BIBLICAL BAPTISM- Introduction
There are many views on baptism. Some sprinkle, while others dunk; some baptize infants, others don’t; some say baptism is essential for salvation, others disagree. What does the Bible say?
BIBLICAL BAPTISM- Immersion Only?
Both Scripture and tradition teach that immersion was the normal mode for water baptism in the early church (Matt. 3:16; Acts 8:36-39; Didache 7). We do not find any scriptural support for sprinkling, or pouring water on a person, at baptism. Nevertheless, Scripture nowhere demands that a person be immersed; therefore, Christians can have honest disagreements concerning this issue.
BIBLICAL BAPTISM- Baptism as Circumcision
Those in favor of infant baptism say that just as circumcision was the outward seal of a Jewish conversion, so water baptism is the seal of a Christian convert (Gen. 15; Gal. 3:8; Col. 2:11-12). Since those of the Old Covenant circumcised their children, those of the New Covenant — or Christians — ought to baptize their children as members of the New Covenant (Matt. 19:14; Acts 2:39; 1 Cor. 7:14).
BIBLICAL BAPTISM- Repentance necessary for Baptism
Those who oppose infant baptism say one needs to repent and exercise faith in Christ before baptism, and infants obviously are not able to do this. They also argue there are no direct Scriptural references that support infant baptism. Once again, it would seem Christians can legitimately disagree over this issue.
BIBLICAL BAPTISM- Essential for Salvation?
Is baptism essential for salvation? Well Acts 10 states that some Gentiles were filled with the Holy Spirit (and therefore saved) before they were baptized. This is significant, for the Holy Spirit is the seal of the believer’s salvation (Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22; Rom. 8:9). Furthermore, Jesus saved the thief on the cross without water baptism (Luke 23:39f). It would seem therefore that baptism is not essential for salvation.
BIBLICAL BAPTISM- Outward sign of Inward experience
It is important to recognize that baptism is an outward sign of the inward conversion experience. It identifies us with Christ’s death and with his resurrection (Rom. 6:1-6,11; Col. 2:11,12). At baptism, the believer symbolically dies to the “old man” to become a “brand new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). As a sacrament (like Holy Communion), baptism is not absolutely necessary for salvation, but it does establish the Christian as a member of God’s visible church. On water baptism, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.