Pekin Church of Christ


Baptism – Deliverance from bondage

Baptism is definitely an important Bible subject. God has spoken on this subject in the New Testament some 94 times. Jesus emphasized “baptism” and made it a vital requirement in the gospel delivered to the Apostles for the salvation of the world.

Matt 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mark 16:15-16

15 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.

When God has anything to say to us on any subject, it is vitally important. With that in mind, let us go to the Holy Scriptures to see what God has to say on the subject of baptism. There is a lot of confusion today in the religious world over the subject of baptism, but it is not due to any ambiguities on the subject in the Bible. The Bible is very clear on the subject.

The Bible mentions more than one baptism.

Heb 6:1-2

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

John’s baptism was a baptism in water for the remission of sins. It pointed forward to the coming of Christ. It had served its purpose and was no longer in use after the death of Jesus on the cross (Acts 18:24-28 & Acts 19:1-5). Jesus, who was sinless, was baptized with this baptism, not for the remission of sins, but to fulfill all righteousness (Matt 3:13-16).

Jesus was baptized (overwhelmed, immersed) in suffering when he suffered and died for our sins (Matt 20:20-23).

Holy Spirit baptism had been given as a sign to the Jews on Pentacost that God would save the Jews through Jesus (Matthew 3:11, Acts 1:1-8, & Acts 2:1-41), and later as a sign to the Jews at the house of Cornelius that God would also save the Gentiles through Jesus (Acts 10:44-48 & Acts 11:13-18).

The baptism of fire will be given in judgment day as the punishment of the wicked (Matthew 3:11-12, Matt 25:41).

Baptism in water in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins is given, starting on the day of Pentecost, as the last step to enter Christ and be saved (Acts 2:36-41, Rom 6:3-4, Gal 3:26-29).

No one can deny that after the death of Jesus on the cross, baptism in water in the name of Jesus was being practiced (Acts 2:38, Acts 10:47-48). Paul also indicated, at the time of his writing to the Ephesians, that after John’s baptism and Holy Spirit baptism had served their purpose, there is (present tense) one baptism.

Eph 4:1-6

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Just as surely as there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, and one God the Father (Ephesians 4:4-6), there is (present tense) ... one baptism (Eph 4:5).

No one can deny that there is one Lord, one Spirit, and one God the Father. Likewise, no one can say that there is (present tense) more than one baptism. John’s baptism and Holy Spirit baptism had served their purpose, and the baptism of fire for the wicked would be in the future. Paul indicated that, when he wrote the Ephesian epistle, the one baptism in water is the baptism of use.

Eph 5:25-26

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

The Ephesians would know that John’s prior baptism was no longer in effect, because Paul had to rebaptize, in the name of Jesus, those who had received John’s baptism at the hands of Apollos (Acts 18:24-28, Acts 19:1-5).

Now let’s look in the Bible in the book of Exodus, where God first employed a baptism to save his chosen ones. In the book of Exodus, we find that the children of Israel were in Egypt as slaves in bondage to a terrible taskmaster, Pharaoh, king of Egypt. There was no way for them to escape on their own.

Ex 1:13-14

13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

God remembered their sufferings in bondage and his promise to Abraham (that his seed would be delivered from bondage (Gen 15:13-21), and sent to them a Deliverer, Moses, to lead them out of bondage to the Promised Land. After ten signs/miracles performed by God on the Egyptians, culminating with the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh reluctantly released the Israelites. Moses led them away, and God provided guidance with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex 13:21-22).

But then Pharaoh relented and ordered his army to bring them back. God told Moses to encamp by the Red Sea. And when Pharaoh’s army came, they trapped them against the sea. There was no way for the Israelites to escape, and they feared greatly and wished they had never left Egypt (Ex 14:10-12).

But Moses told the Israelites that God would fight for them and deliver them.

Ex 14:13-14

13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

And God caused the sea to part, and the Israelites, under the direction of God, went through the sea on dry land to the other side (Ex 14:16, 21-22).

