Water Baptism – For the Remission of Sins

Many Churches have practiced the act of water baptism over the years. Some believe strongly that baptism is essential, while others see it as something you should do. Some believe baptism is not necessary at all, claiming that it doesn’t apply to us today. Is baptism essential? If so, how are we to be baptized? By immersion? By sprinkling? In what name? What is baptism for?

What is baptism? Water baptism is a ceremony for those that have repented of their sins. It is an immersion into water in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins. We see throughout the New Testament that we are commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

Water baptism is part of the new birth experience.

John 3:3-5  3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?  5 Jesus answered, 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.

Jesus told Nicodemus to be born again. When Nicodemus didn’t understand what Jesus meant, Jesus expounded by saying ‘born of the water and of the Spirit’. To be born again is to be born of the water and of the Spirit. Jesus was teaching that water baptism is part of the new birth experience.

Jesus continued this teaching by commanding His disciples to baptize.

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mark 16:16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Luke 24:47  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

The Apostles carried out this command in the book of Acts by baptizing in Jesus name.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 2:41  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 8:12  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8:16  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Acts 8:35-38  35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.  36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

Acts 9:18  And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 10:47-48  47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?  48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.

Acts 16:15  And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Acts 16:33  And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Acts 18:8  And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 19:5  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 22:16  And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives the command ‘baptizing them in the name’. We see how the Apostles interpreted this command in the book of Acts. In Mark 16:16 Jesus included baptism with salvation, but He did not include baptism when speaking of those who do not believe. If they do not believe, being baptized would be irrelevant. In Luke 24:47 ‘remission of sins’ refers to water baptism, as we also will see in the book of Acts.

The Greek word for baptize is baptizo.

907 baptizo {bap-tid’-zo}

Meaning:  1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk) 2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe 3) to overwhelm

To baptize means to dip or plunge, to take completely under the water. This means that the mode of baptism is by immersion.

John 3:23  And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

Acts 8:38-39  38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.  39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Baptism is a burial of the old sinful nature.

Romans 6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Colossians 2:12  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

A burial requires the body to be completely covered. We bury the old man, which is symbolic of burying the old lifestyle of sin.

The purpose of baptism is for the remission of sins. This is seen starting with John’s baptism.

Mark 1:4  John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Luke 3:3  And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

Peter explained that the purpose of baptism was for the remission of sins.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Remission means release, wipe out, cancel, and dismiss (Bernard, p. 130). It is used interchangeably with forgiveness (Bernard, p. 141). During water baptism, God remits our sins. He washes them away. This is seen in Peter’s use of ‘for the remission of sins’. ‘For’ means to receive, or in order to obtain (Bernard, p. 130). The clear reading of Acts 2:38 is that baptism is for the remission of sins. CONTEXT DETERMINES MEANING. It is clear from the context that we must be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. The crowd asked Peter and the others “what shall we do?” Peter’s answer included an explanation of what baptism was for – for the remission of sins. Peter was explaining to the crowd what to do to be saved, and this includes water baptism for the remission of sins. He wasn’t telling them to be baptized later because they had already had their sins remitted. He was telling them what to do to have their sins remitted.

Jesus bought remission of sins for us with His own blood.

Matthew 26:28  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

This doesn’t mean that we have remission of sins automatically whether we want it or not. We still have to apply the blood by obeying the plan of salvation. We can believe that our sins will be remitted, but until we go down into the water in the name of Jesus our sins will not be remitted.

This does not mean that simply going down into the water has any power of its own.

1 Peter 3:21  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:

Baptism is not our work. God performs remission of sins. We simply obey His command to be baptized for the remission of sins. It is the work of Jesus that remits our sins. We must obey and have faith in the atoning work of Jesus, but we are not remitting our own sins by obeying God’s command anymore than the Jews that were obeying His commands to place blood on their doorposts at the Passover.

Exodus 12:7  And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:12-13  12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.  13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

It was by God’s grace that He made a way for the Jews to be passed over. The Jews could have believed it all day, but if they didn’t obey and apply the blood the death angel would have visited them. God provided a way of salvation, and He did the work, but the Jews had to obey God’s commands in faith.

We must obey God with faith.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Faith and obedience includes believing. Philip would not baptize the Ethiopian eunuch until he could confess that he believed in Jesus as the Son of God.

Acts 8:36-37  36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

In order for our sins to be remitted we have to believe that baptism in Jesus name will remit our sins. We must have faith in the one doing the remitting. We must have faith, believe, and obey. The eunuch was not being baptized in public as a public confession of faith. There was no one else present to see this baptism. He was being baptized because it is a necessary part of salvation.

Water baptism is a spiritual circumcision.

Colossians 2:11-12  11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:  12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Our sins are forgiven when we are baptized in water (coupled with faith) in Jesus name. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said ‘Born of the water’ in John 3:5. Baptism identifies us with the death and burial of Jesus. Baptism is a spiritual circumcision, signifying that the old nature is cut away, and places us into a covenant with our Lord. Water baptism is an essential element of the new birth that Jesus bought with His own blood. We must be born of the water and of the Spirit. Both elements are required for salvation.

 

References

 

Bernard, David K. (1984). New Birth, The

            Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press

 

David Bernard The New Birth

2 Comments

  1. There are strong arguments on both sides of whether water baptism is required for salvation.  Many doubt it because of the thief on the cross.  Others say the baptism that saves is baptism of the Spirit not of water.  What is a person believes without a doubt but is killed on his way to be baptized?  I understand that water baptism is a commandment.  I do not claim to have an answer on this.  I am just trying to determine the truth.  Thanks.

  2. Randy,
    Take a look at John 3:6.  It puts the topic of water and Spirit into context.  The water that is referred to in verse 5 is the natural birth, which is accompanied by water (as in “her water broke”).  In verse 6, Jesus makes this clear by saying that which is born of the flesh (water birth) is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit (born again) is spirit.  This verse has nothing to do with baptism. 

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>