A Lesson on Baptism
sIX “rIGHTS” OF bAPTISM
A. Texts: multi-text
B. How old are you?
1. Obviously, it depends on when you were born. I’m not talking about your physical birthday.
2. How old are you spiritually? The answer depends on when you experienced the new birth, when you were born into the family of God through baptism. (Relate personal baptism at age 11 -- August of 1978).
C. One unique characteristic concerning churches of Christ is the emphasis that is put on baptism.
1. Example: A particular preacher preached on baptism all of the time. He was asked by elders to preach on other subjects. He asked, “Well what do you want me to preach on?” The elders suggested that he begin in Genesis and preach the whole counsel of God. The next Sunday morning the preacher got up to preach and began his sermon with these words: "‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ which brings me to the subject of baptism.”
2. Baptism IS a Bible subject. “In the 269 chapters of the New Testament, ‘baptism,’ appears more than 100 times” (Meador 127).
3. Yet, many questions surround this practice:
a. Is it necessary for salvation?
b. Does baptism include sprinkling and/or immersion?
c. What about infant baptism?
d. What about re-baptism?
D. Concerning baptism as the Bible presents it, let us observe SIX RIGHTS OF BAPTISM...
I. THE RIGHT AUTHORITY: CHRIST.
A. "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen" (Mat 28:18-20 NKJV).
1. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” – Jesus is the “Commander-in-Chief,” whatever He says, goes! He is the Authority! He is the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).
2. “God therefore and make disciples [students, learners], baptizing them.” First, there must be a study of the Word of God (reading, preaching/teaching, etc.). The proper response to the teaching of God’s word includes baptism.
3. We call this “The Great Commission.”
B. The right authority is Christ, NOT…
2. Preconceived ideas.
3. Traditions of men.
4. The teaching of a particular teacher.
C. “Our Lord began His personal ministry by being baptized (Matt. 13:13-17), and ended His earthly stay by giving the Great Commission in which He commanded baptism (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15,16)” (Winkler “Bible” 112).
II. THE RIGHT SUBJECT: PENITENT BELIEVER.
A. The Philippians jailor (Acts 16:31-34).
1. Review context: Paul & Silas beaten & imprisoned – singing and praying at midnight – earthquake – jailor stopped before committing suicide (vs. 20-29).
2. Read and discuss vs. 30-34.
B. Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2).
1. Topic of apostles’ sermon: Jesus! (vs. 22-36).
2. Read and discuss 2:37-38. Note: they already believed in Christ!
III. THE RIGHT ELEMENT: WATER.
A. NOT (see Winkler “Bible” 112).
1. It could not be the baptism of suffering, since this baptism was fulfilled in our Lord’s suffering and death and the subsequent persecution of His disciples (Matthew 20:20-23).
2. It could not be the baptism of fire, since this is yet to come (Matthew 3:11-12; Rev. 20:15; 19:20).
3. It could not be the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for only Christ could administer such: ""I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Mat 3:11 NKJV).
B. Water baptism is the one baptism that is in effect today.
1. Philip & the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-39; see especially vs. 35-39).
2. The Apostle Peter: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype [like figure] which now saves us; baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:18-21 NKJV).
3. The household of Cornelius (Acts 10:1ff, esp. vs. 44-48).
C. This is NOT to say that we believe in water salvation!
1. It is only through the blood of Christ that our sins may be washed away!
a. ""For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Mat 26:28 NKJV)
b. "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom 5:9 NKJV).
c. "how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:14 NKJV).
d. "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Heb 13:12 NKJV).
e. “…Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet 1:18-19 NKJV)/
f. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:6-7 NKJV)
g. "and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood," (Rev 1:5 NKJV)
2. However, God has declared that the blood of Christ washes our sins away WHEN we are baptized in His name.
a. Compare Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-14) and Elisha’s instructions. The power was not in the waters of the Jordan River; the power was in God. The power of God was activated when Naaman obeyed the prophet’s instructions.
b. In baptism, the power is not in the water; the power is in God. That power is activated when one’s faith in God leads one to obey the Lord’s instructions concerning what one must do to be forgiven of his sins.
