WHY IS SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM IMPORTANT?
Many people are coming from different church backgrounds, for which we praise God. Unfortunately, a common denominator seen in these churches is a departure from sound doctrine. Baptism is not only a believer’s baptism, but it also must be a scriptural baptism.
The local church must take its responsibility to be the pillar and ground of truth seriously. There may be times where a person coming from a different church background will be asked to submit to the scriptural baptism as outlined in this lesson.
A brief review of this lesson will determine that there are three types of identification involved in scriptural baptism:
1. Identification with Jesus Christ
This is seen primarily in the symbolism of baptism, as the believer identifies with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By baptism, the new believer is declaring, “I have received Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I have believed that His finished work -- His death, burial, and resurrection -- is for me.”
2. Identification with the body of believers, the local church
The many verses studied throughout the book of Acts demonstrated that the new believer was baptized and then became an integral part of the local group of believers. Baptism identifies the believer with the other members of our church. Through baptism, the new believer is stating, “I have received Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, and I want to be part of this local church.”
3. Identification with the body of doctrine
The local church’s authority is from Christ alone. Our responsibility with that authority is to be the pillar and ground of truth. Baptism identifies the believer with the doctrine (teaching) of the church. In baptism, the new believer is saying, “I have received Jesus as my Saviour, I want to be part of this local church, and I want to be recognized with the truth which this church teaches.”
WHY SHOULD WE BE BAPTIZED?
There are three main reasons why believers are to be baptized today:
1. The command of Christ
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All ________ is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and _________ all nations, _______________ 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 _______________ you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Once a person has trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, the very next step of obedience to Christ is this matter of baptism.
The truth that Christ commands those that believe on Him to be baptized scripturally should settle any fear or doubt.
14 Ye are my ___________, if ye do whatsoever I ________________ you.
24 Then said Jesus unto his ____________, If any man will come after me, let him _______ himself, and take up his cross, and ____________ me.
27 My sheep ________ my voice, and I know them, and they _________ me.
2. The example of Christ
21 For even hereunto were ye __________: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an ___________, that ye should ____________ his steps:
One example that Christ expects us to follow is baptism:
Matthew 3:13, 15-16
13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be ____________ of him.
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all ___________________. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was ______________, went ___ straightway _____ ___ the water...
3. The example of the believers in the New Testament
In our first section of this lesson, many verses were studied that revealed only those who have trusted in Christ -- His death, burial, and resurrection -- are able to be baptized.
Let us remind ourselves of just one verse:
41 Then they that _________ received his word were _____________: and the same day there were __________ unto _______ about three thousand souls.
The command of Christ, the example of Christ, and the example of New Testament believers give clear direction as to the motive of baptism.
The scriptural motive for baptism sets a high standard in the lives of believers -- obedience to the commands of Christ.
Salvation is simply a matter of receiving, baptism is clearly a matter of obeying. An excellent chorus illustrates well the matter of obedience:
Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe, Doing exactly what the Lord commands,
Doing it happily!
Action is the key, do it immediately,
Joy you will receive,
Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe!
WHO IS TO BAPTIZE?
* Read Matthew 28:18-20
* Read Mark 16:15, 16
* Read Luke 24:46-48
* Read John 20:21
* Read Acts 1:8
These verses record the final command of Christ given to the local church. At the time, the church at Jerusalem consisted of at least 120 believers as seen in Acts 1:15. The authority and responsibility of preaching, baptizing, and training believers is expressly given to a local church.
* Read Acts 2:41-47
Acts 2 records for us the obedience of this group of believers as Peter on the day of Pentecost preaches a wonderful message of salvation. Acts 2:41 demonstrates the obedience of 3,000 believers as they are immediately baptized after their salvation. In one day, this church grew from 120 to 3,120! Acts 2:42-47 illustrates what took place following their salvation and baptism, as they are taught the commands of Christ.
