This 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:
3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 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 1:8: 8 But 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: