Is Baptism Really a New Testament Command for Salvation, or is it an Outward Sign of an Inward Testimony?

BaptismThis dilemma is one that many serious students of the Bible may face in various denominations.  The short answer is to always trust the scriptures instead of what man says.  One reason to consider is Romans 3:3-4: 

For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:

“That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”[

Our foundation is based on the scriptures claims about itself in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:  16 All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [b]training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Now notice: while all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, not all men are inspired by God.  Even those who claim that they are.  In fact, the apostles who wrote much of the new testament said in Galatians 1:8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  This is a pretty powerful statement.  In other words, don’t trust us if we say something different than what has been presented to you and inspired by God!

Taking these couple of scriptures into consideration as a foundation to respond to the dilemma in the title.  Let’s consider scriptures that teach that Baptism is a divine command:

Christ’s Direct Commands on Baptism

  • Christ himself was baptized as an example (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9 and Luke 3:21) – He clearly had no sin but said “it fulfills all righteousness”.  He would never ask his followers to do something that he himself would not be willing to do as an example.
  • Christ said being born again required water and spirit.  Otherwise, we cannot enter the kingdom of God: John 3:5.
  • Christ said that if you aren’t baptized you won’t be saved: Mark 16:16
  • Christ had his followers baptize believers.  This was in preparation of God’s coming kingdom: John 4:1-2.
  • Christ commanded his apostles to add believers to his church through baptism: Matthew 28:16-20.

Other Examples of Baptism In the New Testament

  • Peter’s 1st Gospel message included the commandment of baptism to wash away sins: Acts 2:38-39; Acts 22:16.
  • Baptism added people to Christ’s spiritual church Acts 2:40-42.
  • You can only put on Christ through the act of baptism: Galatians 3:27.
  • Baptism saves you: I Peter 3:21.
  • Ethiopian Eunuch’s baptism; requirement was much water (aka immersion in water) : Acts 8:26-40.
  • Baptism puts us into contact with the cleansing power of Christ’s blood as we are immersed in water into his death; spiritually killing our old self: Romans 6:3.

Friend, please heed the clear direction of scripture and do not trust in what man says. God has provided ample scriptures as evidence of what is required to enter into his kingdom.  Baptism isn’t the end, but only the beginning.  I pray that you won’t face God in judgment having thought that you did what was commanded only to realize that he doesn’t recognize you as one of is:  Matthew 7:22:

Was the Baptism of Christ Recorded in the Gospels a Useless Ritual?

Jordan RiverBaptism is one of the most disputed subject matters within the denominational world.  Many denominations claim that the act of baptism is”an outward sign of inward testimony”as if a simple confession in front of others would not accomplish the same thing.

One would have to ask: why would God have me do useless rituals that serve no real purpose?

Before we attempt to answer this question in this blog, we will first take a look at Christ’s example.

Christ’s Baptism

While Christ’s baptism is recorded in the first 3 gospels.  Let’s examine Matthew 3:13-1713 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

In looking at  verse 13 in the passage above let’s interject the notion of “baptism as an outward sign of an inward testimony.”  Why would John utter the words:  “I need to be baptized by you” if baptism was just a simple ritual?  This statement alone suggests that it was not a ritual.  In fact we can clearly see from his statement that John recognized that Christ was superior to himself.

What should certainly peak the interest of the reader next is the fact that Christ then uttered the words: “let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness”.  To those who have shut off their minds to accepting all truth from God’s word, this would be useless babbling or “Jesus talk”.  However, the answer is clear: Christ lead by example and never asked anyone to do something that he wouldn’t do himself regardless of whether he personally needed the activity.  The sign of a true leader.

Baptism was clearly a step toward being in right standing with God.  In fact after Jesus completed the act of baptism we can see in verse 16 that the Holy Spirit then came upon him.  We see this same process for Christians in Acts 2:38 when Peter is addressing a crowd of people on the Day of Pentecost:  38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is a Step in the Process of Fulfilling All Righteousness

The only reason why Christ did not do step 1 in Acts 2:38: “Repent” is because he knew no sin to repent from: 2 Corinthians 5:21. However, he confirmed this with the pharisee, Nicodemus, when he stated in John 3:5Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

The spiritual rebirth process begins when one first repents (turns away from sin) and is obedient by being baptism (there is nothing in the water itself.  However, baptism is an act of obedient spiritual faith which removes sin).  Confessing ones sins without the act of baptism results in sins remaining.