The purpose of this article is to examine the word of God concerning the subject of believer's baptism. Although there are seven baptisms in the Bible, we are concerned here with water baptism as it relates to the born-again Christian. We will examine some important questions which arise concerning one of the first steps in the new Christian's walk with the Lord, believer's baptism.

By "rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15), we can find practical answers to these questions and understand God's purpose for believer's baptism.
What then is believer's baptism? What is the purpose of it, since salvation is "by grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8,9)?
Water baptism is clearly a FIGURE or TYPE of something which already took place in the heart of the believer the moment he/she was saved (1 Pet. 3:21). Water baptism is the ordinance representing the identification of the Christian with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You are "crucified" (standing upright in water), you are "buried" (immersed into the water), and you are "resurrected into life" (raised out of the water). Water baptism then, is a picture of spiritual baptism as defined in Rom. 6:3-5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13. It is the outward testimony of the believer's inward faith. A sinner is saved the moment he places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is a visible testimony to that faith.
This is the SCRIPTURAL basis for water baptism. It PICTURES and PROCLAIMS four important things:
  1. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS the believer's death, burial, and resurrection with 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." Colossians 2:12
  2. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS the death of our old life to sin, and our resurrection to walk in newness of life. "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
  3. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS our faith in the Trinity of the Godhead. "Baptizing them in the NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 28:19
  4. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS our "putting on" of Christ. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26,27
So then, water baptism is a picture of what transpired when you placed your faith and trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save you from your sins (Romans 6:3-5). It does not atone for sin. Only the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin (I John 1:7; Colossians 1:14).
Next, let's consider WHO should be baptized. The Bible makes it clear that scriptural baptism is BELIEVER'S baptism.
  • In Acts 2:41 we observe that they received the word, THEN they were baptized.
  • In Acts 8:12,36,37 we find that they believed, THEN they were baptized.
  • In Acts 10:43,44,47, it is plain to see that those who believed received the Holy Ghost, and THEN they were baptized. (Lost people do not receive the Holy Ghost).
When the Philippian jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?" they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...." (Acts 16:30-34). Paul did not tell him to be baptized to be saved. His baptism came AFTER his believing, which sets the scriptural standard.
Who then should be baptized? According to the established Bible pattern, only those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Water baptism then, is NOT salvation, but obedience to a command by God concerning discipleship.
WHEN is the believer to be baptized? The Bible teaches that water baptism follows shortly after spiritual baptism (the new birth).
Notice the example of Paul (Acts 9:18), Cornelius (Acts 10:43-48), and the Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:33).
You were placed into the body of Christ by spiritual baptism at the moment you were saved (Galatians 3:26-27). Now you follow the miracle of spiritual baptism with physical immersion into water, according to Acts 8:38; 10:47; 16:33.
As to WHERE a believer is to be baptized, the obvious answer is in the presence of other believers, the local New Testament church. The Lord Jesus Christ gave the localchurch the ordinance of water baptism (Matthew 28:18-20).
An ordinance is a ceremony appointed by Christ to be administered in the local church as a visible type of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.
HOW is a believer to be baptized? Immersion in water is the only scriptural method of baptism.
  • ln Matthew 3:13-16 and in Mark 1:9-10 we find that John the Baptist needed "much water" for baptism.
  • In Acts 8:38-39 we are taught baptism by immersion.
  • In Romans 6:3-6 we see that baptism must fulfill three types: death, burial and resurrection. It is also referred to as being "planted", and being raised. It is not difficult to see that the only mode of baptism which fulfills all these pictures is the immersion of the believer in water. Furthermore, scriptural expressions such as "much water" (John 3:23), and "down both into the water" (Acts 8:38) are very conclusive evidence that water baptism is by immersion.
Spiritual baptism is the Christian's identification with Christ (Colossians 2:12). This is WHY we should submit to water baptism.
Romans 6:3-5 teaches us that it is literally a picture of your death, burial and resurrection with Christ. It is your first act of obedience to God after salvation. WHY be baptized? Consider the following:
  1. Scriptural baptism pleases the Lord. When Jesus was baptized, God the Father said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). When we follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ we certainly please the Father.
  2. Scriptural baptism is a testimony to the world. Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32). Our baptism is a public testimony o f our faith in the Lord Jesus: Christ, and the way in which we identify ourselves with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
We understand and believe that baptism is not a "sacrament" that imparts saving grace, but an ORDINANCE. We are not saved by baptism, but by faith in Jesus Christ and His blood..."cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
Baptism is the outward symbol of what has already transpired in the heart of the one who has trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for full salvation.
