Westside church of Christ - Irving, Texas

The Importance And Purpose Of Baptism

by Jay Taylor

Honest and important questions are often asked about baptism. Is it necessary? What is it? Who should be baptized? The subject of baptism is extremely important. Its consequences are eternal and questions about baptism should be seriously considered. The importance can be observed in Jesus’ commission to His disciples. He commissioned them to teach people the gospel and baptize them (Matt. 28:19). The book of Acts is filled with examples of disciples obeying exactly what Jesus commanded. The Samaritans received the word of God and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus through the efforts of Philip (Acts 8:14-16). Peter proclaimed the good news on the day of Pentecost and instructed his audience to repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Philip taught the treasurer from Ethiopia about Jesus and then baptized him (Acts 8:35, 38). These men were faithful to the commission that Jesus gave to His followers. They taught people the gospel and then baptized those who believed and repented of their sins (Mark 16:16). They did not stray or alter the commission that Jesus gave them. They preached that baptism had a very specific purpose and was part of God’s plan.

The purpose of baptism is revealed to us through God’s word. We see that God has revealed the reason as to why penitent believers should be baptized. God has stated that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Likewise, Ananias commanded Saul to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). God has told us the purpose of baptism. He has specified and revealed a connection between baptism and the remission of sins. Followers of Jesus Christ have no right or desire to change that purpose. However, to broaden their appeal and cater to the masses, some groups have attempted to change the revealed purpose of baptism and teach that baptism for any purpose is sufficient. These people have strayed from the revealed purpose of baptism and accept all types of baptism for any reason. Today, people are baptized because they believe they are already saved. Some were baptized as infants. Some have no idea why they were baptized. It was something they were told to do. There is a contrast with what is done today and what we read in the scripture. We observe that baptism is for believers who have repented when we open our New Testaments. Jesus stated that belief must occur before one is baptized (Mark 16:16). The Corinthians heard the gospel, believed it, and then were baptized (Acts 18:8). Believers must then repent of their sins (Acts 2:38). Is it acceptable to practice and accept something that is not found in the scriptures?

Is it alright to have faith in just anything? Is that sufficient? We understand that faith must be directed toward God. Is it alright to repent for just any reason? Is that sufficient? Only a repentance of godly grief and sorrow leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10). Is baptism for any purpose acceptable to God? There are a number of different reasons why people are baptized today. However, we must remember that God has revealed his purpose and design for baptism. Baptism that is not in accordance with God’s purpose does not please Him and does not accomplish its intended purpose.

One is baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). These people are added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:46). We should note that it is only these people that make up the church. Those who are baptized for any other reason than what God has purposed do not constitute the church. Yet, many are content with accepting those who have been baptized for just any reason as part of the church. Is that acceptable? We simply need to observe that Jesus adds only penitent believers to the church. Why would we want to go beyond that? Those who teach and accept all kinds of baptism for all kinds of reasons have seriously overlooked what God has revealed in His word.

The church today must do exactly what Jesus told His followers to do. We must preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and baptize those who believe and have repented of their sins. The forgiveness of sins is the result of that baptism. The Lord adds those who do that to the church. To teach or accept anything more or less than that is not what God has revealed through His word. The faithful do not seek to go beyond that which is written. Rather, the child of God is content with teaching and practicing exactly what God has said concerning baptism.

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