Baptism is not sprinkling with water. Jewish customs included many ritual
types of washing, but baptism is a one-time event where an
individual is overwhelmed by water. He is submerged in it
and then lifted up from it. It is the symbolic act of a
person's conversion from his old life into a new life
whereby he publicly announces that Jesus Christ has washed
away his sins. Immersion shows that not just our hands or
our feet are washed; not just our head is sprinkled; but our
whole being is purified by our Savior's redemption. We are
no longer polluted by sin, but are cleansed by God's saving
Furthermore, the word "baptize" comes from the Greek verb, "baptizo." The
earliest occurrences of the word were in reference to dyeing
cloth where the fabric absorbs the characteristic of the
dye. The fabric and the dye become one color.
Similarly, it was used of ships that sunk and were
"submerged." Certainly, in both cases, the object is
completely covered. It also means to wash or bathe with
water by dipping or submerging; a fitting picture of being
cleansed from sin. Lastly, it means to be overwhelmed,
buried, or covered. We often say we are "overwhelmed" with
work, or stress, or debt. The meaning is the same; we are
buried under something.
Another point to consider is, there is no evidence in the Bible to support
infant baptism. Believers must make the choice to follow
Jesus' command to be baptized. Infants are unable to make
such choices. The Bible shows that everyone who was
baptized was an adult. Such is the case of the Ethiopian
Acts 8:35-38 where the gospel of Jesus Christ was
preached to him, he believed, and then he was baptized. It
was the Ethiopian man who asked the question, "What prevents
me from being baptized?"
Do I need to be baptized to be saved?
We must realize that baptism is not a replacement for salvation. Baptism is
the next step a believer takes after his conversion to
symbolize his relationship to Jesus Christ. This is why it
is often called "believer's baptism." Salvation is placing
one's trust in the redemptive work of Jesus, whereas baptism
is an act of obedience to Him.
Also, Scripture does not
teach a works-based salvation. If baptism was required for
salvation, then Jesus would have died for nothing. The
apostle Paul confirms this saying, "I do not nullify the
grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law,
then Christ died needlessly"
(Galatians 2:21). The thief who
died along with Jesus only asked to be remembered in His
kingdom. Jesus answered Him saying, "Truly I say to you,
today you shall be with Me in Paradise"
The thief was never baptized because he died soon afterward,
but he died trusting in the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Baptism is not necessary for salvation as illustrated by the
thief; however, it does represent our obedience to Him. Our
obedience shows our love for Him as
2 John 1:6 states, "And
this is love, that we walk after his commandments."
Since there is so much speculation and confusion surrounding salvation and
baptism, it is important to learn the difference between the
two. It is the responsibility of Christians to tell those
who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ the
truth about Him.
Acts 4:12 tells us, "And there is
salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under
heaven that has been given among men by which we must be
saved." Jesus is the only One who can save us because He
is our salvation. Baptism does not secure our salvation; it
is a testimony of it as we follow Jesus' example as was