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  • Writer's pictureLa Vernia Church of Christ

Jesus said Baptism is Necessary

Written by Wayne Robbins 10/26/2023

Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (16) He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” The fact that Jesus Himself said these words should settle the matter; baptism is essential for salvation. Unfortunately, many religious groups still teach and promote a “faith only” salvation. They completely ignore James 2:24 “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Our Salvation does not depend upon works that man has devised, but it does depend on being obedient to the works that God has commanded. We have been created for the good works that God has prepared for us and one of those God-given works is baptism. Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

If you believe you are saved through “faith only” and not by obeying the works God has commanded, please read my article entitled, “I am Saved Through Faith”. In 2 Thessalonians 1:8, you see a clear warning for those who do not obey the Gospel. Paul made it clear that obeying the Gospel included baptism. Romans 6:3-4 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The word “Gospel” means good news. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ and it centers around His death, burial, and resurrection, “1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you… Christ died… He was buried, and that He rose again the third day…” When you are obedient to the Gospel, you die to your old self and bury the old man of sin in the waters of baptism. You are then raised with Christ as you come out of the water to walk in the newness of life. Many denominational groups use the book of Romans to teach salvation and yet they completely leave out Romans 6:3-14. This passage makes it clear that baptism is necessary in order to have our sins removed by Christ. Baptism is necessary for accountable believers, not for children and adults whose minds have never properly developed. Because of disabilities, some adults have a mind that has never developed in a way that they can properly reason, confess, or completely understand the Gospel message. Though their body is like that of an adult their mind is like that of a child. Jesus said this in Matthew 18:3, …"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. and Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Jesus was not talking about little children being fit for the Kingdom of Heaven because of their body size. Jesus was talking about their innocent and pure mind. Some adults have a mind that has not developed and remains pure and innocent. Baptism is for accountable adults who can reason and understand the simple Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

A proper baptism requires that the person being baptized have an understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it. Romans 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. The word “heart” here is not simply meaning the organ that pumps blood. It is a reference to the intellect and entire thought process of the man. If you did not obey from your heart/mind with a proper understanding, you could not have properly obeyed the Gospel. This is important because most denominations do not teach baptism according to the Word of God. An incorrect understanding of baptism would lead to an incorrect baptism. A person is not required to know everything in the Bible in order to have a proper baptism. A person must undoubtedly know and understand some things in order to have a proper baptism. They must know and believe that there is one God who sent His Son into the world to die for us (John 3:16). They must believe that Jesus is the Son who died on the cross and rose from the dead on the 3rd day. They must be willing to fully trust God and turn their life over to Him (Rom 12). They must know and believe that Jesus built His church (Mat 16, Rom 16:16), and that everyone is called to come into His church for salvation. They must understand that in order to get into Christ’s Church they must repent of their past sins (Luke 13:3), be willing to confess Christ before men (Mat 10:32-33), and be baptized into Christ, Galatians 3:26-27 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Baptism is so important that we see in scripture men who are baptized twice. Their first baptism was not in accordance with Christ's New Covenant, so they were properly baptized the second time. Acts 19:3-5 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." (4) Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. If John's baptism was no longer valid, then someone today who is baptized into a man-made denomination certainly did not have a valid baptism. That person was lacking the understanding of the one true church belonging to Christ, Ephesians 5:25-26 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, (26) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word”. How could a person NOT have a proper understanding of Christ’s Church but yet have a proper baptism? Only upon a proper baptism are you added to Christ’s Church, Acts 2:38,41, 47.

Belief is a required God-given work that one must do in order to obtain salvation, just as baptism is a God-given work that one must do to obtain salvation. John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." Baptism is not simply an addition to belief but it is a proper response to true belief. Once the Philippian Jailer and his family believed, they responded properly by being baptized. Acts 16:31-33 “So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (32) Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. (33) And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.” Are you an accountable adult living under the New Covenant of Christ? If you believe that you are saved prior to baptism, you do not have a proper belief. Baptism is a proper response to a proper belief. On the day of Pentecost when Peter preached a Gospel sermon, 3,000 people believed and were immediately baptized that very day. Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. They were added to Christ’s church as we see in verse 47.

