Spirit, and the Son, as Jesus Himself commanded - Mt
         28:19
      -- The Biblical authority of baptism is from Jesus Christ and no
         other!

   C. THE PROPER PURPOSE...
      1. Baptism was for the remission of sins - Ac 2:38; 22:16
      2. Made possible by the fact one is buried with Christ into His
         death when they are baptized - Ro 6:3; Col 2:12
      3. Augustine refers to the "apostolic tradition, by which the
         Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle,
         that without baptism...it is impossible for any man to attain
         to salvation and everlasting life."
      4  "Baptism has been instituted that it should lead us to the
         blessings (of this death) and through such death to eternal
         life. Therefore it is necessary that we should be baptized into
         Jesus Christ and His death." - Martin Luther (commentary on Ro
         6:3)
      -- The Biblical purpose of baptism is for the remission of sins,
         to be saved!

   D. THE PROPER SUBJECT...
      1. Baptism was commanded of those capable of repentance - Ac 2:38
      2. Baptism was permitted for those who possessed faith - Ac 8:37;
         cf. Mk 16:16
      3. What about infant baptism?
         a. "It cannot be proved by the sacred Scriptures that infant
            baptism was instituted by Christ, or begun by the first
            Christians after the apostles." - Martin Luther, On
            Rebaptism
         b. "Infant baptism was established neither by Christ nor the
            apostles. In all places where we find the necessity of
            baptism notified, either in a dogmatic or historical point
            of view, it is evident that it was only meant for those who
            were capable of comprehending the word preached, and of
            being converted to Christ by an act of their own will."
            - Jacobi, Article on Baptism in Kitto's Cyclopedia of
            Biblical Literature, Vol. I, p. 287
         -- The Biblical subject for baptism is a penitent believer!

[Remember, when one element was lacking, "re-baptism" was commanded (Ac
19:1-7).  In that case, it was despite having the proper mode, purpose,
and subject!  Having surveyed the essential elements of scriptural
baptism, consider some cases...]

III. WHEN RE-BAPTISM IS NECESSARY

   A. IF OUR BAPTISM INVOLVED THE WRONG MODE...
      1. Such as pouring or sprinkling
      2. As practiced by Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians,
         Episcopalians, Methodists and others
      3. Our baptism lacked the proper mode (immersion)
      -- "Re-baptism" would be therefore be necessary

   B. IF OUR BAPTISM INVOLVED THE WRONG AUTHORITY...
      1. If we were baptized by the authority of anyone other than Jesus
      2. Such as Ellen G. White (Seventh Day Adventists), The Watch
         Tower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses), Joseph Smith (Mormons),
         and others
      3. Our baptism was not by the only proper authority (Jesus Christ)
      -- "Re-baptism" would be therefore be necessary

   C. IF OUR BAPTISM INVOLVED THE WRONG PURPOSE...
      1. If we were baptized as a public confession of faith (thinking
         we were already saved)
      2. As practiced by most Baptists, Assemblies Of God and many
         others
      3. Our baptism was not for the right purpose (remission of sins)
      -- "Re-baptism" would be required to ensure we have been
         scripturally baptized

   D. IF OUR BAPTISM INVOLVED THE WRONG SUBJECTS...
      1. If when baptized we were not penitent believers
      2. As is the case when people are baptized...
         a. When all their friends are doing it
         b. Because their spouse, fiancÚ, or parents are pressuring them
            to do it (and they do it to please them, not God)
         c. As infants incapable of faith or repentance
      3. Our baptism was lacking the right subjects (penitent believers)
      -- Our need for "re-baptism" would be just as great!

CONCLUSION

1. Remember, there is only one baptism (Ep 4:5)...
   a. Baptism commanded by the authority of Jesus Christ - Mt 28:18-19;
      Mk 16:16
   b. Baptism for the remission of sins - Ac 2:38; 22:16
   c. Baptism which is a burial, an immersion in water - Ac 8:38; 10:
      47-48; Ro 6:3; Col 2:12
   d. Baptism which requires a penitent believer - Ac 2:38; 8:37

2. My purpose has not been to unduly trouble one's assurance of
   salvation...
   a. But to make one's calling and election sure - cf. 2Pe 1:10
   b. To examine ourselves as to whether we are truly in the faith - cf.
      2Co 13:5

Because of the many baptisms taught and practiced in the religious
world, we must never hesitate to ask "Is our baptism scriptural?"  If
not, then as Ananias told Saul of Tarsus:

   "...why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away
   your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." - Ac 22:16

If we can assist you, do not hesitate to let us know...!
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