The Meaning of the Word
Our word “baptism” is derived from a Greek word BAPTIZO
which means to cleanse by dipping or submerging in water. The word
is used in English in the dyeing industry where a garment is said
to be “baptized” when it has been immersed in dye and come
out a different colour. Note how these things are involved
in the act of true Christian baptism:
Baptism is a TOTAL IMMERSION not a sprinkling:
him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the
faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead”
Baptism produces A CHANGE:
“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
Baptism is Essential For Salvation
Jesus is our
example in this as in all things. He went to John “to be
baptized of him” (Matthew
John did not think it necessary for Jesus to be baptized, but note
“Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it
becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered
thought it necessary to be baptized then how much more necessary
is it for those who seek to follow him. Jesus commanded his
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believeth not shall be damned” (Mark
From this we
note two important points:
1) Baptism is essential if we would be saved, and
2) Belief of the gospel must precede baptism.
The Apostles in Action
In the book of
Acts we read of the apostles doing what Jesus had commanded them
in Mark 16:15-16. A few examples will help us to see how
important they considered baptism to be:
The gospel is
The people ask, “What shall we do?”
Peter commands, “Repent and be
N.B. Belief before baptism - “They that
gladly received his word were baptized”.
preached the gospel.
people believed, then they were baptized.
3) Acts 8
preaches to the eunuch.
eunuch wants to be baptized.
must come first: “If thou believest”.
immersion: “They went down into the water
4) Acts 10
works can’t save.
preaches the gospel to Cornelius.
Spirit gifts given, but note that in spite of the gifts it
was still necessary for them to be baptized (verse 47).
commands them to be baptized.
The New Birth
We belong to a
race of sinful, dying people (See notes on “the Nature of Man”).
The Bible speaks of our position as being “in Adam” and
says that “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians
were born into this state of affairs. If we want to escape
death then we have to be “born again” into another
“Jesus answered (Nicodemus) and said unto him,
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)
wanted to know how it is possible for a man to be born again.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
Thus the new
birth is a birth of water and spirit. Like any other
birth this new birth is a process. It does not happen
instantaneously but takes time. There are three stages in the new
This is the
planting of the seed in a situation where it will grow. In the new
birth the seed is the word of God which is preached in the gospel:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by
the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever....and this
is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1
This word of
God was given by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Peter
1:21) so that
it can be said that the new birth, which begins with a hearing of
the word, is a birth of Spirit.
GESTATION (OR GROWTH):
seed grows as it is nourished. In the spiritual birth this
nourishment comes from the word of God as the gospel truths are
gradually assimilated and understood.
In the natural
this is usually a happy occasion when the child which has been
conceived and developed is brought forth for all to see. The new
birth is a birth of water and spirit. Baptism is the final
act in the new birth process - it is the public manifestation of
the fact that a new creature has been conceived and developed by
the word. Only after the act of water baptism is the new creature
said to have come into existence:
“Know ye not, that so many of you as were baptized into Jesus Christ
were baptized 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)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old
things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (2
What it Means to be IN CHRIST
1) As we
have seen those who are baptized into Christ have their sins
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...”
in Christ’s family they will be raised from the dead:
“For as in Adam all die even so in Christ will all be made
alive” (1 Corinthians
are heirs of the promises and therefore, if faithful to their
calling, will be in the
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put
on Christ... and if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed
and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29)
The New Birth is the Beginning of Life in Christ, not the End
Those who have
been “born again” are babes in the family of God and are
required to grow:
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that
ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2)
The End of the Matter
Those who, to
the best of their ability, “patiently continue in well doing” can
look forward to another change - the change of their bodies when
Jesus comes back to raise the dead and give eternal life to all
who are NOW God’s children. Then in the fullest sense they will
have been born of the spirit for their bodies will be changed to
that Spirit nature possessed by the Lord Jesus:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and
it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when
he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as
he is” (1 John 3v2)