Ex 14:15

16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

Ex 14:21-22

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

They had faith that God would see them safely through the sea, and they acted on their faith, and God brought them to safety on the other side.

Heb 11:29

29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

The Egyptian army pursued them into the sea, and God caused the waters to return and destroy Pharaoh’s army (Ex 14:26-28, Heb 11:29). It is important to note that it was after they had crossed the Red sea, that the Scriptures say that “the Lord saved Israel that day” out of the hand of the Egyptians.

Ex 14:30

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

The Israelites had absolutely no thought that they by their own hand and workmanship had delivered themselves. However, that does not mean that they did not have to act. They had to make a conscience choice, and then obey God in the crossing of the Red Sea to take advantage of God’s deliverance. But their salvation was of God and not of man.

Under God’s direction they crossed the Red sea. They hadn’t worked and earned their release as a matter of a wage (Rom 4:4). It was the mighty power of God in the parting of the sea that enabled the Israelites to escape bondage.

The Bible says that “the Lord saved Israel that day” (Ex 14:30). God gets the credit for His merciful work of salvation from bondage that He performed that day for the Israelites.

They rejoiced greatly because of this great deliverance. They were so thankful that God had delivered them from Egyptian bondage, that they sang songs pf praise to God (Ex 15:1-19).

Through this baptism in the Red Sea, God in his grace and mercy set them free from the bondage of slavery. He cut off and destroyed their oppressors who caused their bondage. They were no longer slaves to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but were set free to walk under the guidance of their leader Moses.

Even forty years after the event, the Canaanites in the land of Canaan knew who had delivered the Israelites with a mighty hand. Rahab in Jericho knew that it was the God of heaven that delivered the Israelites, and not man. God was glorified, not man.

Josh 2:9-11

9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

We can see in the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage 3500 years ago – a type or figure of our salvation today from the bondage of sin.

The Israelites were in bondage, slavery, with no way to escape (Ex 1:13-14). And we today, when out of Christ, are in bondage to sin, dead in trespasses and sins, with no way to escape on our own (Eph 2:1-3).

God sent the Israelites a Deliverer, Moses, to lead them out of bondage (Ex 3:7-10). And today we have a Deliverer, Jesus, to lead us out of the bondage of sin (Matt 1:21).

God parted the sea as an avenue of escape, so the Israelites by faith could escape through the sea (Ex 14:16, 21-22). Today Jesus provides an avenue of escape, through faith leading to repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

The Egyptian army, the source of Egypt’s domination over the Israelites, was destroyed in the sea (Ex 14:26-28). Today, sin causes us to be in bondage, and the Lord takes that away when we are baptized into Jesus. We are buried with him in baptism, where his blood washes away our sins (Rom 6:3-7).

After their deliverance, the Israelites rejoiced in God their Savior (Ex 15:1-9). Today, after our deliverance, we rejoice in God who has delivered us from sin (acts 2:46-47, Acts 8:39, Acts 16:33-34).

The nature of baptism

Regarding the nature of baptism, we find that in this day and age, sprinkling and pouring are sometimes practiced by many denominations as baptism. But, as we shall see, these practices are totally foreign to the Scriptures.

First, look at what Paul says about the Israelites being saved out of Egyptian bondage of slavery. Paul says that when Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage through the Red sea, they indeed experienced a baptism that separated them from their prior bondage.

1 Cor 10:1-2

10:1 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;

Note that in this baptism they were overwhelmed, covered over, immersed, in the cloud and in the sea. They were “under the cloud” and “all passed through the sea” (1 Cor 10:1). Consequently, they were “all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor 10:2). Immediately, we can see the nature of baptism, that it is a covering over, an immersion. In the case of the Israelites, it was an immersion, a covering over, in the cloud and in the sea.

And today we can see that the Bible teaches us to be baptized, and experience an immersion, a covering over, in water.

We find John the baptizer using “much water” in John 3:23 in order to baptize. This passage within and of itself is not conclusive evidence for immersion, but certainly is strong, supportive evidence. John chose a certain location in which to baptize “because” of the availability of “much water” there (John 3:23). It certainly doesn’t take “much water” to do something like “sprinkle” or “pour.” When taken with the totality of Biblical evidence (and remembering that the inspired Scriptures from God are our standard to furnish us completely unto “all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17), the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of immersion.

