In a recent post titled “Did You…When You Believed” I wrote, “Now they stand at the crossroads of decision. Do they get rebaptized in order to be baptized for the biblical purpose of forgiveness of sins or do they claim their previous baptism, only changing their belief about the purpose of baptism and teach it hence forth. Could it be correct to believe that if one is baptized with an unbiblical understanding of its purpose, but in Jesus name, that God would overlook it and impute the salvation of biblical baptism anyway?”
As I continue to contemplate that post, I thought it might be good to post further on the topic.
Personally, I do not believe that a baptism participated in in a different form or for a different purpose than is found in Scripture is acceptable to God.
Baptism by sprinkling or pouring is not the same as Biblical baptism. The baptism of the Bible is immersion (Acts 8:38, Rom. 6:4, also Strong’s G907 dip, plunge, submerge, overwhelm). If a person participates in sprinkling or pouring in Jesus name for the forgiveness of sins, does that validate the unbiblical form of their baptism? No. The baptism commanded in the Bible is immersion and the only way to actually participate in it is by immersion.
Baptism in Jesus name as a sign of sins already forgiven/salvation already received is not the same as baptism in Jesus name to receive forgiveness/salvation. The baptism commanded in the scriptures is a baptism in Jesus name for the purpose of having sins forgiven/being saved (Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
To participate in something Jesus did not command, i.e. baptism for a sign of salvation rather than a plea for it, as if it is what He commanded, surely does not make it acceptable. Obedience must be in accord with God’s will for it to be pleasing (Mat. 7:21-23).
The title I chose for these two posts comes from Luke’s record of Paul’s work with twelve men in Ephesus who were baptized once in John’s baptism, it would seem after Jesus resurrection, in an effort to follow Jesus (Acts 18:24-26). Men who when taught more accurately about baptism later, were baptized again (Acts 19:1-7). These men had been baptized by immersion accompanied by belief and repentance for the forgiveness of sins and it seems were disciples of Jesus (Mark 1:4, Acts 19:1-7), but they had not done it in Jesus name. Their form of baptism was right, but the function/purpose of their baptism was amiss. They corrected their function issue by being baptized again, this time in Jesus name.
It has been brought to my attention recently that these twelve men may not have been disciples of Jesus, but rather only disciples of John and sincere adherents to his baptism (Acts 19:1,3). Where that is a possibility, it seems equally possible that the context lends itself to them being disciples of Jesus, who were misinformed about baptism into Jesus since His resurrection (Acts 18:24-25). If however, the first is true and they were only disciples of John and not Jesus, it may be that this passage does not serve as a text to authorize rebaptism.
Even if this last scenario were the case, and this is not a text authorizing rebaptism, it only seems logical, to me, to conclude that the right thing, i.e. baptism, done in the wrong way, i.e. pouring, sprinkling, or for the wrong purpose, i.e. sign of a salvation already received, changes its validity and results, i.e. forgiveness of sins.
This may be one of those difficult truths to discern the “only right” thing to do, but I encourage you to think about it, study it out and be prepared to advise those you study with in the right way.
If you have a STUDIED opinion to add to this discussion, you are invited to offer a comment to be posted here.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15