BAPTISM: THE OUTWARD WITNESS
BY: SADHU SUNDAR SINGH
If you have believed on Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your sins have been forgiven and you have been saved from eternal condemnation (see Assurance of Salvation). The next step in obedience to the Lord Jesus is to be baptized…
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
The Lord Jesus made clear that by believing one is saved (and likewise by not believing one already stands condemned). Baptism does not save, and has no value apart from prior saving faith in Christ – for example, infant baptism (an infant or young child is not held accountable for sin) or ritualistic baptism into a religion or denomination (without experiencing spiritual regeneration in Christ) are man-made traditions, having no value in God’s sight (the Bible gives no spiritual authority to these).
However, if you have been born again through faith in the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, nothing (except being at your deathbed at the time you accept Jesus Christ) should hinder you from being baptized as soon as possible. Your obedience to Jesus’ command to be baptized is the outward sign that you have wholeheartedly repented of your sins and believed upon Him…
“…in Him you have been made complete…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:10, 12)
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit… And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (1Peter 3:18, 21)
Baptism is not the physical washing away of your sins. Your sins were completely washed away by the once-and-for-all shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ when you accepted Him as your Savior:
“…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)
“Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our body washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19,22)
“He saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” (Titus 3:5, 6)
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2Corinthians 5:17)
When you first believed, you received the inward witness of the Holy Spirit (see Assurance of Salvation). Baptism is the outward witness that your sins have been forgiven and your conscience has been washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.
“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be made powerless, that we should not longer be slaves to sin…For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:4, 6, 10-11)
Just as Jesus was raised from the dead unto eternal life, so baptism testifies that your old life died with Christ, and through faith in Him you are raised to a new “resurrection life”. By receiving baptism you are professing that you have died to sin and are pledging a good conscience before God, and thus the start of a new life in Jesus Christ.
The early disciples were baptized by complete immersion (just as the Lord Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist) immediately following their new faith in Christ, regardless of any previous baptisms. They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Although the Holy Spirit had enlightened them when they believed on the Lord Jesus, many received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (with manifestations of spiritual gifts) by the laying on of hands by the apostles:
“…Paul…found some disciples, and he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’
And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’
And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’
And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’
And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:1-6)
If you have not been baptized since you were born again in Christ, or if your baptism did not involve full immersion, express to your born again Christian pastor that you would like to be biblically baptized…
BAPTISM – THE OUTWARD WITNESS [Sadhu Sundar Singh] 1