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The Need for Baptism and its Significance

There are many who call themselves Christian who question or even deny the absolute need for baptism. However, as is proved below, the Bible teaches that baptism is essential for salvation.

In answer to Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ said, ...Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (Jn.3:5). The Lord Jesus also taught, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16). Surely it is obvious that those who deny this requirement to believe and be baptized cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

Scripture also has an answer to those who claim that they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and that this supersedes, and therefore removes, the need for baptism in water. Christ's answer to Nicodemus states that both are required, as demonstrated in the case of Cornelius, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: ... he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do (Acts 10:1...6). Peter, having learnt that,Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him... (vs34-35), came and preached Christ to the assembly and, While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word (v44). However, even then Peter had not finished with what Cornelius "oughtest to do", for he continued, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord... (vs47-48).

Peter had also been baptized in water. Referring to the saving of Noah's family by water, he states, The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:... (1Pet.3:21). Clearly, unless Peter and all those he spoke of had been baptized, they could not have been saved nor could they have the answer of a good conscience towards God.

In expounding the Gospel to the Galatian churches, the apostle Paul testified, 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...And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal.3:26-27...29). Again it follows that those who have not been baptized into Christ have not put on Christ, will not be Christ's, will not be Abraham's seed and therefore will not be heirs according to the promise.

The above quotations also prove that the sprinkling of infants at a 'Christening' ceremony cannot be considered a Scriptural baptism because the candidate can have had no belief at that time. A subsequent 'confirmation' does not remedy that defect and is a mere tradition of men. When the Lord Jesus Christ said, ...Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein (Mk. 10:15), he was not sanctioning infant baptism. Proof that he wasn't is evident from examination of the context of a similar passage in Matt. 18:1-6: -

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, 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. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

It is not the status of children which is being taught here, rather the meekness, humility and teachability required of those who are willing to be converted from their old ways to be joined to Christ. The significance of Baptism in this conversion process is expounded in Rom.6:3-5. It signifies the death and burial of the old worldly creature and a resurrection to newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is the first act of obedience of the new convert. Those who deny the necessity of baptism are simply refusing to put away their old wilful ways. See also Notes on The Atonement.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ...And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

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