The church at Jerusalem was given this commission originally -- but the command did not cease with the end of the Jerusalem church. Acts 11 and 13 demonstrate that Christ’s Great Commission to go and preach the gospel, baptize believers, train disciples, and start new churches is a perpetual command. Acts 11 reveals the perpetuity of the Great Commission as believers from Jerusalem travelled to Antioch preaching Jesus Christ. Soon after, souls were saved and a church was started. Then, in Acts 13, we see the church at Antioch commission Paul and Barnabas to go to the Gentile world, thus fulfilling the Lord’s command to go and preach the gospel to all the world. It is each local church’s responsibility to fulfil Christ’s command to win souls, baptize converts, and increase their church. There can be no doubt that Christ has commissioned a group of believers, not a denominational structure, to fulfil his plan!
As you take the time to study the start of these two churches, you will realize the emphasis on right doctrine. A local church that believes and practises the apostles’ doctrine has the authority to fulfil each of the elements of Christ’s commission. This responsibility includes maintaining sound doctrine, as Christ said in Matthew 28:20:
20 Teaching them to observe all things ___________________ __ have ________________ you...
When we consider doctrinal purity, remember Paul’s instruction to Timothy, the pastor of the church at Ephesus:
15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the _________ of the living God, the pillar and ground of the __________.
God has given the local church the responsibility to maintain pure doctrine which determines proper practice of that doctrine. This by necessity also includes the doctrine of believer’s baptism. A church that does not hold to sound doctrine both in practice and teaching does not have the scriptural authority to baptize.
PRINCIPLES OF SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM
These verses teach some excellent principles regarding baptism and the authority of baptism:
1. Only a local church has the authority to baptize
The command to preach, baptize, and teach was not given to an individual, but to the local church. In a later lesson, we will study the importance of the local church and see that God works today in and through the local church that is modeled after the churches of the New Testament.
2. Only a local church that is founded upon and continues in pure doctrine has the authority to baptize
The local church is responsible to teach all that Jesus commanded. The apostles’ doctrine is nothing less than the very words of Christ. A church that fails to teach sound doctrine ceases to be a scriptural church, thus its Biblical authority to baptize is nullified.
Our Christian life is characterized by the word walk.
10 That ye might ________ __________ of the ______ unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every _______ ________, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Our walk as a child of God is to be worthy of Him. Our goal must be to please God, to be fruitful in the work He has for us, and to increase in our knowledge of Him. We can only accomplish this goal by walking according to God’s Word.
23 The ________ of a good man are _____________ by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
105 Thy ________ is a ______ unto my feet, and a ________ unto my path.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye ________ in the Lord: ________ as children of _________:
9 (For the _________ of the Spirit is in all ________________ and _____________________ and ___________;)
10 Proving what is ____________________ unto the Lord.
God seeks to direct our steps through the Word of God. He gives us light through the Bible and guides us according to His plan. This light is sufficient for the path on which God desires us to walk. God only gives light for the steps ahead on our path -- He does not shine the light too far done the trail! He gives us the light that we require daily.
If we do not obey the light that God gives, for He seeks to order our steps, then we are no longer walking in the light. Until we obey the specific direction He gives, we will not receive further light for our path. Step-by-step obedience is absolutely necessary in the believer’s walk!
GOD’S PLAN FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All __________ is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and _________ all nations, _______________ them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 ______________ them to observe ____ things whatsoever I have _______________ you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
1. Teach all nations
This first command concerns the preaching of the gospel and it is the first step of obedience in the life of the believer.
16 But they have not all ____________ the gospel. For * Esais saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
Salvation is a matter of obedience. When we trusted Christ by believing on Him, we simply obeyed the Word of God.
2. Baptize those that receive the gospel message
41 Then they that gladly ______________ his word were _____________: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
3. Teach those who are saved and baptized
This is the matter of discipleship -- teaching one to be a follower of Jesus Christ who then will be able to train others. This matter of teaching all things whatsoever Christ commanded is not a quick or instant process. Christ Himself trained His disciples for three years!
