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The Bible on Baptism

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The Bible on Baptism!

Mark 1:4-11

Sunday AM, January 6, 2008



Mark 1:4-11 (NKJV)
4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
7 And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.
8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
9 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.
11 Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."





            Happy New Year!


As we head into the New Year most of us have made some “New Year’s Resolutions.” 


Just out of curiosity, how many of you made some New Year’s Resolutions?





·        I’m sure that some of you have resolved to lose a few pounds this year!


If you are like me you found a few extra pounds over the Christmas holidays you would like to lose! 

Have you ever noticed just how easy it is to lose your car keys, but how hard it is to lose weight?  Furthermore, when you lose car keys you never find them, but when you lose weight you typically find it and a few pounds more!

·        Some of you have resolved to get physically fit! 


You have been sitting around eating cake and cookies, now it is time to start walking and working out!

·        Some of you have resolved to get financially fit!


It is easy to spend too much money during the Christmas holidays.  Many are now receiving credit card statements and are ready to pay off some bills!



The purpose of resolutions is to improve your life!


Why not make some resolutions to do some things as this New Year begins to improve your spiritual life?


·        Perhaps you need to read through the Bible this year!


Have you ever done that?  Did you know that there are 1,189 chapters in the Bible?  If you will read just three or four chapters a day you can read through the entire Bible in just a year! 



·        Maybe you need to join the choir this year!


The choir is already working on its Easter program.  Now would be a great time to get involved.  You may not be able to sing every week throughout the year, but why not make a commitment to be a part of the Easter musical?

·        Maybe you need to begin attending Sunday school this year!


Attending Sunday school is a great way to learn the Bible and to make new friends.   If you are not sure which class is for you, check out our education page on the church website or allow us to help you find a class that would suit you!

·        There may be some of you who need to follow the Lord in Baptism!

I realize there are many of you have already taken that spiritual step.  Some of you are considering it. 


In this sermon we will ask and answer several questions about the subject of baptism!

First of all,



What does the Bible say about this?

The Bible makes it clear that baptism is for believers only!

If you study through the New Testament you will find without exception that only those who believed God’s Word and repented of sins were baptized!

Look at verses 4 and 5 of Mark 1!

The Bible says,

Mark 1:4-5 (NKJV)
4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

In the first chapter of Mark we find John the Baptist preaching God’s Word!  He calls on people to prepare for the coming Kingdom of Christ. 

As he preached he called on people to repent of sins and to be baptized!

Those who believed came forward confessing their sins and they were baptized.

Over and over again throughout the New Testament you find this pattern! 

People believed on Jesus, repented of sins, and then they are baptized!

Let me give you a few more scriptural examples!


Acts 2:41 (NKJV)
41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Acts 8:12 (NKJV)
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

So, the Bible is abundantly clear.  Those who believed were baptized!

Now, this raises two very important questions!


If baptism is for believers only, why do some churches baptize babies?


Should babies or infants be baptized?


Now, I realize that there are some churches that baptize babies.  Perhaps you were baptized when you were a baby.  Your mother and dad took you to a church and had you sprinkled as an infant.

We do not do this at Covenant!

Let me explain why! 

We do not baptize infants or babies because we do not see any scriptural warrant for it.  Now, I would never question someone’s sincerity, but I would question their interpretation of Scripture. 

There is not one example of a baby being baptized in Scripture.  Throughout the New Testament the pattern is as I stated earlier, baptism follows belief.

A baby is not capable of believing in Jesus for salvation.  A baby is not capable of confessing and repenting of sins!

Suppose a baby could confess sins, what would the baby confess?

“Dear Lord, forgive me for wetting my pants and spitting up in the car seat!”

If it is not in the Bible, why do some churches do it?  The answer to that question is “Tradition.”

Some churches baptize infants because they believe baptism washes away sins.   The Catholic Church, for example, historically has taught and as far as I know still teaches that a baby is born with something called “original sin.”

They teach that if a baby dies without being baptized the baby will not go to heaven; the baby will go to “Limbo” or “Limbus Infantum.”

What is Limbus Infantum? 

“Limbus” is a Latin word which means “edge” or “fringe.”  It is a theological term which refers to the border or edge of hell.  It is believed that unbaptized babies will dwell there because they have not had their sins washed away.  There they will not experience the tortures of hell, but they will not experience the joys of heaven either.

Personally, I do not doubt we are born with a sin nature.  The Psalmist David said,

Psalms 51:5 (NKJV)
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

But baptism does not wash away our sins and unbaptized babies do not go to “Limbus Infantum” or “Limbo.”

I believe with all my heart that when a baby dies he or she goes to heaven. 

I base that on the words of David in 2 Samuel 12.

Listen to God’s Word!

In 2 Samuel 12 we find that King David and Bathsheba had a baby.  When this child was only a few days old he became sick and died. 

While the baby was sick, David fasted and prayed that he would be healed, but when he died, David worshipped God and sat down to eat.  This confused his servants.

Listen to what David said.

