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What Does it mean to be Baptized into Christ?

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TYPES OF BAPTISM PRACTICED IN THE CHURCHES:

There is more than one type of baptism practiced in the Christian world.  There is:

  • Sprinkling or Pouring on the Head
  • Infant Baptism
  • Submersion under water.

Sprinkling or pouring water on the head

There are no scriptures in the Bible that describe Baptism as the sprinkling or pouring of water on the head.  The first instances in the Bible where individuals were baptized was accomplished by John the Baptist.  Did John the Baptist sprinkle water or submerse the person under water?

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

John 10:40And He [Jesus] went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first… (NKJ)

If all John was doing was sprinkling water to baptize, he did not need to worry about being near the “much water” of the “Jordan River.”   Clearly, John was doing more than just sprinkling those he baptized.

Infant Baptism:

Is infant baptism scriptural?

Nowhere in the Bible do we find infant Baptism mentioned.  Although at times the scriptures do mention the baptism of households, they never specifically mention children or infants.

For example, in Acts 8, Phillip preached to the people of Samaria.

Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (NKJ)

Notice, there is no mention of Phillip baptizing infants in Samaria; just men and women.

In Mark 16:16, Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…”  (NKJ)

It would not be possible for a newborn infant to understand who Christ is, let alone believe in him.

Remember the question Jesus asked James and John in…

Mark 10:38, “Are you able to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” NKJ

A newborn infant would not be capable of answering Jesus’ question, let alone responsibly making such a commitment.

Submersion (Dunking) into Water:

Now we do find examples in the New Testament of Adult Baptism and in every case we believe the Baptism was a submersion into water.  For example:

Matt 3:16When He [John] had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  (NKJ)

Acts 8:38So he [Philip] commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.  39) Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. (NKJ)

The only way Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch could have “come up” out of the water is if they have been submersed under it.

GREEK DEFINITION OF BAPTISM:

In support of this conclusion that Baptism is submersion, let’s looks at some definitions.

STRONGS: 907  baptizo (bap-tid’-zo);

… to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet)…

VINES: BAPTISM, BAPTIST, BAPTIZE

A. Nouns.

1. baptisma (908), “baptism,” consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from bapto, “to dip”)…

B. Verb.

baptizo (907), “to baptize,” primarily a frequentative form of bapto, “to dip,” was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another,

So this word has the meaning of complete submersion under water.  Certainly when dying, the garment must be totally submerged in the dye.

There is a variation of this word.

2. baptismos (909), as distinct from baptisma (the ordinance), is used of the “ceremonial washing of articles,” <Mark 7:4,8>, in some texts; <Heb. 9:10>; once in a general sense, <Heb. 6:2>.# See WASHING.

This word is only found four times in the New Testament and refers to ceremonial washings.

JOHN’S BAPTISM & ITS PURPOSE:

Let’s talk about John’s Baptism.  John’s work was NOT for the Gentiles.  His work of baptism was intended to reveal Jesus to the Israelites only, but John did not baptize believers into Christ.  That would come later, after Pentecost.   His work was NOT for the Gentiles

John 1:29-31 –29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  30 “This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’  31 “I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” (NKJ)

So John was baptizing in order to reveal Jesus to Israel only, not yet to the Gentiles.

Bearing fruit was an evidence of those who had sincerely baptized.  As John the Baptist said…

Matt 3:8 – “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance”  (NKJ)

John’s Baptism required a personal confession of sins.

Mark 1:5And all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.  (NKJ)

Repentance and typical cleansing restored repentant Jews back to the condition of harmony with God as enjoyed under the Law Covenant and through the tabernacle arrangement.  As we are told in …

Mark 1:4John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.   (NKJ)

The Jews had not previously practiced individual baptism.  Br. Russell teaches…

“The whole nation was recognized as baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud. (1Co 10:1,2)”  HG254:3

For the remission of avoidable sins, gross sins. The godly Jews were not intended, nor expected, to come to John to be baptized.” Q34:3

“Not the “Israelites indeed,” but those who conceded that they had been living in open sin.” HG254:5

This typical cleansing available to the Jews is discussed in Leviticus & Hebrews.

