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What the Apostles Taught
Baptism (in the Greek translated: Immersion) is the point where our sins are cleansed by faith in Christ’s blood—where we die with Christ. As such, baptism is when we are united with Christ’s death by faith and, as a result, is when our sins are removed and we stand sanctified, justified, and righteous (1 Corinthians 6:11) before God.
The apostles taught that baptism was the point WHEN (or HOW):
WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH – Galatians 3:26-27. Why? When our sins are removed the price of death is removed (justification). Therefore we are “sons of God through faith”, when we put on Christ in baptism by faith (Romans 6:17).
WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH IN CHRIST’S WORK – Colossians 2:12 Baptism is not a meritorious work that earns salvation. It is the point where we accept God’s promise…and His work. Therefore we are buried with Christ in baptism and raised up with Christ through faith in the working of God.
WE ARE SAVED – 1 Peter 3:21. Here Peter flatly states “Baptism now saves you.” How? Through faith (“answer of a clean conscience”) in the working of God (“through the resurrection of Christ”) – see Colossians 2:12.
AS THERE IS ONE GOSPEL, THERE IS ONLY ONE BAPTISM – Ephesians 4:4-6.
Here is a very important list of seven things upon which all Christians must be unified—one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father, and one baptism. Why is baptism on this list? There are many things which are very important to Christian faith that aren’t on this list, e.g. the Lord’s supper. Baptism is on this list because it is the act of faith, and the point at which one’s sins are removed by dying with Christ. The fact that there is only one baptism further attests to its importance and connection with the one gospel of Galatians 1.
What the Apostles Practiced
The examples of what the apostles actually practiced are very powerful and valuable. We should be willing to test our theological beliefs against real examples. We can see very clearly that baptism was:
- COMMANDED “FOR REMISSION OF SINS” – Acts 2:38. Here believers specifically asked “what must we do?” They were commanded to repent and be baptized for (in order to obtain) the remission of sins.
- INCLUDED IN “PREACHING THE GOSPEL”– Acts 8:5,12. Here Philip proclaimed the gospel. When they believed, they were being baptized. Preaching the gospel had to include instruction about the baptismal response.
- INCLUDED IN “PREACHING JESUS” – Acts 8:35-39. Here Philip “preached Jesus” to the eunuch. The eunuch’s first reaction was to be baptized. Preaching Jesus had to include instruction about baptism. He rejoiced only after they both “went down into the water” and he was baptized.
- WHEN AND WHERE THE LORD ADDED ONE “TO THE CHURCH” – Acts 2:47. After being baptized (“those being saved”) the Lord added them to His church, His spiritual kingdom, where Christ is ruler (see also Ephesians 5:25-27, Colossians 1:18).
THE EXAMPLE OF THE CONVERSION OF PAUL:
One of the clearest examples of conversion in the New Testament is that of the apostle Paul (Acts 9; 22). He had been persecuting Christians with a clear conscience that he was doing the will of God. While traveling, Christ appeared to Paul in a vision and directed him to go to Damascus “where you will be told what you must do.” We see several key elements to Paul’s repentance:
- He believed and confessed—”What must I do Lord?”
- He obeyed —”Get up and go into Damascus.”
- He fasted for three days—”three days…and neither ate nor drank.”
- He prayed for three days—”for he is praying.”
Do you think Paul prayed “the sinner’s prayer?” The words of Paul’s prayer are not recorded but we must believe it to be a prayer of repentance that would rival David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. Paul had just become a believer in Jesus and had learned that all those Christians he had been killing and persecuting were children of God! I can only imagine the pain, suffering and repentance that was being reflected in his prayers.
The question is often asked, “When was Paul saved?” At what point in these three days of repentance were his sins removed? When he believed? Confessed? Obeyed? Fasted? Through his earnest penitent praying?
Ananias was instructed by God to go to Paul then commanded him, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). Until Ananias came and baptized him, Paul was still full of sin. None of Paul’s acts of repentance or obedience had removed a single sin because he had not yet died with Christ. He still needed to have his sins “washed away” in baptism. There is a strong lesson here for all of us. Whether we have believed, confessed, prayed, or otherwise repented for 3 days, 3 months, 3 years, or 30 years, the only way to remove sin is to “die with Christ” by uniting with His atoning death that pays the judicial price for our sins.
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Question 1 of 11
1. Do we become children of God by faith when we put on Christ in baptism?
Question 2 of 11
Did the apostles teach that we are to be buried with Christ in baptism?
Question 3 of 11
Through the resurrection of Christ, does baptism have anything to do with saving a person?
1 Peter 3:21Correct
Question 4 of 11
Should we follow the apostles’ example?
Question 5 of 11
When did the Lord add those being saved to His church?
Acts 2:41, 47Correct
Question 6 of 11
After Paul had prayed and fasted for 2 of the 3 days, was he saved from his sins?Correct
Question 7 of 11
What was Paul told to do to have his sins washed away?
Question 8 of 11
If we have not died with Christ in being baptized (immersed) into His death, are we still in sin?Correct
Question 9 of 11
How many baptisms does this passage name?
Question 10 of 11
How many different teachings about baptism are there in churches today?Correct
Question 11 of 11
Why is it very important that we follow the correct teaching on this?Correct