D. An objection is often raised: “From what you teach about baptism, you’re trying to be saved by works.”
1. “In fact, when my religious friends argue that baptism is a work I now say ‘Yes, baptism is definitely a work ... but not my work.’ Faith is my work. Coming to God is my work. But the real accomplishment is not my performance but His. And, interestingly enough, this is precisely how Paul put it” (Meador 136):
“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, 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. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:11-13).
“Every mention of my part in baptism is passive. It is done to me, not by me. And God is clearly the major player, the surgeon performing spiritual surgery ... bringing life and forgiveness” (Meador 136).
2. “My baptism was Jesus-driven and Christ-focused. Neither a sectarian ritual nor a High-Church sacrament, baptism was not designed to achieve personal merit before God. Only Jesus ‘earned’ anything before God. He alone achieved merit on the cross. This is why my baptism was Jesus-driven ... My personal faith in Jesus Christ brought me to my baptism. Christ achieved my salvation on the cross and I simply accepted what He offered me. As I obeyed Christ in my baptism, I learned the crucial lesson that everyone must learn about salvation -- salvation does not result from what I do, but from what Christ did on the cross for me. My baptism showed me that while I can’t ear salvation, I can receive God’s precious grace. In fact, my baptism took me back to the cross of Jesus. That’s where the story of my salvation really started!” (Meador 137).
IV. THE RIGHT PURPOSE: REMISSION OF SINS/ SALVATION.
A. "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38 NKJV).
B. “"Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days." (Acts 10:48 NKJV)
C. Ananias to Saul: "'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord'" (Acts 22:16 NKJV).
D. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom 6:3-5 NKJV).
E. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Cor 12:13 NKJV)
F. "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" (Gal 3:26-27 NKJV).
V. THE RIGHT ACTION: IMMERSION.
A. Immersion, as indicated by the meaning of the word “baptism.”
1. “Baptism” is a transliterated word, not a translated word. A translated word is a word out of another language (Greek) given an English spelling and pronunciation” (Winkler “Water” 112). The Greek word baptizo was transliterated to our word, “baptize.”
2. A translation (definition) of the word would be: “to dip, plunge, or immerse” (Winkler “Water” 112).
B. Immersion, as indicated by baptism being described as a burial.
1. "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" (Rom 6:4 NKJV).
a. The Gospel: death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NKJV).
b. It is the Gospel that saves: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Rom 1:16 NKJV).
c. The Gospel saves when one obeys the form of the doctrine (gospel): "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. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Rom 6:17-18 NKJV).
d. “Baptism beautifully portrays the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord (Rom. 6:1-4)” (Winkler “Bible” 112).
2. Paul wrote to the Christians in Colosse saying, “[You have been] "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" (Col 2:12 NKJV).
VI. THE RIGHT TIME: NOW.
A. Consider the Ethiopian Eunuch (See Acts 8:35-39).
B. Consider the Philippian Jailor (see Acts 16:31-34).
C. Consider Felix the Governor (see Acts 24:24-25).
D. Consider Agrippa (see Acts 26:26-29). “Almost Persuaded.”
A. Consider the joy of a new birth. “And the eunuch went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). Have you experienced the new birth?
B. A surprising discovery: “the most profound statements on baptism are really addressed to those of us who have already been baptized. I had earlier thought that most of the Bible teaching on ‘baptism’ surely was directed to those who had never been baptized. But apparently God wants us to continue to look back at this defining moment in our spiritual journey. He wants us to savor it, to appreciate it, to understand it, and to be strengthened by it ... It’s truly life’s defining moment” (Meador 127-128).
C. Baptism is a new beginning – a glorious beginning. Yet, it is a beginning, not an end. Have you been faithful to the Lord?
Meador, Prentice A., Jr. “The Mystery of Baptism -- A Personal Odyssey.” Directions for the Road Ahead: Stability in Change Among Churches of Christ.” Jim Sheerer and Charles L. Williams, editors. Chickasha, OK: Yeomen Press, 1998. 126-142.
Moorer, Rex. “Six Rights of Baptism.” Notes taken in the form of a skeleton outline by David A. Sargent during a Gospel Meeting at the Flatwoods church of Christ outside of Fort Deposit, AL, on 8/10/95. See Baptism file.
Winkler, Wendell. “Bible Baptism.” Things That Accompany Salvation. Sound Doctrine for Everyday Living Series. Montgomery, AL: Winkler Publications, 1972. 112-121.
David A. Sargent, preaching minister