Lev 16:30 – “For on that day [of Atonement] the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.  (NKJ)

Heb 10:11And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  (NKJ)

So John baptized the Jews for repentance and remission of sins similar to the typical cleansing as was accomplished in the tabernacle by the sacrifice of bulls and goats on the Day of Atonement.

Every Jew under the Law Covenant was a member of the house of Moses (Heb. 3:5).  The Jews were baptized unto Moses in the sea and in the cloud (1 Cor. 10:12)

As natural branches of the olive tree the Jews did not need engrafting into Christ (Rm. 11:16-21).  John could not baptize Gentiles since they could not by repentance be restored back to a position they had never occupied.

After Pentecost, John’s baptism was replaced by Christian baptism into Christ.

In Acts we have an incident where some of John’s disciples, after hearing the gospel, were baptized again, this time into Christ; after which they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:1-61… Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples   2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”  3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”   4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”  5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (NKJ)

These disciples were baptized twice (John’s & Christ’s). Br. Russell teaches…“The Apostle instructed them more fully, assuring them that John’s baptism was all right in its time and place, but that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus–baptized into Christ.” HG732:6

CHRISTIAN BAPTISM & ITS MEANING

Christian baptism has many elements that are similar to John’s baptism and some elements that are different.  As with the Jews baptized by John’s baptism, Christians are to confess and repent from their sins.

Acts 19:18And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. (NKJ)

Luke 24:46-4746  Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (NKJ)

Remission of sins was another element similar between John’s baptism and Jesus baptism.

Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NKJ)

Br. Russell teaches…  “This baptism was for Jews only, who had already been baptized into Moses in the sea and the cloud. Sins thus figuratively washed away did not include original sin, but merely minor transgressions against the Mosaic law.” R4308:5 204308  F428 209718  HG600:1,2

John could only provide typical remission.  The Christian receives a real remission of sins through actual justification by Jesus blood.

John’s baptism pointing the Jews to Christ, but the Christian is to actually believe in Christ and accept Him as their Savior.  Let’s see how this is shown in scripture.

 

Acts 8:36-3736 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”  37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (NKJ)

Acts 18:8Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. (NKJ)

So faith in Jesus Christ is a requirement for the Christian baptism.

BAPTISM INTO CHRIST – NOT INTO AN ORGANIZATION

Although those baptized into John’s baptism were to bear fruit, the Christian’s death to sin, walking in newness of life and drinking of the cup is a far deeper action.  Christian Baptism is more than the pursuit of righteousness, it is the total death of self will and a total commitment to sacrifice ALL of ones time, talent and possessions to the Lord, often at the cost of suffering and persecution.  In this connection, we are told in…

2 Tim 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (NKJ)

Rom 6:3-133 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.   11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (NKJ)

So we see from Romans 6 and lowering the candidate into the water represents the death of the Old Man with his sinful ways and the raising up of the candidate shows our walk in newness of life as New Creatures in Christ Jesus.  Notice how Roman 6:3 teaches that we are baptized into Christ’s death.  No scripture talks about being baptized into Jehovah’s organization. Also see how the following text show we are actually baptized into Christ.

Gal 3:27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  NASV

Acts 2:38 – Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. NASV

ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF BAPTISM

What is the ultimate purpose of Christian Baptism?  Certainly to lay down our lives in the Lord’s service is purpose enough, but the Bible shows a purpose even beyond that.  Just as going to medical school is of no benefit to humanity unless the student becomes a practicing doctor, so it is with the Christian.

CONTEXT

Gal 3:8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” (NKJ)

Gen 22:18“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (NKJ)

Gal 3:27,2927 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ…  29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (NKJ)

 

Those who are baptized are Abraham’s seed whose purpose is to bless all the families of the earth.  This is the ultimate purpose of baptism.

The same point is expressed in…

1 Cor 15:29Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? (NKJ)

This passage says that we are baptized “for the dead,” not “into death,” but “for the dead.”   Again the ultimate purpose of baptism is to bless all the families of the earth.

Many translations agree with this wording, “baptized for the dead.”  The translators don’t believe this.  They would rather not translate this text.  Peter puts it this way…

1 Pet 1:9receiving the end of your faith– the salvation of your souls.  (NKJ)

The word “your” is in Italics.  The thought is that the outcome of our faith, THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE, will be the salvation of mankind.

