Study on Christian Baptism (2024 Version)

I’m reading Matthew chapter 3 in its entirety: “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. 13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.  Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (and we see the Trinity here).”

To the people their baptism was supposed to be a statement that they had been unclean and going in the wrong direction, but now they are turning to God, getting in line with Him, and are intent on demonstrating that by their deeds.  Getting baptized was the initial deed to show their intent on obeying God and being in alignment with His ways.  Baptism without such an intent is a meaningless show.  And obviously one must bear the fruit of righteousness in their life after baptism- or their baptism is basically made void.  The act of baptism itself cannot be neglected since that is how God had arranged it by John’s time, and has arranged it since, that men are to publicly declare their repentance by baptism in water.  

It’s interesting how the people in John the Baptist and Jesus’ time understood baptism.  It must be because of its relation to how Israel’s Priests were set apart for service under the Old Covenant.  And though obviously baptism had come to be applied to repenting sinners, and not just priests for entrance into or consecration for ministry, God evidently didn’t contest this but instead rather sent John to baptize men with water unto repentance.  The practice of water baptism to proclaim repentance and a new life of obedience to God have also carried over as a Christian ordinance in the New Covenant.  People are to get baptized in water now for the same basic reason that the people should have got baptized in water through John the Baptist’s preaching.  

1 Peter 3:16-22: “Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth 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: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”

Imagine Abraham being regarded as the father of faith if he had been unwilling to offer up Isaac his son at God’s request.  Imagine if the thief on the cross had not publicly sided with Jesus like he did.  The thief on the cross, though not baptized with water, was essentially baptized by fire in having the proper attitude towards Jesus Christ’s authority in siding with Him.  That is the proper attitude which a proper Christian baptism must stem from in order to be valid in God’s sight.  

The only differences in Christian baptism compared to those who were baptized by John the Baptist have to do with the fullness of revelation of God, and the fullness of redemption now offered, due to the appearance and completed earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.  Hence Christians are to identify with Jesus Christ in baptism.  They are promised the Holy Spirit in relation to a true baptism through faith in Jesus Christ, who has now been revealed to be the Messiah who has suffered and died as the Perfect Lamb of God to make an atonement for sins; and He has risen from the dead and shed forth His Holy Spirit to live in those that obey Him.  Thus, a true baptism now is identification with the Messiah whom John said that men should believe in.  And the one who is baptized now, with the proper attitude towards Jesus Christ, can receive the Holy Spirit through the Messiah’s full redemption which they have become a partaker of. 

Acts 2:32-39: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Receiving the Holy Spirit in relation to water baptism is not a formula; it is a matter of exercising an obedient, living faith in Jesus Christ where one believes in Him as the Son of God with the basic understanding that the authority of the Father and the witness of the Holy Spirit, the other two persons of the Trinity, abide in Him.  

John 5:22-24:”For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He that honoreth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  

Jesus is God as the 2nd person of the Trinity who represents the Godhead as the Judge of all mankind.  Christian baptism is a declaration that one has come under His authority and is committed to keep all that He has commanded in His Word.  It’s amazing to me that so many professing Christians will contest the Christian’s obligation to keep God’s commandments.  They see Biblical terms like “faith in Christ” and “the grace of God” through a lens which is not derived from the Bible.  From a Biblical lens, there is no saving faith in Christ that does not submit to His authority and live by His Word; and the grace of God in Christ is only for those who do so.  God expects us to do whatever it takes to come into line with His authority and receive His grace as help to overcome sin, rather than as a license to enjoy the pleasures of sin.  

Scriptural baptism is actually a contract whereby one commits to learn and walk in God’s ways while shunning all the pleasures of sin in the hope of all the mercies, spiritual blessings, and exceedingly great promises which God has guaranteed to those who take hold of His covenant in Christ.  A proper Biblical Baptism is signing up to learn to observe whatsoever Christ commanded.  And it is ironic that one group of people who frequently fight against the thought that Christians actually need to live holy, avoid sinning, and overall walk worthy of God are those who are called Baptists.  And though many also think that they do in truth live by the Bible, note that it is one thing to pick certain things in the Bible which you like, which you think agree well with how you’ve chosen to live, which maybe you think you ought to emulate to be a better version of yourself, etc.-  yet it is quite another thing to let go and submit to all of God’s Word’s verdicts and instructions, whether you like it or not, whether it helps you or hurts you in your present circumstances, whether you feel better about yourself for doing so or not, etc.  That is being a true Christian disciple.  Doing that is denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus as He said we must do to inherit eternal life.  That is the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life in Him.   And only those who do this can truly be said to keep the Word of God- and thus do the will of God.

