• Jack Selcher


Water baptism isn’t an indifferent matter. It isn’t essential for salvation. The criminal on the cross was saved apart from it (Luke 23:39–43). Nevertheless, F.F. Bruce, a New Testament scholar, wrote, “The idea of an unbaptized Christian is simply not entertained in the New Testament.” 1

Do you have to be baptized to be saved? Yes. Do you have to be baptized in water to be saved? No. The baptism that’s essential is described in 1 Corinthians 12:12–13 (NIV): Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body-whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Water baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, but it’s vitally important. Jesus commanded it in Matthew 28:18–20. Baptism is your public identification with Jesus and His church. It advertises that you’re following Jesus. The experience of the thief on the cross is the exception to the rule. The Apostle Paul takes for granted that every Christian must be baptized (Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 1:13;12:13).

Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of the old self-centered life and resurrection to new life. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4, NIV). Baptism is your public testimony. You’re renouncing your old life of self-centeredness. You’re identifying yourself with Christ. You’re following Him in the fullness of strength which He provides.

It appears that immersion was the mode of baptism at least the first 100 years of the faith. In the middle of the second century pouring is an option for baptism if better options aren’t available. The earliest account of the mode of baptizing is in the Didache: “Now concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: having first uttered all these things baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, in living water. But if thou hast not living water, baptize in other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water upon the head thrice in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost.” 2 #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources

1 Bruce, F.F. Commentary on the Book of Acts. NIC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962. p. 77.

2 http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/didache.htm

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