Saturday, 21 June 2008

What is baptism?

Baptism is mentioned a great many times in the Bible. In fact, each convert we read of in the New Testament was baptised. Why then is there so much confusion about baptism? What is baptism? 

For many the Christening of a baby is baptism, for others it is the act of sprinkling or pouring with water. For others still it is the act of immersion in water.

The first place to gain an understanding of baptism is in the original language. The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the word that we now say as baptism was “baptisma” - we can clearly see the Greek roots in our English word. This word is translated as “baptism, consisting of the process of immersion, submersion and emergence” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words p.50). Vine tells us there are three aspect to baptism. Immersion - going into water, submersion – going under the water, and emergence – coming out of the water. These aspect of baptism can not be done with sprinkling or pouring, they can only be done when one is fully immersed in water.

We can see this clearly when we look at examples of baptism in the Bible. In John 3:23 we read, “And John also was baptising in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and they were coming and were being baptized”. John chose this spot because he had to have enough water to immerse the people. Also see Acts 8:36-39,
“And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came out of the water the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.”
We can see that they both went down into the water. Philip baptised him, then they came out of the water. The Bible clearly teaches that baptism is full immersion in water.

Jesus taught that baptism was very important to a person’s salvation. In Mark 16:16 we read, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Jesus taught that belief alone was not enough, you also have to be baptised to be saved.

Have you been baptised in the way the Bible teaches? If not you need to be. If you want more information, please contact us – we would love to study with you.

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