Following is a discussion of Biblical evidence that demonstrates that the nature of baptism is an immersion in water.

John baptized “in” the river of Jordan (Mark 1:5). Sprinkling or pouring in no way requires one to be “in” or anywhere near a river (or any other sizable body of water).

Jesus was baptized of John “in” Jordan (Mark 1:9). When Jesus’ baptism was completed, He “went up straightway out of the water” (Matt. 3:16). Sprinkling or pouring does not require one to be “in” the water, or come up “out of the water.”

When Phillip baptized the Eunuch, the Scriptures say they both “went down into the water, both Phillip and the Eunuch, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38). Then “they” came “up out of the water” (Acts 8:39). Sprinkling does not require “both” going “down into the water” nor both coming “up out of the water.” Immersion logically is the answer as to what Phillip did with the Eunuch. Why would the Holy Spirit be so precise in explaining what happened in baptism, except to impress upon us the nature of baptism, an immersion in water?

Jesus gave the requirements for entrance into the kingdom of God, saying that we must be “born of the water and of the Spirit.”

John 3:3-5

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

To be born of the Spirit refers to being “born” or “begotten again” by the Spirit’s powerful word

I Peter 1:22-23

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

The Spirit of God came, was sent by Jesus (after he went away) to the apostles:

John 16:7

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

When the Spirit of God came to the apostles, he would reprove/convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment:

John 16:8

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”

The Spirit of God came to the apostles and revealed the word of God to them so they could reprove the world with the word.

John 14:25-26

“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

John 16:12-13

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

1 Cor 2:12-13

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

1 Peter 1:12

“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

By the word of God, delivered to the apostles by the Spirit of God, we are “begotten again:”

1 Cor 4:14-15

“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”

James 1:18

“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

1 Peter 1:22-23

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

Referencing back to what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3, to be “born of the water” refers to baptism. Nicodemus understood that for a birth to take place, to be born, from a physical standpoint, involved coming forth out of the womb. He said, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?” (John 3:4). Baptism is similar to this in that when we are “born of the water” we come forth “out of the water” (Matt. 3:16).

To be “born of the water”, to come forth “out of the water” requires “much water”, so John chose Aenon near to Salim as a place to baptize, because there was “much water there” (John 3:23).

Paul states that “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” (Romans 6:4).

We are “buried” in baptism, and “raised” to walk in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Christ was dead when buried -- God raised him from the dead -- and a living Christ came out of the grave.

We are buried in baptism, “dead in trespasses and sins.” Paul said:

Eph 2:1-6

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Then we, being “dead in trespasses and sins” are “raised up together” with Christ (Eph. 2:6, Col. 2:11-13). This being “quickened together” and being “raised up together” takes place in baptism:

Romans 6:1-11

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Col. 2:12-13

“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”

We don’t bury living people. In baptism we don’t bury a live person (spiritually alive), but rather a person “dead in trespasses and sins” (Col. 2:11-13). If we were told to bury a horse, we wouldn’t bury a live horse. We wouldn’t just sprinkle or pour a little dirt on him. When we are “buried with him by baptism” (Rom. 6:4), and we are “planted together in the likeness of his death” (Rom. 6:5), planted, placed under the water.

As Romans 6:5 says that we are “planted together in the likeness of His death.” Jesus was not placed partly in and partly out of the tomb. He was placed “in” the tomb (Matt. 27:57-60). When we are baptized, we are placed “in” the water.

