Articles

   WHO SHOULD BE RE-BAPTIZED?

   There is confusion within the religious realm as to whether anyone should ever be baptized.  In reference to the baptism of the Great Commission, the Bible states, that, there is “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).  Many reason from that truth that it is not necessary to re-baptize anyone.  Of course, if a person has been scripturally baptized, then a second baptism would not be essential.  On the Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey from Antioch of Syria, he re-baptized twelve men at Ephesus who had received an invalid baptism.  They claimed to have received John’s baptism (Acts 19:1-7).  A preacher by the name of Apollos, who had been preaching in that city, knew only the baptism of John (Acts 18:24-28).  The baptism of John the Baptist had been valid for preparing penitent believers for the coming kingdom that came into existence on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 3:1-6; Luke 3:3; Mark 9:1; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-5).  Anyone receiving John’s baptism after the baptism of the Great Commission came into effect would not be valid. 

   Some religious groups erroneously baptize infants and small children.  They claim that infants are born tainted with the sin of Adam.  This false doctrine is not taught in the Bible.  Every person is responsible for his or her own spiritual status before God.  The prophet Ezekiel stated, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.  The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son:  the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20).  He is plainly saying that every person will be held responsible for his or her own sins, not for the sins of anyone else.  Jesus Christ taught that those accountable unto the Heavenly Father must become innocent and pure as is a little child (Matthew 18:1-4).  It is not only after a precious soul reaches the mental state to properly understand between good and evil that he or she becomes eternally accountable for their thoughts, words, and actions (Matthew 5:27-28; Matthew 12:35-37; 2 Corinthians 5:10).  Infants and little children who are spiritually innocent in the sight of God do not need to be baptized.  If someone has erroneously baptized them, then after they have reached the age of accountability then those individuals will need to be rebaptized.  Most infants are not baptized (immersed), but were sprinkled or had water poured upon them. 

   The mode of baptism is immersion.  Many religious groups substitute sprinkling and/or pouring in lieu of immersion.  In reality, neither sprinkling nor pouring is a form of baptism.  The word baptize has been transliterated into English translations.  It means to dip, plunge to immerse.  Baptizo was anglicized to conform to English manner of spelling.  The Greek word for sprinkle is rhantizo; and the Greek word for pour is ekcheo.  Neither sprinkling nor pouring depicts the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God.  Immersion does picture the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12).  Therefore, anyone who was sprinkled or received a pouring of water upon them has not been scripturally baptized.  In order to be pleasing unto the Lord, they must be immersed. 

   Others have been baptized (immersed) for the wrong purpose.  Some have been baptized as a church ordinance to obtain membership in a particular denomination.  Often, a vote is taken as to whether or not to accept the person being baptized into the membership of their church.  There is not any authority found in the New Testament to vote on church membership.  Rather, when one is scripturally baptized, the Lord adds them to the redeemed, His church (Acts 2:41, 47).  In addition to that, there are religious bodies that look upon baptism as a mere symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  Actually, when one is baptized as taught under the new covenant, that person is the recipient of the spiritual blessings achieved in the death of the Son of God (John 19:31-34; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12).  Those not baptized for the remission of sins needs to be re-baptized for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). 

   There are those who foolishly state that a person does not have to understand the purpose of being baptized in order to obtain the remission of their sins.  In the first century, those baptized were told prior to their baptism precisely why they were to be baptized.  On the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, the Apostle Peter convicted the Jews of being responsible for the crucifixion of the Son of God.  Those pricked in their heart inquired of Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “…Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  The Apostle Peter, by inspiration, immediately said, “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  Now, did these people understand the words of Peter?  Yes, because in verse 41, the scripture states, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:36-41). 

   A person may have doubts as to whether or not they understood the purpose of baptism when they were baptized.  For instance, some young people go forward during a worship service to be baptized because their friends were doing so.  Or, a young man is baptized merely to favorably impress his girl friend and her parents.  These are not adequate reasons for being baptized.  If a person has reservation about their own baptism, then that person should be immersed in water for the remission of their sins to remove all doubts. 

   The new birth takes place when an obedient believer is baptized into Christ (John 3:5; Galatians 3:26-27).  After having obeyed the gospel of Christ, an erring child of God does not have to be baptized again.  Instead, that brother or sister must repent, confess his or her sins, and pray unto the Heavenly Father for forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Acts 8:22-24; James 5:16).  Baptism is for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness of our past sins through the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5).  We do not receive the umbrella effect as a child of God of having our present and future sins covered by the blood of Christ through baptism.  When a person is scripturally baptized, all of his or her past sins are forgiven.  However, we must continue to walk in the light of the scriptures in order to be continually cleansed by Christ’s blood (1 John 1:7). 

--Dub Mowery

 

Copyright © 2003 by Pritchett Church of Christ. All rights reserved.