There are many misconceptions today about what baptism is, what it is for, and if it is necessary. Some think it is just a public display of their belief. Others think it is a box that you need to check off in order to become a member of a local church. The truth is, baptism is much more than that. It is part of the biblical plan of salvation. Today I’ll share with you 4 of the most common misconceptions I have heard about baptism, and why they are not biblical.
Baptism is just a public display of belief.
The Ethiopian eunuch was alone with Phillip in Acts 8:26-40. If baptism needed to be put on display publicly, then Phillip would have asked the Ethiopian to wait until they got back to the city so everyone could witness it. Instead, they saw some water, and Phillip baptized him right away. The only person that needs to be at your baptism is the one that is baptizing you. You don’t need to show the world that you are a Christian by being baptized publicly. You show the world that you are a Christian by the fruit that you bear. Can you be baptized publicly? Yes, of course, but it is not a requirement. This example in Acts 8 shows that you can be baptized in the middle of the desert with no one around like the Ethiopian was and it will still be valid. Therefore, baptism can’t be simply for a public display of your faith. If it was, Phillip would have said, “Get back in the chariot and let’s go to town first”.
Baptism is just a check in the box for local church membership.
The 3,000 that were added the church in Acts chapter 2 were not part of the Jerusalem church. They were from all over the world according to the context (Acts 2:5). They were not baptized just to become members of the local assembly. They went home after Pentecost. Baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), not church membership. However, it did “add them to the church” (Acts 2:41). Not just the local assembly, but the global Christian church.
Baptism is not necessary.
This is one of the biggest heresies in history. If this were true then why would Jesus say in Mark 16:16 that baptism was essential for salvation. He also echoes this teaching in John 3:5 stating that if we are not born of the water and the Spirit, then we won’t see the Kingdom of God. Baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Luke 24:47). Peter made the comparison between the water saving Noah’s family, and the waters of baptism saving us (1 Peter 3:19-20). Paul made the comparison between the waters of the Red Sea, and the waters of baptism (1 Cor 10:2). Did the water’s dividing not save Moses and his followers? Did it not bury their enemy like baptism buries our sin? Did Jesus skip from death to resurrection without a burial? How could Jesus, who was without sin, be baptized, and we think we don’t need it?
This false teaching stems from some misconceptions about grace versus works. Some say that we are saved by grace, not by works, and then teach that Baptism is a “work”. The Acts 2:38 experience of repentance, baptism, and being Spirit filled is not a “work”. Titus 3:5 backs this up by directly contrasting works with the “washing of regeneration” (baptism), and “renewing of the Holy Ghost” (being Spirit filled).
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5)
Baptism can be performed any old way.
- Baptism comes from the Greek word Baptizo which literally means submerged. This means Baptism by sprinkling is actually an oxymoron.
- Mark 16:16 states that we must believe AND be baptized to be saved. This means you need to have the mental capacity to believe the gospel. This rules out the false teaching of infant baptism.
- The only method we have recorded in scripture for baptizing a person is by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way to be baptized because according to Acts 4:12, there is no other saving name. You can find examples of this method in the following verses: Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5; Acts 22:16. The original protestant Martin Luther wrote that after much study he could find no other way to baptize in scripture. However, he chose to keep it to himself because he did not want to disrupt the church. I found it odd that he, of all people, did not want to disrupt the church with truth.
- You cannot find any examples of people being baptized in the titles “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Word of God.” Matthew 28:19 states that baptism should be performed in “THE NAME” of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirt. It does not say to use the titles. It says to use the name. Likewise, a parallel account of this exact moment is recorded in Luke 24:47. It states that remission of sins should be done in Jesus’ name. Of course, remission of sins is completed at baptism (see Acts 2:38). As I will show in another post, Jesus was the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you want a head start on that lesson, tell me how the child (Jesus) would be called the Everlasting Father according to Isaiah 9:6?
In summary, you must be baptized in Jesus’ name with full emersion in water, for the remission of your sins, after you have believed the Gospel and repented of your sins.
Who is it for? Peter said that it was for “everyone of you” in Acts 2:38. He also said that it was not limited by generations, or locations in Acts 2:39.
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.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Here’s a video of my wife’s baptism in Jesus’ name.