In Colossians 2:11-13, we find we are “buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him.” We are dead in sins, but quickened (made alive). Immersion fits the description of baptism where we are “buried” and “raised.” As further supportive evidence for baptism being immersion, lexicographers who have looked at how the word was used in the New Testament days define it as to mean immersion (dip, plunge, immerse). For instance, reference Henry Joseph Thayer’s scholarly lexicon on the meaning of New Testament terms:

NT:908 Baptism … a word peculiar to N. T. and ecclesiastical writings, immersion, submersion;

1. used tropically of calamities and afflictions with which one is quite overwhelmed: Matt 20:22 f Rec.; Mark 10:38; Luke 12:50 …

2. of John's baptism, that purificatory rite by which men on confessing their sins were bound to a spiritual reformation, obtained the pardon of their past sins and became qualified for the benefits of the Messiah's kingdom soon to be set up: Matt 3:7; 21:25; Mark 11:30; Luke 7:29; 20:4; Acts 1:22; 10:37; 18:25; (19:3); … binding to repentance (Winer's Grammar, 188 (177)), Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4.

3. of Christian baptism; this, according to the view of the apostles, is a rite of sacred immersion, commanded by Christ, by which men confessing their sins and professing their faith in Christ are born again by the Holy Spirit unto a new life, come into the fellowship of Christ and the church (1 Cor 12:13), and are made partakers of eternal salvation;

(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon)

I once asked a native Greek friend (not a particularly religious man) what “baptizo” meant – he immediately responded that it meant “to immerse.” Thus, we see from the Bible and Lexicographers and Greek speaking people that baptism is an immersion in water, and not a sprinkling or pouring of water on the head.

The proper subjects of baptism

Because of supposed “Original Sin” we have the supposed necessity for baptizing infants that they might be saved, a practice which is totally foreign to anything we read about in the Scriptures.

The problem of whether or not to baptize infants vanishes, when we understand the Biblical teaching that infants are not “defiled” and “dead” to begin with, and that they are not lost.

Sinners outside of Christ are lost, and infants are not sinners. They cannot understand God’s law, cannot rebel against it, cannot transgress it. They are pure, safe, and sinless. That’s why Jesus had the attitude toward little children that He did (Matt. 18:1-14, Matt. 19:13-14, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17). That is why God said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20).

As we have said, the Bible is totally silent about baptizing infants. Baptism of households is mentioned a couple of times in the New Testament. “Household baptism” (baptism of a household) and “infant baptism” (baptism of infants) are not synonymous by any means. Cases sometimes referenced in particular are the house of Lydia, a traveling saleslady from the city of Thyatira (Acts 16:14-15, 40), and the house of Stephanas, a benevolent man of means (I Cor. 1:16, 1 Cor 16:15-17). These were by context mature households.

What does the Bible say about the prerequisites for baptism? Lets’ refer to what the Lord Jesus and the Apostles taught on the subject (I Peter 4:11). Jesus described the process whereby men would be drawn to Him (John 6:44-45):

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me”.

God “draws” men to Jesus, the Savior. He “teaches” them. Those who have “heard” and “learned” come to Jesus. Teaching is involved. Hearing and learning are involved. God teaches us through the word of God, the gospel, and we are thereby saved (I Cor. 1:21). God saves the believers (I Cor. 1:21). Infants cannot be taught, hear, learn, and believe in Jesus. They don’t need to be.

The Lord Jesus taught that those who have been “taught”, who have “heard” and who have “learned” come to Him (John 6:44-45). He placed “teaching” as a prerequisite to baptism (Matt. 28:19):

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.

We are to baptize “them” (the ones taught).

Then again, in a parallel account in Mark 16:15-16, Jesus said:

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”.

So not only is teaching and preaching a prerequisite for baptism, but so also is faith in Christ. This is made abundantly clear in the case of the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:36-38:

“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? And Phillip 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. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Phillip and the Eunuch; and he baptized him.”

Note that Phillip’s response to the Eunuch’s request to be baptized, was that “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest”. If he believed, then he could be baptized. Faith is a prerequisite to baptism. Faith comes by hearing and understanding God’s word (Romans 10:10-17, John 20:30-31, Acts 15:7, John 17:20).

Infants are not proper subjects for baptism, but rather those who are of accountable age, and can hear, learn, and believe in Jesus.

The purpose of baptism

It was necessary that the Israelites pass through the Red sea to be saved from bondage. This was called a baptism “in the cloud and in the sea.” The Bible says that it is necessary for us today to be baptized to be saved from sin (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21). But, even though the Scriptures say it, some men incorrectly say that this makes man to earn his salvation.

