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Let’s Get It Right the First Time

The question on the floor this morning “Is there ever a justification for being “re-baptized”? Many will say: I have questioned my baptism. While other profess I was very young and really did not comprehend the seriousness of what I was doing.

New Testament Precedent

While on his third missionary campaign, the apostle Paul came to the city of Ephesus. There, he encountered twelve men who formerly had been baptized (with the type of baptism administered by John the Baptizer).

One might be inclined to conclude, therefore, that the apostle would have accepted these men as they were, and merely organized them into a church.

Such was not the case, however. After questioning them as to the nature of their earlier baptism, and determining that their pre-baptism instruction on the previous occasion had been lacking in essential particulars, Paul immersed these men into Christ (see Acts 19:1-5).

This case clearly demonstrates that in order for one’s baptism to be valid, accurate teaching must precede the rite. Otherwise it is but a meaningless exercise, and not based on faith (Romans 10:17).

True Baptism — A One-time Act

Genuine baptism is needed only one time in a person’s life. Once a person has been baptized, according to the full complement of scriptural instructions, he or she never has the need to repeat this “new birth” process (cf. John 3:3-5).

After a person has entered the family of Christ through baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. Galatians 3:26-27), he or she is a part of the church, the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15; cf. Ephesians 2:19-22). The new Christian thus has access to all of the spiritual benefits of the “in Christ” relationship (Ephesians 1:3).

As a son or daughter of God, within that sacred environment, the Christian petitions the heavenly Father for his or her personal needs by means of prayer (see Acts 8:22,24; cf. James 5:16), including forgiveness for sins as a child who will err (cf. 1 John 1:8; 2:1).

Baptismal Qualifications

Unfortunately, there are many sects in today’s world of “Christendom” that practice a “form of baptism,” but one that is contaminated by the accompaniment of a variety of doctrinal errors that invalidate the process.

It is the case, therefore, that many who have been administered what was called “baptism,” need to submit to the ordinance again — this time with a more accurate understanding that precedes the event.

Here are some situations that must be corrected. Let’s get it right

Baptism without faith or understanding

If one was “baptized” as an infant, thus was lacking personal faith (Mark 16:16; Acts 11:21), he should repudiate the meaningless earlier rite, in which he had no decision-making power (even though his parents were sincere in subjecting him to the procedure).

He, in genuine faith, should submit to the command in the proper way. Infants have neither the need nor the ability to respond to the gospel of Christ.

The same would be true for young children too young or immature to understand their accountability to the plan of salvation. It is a tender thing to observe young children who want to please God. But many times, their desire precedes their understanding and accountability for personal sin.

If an adult comes to believe that they need to be baptized because they were subject as an infant or as a sincere but immature child, we would encourage them to be baptized in faith and obedience. Thus, they can be assured of the forgiveness of their sins and the peace of mind, knowing they are obeying God from the heart with full understanding.

Baptism without immersion

If one was “baptized” in some fashion other than by immersion (which actually expresses a contradictory concept, since “baptize” means “immerse”), then he should yield to the proper form and get it right. True baptism pictures the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The sinner is buried in, and raised from, water (cf. Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12), just as the Lord was buried, and then raised from the dead.

True baptism validates one’s faith in the death and resurrection events. Being sprinkled with water, or having water poured upon the head, is no baptism at all, and such substitutes are without sanction in the New Testament. They are post-apostolic innovations.

Baptism without repentance

If one was “baptized” without this act having been accompanied by genuine repentance, such a procedure similarly was ineffectual. No “baptism” which lacks the proper motive (and other prerequisites) can have validity in the divine scheme of things. Now let’s get it right

Baptism without faith

If one is “baptized” without a sound faith basis, his ritual would be of no avail. One might feel, for instance, that Jesus was a good man (perhaps even a “perfect man” — as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” allege), but deny that Christ is the Son of God (i.e., deity), and yet, for various other reasons, desire baptism. No baptism, grounded upon such a spurious “faith” could be accounted as genuine. So let’s get it right.

Baptism without purpose

If one has yielded to baptism for some purpose other than that which is supplied by inspired teaching, he, in reality, has not obeyed the Lord. Baptism is never defined as “an outward sign of an inward grace”; it is not a mere representation of redemption for those already received. We must get it right.

The purpose of the act is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), to have sins “washed away” (Acts 22:16), to put the candidate “into Christ” (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27), or into his “body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), at which point he is “saved” (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21). The common resistance to the biblical proposition, namely that baptism is preliminary to salvation, constitutes a bold rejection of the plain testimony of Scripture. One cannot be immersed “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), if he believes his sins have been remitted already. He must get it right.

A person’s soul is too valuable, the plan is too simple, and the remedy too easy to access, for a person to “gamble,” hoping that any old way will do — in spite of the deficiencies associated therewith. If there is any question in one’s mind regarding a “baptism,” he should be safe and do it right.

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