DOES WATER BAPTISM CANCELS SINS?

The traditional view among Catholic and many Protestant denominations is that baptism is necessary for salvation, forgiveness and the cancellation of sins.  Not only do they believe it necessary, but some feel it must be performed in a prescribed fashion in order to secure salvation.  Some of their supposed proof texts are…

Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  (NKJ)

Mark 16:16 – “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (NKJ)

Acts 22:16 – ‘And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ (NKJ)

1 Pet 3:21 – There is also an antitype which now saves us– baptism (NKJ)

These texts are telling us that those who are baptized will be saved and receive a remission or washing away, of sins.  So are the Catholics and many Protestants correct in believing that the act of Baptism is necessary for salvation?

No.  Where these Christians are wrong is that it’s NOT “water baptism” that saves us, it’s the true baptism that saves us, that is, consecration and the resultant justification by Christ’s blood.  Water baptism can’t save.  It is merely a symbol of the true baptism and the resultant justification that can save us.

Rom 5:9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (NKJ)

We are saved by Jesus act of justification, not by our symbolic act of water baptism.

WATER BAPTISM IS SYMBOLIC

Many scriptures establish that water baptism itself is merely a symbol and that it does not have intrinsic atoning qualities.

Luke 12:50“But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! (NKJ)

Jesus had already received water baptism by John, so in this case the word “baptism” must be symbolic of more than the literal water baptism.  This is also borne out in…

Mark 10:38-3938 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Can you drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized.” (NKJ)  (see also Matt 20:22-23)

Jesus had previously baptized the disciples in water. (John 4:1,2)  Clearly Jesus was not referring merely to the symbolic act of water baptism, but to the actual practice of what the symbol means, the laying down of their lives in consecrated sacrifice and the resultant justification to life by faith in Jesus.

More evidence of the symbolic nature of water Baptism is found in…

Col 2:11-1211 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (NKJ)

Notice here that both circumcision & water baptism are symbolic of putting away sin.  Obviously “circumcision” here is not literal.  The Christian is not literally required to be circumcised as were the Jews under the Law.  This is the symbolic circumcision of the heart.  So, just circumcision is symbolic, likewise, water baptism here is also symbolic.

Next is another symbolic usage of baptism, although a much different one.

Matt 3:11-1211 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (NKJ)

The baptism by fire is symbolic of the judgment and destruction upon the nation of Israel as stated in verse 12, “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Just as the baptism by fire is symbolic, so is water baptism.

We are not saved by the symbol “water baptism,” but by the reality of it, the meaning of which we will get to shortly.

BORN OF WATER – SPIRIT BEGETTAL

Many believe John 3:5 teaches that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  It says…

John 3:5Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  (NKJ)

The word “baptism” is no where to be found in this context.  Water here is symbolic of the word of truth.  Without the Bible we would not have the necessary knowledge to grow in Christ and enter God’s Kingdom.

Our growth in Christ through his word is illustrated by the Greek word genno, that is Strongs#1080. Vines defines it as…

BEGET, BEAR (OF BEGETTING), BORN

1. gennao ^1080^, “to beget,” in the passive voice, “to be born,” is chiefly used of men “begetting” children, <Matt. 1:2-16>; more rarely of women “begetting” children… (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

So in John 3:5 we are “begotten of water.”  This means that we were spiritually begotten by Truth.

 

Br. Russell say…  “We see that symbolical water represents truth, and that our begetting of the holy Spirit is said to be also a begetting “through the Word of truth.”” (Jas 1:18) R4124:6   R3600:6  R2422:1

In support of this we will quote four scriptures which relate begettal to the Word of God.

James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.  (KJV)

1 Cor 4:15For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. (NKJ)

1 Pet 1:23having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, (NKJ)

Eph 5:26that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,  (NKJ)

So we see that John 3:5 does not teach that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  It actually teaches that we are begotten as New Creatures in Christ by the Truth of God’s word.  It is the guidance from God’s Word that develops the embryo New Creature in Christian growth, preparing us for our ultimate Spiritual birth.

 

SAVED BY BELIEF, GRACE & JUSTIFICATON, NOT BAPTISM

There are many more scriptures that talk about us as being saved, but it’s not by water baptism, it is by belief in Jesus Christ and the resultant grace of God and justification to life.