We also see a man of Ethiopia who heard the message of Jesus Christ and believed. Once they came to a place where there was water, this man was immediately baptized. Acts 8:35-38 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. (36) Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" (37) Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (38) So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Philip preached about Jesus and that obviously included a need for baptism. A proper belief leads you to a proper baptism. The Ethiopian man was not being baptized in order to, “Confess an outward sign of an inward Faith”, as so many denominations falsely teach. Confession is to be made with your lips, not by the act of baptism, Rom 10:9. The denominations/religious sects schedule their baptisms and then baptize people that they have already pronounced “saved.” The Ethiopian was baptized because it was the proper response to a proper belief. He made his confession with his lips and then immediately went down into the water. He was able to go on his way rejoicing after baptism because only then was his sins forgiven. Those who wait and schedule a baptism can not have a proper understanding. Baptism, according to Acts 2:38, is for the removal of sin. Why would someone decide to become a Christian and then delay their baptism? Do they truly understand that they are lost in their sins until those sins are washed away by Christ’s blood in baptism? Why then would one schedule a baptism for some time in the future and remain lost in sin for another day? A proper belief will always lead to seeking out water and immediate baptism. God did not give us a command that we could not keep. Over 70% of our Earth is covered with water and it is found under the earth all over the world. God knows every man's heart! When a man truly believes, God is powerful, faithful, and is able to provide the element of water that He has commanded.

Through baptism, we can make contact with the blood of Christ and have our sins washed away. It was at the death of Christ that the life-giving blood came flowing out. John 19:33-34 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. (34) But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. It is only at the point of baptism that our souls can be purified from sin. This was exactly the case for Paul. Ananias told Paul in Acts 22:16, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'” Notice that Paul was still in his sins until he was properly baptized. After baptism, his sins had been washed away. Upon doing all that God had called him to do, it could be said that Paul was, “calling on the name of the Lord”. If we want to properly “call on the name of the Lord”, we must be willing to do all that the Lord has called us to do, including a proper baptism into water. 1 Peter 1:18-19 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. We are redeemed by the blood of Christ at baptism. Peter goes on to say this in 1 Peter 1:22 “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” Baptism is not for outward show or an outward cleaning. A proper belief followed by a proper baptism saves us by cleansing our soul and conscience as we make contact with the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 3:20-21 … eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” Your very soul and conscience are not cleansed until you have had a proper baptism/immersion in water. John said it like this in Revelation 1:5 “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood

A proper baptism will always be a burial in water. Remember Romans chapter 6, “we were buried with Him through baptism”. We read that the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip both “went down into the water” and he was baptized. Christ and His disciples were baptizing in places where there was much water, John 3:22-23. If one is going to have a proper baptism, it must be a burial and not sprinkling or pouring. It must be a baptism administered to an accountable believer who can reason and repent, Acts 2:38. This accountable believer must be buried in water, Colossians 2:11-12 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Under the Old Testament, circumcision was required. It was a circumcision of the flesh. Under the New Testament, circumcision is still required, but it is a spiritual circumcision that takes place at the time of a proper baptism.

Acts 18:8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. When Paul was in Corinth (Acts 18:1) he baptized people who had been committing horrible sins (1 Cor 6:9-11). Once they had a proper belief, they then had a proper response and were baptized. Prior to baptism, God could not use them in the service of the Kingdom. Upon baptism we are sanctified, which means, “to be set apart for God's use”. We are told more about the sinful past life of the Corinthian brothers in 1st Corinthians 6:9,10. Notice what it says in verse 11 concerning their sinful past. 1 Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Once they were washed in the blood of Christ through baptism, they were then sanctified and justified. Baptism puts us into fellowship with God where He can use us in His kingdom and for His glory.

Baptism is a commandment that must be followed. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave the commandment to go into the world and baptize. Jesus Himself said in John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.” The words that you find in Matthew 28 are some of Christ’s last words before going to the right hand of the Father. If one says they love Christ, why would they then refuse the command of Christ to be baptized? Cornelius was a godly man who was commanded to be baptized. Though he was a godly man, he had not yet become a Christian. God gave the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon him, as we also see took place in Acts 2. Because of this, the Jews were convinced that the Gentiles had been accepted by God. Once Cornelius and his household believed, they were then commanded by Peter to be baptized. Acts 10:47-48 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. …

