What kind of baptism is required to enter into the Lord’s Church? Do you have any doubts to your baptism or the baptism of others who have entered into the church? Is the baptism of denominations sufficient for the Lord to add to His church?
What constitutes a valid baptism? Baptism must come after certain requirements are met. Baptism means immersion, yet every immersion is not a baptism. Every person who has ever dived into a pool, lake, or ocean has not become a Christian.
First, one must know what he is doing. This eliminates the baptism of infants or children too young to fully understand what they are actually doing and for what purpose. When Jesus commissioned his disciples, he instructed them to first preach the gospel (Mk 16:15-16). It is the gospel which contains the instructions on how to be saved (Rom 1:16).
The people on the day of Pentecost first listened to the gospel message and then asked what they needed to do in order to be saved (Acts 2:37). Even after being told what they needed to do, it still took more teaching to convince them to obey (Acts 2:38-41).
One must accept what he has learned. Belief is required for one to be baptized. Therefore, all infant baptisms are null and void and are unacceptable to be added to the Lord’s church. The eunuch heard the message and asked what was required of him to be baptized. The answer was he needed to believe with all his heart (Acts 8:37).
The change in our life is shown in a change in our attitude. We must show a boldness to confess that Jesus is our Lord and our God. In fact, confession is our belief in action. Confession results in salvation (Rom 10:9-11). It is a confession that is witnessed by others (1 Tim 6:12). This the eunuch understood and did prior to his baptism -(Acts 8:37-38).
The acceptance of the gospel message causes a person to realize that he cannot continue living his life as he pleases, but rather as God pleases. He realizes that changes are needed in his life. This is why Peter told his audience to repent, to change the direction of their life (Acts 2:38). It is not arbitrarily picking a new direction, but turning to God and obeying his commands and rejecting the commandments and doctrines of men (Acts 26:20).
Repentance is us turning from our sins and Baptism is the washing away of those sins. Baptism itself must be properly done. Baptism requires much water (Jn 3:23). It is seen in its description of a burial and a raising up (Col 2:12). The eunuch and Philip went down into the water. Why do this if all that was needed was the sprinkling of a few drops or the pouring of a cup full of water?
What about denominational baptisms? Some were baptized in a denomination. Is that sufficient? A large number of denominations baptize their members by sprinkling or pouring. Is it a baptism if it is not done in the manner prescribed by God? Many are baptized as infants. But consider the prerequisites for baptism. Can a person become a Christian without his knowledge? Can a person become a Christian without his consent?
During the days of the New Testament, a characteristic that distinguishes it from the Old Testament was the fact that all Christians are knowledgeable about who they follow (Heb 8:11). Paul said, “for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Tim 1:12). Even as adults, a baptism by immersion can be invalid (Acts 19:1-5). These men were baptized by immersion after hearing the teachings of John who urged the people to repent. Yet, their knowledge was incomplete. They were baptized, but for the wrong reason. They were baptized to get ready for the Savior, but they were not baptized into Christ.
Now that they knew the Christ had come, did that make their past actions now right? No, they need to be baptized for the right reasons. Herein is where most need to give serious consideration. While many denominations practice some form of baptism, most believe it is not necessary for salvation. Most claim it is just to show that salvation has already been received. “An outward sign of an inward grace,” some say. That is why there is no urgency in seeing someone baptized. They will collect several candidates, vote on their acceptance into the denomination, and then hold a collective baptism at their convenience.
Some note we are not saved by works but by grace (Eph 2:8-9). Baptism is an act of faith in the working of God (Col 2:12). Baptism is not the earning of salvation, but the showing of trust in God’s work (Jn 6:27-29). Faith is a work, something that man does. Faith is a work of God, something that is approved of by God.
Baptism requires that the one being baptized knows why it is being done. Recall Paul’s rhetorical question in Romans 6:3. The implication is that everyone who is baptized knows they were baptized into the death of Jesus. Obviously, one does not know everything regarding Christianity at his baptism. Yet, there are some basic truths that must be known if one is baptized into Christ.
Baptism is not going to protect you from sin. Our faith and our desire are to not sin. Yet, we realize that Satan’s ways are devious and we all succumb to temptation (1 John 1:6-2:1). For these, I urge you to turn from your sin. Return to serving God as you once did when you put on Christ in baptism. Confess your sins to God and allow your brethren to prayer with you and for your forgiveness. Yes, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but this doesn’t mean we can intentionally sin. God forbid. Yes, even after baptism Christians continue to sin. However, because of our baptism into the body of Christ, we have a petition of Christ to forgive us our sins.
If you are unsure of your baptism, you need to compare your baptism to the baptisms of the new testament. Did you hear the gospel and belief it with your heart, and confess such with your mouth (Rom 10:9,10)? Did you then repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? If not, then you need to be baptized correctly, and then the Lord will add you to the one and only church which teaches the full gospel of Christ__the churches of Christ (Acts 2:47): (The pillar and ground of the truth and contains the manifold wisdom of God) (1 Tim 3:15 f; Eph 3:10).