Acts 2:21 – And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (NKJ)

Rom 10:13For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (NKJ)

Acts 16:30-3130   And he [the jailer] brought them [Paul & Silas] out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (NKJ)

Rom 10:9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (NKJ)

Rom 5:9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (NKJ)

1 Cor 3:15If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (NKJ)

1 Cor 15:1-21 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you– unless you believed in vain. (NKJ)

Eph 2:5even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (NKJ)

Eph 2:8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (NKJ)

The Jerusalem Counsel never addressed the issue of Baptism when presenting minimum requirements expected of the Gentile brothers.

Acts 15:28-2928  For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:  29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. (NKJ)

Where is water baptism on this list?  If it were necessary for salvation, certainly the Apostles would have required it of the Gentile brethren.

Acts 15:1And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (NKJ)

Some Christians today take the same approach with baptism as these Jews took of circumcision, that it is a requirement for salvation.

SAVED BY BAPTISM?

In 1 Peter we find scriptures used by many Christians to again attempt to prove that water Baptism is necessary for salvation.

1 Pet 3:19-2219 by whom also He [Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us– baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (NKJ)

Does this passage prove we are saved by literal water baptism?  The simple answer here is that Peter is not talking about literal water baptism.  In verse 21, He describes “baptism” as “a good conscience toward God.”  That word “conscience” is also used in the prior chapter.

1 Peter 2:19 – For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. KJV

So the word “conscience” connected with the word “baptism” refers to suffering for righteousness sake.  Hence, the word Baptism is talking about living our consecration.  Our consecration results in justification by the ransom to life.  That is what saves us.

It’s also interesting to note from verse 21 that we are not saved by the “removal of the filth of the flesh,” that is, we are not saved simply by John’s baptism, the repentance from sin.  But we must go beyond that to consecration into Christ’s death.

BAPTIZED IN WHO’S NAME?

In whose name is the Christian baptized?  Many quote the great commission of Matt 28:19 to prove we are baptized into the Trinity, not into Jesus Christ alone.

Matt 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  (NKJ)

If we accept the translation as is, it does not prove that we are baptized into the Trinity, but merely the desperation of those who strive in vain to find support for this doctrine in scripture.  This passage does not state that these three are one person, nor anything of the kind.

In conflict with this, six other scriptures refer baptism in the name of Jesus, not baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of Matt 28:19.

Let’s look at these scripture that contradict Matt 28:29.  Notice that in none of these texts was anyone baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NKJ)

Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.  (NKJ)

Acts 8:16 – For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  (NKJ)

Acts 10:48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.  (NKJ)

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

Rom 6:3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (NKJ)

Some scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries believe that Matt 28:19 was altered.

An article from Beauties of the Truth (Volume 2, Number 1, January 1991) stated the following…  “Eusebius, a fourth century writer, had the greatest library of any early church scribe. It contained manuscripts of the new testament that were at least 200 years older than any existing today. Manuscripts copied by Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and others not available today gave him access to almost original material.  Eusebius cites Matthew 28:19 eighteen times in his work, always in the same form: “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you”

When he comments on the verse, Eusebius places great stress on the phrase, “in my name.”  Apparently his sources, Origen, Clement and Justin Martyr, excluded “father” and “holy spirit” from this scripture…

Aphraates, a Syriac writer of the middle-fourth century, cites the text in yet a different manner, “Make disciples of all nations, and they shall believe in me.” …  Ironically, Pope Stephen used only one name, Jesus…”

Pope Stephen I served as Bishop of Rome from254 to 257 AD.

Personally we are doubtful of the authenticity of the phrase in Matt 28:19, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and think Eusebius was likely correct in quoting the text as saying, “make disciples of all nations in my name.”

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion brethren:

Submersion is the correct form of baptism, not sprinkling or pouring water on the head.