The Israelites did not “earn” their release from Egyptian bondage by obeying God and crossing the Red sea. God saved them (Ex 14:30).

And today it is God that saves us through faith leading to baptism (Mark 16:15-16). See also Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21. It is totally incorrect today for some to say that baptism for the remission of sins makes man his own Savior or makes man earn his own salvation.

If a rope is thrown to a drowning man, and he is pulled from certain death, he does not think for one second that he has earned his escape from certain death. Mercy was shown to him by the one who casts to him the rope and pulls him in.

And when one is baptized into Christ at the Lord’s command, he is grateful to God for his salvation, and never boasts afterwards that he saved himself by his own works.

Eph 2:8-10

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We should not consider our feeble submission to God’s command through baptism as a work equal to the mercy provided through the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The crossing of the Red sea, a baptism “in the cloud and in the sea,” to escape the bondage of slavery is a figure of our escape from the bondage of sin into the liberty we have in Christ. Baptism marks the line of demarcation from being slaves to sin (Romans 6:16) to being servants of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18). God brings a great deliverance unto us, which shows His great love and mercy toward us.

The crossing of the Israelites through the Red sea resulted in their escape from bondage. The Egyptian army was destroyed in this baptism. Egyptian domination over their lives was removed.

And Baptism “in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) results in the source of our bondage, sin, being removed. Baptism in the name of Jesus is the baptism that the Lord commanded (Acts 2:38, Acts 10:48). The reason for baptism is important -- in order to have sins forgiven (Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21), and in order to be baptized into Jesus.

Rom 6:3

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Gal 3:26-27

26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

In Jesus we have salvation (2 Tim 2:10), all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), redemption through his blood (Eph 1:7, Col 1:14), an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled (Eph 1:11, 1 Peter 1:3-4).

As an example of this salvation, we have in Acts 2 a very large group of people (Acts 2:5) who have just been convicted (by the mighty preaching of God’s word) that they have done the terrible deed of crucifying the Son of God (Acts 2:36-37): “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 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?”

They weren’t interested at that time in anything except how to escape the consequences of their terrible deed. Peter tells them what to do (Acts 2:38-40):

“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. 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. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

Peter knew what their vital concern was at the moment, and what they needed right now. They had been pricked in the heart and convicted of a great crime against God (that of crucifying the Son of God). They desperately wanted to know what to do to be saved. He tells them what to do, that they should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins. Peter reinforces it with the statement (Acts 2:40):

“Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

Peter was talking about what to do immediately to be saved. He tells them to “repent and be baptized” in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins. His answer was not just to “repent,” but to “repent and be baptized.” In no way, shape or form is he adamately telling them to do the first part (repent) immediately, but that they can do the second part (baptism) whenever convenient (say six months later). That would defy the rules of grammar, and would not make any sense whatsoever, given the context showing the peoples’ desperate question on what to do. He was talking with them at that point in time about their salvation (Acts 2:40). It is evident then that the answer given by Peter was the answer to their question that was borne out of deep despair -- what do we need to do to be saved! As the scripture says – repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

As soon as the avenue of escape from bondage was revealed, the Israelites quickly took advantage of it and crossed the Red sea “in the cloud and in the sea” (Ex 14:21-22, 1 Cor 10:2). It was done urgently and without delay.

And The baptism given by the Lord today is to be submitted to urgently and without delay (for good reason). In New Testament times, it was done “that same day” (Acts 2:36-41), not letting anything “hinder” us (Acts 8:36-38), “the same hour of the night” (Acts 16:30-34), “straightway [immediately]” (Acts 16:34), and not letting anything cause us to “tarry” (Acts 22:16). It was done “in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Baptism wasn’t withheld from people until months later when a group of candidates has been assembled, as many times is the case today. That practice is not authorized nor found anywhere in the Bible.

