What Baptism Is Not:
For the true Christian, the Word of God settles all arguments about all doctrinal issues of faith and practice. So it is with the doctrine and practice of baptism. The Word of God settles the arguments so that man's ideas and traditions do not turn the truth of God into a lie. Many are led into error because they do not know what God's Word teaches. Knowing what His Word teaches affects every individual for time and eternity. It really is a matter of life and death in this life and in the life to come. God only cares about truth and God judges according to the truth not according to man's idea of what the truth is. God's Word is the truth. Being wrong on baptism can bring eternal damnation. It is important to be right on this issue.
Baptism is not a Sacrament. The word sacrament implies that it or some other act has saving efficacy. Baptism does not save anybody. Nor does any other good work save anybody.
Titus 3:5 - Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Therefore, according to God, baptism does not get any person to Heaven, does not protect them from harm, nor does it guarantee anybody, including babies, anything in case a tragedy should occur. Baptism is for believers only. It is not a means to get them saved or keep them saved. Believer's get baptized because they are saved. A husband or wife wears a wedding band because they are married, not to marry them. Like a wedding ring shows that a person is married and he or she is not ashamed to let the world know, so baptism shows a person has been saved and is not ashamed to let the world know he has accepted Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. Of course, since a baby is incapable of exercising faith or understanding the truth of God's Word, he is innocent until he reaches the age of understanding and not accountable for his sinful nature until he reaches the age of accountability. Only when a child reaches the age when he understands right from wrong and understands he is a sinner and has a choice in so doing, is he accountable to God. He may then choose to believe, receive salvation, and be baptized to show the world he is not ashamed of the Lord Jesus. Notice in Acts chapter 7, Phillip the evangelist shows a man from Ethiopia how to be saved. The man accepts the Lord Jesus' payment for his sin, is saved and then wants to be baptized. Phillip says, If you believe (put your total trust and reliance upon Christ and Him alone) with all your heart, you may be baptized.
Acts 7:36 - 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?
37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
Again, in Luke 23:43, we see one of the thieves who was crucified beside Jesus, calls on the name of the Lord, and the Lord says that he will be with Him in Paradise that very day. That thief could not be baptized and yet he went to be with Jesus in Paradise when he died on that cross. That is because we are saved by grace through faith and not baptism or any good work we could perform.
Luke 23:43 - And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
It can be plainly seen that baptism is not a means of salvation and to all those who would try to use baptism for this reason, God's Word speaks forth a resounding rebuke:
Titus 3:5 - Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
God declares emphatically that we are saved by grace (God's unmerited favor) through faith in His Son.
Water Cannot Cleanse Our Sins:
Ephesians 2:8,9 - For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.
God tells us sin is cleansed only by the blood of His Son.
Colossians 1:14 - In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 9:22 - Without the shedding of blood (there) is no remission.
What Baptism Is For:
Thus it can be seen that baptism is not in any way essential for the salvation of the soul. Being baptized will not get anyone to Heaven and will not help anyone get to Heaven.
Baptism is only for those who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Nowhere in all of God's Word does God tell anyone who has not personally trusted His Son as Savior to be baptized. However, being baptized is the first thing that God demands and expects of all those who have received Jesus Christ's payment for their sin.
Acts 18:8 - And many of the Corinthians hearing BELIEVED, and were baptized.
Acts 2:41 - Then they that gladly RECEIVED His Word were baptized.
Acts 8:36, 37 - What doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, IF THOU BELIEVEST WITH ALL THINE HEART, THOU MAYEST. (Emphasis mine)
Baptism is for all those who desire to follow in the footsteps of their Savior.
Mark 1:9 - Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of (by) John in Jordan.
What Baptism Is:
Baptism is a burial. Baptism is to picture a death, burial, and resurrection. Sprinkling does not picture a burial and therefore, is not a Biblical mode of baptism. God commanded us to be completely buried under the water.
Romans 6:4 - Therefore we are BURIED with Him (Jesus) by baptism into death.
Colossians 2:12 - BURIED with him (Jesus) in baptism
Baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus and reminds us of the fact that we are partakers of His death, burial, and resurrection for our sins.
I Cor. 15:3,4 - Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was BURIED, and that He ROSE again the third day.
Col. 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.
BAPTISM IS: A declaration that you personally believe that as Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day, that you will also be raised in the last day when the trump of God calls His children home.
BAPTISM IS: A public commitment to be an open disciple of the Lord. It is by this that we can show to all whose side we are now on.
BAPTISM IS: The expression of your desire to walk in the newness of the eternal life that God has given you.
What Baptism Does:
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. (Emphasis mine)
Baptism unites you to the local New Testament (Baptist) Church.
Acts 2:41 - Then they that gladly received His word were baptized; and the same day, there were added unto them (the church) about three thousand souls.
Baptism separates you from your old life, with its sinful desires and lusts.
Romans 6:5,6 - For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, THAT HENCEFORTH WE SHOULD NOT SERVE SIN. (Emphasis mine)
Baptism enables you to enter into the joy that awaits you in serving the Lord as a member of His Church.
Seeing then, the importance and the true meaning of baptism, enter now into the joy and fullness of your salvation, and hear God speak to you:
Matthew 3:17 - This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
In summary, baptism is for believers only. Baptism is not for babies, children, or others who cannot understand God's simple plan of salvation. Baptism is not for an unbeliever at all. Baptizing a child or infant can give a false assurance of his salvation to him so that he depends on his baptism for salvation, which is not salvation at all. Baptism is for believers, those who have accepted the Lord Jesus' payment for their sin. Babies and young children cannot receive Christ as Savior until they can understand the Gospel message. Until that time, they are safe in the loving hands of God.