  • Infant baptism is not taught in the Bible
  • The Greek word for baptism has the thought of complete submersion under water
  • John’s Baptism was unto repentance and typical remission of sins.
  • Baptism into Christ is for consecration unto death and remission of sins through justification to life.
  • The ultimate purpose of Baptism is for the Christian to participate in the healing and blessing all the families of the earth.
  • Water Baptism is an important symbol, but does not cancel sins.
  • We are saved by belief in Christ, the grace of God and Justification to Life, not the symbol of water baptism.
  • We are Baptized into Christ, not the Trinity

We have a great hope in that ultimate purpose of our baptism, to bless all the families of the earth.  So brethren, let us pursue our consecration with determination and zeal, so that we may please our Father and be prepared for our future mission.

30 comments to What Does it mean to be Baptized into Christ?

  • Bret (Bible Student)

    Peter;
    Excellent article…
    A good question to go along with this study for JW’s to ask themselves is; What were you baptized into? How many baptisms are there?

    King James Version
    Eph 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

    This one Baptism is the baptism into Christ Jesus..
    There are no two baptisms…

    • jacqueline ( Bible student)

      Hi Bret, that’s why I knew at 12 years old as a witness, I was not baptized into Christ.in fact I learned that the organization had already formed and I was working for these men.
      Si with understanding and a calling from God I finally was baptized in Christ at the ripe old age of 62. It took that long journey to bring me to the understanding of what he actually accomplished. I thought I knew about Christ but I only knew things about GOD. And most of It was picturing him as a harsh personage.

      • Ex Jw

        Jacqueline, I was baptized at age 16 in 1970 as a JW, do you remember what words they used when baptizing people back then?

        • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

          “Therefore now with your mouth make a public declaration of your faith by answering these two questions that I shall ask you, and let your answers be hearable, that all those about you may be witnesses to the declaration that you solemnly make:
          (1) Have you recognized yourself before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him the Father through his Son Jesus Christ?
          (2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation, have you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the enlightenment of the holy spirit?” Watchtower 1956 July 1 p.407
          An important comment was made in 1955, something significantly contradicted in the arrangement introduced in 1985.
          “A Christian, therefore, cannot be baptized in the name of the one actually doing the immersing or in the name of any man, nor in the name of any organization, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit.” Watchtower 1955 July 1 p.411
          “We do not dedicate ourselves to a religion, nor to a man, nor to an organization. No, we dedicate ourselves to the Supreme Sovereign of the Universe, our Creator, Jehovah God himself. This makes dedication a very personal relationship between us and Jehovah.” Watchtower 1966 October 1 pp.603-604
          In total disregard for these previous comments and Biblical examples, in 1985 the baptism questions changed, with the candidate having to announce their desire to become associated with an Organization.
          “At the close of the convention baptism talk, the baptism candidates will be in position to answer with depth of understanding and heartfelt appreciation two simple questions that serve to confirm that they recognize the implications of following Christ’s example.

          The first question is: On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?

          The second is: Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.” Watchtower 1985 June 1 p.30

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Brett,

      Yes. Excellent question. If there is only one baptism, is it baptism into an organization or baptism into Christ?

  • Maggy A

    I spent a short time in the Church of Christ during my spiritual searching. I was baptized for the remission of sins in that church, does that suffice for being baptized? If not hopefully I can find some bible students here in Virginia or close enough by that I can meet with them.

    • Jacqueline

      Maggy, Br. Peter is working on it. You might have seen him give the last discourse at the San Diego convention. I checked out Christadelphians and some others when I was looking for some semblance of truth and mercy. To finally get to focus on our real hope, Christ Jesus, has brought me great comfort. Understanding the ransom in it’s fullness will bring you peace and joy.

  • Anonymous

    I was studying with JW’s and was attending meetings up until I began questioning certain acts and teachings,now I have kinda cut myself off due to these reasons but had a fear that I may not be fully accepted by God if I was not baptized by the organization but reading this article am I right to think that I do not need to be baptized by them but only to ask to recieved the holy spirit of baptizm by Jesus,I assume you obviously ask this in prayer?

    • Jacqueline

      Hi anonymous, first I want to post this link on what it means to be baptized in Christ. http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/category/baptism-and-dedication/.
      I recognized that I had been baptized into an organization. Let me give you example of what it means to be baptized with the JW org. I will present what they teach NOW on the end so you can make a decision.
      Br. Peter will probably answer your question directly. I felt I had to be baptized in Christ as the org was forming in 1960 when JW baptized me.