Have you taken this first step in your walk with the Lord? Have you been obedient to the word of God concerning this matter of believer's baptism? In Acts 2:41 we read, "Then they that GLADLY received his word were baptized..." What is your response?

Both committed Christians and uncommitted skeptics often wonder whether young children can be genuinely saved. The skeptic questions it because he doubts the reality of salvation for anyone, and especially for those he deems too immature to understand the complex theological issues involved. The sincere Christian parent sometimes wonders because he knows salvation is real and he is concerned lest his child substitute youthful enthusiasm for genuine conviction and commitment.
Jesus Christ welcomed and blessed children during His incarnate ministry. Mark 10:13-16 reveals an interesting incident involving children. “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
While some of the children brought to Christ were no doubt too young to understand the significance of their meeting, they could at least feel His warmth and love and thus be favorably disposed toward Him when they grew older. The Greek word used for “children” specifies that these were very young children, so was Christ's effort in vain? No, for that same Greek word is used in II Timothy 3:15 to state that from earliest childhood Timothy had “known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Some feel a child has to reach a certain age (often called the “age of accountability”) before he can make any spiritual decisions. Often the age of twelve years is advanced because of Jewish ceremony which marked the twelfth or thirteenth year. Rather than assigning an arbitrary age, one would be more consistent with Scripture to realize that at whatever age a child is capable of learning simple Biblical truths, at that age he becomes accountable to God for acting on those truths.
Since children are susceptible to pressure from significant adults and peers, care must be taken to insure that their decisions are truly their own. Children can feel intimidated to “walk the aisle” merely to please a parent or to go along with a friend. This can happen without genuine repentance over sin or personal faith in Jesus Christ, amounting to no more than merely going through the motions. However, once a child realizes his sinfulness and responds to that sinfulness in repentance and faith in Christ, he can and will be saved, regardless of his age. Christ's indignation at His disciples probably came because they thoughtlessly assumed that none of the children could understand.  
What was the promise Peter spoke of? Peter spoke of God's promises of salvation to all who recognized Christ as the Son of God and accepted Him with repentance and faith (Acts 2:22-42).
Even adults are told to emulate the implicit, uncritical trust which children exemplify. When “mature” men jealously worried about who would receive the greatest reward, Christ responded, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4). In many cases, it is easier for a child to perceive and receive spiritual truth than for an adult to do so.
Children in Christian homes usually accept Christ earlier in life than do children in non-Christian homes, and the reason is obvious. The family that is truly Christian has the Bible as its center and the children are taught its precepts. Since “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), one should expect those who are consistently taught the Word to respond sooner than those who seldom or never hear it. For this reason, God gave numerous Biblical instructions for parents to take personal responsibility for their children's spiritual education. Beyond this, it would be presumptuous indeed to set age limits for the work of the Holy Spirit, who effects repentance and faith.
God can and does call children to salvation. He called Samuel at such an early age that even the venerable and godly Eli did not think it possible at first (I Samuel 3). God's salvation plan is so simple that children can understand and accept it.

What happens at the moment of true belief?
When a person, from their heart, cries out to God for mercy and forgiveness of sins, a miracle takes place! That person is spiritually "born again" (John 3:3-7). They have now become a child of God (I John 3:1). God Almighty is now their Father (Romans 8:15-16). They become a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) and are immediately added to the only church the Lord is building (Acts 2:47; I Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit of God now indwells them (Romans 5:5; 8:9) while He spiritually applies the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse away their sins (Colossians 1:14, I Corinthians 6:11). The righteousness of Jesus Christ has been imputed to them (II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4th chapter). Their life is now hid in Christ in God (Colossians 3:3) and they are assured to be one day in glory with their Saviour (Colossians 3:4; John 5:24)!
These wonderful aspects of being a child of God may be difficult to immediately comprehend, even as a physical baby does not understand the wonders of its new physical birth.
When a baby is born into this world there is positive proof they are alive. They breathe, cry, wriggle, eat and all the things associated with human physical life. As time passes they grow and perceive more and more of their being and respond accordingly. Even so, when a person becomes a child of God, their new spiritual life is manifest in ways that may be identified as unique to a child of God. Following is a list of such evidence.