Matthew 12:49-50: “And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Luke 8:20-21: “And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. 21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.”

Along that same line of thought, we read in Romans 6:1-4: “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

The whole of Romans chapter 6, and the train of thought in the Book of Romans, shows how the grace of God is given for no other purpose but to make people servants to God who are free from sin’s dominion.  Obeying the Gospel of Christ is dying to sin with Christ in order to, through the promises of God, walk in new life as servants to God.  Christian baptism represents agreement and alignment with this purpose.  There is no grace offered otherwise, and no everlasting life promised otherwise, but rather the guarantee of death.  Remember John 8:51 where Jesus said  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”  

So baptism is supposed to be the declaration that we are under His authority that henceforth we should not serve sin through the life He offers to those who serve God under His authority.  

By the way here: Those who believe in baptism by immersion (and I believe baptism by sprinkling and baptism by immersion both are acceptable,) should consider that baptism by immersion does not literally illustrate death and resurrection with Christ.  Jesus was not buried at sea.  If it was supposed to literally picture this, Christian baptism would involve being wrapped in linen, put in a tomb, having a stone rolled to the tomb, having the stone removed, the baptized would unwrap the linen, fold it up, and exit the tomb.  Obviously, that is ridiculous.  I think it’s obvious that death and new life with Christ is pictured in a different way than that through the water of baptism.  I believe that both sprinkling and immersion get that point across.

Consider then more Scripture relating baptism with coming under Jesus Christ’s authority.  

Leviticus 19:36-37: “Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 20:26: “ And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”  

God brought Israel out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership that they should be a holy people unto Him.  Thus Israel as a nation was baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea as they left Egypt.  

And yet God was displeased with those who didn’t live up to the purpose of their baptism- and destroyed them in His wrath.  And look at how this passage from 1 Corinthians chapter 10 is applied directly to baptized Christian church members.

1 Corinthians 10:1-12: “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat (food); 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (that’s a reference to lascivious playing). 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Like we saw from 1 Peter 3:21, baptism is virtually essential (let me explain more), not due to the cleansing of the water itself, but in order to have a good conscience towards God.  It’s intended as an initial act of obedience in entering into the whole package of Christianity.  Things like infant baptism are evil because infants cannot have a repentant attitude and an obedient, ready mind towards Christ’s instruction- so baptism cannot represent to them what God intended it to represent.  It is no different than with the little children who get coached into saying the sinner’s prayer, and then into baptism, in many evangelical churches.  This is no different than misusing the holy things in the Temple; and it deceives people greatly

Those who would enter into the whole package of Christianity need to get baptized, both for making a declaration of this intent and in doing the ordinance whereby God has commanded that this declaration be made.  And if they die before they can do it like the thief on the cross, while exercising a good conscience towards God in the ways they are able like the thief on the cross came to do, then they’ll yet be saved by the true grace of God (who knows the hearts and knows all things).  But you cannot be a faithful Christian and knowingly disregard getting baptized.

Mark 16:15-16: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” 

Consider the implications of the following passage.  Read closely; connect two and two together.  

Acts 8:35-38 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him (the Ethiopian eunuch) Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

So those who haven’t been baptized or those who have been baptized but not for the right reason, should get their heart right and get baptized for the right reason.  And anyone who won’t be baptized for the right reason is basically saying that they will not have this man to reign over them (that is, Jesus Christ- see Luke 19:27- His enemies who will get slain before Him at His 2nd coming said that, at least in their hearts).  And if you have been under His rule, seeking to obey His Word and deny yourself the pleasures of sin as your ultimate aim, yet for some reason you have not been baptized yet to publicly declare this (maybe related to how you were baptized before when you shouldn’t have been and it didn’t occur to you that you ought to do it in accordance with the Biblical reason to do it), then certainly get baptized ASAP.  There is no point putting it off any longer; and it would be disobedience and backsliding to put it off any longer in your case.  I’ve known of people whose refusal to surrender to Christ and walk in all the truth of His Word was pretty obviously demonstrated by their neglect to get baptized as a Christian.  And vice-versa.  And that is how it is supposed to be when the lines of Christianity are drawn properly and understood, without counterfeit baptisms and confusion over baptism, in the mix.

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]