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The Battle Over Baptism!

The religious world is awash in theories about baptism. Its role and place in God's plan for mankind has divided believers for centuries. Some say it is necessary for salvation, but many say it is not. Some say you should baptize babies while others say you should only baptize believers. Some argue baptism is the point where sinners are saved and some claim that baptism is to be administered only after a person is "saved." Some insist baptism can only be by immersion in water, but others aver baptism is a matter of personal choice between immersion, sprinkling, or pouring. And then there are those who teach that baptism must be in the Spirit, not in water. And so the battle over baptism continues.

There was no battle over baptism among the inspired apostles of Christ. Those men were guided by the God's Holy Spirit of truth to say precisely what Jesus had taught them to say and to teach everything Jesus wanted them to teach (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). Just before ascending to Heaven, Jesus taught them to do this: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16; see also Matthew 28:18-20). So what did they teach about baptism? The following sample of passages provides insight:

    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.' Close study reveals these words were spoken to people who were already believers in Jesus.

    Acts 8:12 - After Philip preached the gospel in the city of Samaria we read, "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 baptized."

    Acts 8:35-36 - "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 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? ... So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him."

    Acts 18:8 - As the apostle Paul preached at Corinth, "Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized."

    Acts 22:16 (see also Acts 9:1-11) — Ananias told the penitent Saul of Tarsus (a.k.a the apostle Paul) who had been fasting and praying for three days, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

Debates about baptism continue among believers in Christ, but there is no debate in the Bible. God help His church continue to preach the word and speak the truth in love on this vital Bible doctrine. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11a)

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