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Robert Gardenhire

Doctrines of the Faith – Part Two: Baptism     


            Baptism is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. Like other teachings of Jesus and His apostles, it is part of the instructional foundation on which the practices of Christianity are built. The writer of the Book of Hebrews lists baptism among the “principles of the doctrine of Christ” (Hebrews 6:1). We obey this divinely–given teaching to become Christians and to have salvation.


      What is the physical process of baptism? “Baptism” is a New Testament word which originates from “bapto” in the original language. It literally means to cover completely. New Testament examples reveal that baptism is being covered in water for forgiveness of sins. Both Philip and the eunuch “went down into the water and Philip baptized him” (Acts 8:38). John baptized followers in water (John 1:26-31). Baptism is the physical process of immersing someone in water.  

      What is the spiritual process of baptism? Baptism in the name of Jesus is part of Christ’s authorized process that leads to salvation. Christ taught this saying, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Following the Master’s teaching, Peter directed those who believed the gospel message saying, “repent and be baptized in the name Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Baptism, although a physical act, is a spiritual process by which we receive forgiveness (Acts 2:38), “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27), rise to new spiritual life (Romans 6:4) and gain salvation (I Peter 3:18-21).

      Can there be baptisms which neither place a believer into Christ nor lead to salvation? Yes. Although many people who are baptized are sincere, some baptisms cannot lead to salvation. The baptisms of Apollos and those who obeyed “John’s baptism” did not save them. When Priscilla and Aquila recognized Apollos’ insufficient baptism experience, they taught him better (Acts 18:24-26). The Apostle Paul taught sincere believers whose baptism experiences, like Apollos’ baptism, were lacking. Although they were sincere in their first baptisms, Paul’s teaching led them to being baptized again – this time into the body of Christ (Acts 19:1-7). Baptism into Christ’s body, in response to the gospel, for the forgiveness of our sins, is essential to salvation. Other baptisms are insufficient. 

      May we lead others to baptism’s physical process, teach them regarding its spiritual effect and help them become assured of being in Christ. May God bless the Schrader Lane Church of Christ.   

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