Holy Spirit baptism was prophesied by the great prophet John (John 1:33, Mat 11:9-11). In Acts 2, Holy Spirit baptism took place on the Day of Pentecost for the Jews and then in Acts 10 for the Gentiles. Holy Spirit baptism was administered by Christ as prophesied. It is water baptism that we are all commanded to be baptized in today. We read in Ephesians 4:4-5 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism;. It is at water baptism that we enter into a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Paul declared there is only one baptism in this present Christian age. Did you realize that in the scriptures we are never commanded to be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Holy Spirit baptism is administered by Christ only, (John 1:33). The baptism that Jesus commands is one that is to be administered by man. Jews and Gentiles were commanded to be baptized in water baptism. This is the one baptism that we must submit to today. Jesus administered Holy Spirit baptism upon Cornelius and his household. Though Cornelius was a godly man, he would not have received salvation if he refused water baptism, after being commanded to do so by the inspired Apostle. The word of God is living and powerful (Heb 4:12), therefore through the Word of God, YOU are also being commanded to be baptized in water “for the remission of sins” Acts 2:38. If you fail to be baptized, you are still in your sins; they have not been remitted/taken away. Matthew 26:28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Just like the fact that Christ’s blood was shed FOR the remission/taking away of sin, we are baptized FOR the remission/taking away of our sins. Upon a proper baptism, Christ’s blood blots out our sins. You are not baptized “because your sins are already forgiven,” you are baptized “for” the remission/removal of sin.

Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that salvation could not be obtained unless one was born of water and of Spirit. John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' If your rebirth from an old carnal man into the new spiritual man did not include water, then you are not born again at all. You are still in your sins. Christ did His part! He died for you on the cross, shed His blood, overcame death, and He rose from the grave! He is now asking you to believe in Him. A true belief will cause one to respond with a proper baptism. When you submit to a proper baptism, you receive the free gift of salvation (Rom 15:15-17), which is the cleansing and salvation of your soul. Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. When we are obedient to the Gospel message, the Holy Spirit puts His seal upon us and we receive the free gift of salvation. We must be properly baptized into water in order to receive the gift of salvation from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In John 4:10-14, Jesus taught that the gift of God is everlasting life.

We see that a woman named Lydia had her heart open to the message of Christ. Her response to this message was that of being baptized. Acts 16:14-15 “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. (15) And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.” Only AFTER her baptism could she be judged “faithful to the Lord”. I know that most members of Christ’s church have friends from religious sects who claim to be Christians. If they did not have a proper belief and understanding, followed by a proper baptism, they are not to be judged as a faithful Christian. Lydia understood that she could be judged faithful AFTER a proper baptism. It is true that some may be doing works in the name of the Lord and yet not have a proper baptism. Jesus deals with this category of people who work in His name but have not done God’s will. Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (22) Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' (23) And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' You may be saying that you love Jesus even though you believe that salvation comes before water baptism. If you truly love Jesus, you will follow His commandments and the teachings of His inspired writers. These teachings clearly show that baptism is a part of salvation.

Baptism is a true test of our faith. To human reasoning, water baptism may make little or no sense at all. 1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” Through baptism, God will test our hearts and see who has total trust in His ways. God will see who has made contact with the blood of Christ and write their name in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev 20:15). God will see who is baptized and faithful. He will separate the wheat from the chaff, Matthew 3:12-15 “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (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. No one can say, “I want to be just like Jesus and He wasn't baptized, therefore I don't need to be baptized.” He was baptized into water. You have heard of John 3:16, read Matthew 3:16. The baptism of Jesus was not a pouring or sprinkling of water but it was, as the Greek word baptízō means, “an immersion” into water. We also are immersed into water, but it is not the same baptism that Jesus received. Our baptism is for the removal of sins and Jesus was without sin, (1 Pet 2:22). I want to be like my Lord and Savior in every way possible. I have sin in my life, but He has made a way for me to make contact with His Precious Blood through baptism and have my sins washed away. May we all humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and submit to His teachings and commands. May we all be willing to hear the words of Christ and believe the Gospel message that centers around His death, burial, and resurrection. May we all be willing to repent of our sins and confess Christ’s name before men. That type of belief and Godly actions will cause a soul to respond and be immersed in water for the remission of sins. We must know that upon our baptism we DO NOT join a church. The fact is, when you have a proper baptism like those in Acts chapter 2, the Lord adds you to His church. Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. Acts 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

We read in John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you have not obeyed God's plan of salvation, then you have not been added to His church. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2) For He says: "IN AN ACCEPTABLE TIME I HAVE HEARD YOU, AND IN THE DAY OF SALVATION I HAVE HELPED YOU." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

If you want to study more from the Bible concerning salvation and living with God for eternity, please email me or call me anytime.

Wayne Robbins

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