The Israelites crossed the Red sea and were free men, free from the bondage of slavery. And after being baptized into Jesus (Rom 6:3, Gal 3:27), he is in Christ where he is a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ he enjoys all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). Being baptized into the one body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13), he is saved (Ephesians 5:23). In Christ he has the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14). And in Christ he has salvation (2 Timothy 2:10).

Another passage to look at is Mark 16:15-16 where the Lord gives the great commission to the apostles: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

The Lord gives two conditions of salvation and one condition of damnation. The one condition of damnation is all that is given because it would be trite or unnecessary to say that he that believes not and is not baptized will be condemned. The unbeliever is condemned already (John 3:18). It won’t make a bit of difference what the unbeliever does with respect to baptism, he is condemned already for his unbelief. The unbeliever’s status is condemnation, and whether or not he is baptized will not change that status one bit. It only takes one thing to condemn one and that is unbelief. If one believes, then he should submit to baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). God did not put such passages into the Bible to confuse us – we need to pay particular attention to his word and what he is saying to us.

Another passage to look at is Acts 22 where Paul recounted his conversion to his Jewish brethren:

“And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

Some say that Saul (later called Paul) was already saved back on the road to Damascus before Ananias came to him. They say that when Ananias, a Jewish Christian (Acts 22:12), referred to Saul, a Jew, as a brother (Acts 9:17, Acts 22:13), he was referring to him as a brother in the Lord. When Jewish Christians referred to Jewish alien sinners as brethren, they were not considering them as brothers in the Lord (Acts 2:16, 29, 37, Acts 3:17, Acts 7:12, Acts 13:15, 26, 38, Acts 22:1, 5, Acts 23:1,5-6, Acts 28:17). Absolutely not! The Jews had a strong religious and national tie toward one another (regardless as to whether or not they were actually brethren in the Lord) and called each other brethren (after the flesh), as is evident by the above passages.

Regarding Saul, until he was baptized, he certainly did not have the demeanor of a saved person. For three days after his encounter with the Lord, Saul could not see, did not eat or drink, and prayed (Acts 9:6-11). If he was saved, then he was the most miserable saved person alive. He did not by any means show the peace and joy that Christians are supposed to have (Romans 5:1, Phil 4:6-7, I Peter 1:8).

Ananias was told by the Lord to go to Saul. He came to him and told him what he must do, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Ananias in essence asked him why he was tarrying, praying and fasting, and told him to get off his knees – “Arise, and be baptized!” The mourner’s bench, the “pray through” system for alien sinners, instituted by men, is not found in the Scriptures, and is not the answer as to how these alien sinners are to be saved. Saul was praying, but was told to get up and be about the business of obeying the Lord in baptism that his sins might be washed away (Acts 22:16).

After Saul was baptized, he ate and received strength, and straightway preached Christ “that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:17-20). Here we have the man Saul, who now clearly had peace with God, proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of God!

Then again, Peter in I Peter 3:21-22 emphasized the importance of baptism and said:

“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: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 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. 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: who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”

Peter by the Holy Spirit says that our salvation through baptism is indeed a figure of Noah’s salvation through water. But make no mistake about it. The Holy Spirit says that the figure saves us, “the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us”.

It is not a washing off of the filth of the flesh, but rather the answer or the interrogation of a good conscience toward God. As the New American Standard translation says (I Peter 3:21):

“And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

It is evident that the Bible teaches that baptism is an immersion in water “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” and is necessary for salvation (Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21).

Once baptized in the Red sea, the Israelites were led by Moses through the Wilderness to the Promised Land. They experienced many trials and tribulations along the way, and due to disobedience on this journey many fell by the wayside. Finally, a remnant of Israel entered and conquered the land of Canaan, the land of promise.

When we are baptized, we rise to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4). After we are baptized, Jesus, the captain of our faith, leads us through the trials of life to the promised land, heaven itself.

Rev 2:9-10

9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

The gospel is for all who can hear, believe, and act on God’s commands.. God is able to deliver us through Jesus our Savior (Matt 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:14-41). It is God’s desire that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim 2:3-3).

So, we need to be buried with Jesus in baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) – and rise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4).

Let us “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).