30 As he spake these ________, many ______________ on him.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye _______________ in my ________, then are ye my _____________ indeed;
32 And ye shall __________ the ___________, and the truth shall make you free.
God’s plan for His children following salvation is baptism, then training! We must follow God’s order. Baptism takes place before comprehensive teaching.
This lesson is given to provide the Biblical foundation of baptism, the next step in a believer’s walk. We will search the Scriptures to find God’s requirement for the proper subject, mode, motive, and authority of baptism.
HOW SHOULD WE BE BAPTIZED?
Once again the Bible is clear and gives us great instruction on how a believer is to be baptized. Baptism is an outward picture, or symbol, of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; therefore, the proper mode of baptism is important.
1. Baptism requires much water
5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about ____________,
6 And were baptized of him ____ Jordan, confessing their sins.
Jordan refers to the river that runs through the land of Palestine for some two hundred miles. It is important to note that in the preceding verses, John is baptizing these people in the river, not on the bank of the river, but in the river itself.
23 And John also was _________________ in Aenon near to Salim, because there was ________ __________ _________: and they came, and were _______________.
Due to the symbolism of baptism, much water is required.
2. Baptismrequiresthepersonbeingbaptizedtogointothewater,underthe water, and then to come up out of the water
9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was _______________ of John __ _________:
10 And straightway coming __ ____ ___ the __________...
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went ________ _______ into the _________, _______ Philip and the eunuch; and he _______________ him.
39 And when they were come ___ ____ of the _________...
These examples of scriptural baptism demonstrate the proper way in which a person is to be baptized. Clearly, one goes down into the water, and then is brought up out of the water. This picture is important for it portrays the finished work of Christ our Saviour.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were ________________ into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that ______ as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the ______________ of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
The key words in these verses are like and likeness. At the time of our salvation, we were placed into Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, water baptism in a like manner illustrates the truth of salvation.
This first step of obedience is God’s way then for a new believer express outwardly what has happened on the inside. Baptism is the public witness for the new believer to testify that Christ has saved him. Because baptism is to picture the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, scriptural baptism must be by immersion, hence the need for much water.
The symbolism of baptism is of utmost importance when we consider how believers are to be baptized as the new believer goes down into the water and then comes up out of the water.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
God’s written Word is absolutely clear in answering, “Who should be baptized?” The book of Acts records for us the spread of the gospel, first in Jerusalem, then unto the uttermost parts of the world. As the gospel message was preached, it was believed, and the next step for these new believers was baptism.
36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain __________: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth ___________ me to be _______________?
37 And Philip said, ___ thou _________________ with all thine __________, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I _____________ that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The context of Acts 8 reveals that Philip was instructed to go into the desert to witness to this man. This eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53, and needed to hear the gospel message of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Acts 8:37 reveals this man’s faith and belief regarding Jesus Christ; therefore, nothing hindered his baptism.
12 But when they ______________ Philip _________________ the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of ________ _________, they were ________________ both men and women.
47 Can any man forbid _____________, that these should not be baptized, which have ________________ the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be _______________ in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, __________ us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she ________________ unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
15 And when she was _________________, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be ___________?
31 And they said, _____________ ___ the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be ____________, and thy house.
32 And they ___________ unto him the _________ of the _______, and to all that were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was __________________, he and all his, ____________________.
8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, _______________ on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians ______________ ________________, and were _______________.
As these verses are studied, we understand that the Commission of Christ found in Matthew 28:18-20 was obeyed! The book of Acts demonstrates God’s plan in action as the gospel message is preached, people believe, people are baptized, and churches are started so that people can be taught.
Baptism is for those who have first heard the gospel message, then trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Since baptism is for those who are saved, it is clear to understand that baptism follows salvation.
It is important to understand that baptism does not follow an intensive time of training and examination. God’s plan for spiritual growth is salvation first, followed by baptism, then discipleship.
Scriptural baptism is for those who have in faith responded to the gospel message, and are desiring to be obedient in the steps that God has prepared for them.