      “Therefore now with your mouth make a public declaration of your faith by answering these two questions that I shall ask you, and let your answers be hearable, that all those about you may be witnesses to the declaration that you solemnly make:
      (1) Have you recognized yourself before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him the Father through his Son Jesus Christ?
      (2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation, have you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the enlightenment of the holy spirit?” Watchtower 1956 July 1 p.407
      An important comment was made in 1955, something significantly contradicted in the arrangement introduced in 1985.
      “A Christian, therefore, cannot be baptized in the name of the one actually doing the immersing or in the name of any man, nor in the name of any organization, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit.” Watchtower 1955 July 1 p.411
      “We do not dedicate ourselves to a religion, nor to a man, nor to an organization. No, we dedicate ourselves to the Supreme Sovereign of the Universe, our Creator, Jehovah God himself. This makes dedication a very personal relationship between us and Jehovah.” Watchtower 1966 October 1 pp.603-604
      In total disregard for these previous comments and Biblical examples, in 1985 the baptism questions changed, with the candidate having to announce their desire to become associated with an Organization.
      “At the close of the convention baptism talk, the baptism candidates will be in position to answer with depth of understanding and heartfelt appreciation two simple questions that serve to confirm that they recognize the implications of following Christ’s example.

      The first question is: On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?

      The second is: Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.” Watchtower 1985 June 1 p.30

      • Anonymous

        thanks for replying to my question & all the references you quoted, if not the by the JWs where else would be a valid place to get baptized or should I forget about the emersion baptizm altogether?

        • Jacqueline

          Anonymous I will get back to you a little later. A travel day.

          • Anonymous

            hi Jacqueline, ok thank you

            • Jacqueline

              Br. Peter will take it from here anonymous. Erika has the same phight and questions about where to get baptized and I am sure others might want to see the answer so he will take over.

              • Anonymous

                Hi again,I was just wondering if their are a bible group here in England similar to what you referred to where you are in the USA?
                Thanks

                • Jacqueline

                  Anonymous, we need your exact city. Could you go to contact at the upper right and give your full address. We will check with our brothers on that side for someone. We are not an organization like the JW, but we know each other.
                  Also I might mention all commenting are not BS but JW also comment as this is a place to talk freely. Just a note.
                  I am at a disadvantage until Friday, I am on a a tablet not my big computer. I am in one of the International JW convention cities babysitting small ones. The brothers have activities for the fifty delegates assigned here, so I am helping JW family enjoy by babysitting.
                  But we will check when we get full address.

                • Peter K. (admin)

                  Anonymous – I can put you in contact with a Bible Student in England. I can’t make the information public though. You need to click on the CONTACT in the upper right and give us your email address. I will contact you with information. Peter K.

        • Peter K. (admin)

          Anonymous – You asked the question, where should you get baptized. In your situation, this is a difficult question to answer. I do not belive it is scriptural to be baptized into a human organization. God knows your heart and you can make a consecration / dedication of your life to him on a personal level and I believe he can accept that.

          Jesus and the Apostles set the example of baptism and I think it is best to follow that example. In my opinion, the key is that you need to identify and associate with those that you consider to be your brothers and sisters in Christ. Among these, you can make arrangements to be baptized. The Bible Students are always willing to make arrangements for baptism. However, I would recommend that you only be baptized with those you feel comfortable with as your brothers and sisters in Christ. That is your decision.

          • Anonymous

            thanks for your reply Peter, where can I find these bible students as would like to study with them & hopefully I could get bapstized. Are they an international congregation?

            • Peter K. (admin)

              Anonymous – You can contact sister Jacqueline and I by going to the upper right hand corner of the website. Click on CONTACT. You can privately let us know your general location and we can put you in contact with local Bible Students if there are any Bible Students in your area.

              Also, there is always a baptism service at the General Convention in Pittsburgh which starts on on the weekend of July 20th.

            • Peter K. (admin)

              Anonymous – I don’t think we ever heard from you. If you and anyone else would like to find Bible Students in England, contact us at BibleStudents1@Gmail.com.

  • R. Jerome Harris,
    are you a pastor at, “Christian Tabernacle Church of God in Christ,” in Oakland California? Did you receive a Licenses to teach at that church? or are you a different, R. Jerome Harris?