Hearing God's word
He that is of God heareth God's words... (John 8:47)
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. ... (I John 4:6)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27)
A story is told of a young lady who began reading a novel. After a chapter or two she decided the book was rather boring so placed it on a shelf and in a short time forgot about it.
Sometime later she began an acquaintance with a young man. As their relationship developed and deepened, she learned he was an author. One of the names of his books sounded familiar. During an evening at home she searched her bookshelf and discovered the book she had discarded some months before had been written by her new friend. She immediately sat down and now read the entire book, unable to stop until she had finished it.
What made the difference in this young lady's attitude towards the same book? Obviously she was now fascinated by the book because she had an affection for the author. There is a parallel between this story and the experience of a child of God.
To some the Bible may be fables, to others it is dull or confusing and to yet others it may be a little, if ever, read holy book. But, to the one who personally knows the Author, it is fascinating! It speaks to them, describes them, rebukes them, delights them, convicts them and assures them. Within its pages they find solace for troubles, guidance for problems and hope for the future. This is one of the evidences that a person is indeed a child of God.
To one, who really has received the Lord Jesus Christ as His personal Saviour, the scriptures are a letter from the Father to his child. Just as an obedient child grows in his appreciation for his physical father's words of instruction, warning, and comfort, so a child of God thus grows in his appreciation and understanding of God, his Father's words. The more he reads and applies the wisdom of God's word to his life, the more precious it becomes, for indeed it is true and it works.
Love for God's children
But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. (I Thessalonians 4:9)
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (I John 3:14)
As the above verses clearly state, there is an automatic love for others who are children of God. In some cases where there may even have been serious animosity between two people, when both are saved there is a marvelous bond of mutual love. It is a miracle performed in the hearts of His children by Almighty God.
There is an immediate bond and heartfelt tie when two children of God become acquainted, even though they may have been complete strangers and from totally different walks of life. Such experience is an evidence of the new spiritual birth of a child of God.
A new outlook or perspective on life
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)
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. (John 3:3)
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. (Romans 6:4)
When a person becomes a child of God his horizon is changed. He now has an eternal destiny. Life therefore takes on new meaning. He is no longer bound by the cares of this life. It is not that the Christian no longer experiences pain, fears and heartaches, but rather that now he knows it is only for a short time. He now knows he has One who cares for him, and that One is Almighty and able to rescue him according to His will. The Christian now lives for his eternal hope rather than just obtaining all he can here.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all) (Acts 10:36)
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
This promise of God is just as available today as it was when the Lord Jesus Christ made it some 2,000 years ago. The true child of God can vouch for it. There is an inner peace and calm of the soul that is the property of every babe in Christ. He now has peace with God! Later, as trials of life come to the Christian, he learns that the peace of God is available to him in the face of sometimes otherwise unbearable circumstances. Just as the presence of a worthy human father calms the fears of his trusting child, so does the presence of the Christian’s heavenly Father as he prays and asks for God’s, guidance and interceding according to His will.
The leading of God
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)
Ever since the fall of our great, great, great grandparents in the garden of Eden, God has instilled a conscience to give guidance to every person. To be sure, men have often seared their consciences so they do not hear this still small voice. A child of God, on the other hand, finds that in addition to his conscience he now has the Spirit of God, Himself, indwelling and directing him. It is as though his conscience has been sharpened. Things that were nominally wrong to him in the past, now become repugnant. He now has a heightened desire to want to please God, not because he has to, but because he wants to.  
Good works
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)
The child of God finds that he now desires to do good for all people. Whereas before he may have grudgingly done things for others or did so to get self recognition, now he does so in pure love for the other person. Again, these things are not done because he has to, but because now he really wants to. It is the love of God shed abroad in his heart!
The chastening of God
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (Hebrews 12:6-8)
Although no child likes to be chastened, it is an evidence of both love and parenthood. As much as the child next door may aggravate us with his disobedience, we do not chasten him. He is not our child. The same holds true with children of God.
Although God has created laws for which there are penalties when broken in the physical and moral realm, He is not at this time chastening the disobedient, unsaved world. He does, however, discipline His children. The severity and form of discipline is Almighty God's prerogative.
In some cases He may simply remove His peace from our hearts causing uneasiness and an awareness of lack of fellowship and communion with Him. In other cases it may be as severe as death (I John 5:6; I Corinthians 5).
As a child of God, His discipline as a loving Father is an evidence of our belonging to Him.
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:8)

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