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The Christian Life

Baptism and Repentance

Key verses

  • "Then Peter said to them, REPENT, and let every one of you be BAPTISED IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

  • "Or do you not know that as many of us as were BAPTISED into CHRIST JESUS were BAPTISED into HIS DEATH? 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" Romans 6:3-4

  • "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptised, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the LORD" Acts 22:16

Baptism by full immersion

Whenever baptism is mentioned in the Bible it is always by full immersion. There is no reference in the Bible to 'infant sprinkling' or 'head dipping' in a bowl. Baptism is also mentioned hand in hand with such necessities as belief, repentance and obedience. Some people teach that baptism is 'optional' and not necessary for salvation. This can hardly be the case as both Jesus and the Apostles commanded baptism for all believers. (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38, 10:47-48, Acts 16:33, 22:16)

Even our Lord who was sinless, submitted to baptism Himself, saying, "permit Me to do so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Matthew3:13-15

What is true repentance?

Repentance is the first step towards pleasing God. The way of salvation is only open to those who have repented for their past and are determined to please God in the future. Repentance is for past false beliefs, (2 Timothy 2:25), and for past sins. (Luke 13:1-5, 24:47) True repentance means a COMPLETE REVERSE from the direction of our previous life and is styled in Scripture as repentance of a "GODLY MANNERN" (2 Corinthians 7:9) or "GODLY SORROW". "For Godly sorrow produces REPENTANCE leading to SALVATION, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world PRODUCES DEATH" 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Belief in the Gospel of Jesus

It can be seen from examples in the Bible that belief in the gospel message preached by the Apostles was the motivation for true repentant baptism. 

  • "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart , and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Acts 2:37

  • "But 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 BAPTISED." Acts 8:12

Forgiveness of sins

The Bible also says that forgiveness of sins is part of the blessing of baptism to all those who would humbly accept this gracious offer from God and His Son. (See Acts 2:38, 22:16)

Baptism as a symbol

Baptism is also presented in Scripture as a symbol of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:3-4) When we go down into the waters of baptism we are in a symbol enacting Jesus' death and coming out of the water we are symbolising His resurrection.

The new covenant in Jesus' blood

Jesus' death and shed blood was the means by which He confirmed or established what is known as the New or everlasting Covenant in His blood. (See Luke 22:15-20; Hebrews 13:20)

When we are baptised, we are then participants in the New Covenant, having forgiveness of sins and a hope of eternal life in God's Kingdom.

Extra info and Bible references

The literal meaning of 'baptism' in the Greek language was: 'TO COVER WITH FLUID' or 'TO STAIN AS WITH A DYE'. The word 'baptism' comes from the Greek and was used to describe the process of dying clothing which naturally required 'full immersion' to be effective.

  • 'baptisma' is the Greek word that is translated 'baptism' in the following references in our English Bibles: (Romans 6:4;Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Matthew 3:7; Acts 1:22, 10:37, 13:24, 18:25, 19:3-4)

  • 'bapto' is the root word for 'baptisma' meaning 'to dip'.

  • 'baptiso' is the Greek word that is translated 'baptise' or 'baptised' in English and originally described the dying of clothing, and the necessity for full immersion: (Acts 1:5, 8:16, 22:16; Galatians 3:27; Acts 2:38-41; Acts 8:12-13, 36-38, 9:18, Acts 10:47,48, 16:15)

All Scripture quoted is from the N.K.J.V.

To find out more about this topic, go to Why Baptism Really Matters or complete the Bible Basics Course which includes a study on baptism.

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