  • Domenic

    This is addressed to Br. Peter from the contact form.
    I want to send Peter this comment, but yahoo changed my mail thing…I need to figure it out? But, here is the Post I would like to make.

    I NEED TO BE REBAPTIZED
    My first baptism took place on a cold January morning at a little church in West Upton Massachusetts in the year 1936. In attendance were my parents, and several hundred Italian relatives.
    At the age of one month, I had given no consent, or have any remembrance of what I was later told, was a life saving event.
    In 1968, I was again baptized. This memorial event filled me with pride, and confusion. I had passed my final testing by the elders of the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the town of Los Gatos California. Six months of Bible study, followed by 80 questions I needed to answer to the satisfaction of local Kingdom Hall elders. I had passed, and several weeks later, I was baptized in water. I was then considered by the congregation as a baptized brother.
    I’m not the smartest thing God ever created, nor do I take claim to be. Con men on street corners who hid a pea under one of three walnut shells, fool me every time.
    With the help of Jehovah, in 1996 I was removed from the roster of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the second time…I was to dumb to leave on my own, God had to intervene.
    A year later, one of the 80 questions came to mind…I don’t know why? I wasn’t searching for it…sometimes stuff just seems to pop in unannounced. I had been asked as one of the 80 questions;
    “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?”
    Sometimes things come to me long after an event…”Why did they ask me that? Of course I knew I was becoming a Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Did they think I was stupid? When I start thinking about something, it seems the barn doors open wide, and a stampede of questions rush out like a heard of horses. Why did I have to answer 80 questions? The early Christians never had to answer questions? I wrote the question on paper… “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?” One of the horses rushing out of my barn of imaginations said as he rush by, “You were not baptized in Jesus name, you were baptized as a member of a man made religion.” I WAS NOT BAPTIZED IN JESUS NAME.
    For the past eighteen years I have held tight to my God YHWH. Alone I have spread the Good news to any who would listen. Daily my thoughts are with my God, and my Lord Jesus. Daily I know I need to be baptized in Jesus name. Daily I search for Gods servants. There has to me more than just me…a great crowed of them, but where are they?
    “Father…HELP.”
    Looking on the web for something not related to my God, I found Peter. I read everything on the site. I talked to Peter…”Thank you Father…You have led me to the great crowed. Now I can get baptized in the name of my Lord Jesus.”

    • Jacqueline

      Domenic Br. Peter will answer you but I thought so everyone knows of the different questions asked for Baptism, here they are down thru the years.

      Watchtower changes Baptism Questions to include Dedication to Organization
      “Therefore now with your mouth make a public declaration of your faith by answering these two questions that I shall ask you, and let your answers be hearable, that all those about you may be witnesses to the declaration that you solemnly make:

      (1) Have you recognized yourself before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him the Father through his Son Jesus Christ?
      (2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation, have you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the enlightenment of the holy spirit?” Watchtower 1956 July 1 p.407

      An important comment was made in 1955, something significantly contradicted in the arrangement introduced in 1985.
      “A Christian, therefore, cannot be baptized in the name of the one actually doing the immersing or in the name of any man, nor in the name of any organization, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit.” Watchtower 1955 July 1 p.411
      “We do not dedicate ourselves to a religion, nor to a man, nor to an organization. No, we dedicate ourselves to the Supreme Sovereign of the Universe, our Creator, Jehovah God himself. This makes dedication a very personal relationship between us and Jehovah.” Watchtower 1966 October 1 pp.603-604

      In total disregard for these previous comments and Biblical examples, in 1985 the baptism questions changed, with the candidate having to announce their desire to become associated with an Organization.
      “At the close of the convention baptism talk, the baptism candidates will be in position to answer with depth of understanding and heartfelt appreciation two simple questions that serve to confirm that they recognize the implications of following Christ’s example.
      (1)The first question is: On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
      (2)The second is: Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.” Watchtower 1985 June 1 p.30

      PS: I also felt the hearfelt desire, need, compulsion, agony inside to get baptized in Jesus and the manner of his death. I know it is an outward show that we have consecrated our life already but I had to for myself go the extra step to let Jesus and Jehovah see as well as my brothers that I was making this consecration.
      I was baptized in 1960 so was never initiated into an organization. Upon becoming aware of it in about 2000 I began to verbally object by writing the society and speaking out to my elders. I finally realized I was the only one that didn’t realize there was a governingbody and we were stuck in a corporation. I saw no way out of this, so I dropped to my knees and begged. I too was not looking for the Bible Students, it kept coming up in my search engine whenever I asked if any had beliefs similar to JW. A former Circuit overseer who I kept showing it to said, “those are those people you keep asking about”.
      He warned me not to go near them and opposed me. I found a convention was near me and it was 14 below zero with ice but I slide the 1hr 15min drive to them. The rest is history. God had heard my prayers to get me out of that thing I was born into. So I understand you Domenic.

