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Ep.1061: How Many Baptisms Are There?

Unlocking the importance, meaning and application of baptism

How Many Baptisms Are There?

Theme Scripture: Acts 19:5

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Baptism is an enormous part of Christianity. It is mentioned frequently and seriously throughout the New Testament. While most Christians agree on its importance, we vastly disagree on its meaning and place within our teachings. Is baptism a symbol of what has begun changing in you or does it actually change you? Is it a ritual of sprinkling or is it a complete immersion in water? Should babies, children and adults be baptized? What are we supposed to be baptized into? The Bible seemingly tells us two different things. Is it just into the name of Jesus or is it into the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit”? With all of the questions surrounding baptism it is no wonder that there is so much confusion in finding clarity. The good news is that if we pay close attention to biblical history and context we can find answers that are sensible and scripturally sound!

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Did you ever wonder what the average person in Israel thought when John the Baptist showed up and started baptizing people to show their repentance for their sins?  In all of Jewish history, this kind of thing had never happened before.  Suddenly this wild and rough looking guy shows up saying they were all sinners and needed to repent.  Why did the people respond?  Why did they go along with being dunked in water as a way to show their desire to turn towards God?

Even though baptism was not part of their heritage, ritual washings of various kinds were.  The commands behind these washings were simple.  The people need to be cleansed of actual dirt and disease as a preparation for being acceptable to be able to stand before God.  Baptism, therefore, was built upon some very familiar Jewish practices.  In our podcast we focused in on the likely origins of Jewish baptism...and that does two things. First, it clarifies the "why" of water immersion, and second, it provides sound reasoning on the all-important question of baptizing infants and children.

This question is one of the most difficult to handle.  The divide on this issue is almost as old as Christianity itself and leads to all kinds of fundamental differences.  Some say the ritual of infant baptism was based upon the rite of circumcision given as far back as Abraham.  Their point is that it shows us a belonging to those promises given to Abraham himself.  Others say that interpretation is a serious misrepresentation of scriptural intention and symbolism.  Who is right?

Check out our February 18, 2019 podcast, “How Many Baptisms are there?” for a clear answer.  We deep dive beneath the surface on this issue to find what the Scriptures really teach regarding baptism.  We also address questions and Scriptures that reveal if baptism is a symbol, who or what we should be baptized into.  We even look into Jesus’ own baptism.  Did you ever wonder why he was baptized – he had no sin to repent of!  Baptism, once we truly understand it, really comes alive!

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Comment(4)

  1. Love your program! I find it serene, and truthul. Looking forward to this subject tonight. God bless you, and your ministry.

    1. We sure appreciate this kind comment. It is a blessing and a privilege to spend so much time in God’s word. – Christian Questions

  2. A few questions:
    1. I understand that there are multiple baptisms in the Bible. But as far as baptism now why does Paul only reference one?
    There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
    Ephesians 4:4‭-‬6

    It’s hard for me to believe that that “one baptism ” has anything to do with water.

    2. Why is Matthew 28:19,20 treated like the ultimate last thing that Jesus said? (This is my general opinion not necessarily pointed towards you guys as I have just recently discovered the show). If we believe the Bible is all inspired, then the rest of the words after those verses are just as important. God kept speaking and that’s how we ended with the completed Word. Thoughts?

    3. If water baptism is so important but doesn’t save you; what is going to happen when you stand before God as a believer but have not been water baptized by choice?

    In this type of case I am speaking now about myself. I believe that “one baptism ” in Ephesians is spiritual and happens through faith and has nothing to do with water.
    For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
    Colossians 2:9‭-‬12

    I really appreciate the show and the approach you have to the conversations around God’s Word. And I wasn’t sure where to ask a question so I posted them here. That is my question (4) where do I go to ask a question?

    1. Listeners are welcome to contact us at inspiration@christianquestions.com or by posting to these comments.
      Regarding your excellent questions:
      1. When the Apostle Paul mentions “one baptism” in Ephesians 4:5 he offers no explanation as to its meaning. However, he does refer to baptism in Romans 6:1-4, where he provides a detailed explanation. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.”
      Examining Paul’s words closely we see that baptism is a symbol of the turning away from sin and of one’s dedication to God. He uses baptism to describe how someone is baptized in Jesus’ death. When James and John asked to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in the kingdom, Jesus asked, “Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38) In other words, could they live a thoroughly dedicated life as Jesus did and walk “in newness of life?” Being baptized in water then is a symbol of giving up our will to do God’s will.
      An important aspect of this lifestyle change is described by Jesus in Acts 1:5. “For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.” John’s baptism indicated a repentance from sin. However, when Jesus himself was baptized the symbolism changed, for he was sinless. Baptism then became the symbol described by Paul, one of individual consecration. Following that decision, the holy Spirit is sent by God to influence one’s life and develop the inward man. So, water baptism itself is not essential for one’s salvation. However, it is a lovely symbol of one’s consecration to God. The fact that Jesus himself was baptized should help us realize that following his example is important. It is an outward symbol of becoming prospective members of the body of Christ.

      2. The authenticity of the text in Matthew 28:19, 20 has been questions by scholars. (Please see http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTJAN91.PDF). One respected authority suggests that the passage should end with the word “nations,” the remainder being added by later scribes. So, the text should more properly read, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ‘all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations.’”
      This however, does not detract from the idea of water baptism as a symbol of consecration and becoming members of the body of Christ. The following texts describe how the apostles urged individuals to be “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ;” (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5).

      3. We cannot assume to know how God judges any individual. Since water baptism is only a symbol of one’s dedication to God, living up to that commitment is the important issue. There is one prescribed path to God, and that is through the blood of Christ and our own dedication to Him. But water baptism was clearly practiced by Jesus and the Apostles. Following their example is the best course to take.

      Hoping this helps in your studies, Christian Questions

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