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Domenic,

      I hope to call you soon so we can talk again. Your zeal for God’s word and understanding it is wonderful to see. You can find more information from Bible Students on Baptism here. http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/2014/04/23/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

  • Today, there is only ONE baptism and it is not by water.

    In the days of John the Baptizer, he had followers that would come to himself to be baptized for those who repented from their sins. Followers of “Christ” would not have the same baptism that John the Baptizer administered.

    Notice what John the Baptizer says at Matthew 3:11:

    “I, for my part, baptize YOU with water because of YOUR repentance; but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not fit to take off. That one will baptize YOU people with holy spirit and with fire.”

    The Apostle Paul at 1 Cor 12:13 says in agreement:

    “For truly by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit.”

    Many run Scriptures by people so fast, they are left with the “assumption” that water baptism (total immersion) is Scriptural. It is NOT Scriptural and it is NOT something neither Jesus or Jehovah commanded.

    Even John the Baptizer understood this from the very beginning and that is why he attempted to prevent Jesus from being baptized by him.

    “But the latter tried to prevent him, saying: “I am the one needing to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?” In reply Jesus said to him: “LET IT BE, THIS TIME, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.

    The water baptism for Jesus by John was in symbolism to CONCLUDE or END this type of baptism. The following would no longer be to John the Baptizer(who baptized in water), but the following would now be to Jesus [the] Christ who would baptize with Holy Spirit.

    Water baptism is in keeping with what John the Baptizer did. We are NOT followers of John the Baptizer. Jesus CONCLUDED once and for all baptism by water. His baptism would be with Holy Spirit.

    We saw this in the event of the 120 in the upper room on Penetcost 33 where all received this outpouring or baptism with Holy Spirit.

    Many today turn to the Ethiopian Eunch as proof that water baptism is Scriptural. This man was a proselyte and he was reading from the Book of Isaiah; meaning that he did not know Christ or his teachings. His baptism was in the tradition of John the Baptizer, not Jesus the Christ.

    Additionally, if water baptism is supposedly Scriptural, why do we not see it mentioned predominately in Scripture? We do not! There is much more said about baptism with Holy Spirit.

    Much of the so-called “believing” world is way off course simply because it does not REALLY listen to Christ.

    They have moved forward and “ritualized” something that follows John the Baptizer and not the Christ.

    Water baptism does absolutely nothing; water is of the earth.

    One should want and ask for an outpouring or baptism with Holy Spirit; which is from above.

  • Richard

    Hello Br. Peter,
    This is an excellent study.It helped me to see the real meaning of baptism.Something I never thought about before.
    If I could take the liberty,I would like to say that the argument regsrding silence in infant baptism,is not a reliable one,though I have read and heard many use it. In the NT,we have no mention of women receiving,or being specifically directed to receive,the Lord’s Supper. Yet,we know from church history that they always have,and there has never been an argument against it. There may have been some heretical,schismatic groups that refused women,but I know not of any.
    As for Matthew 28:19,I have studied that issue,and have only found the unbelieving Higher Critics who have said it may not be canonical.Some true believers may also question it,but I think they lean too much on what the critics have taught.
    Ray Franz has an excellent chapter in his great book,”In Search of Christian Freedom,”where he shows the real significance of the NAME of God,being His Person,authority,attributes,character and His saving self revelation,not just a name like “Peter”,”Richard”,”Mary”,etc. As we know Jesus means “Jehovah is Salvation”,e.g.
    This is not a criticism of your study,just food for thought.
    Thanks so much for posting it.It’s one of the most thorough presentations of the meaning of Baptism I have ever read.
    Yours,
    Br. Richard

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