2 Samuel 12:22-23 (NKJV)
22 And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?'
23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

This grieving father knew he would not bring the baby back, but he was confident that he could be with the baby in heaven.  This was his hope and consolation!

This is the hope and consolation of every mother or father who has faced the death of a child.  This knowledge cannot take away all of the pain, but it does make it more bearable!

So, for this reason we do not baptize babies, but we do dedicate them!


Each year, typically at Mother’s Day, we give parents an opportunity to dedicate their children to the Lord.  At that time we present the baby a Bible and we have a prayer of dedication for the parents and the children.

We pray that God will give the parents the wisdom they need to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.  We also pray that God will put a hedge of protection around the children and that they might come to know Jesus at an early age!

A second question that often comes up when you talk about believer’s baptism is this.  Should children be baptized?


We have already said that there is no precedent in Scripture for baptizing babies, but what about baptizing children?

Suppose a five year old or an eight year old wants to be baptized.  When do you baptize them?  Is there a certain age?  Does the Bible say?

According to the Bible baptism is for believers only.  So, when a child believes the gospel and accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, they should be baptized.

This can be a little bit difficult.  As your pastor and as parents you want to make sure they understand before they take this step of faith.  You do not want to baptize them prematurely, but you do not want them to postpone their baptism if they are truly believers.

Let me share what I did with our kids!

Both of our kids began talking about salvation at an early age.  Both Mary and Elizabeth wanted to be saved when they were about four or barely five years old.  We did not force them to make a decision, they just heard us talk about it and they wanted to be saved.

Let me tell you what I did.  I sat them down.  I talked with them.  I explained it to them.  I asked if they understood.  They said they did.  We prayed and they accepted Jesus as their Savior, but I waited a little while for baptism. 

I wanted to be sure they understood.  I waited and prayed.  I looked for signs of spiritual life.  Obviously as kids they did not have any big moral issues in their lives to straighten out, but I did wish to look for signs that they were sincere in their faith.

 When I saw that they were sincere and felt peace about moving forward, they were baptized!

So, who should be baptized?  Baptism is for believers only! 


Now, a second question we must ask is this,



How should a believer be baptized?  Or to put it another way, what is the proper mode of baptism?

I am sure you know that some churches baptize by sprinkling

Some baptize by pouring water on the believer’s head. 

Some baptize by immersing the believer completely in water.

What is the proper mode of baptism?

As I study the New Testament, which by the way is the basis of our faith and practice, I find that the overwhelming evidence is for baptism by immersion.

Let me repeat this.  For Christians the New Testament is the basis for our faith and practice.  Our goal should be to live as closely to what this book says as possible.

What does the New Testament say about the mode of baptism?  The overwhelming evidence points to baptism by immersion!


Consider the following evidence!   


·        The word “baptize” means “to immerse!”


The Greek word for “baptize” is “Baptizw.” 

If you look that word up in any Greek dictionary you will find the following definitions.

 The word means,

§  To cleanse or purify by washing

§  To immerse in water

§  To make fully wet

§  To dip

Long before the biblical practice of believer’s baptism, Greek speaking people used this word to describe a ship that had sunk.  It had been baptized in the ocean.

It was used to refer to cloth that had been dyed.  It had been baptized in dye.

Listen; there are a lot of good words in the Greek language which mean “pour” and “sprinkle,” but none of them is ever used for baptism!

·        John apparently baptized Jesus by immersion!


The Bible says in Mark 1:10,

Mark 1:10 (NKJV)
10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

The Bible tells us that Jesus came “up from the water!”

Now, think with me for a moment.  If a person is to come up out of the water, they must first go down into the water.

Wouldn’t you agree?

You cannot come up out of something until you have been down into it!

Some have suggested that John may have gone with Jesus into the river and then poured water on his head or sprinkled him there!

I do not buy that argument.  Let me explain why!

I have had the privilege of baptizing quite a few people.  When I baptize them I get into the water with the person.  When I do, I have to get wet or put on some waders to prevent from getting wet.

Now, why would I go into the water and get wet if all I had to do was sprinkle someone?  It would not make a whole lot of sense to get fully soaked if you do not have to. 

I go down into the water for the same reason John did, so that I can immerse them! 

·        John baptized where there was much water!


Listen to John 3:23! 

The Bible says,

John 3:23 (NKJV)
23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.

Study the New Testament and you will find that believers were always baptized at a body of water, like a river or lake.  There is no evidence that anyone was baptized at a well or a kitchen sink!

The New Testament makes it clear that the proper mode of baptism is in water by immersion!




Listen to what Jesus said!

Matthew 28:19 (NKJV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

            That is why, when I baptize someone, I say “In obedience to Christ’s command and upon your profession of faith, I baptize you my brother or sister in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Thirdly, why should a person follow the Lord in baptism?




First of all, let me make it clear that baptism does not save us.  The motive for baptism is not salvation!

Many think they need to be baptized to gain entrance into heaven.  They believe baptism washes away their sins!  They believe it is essential to salvation.


This view is called “baptismal regeneration” and it is not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible teaches that the only way to have your sins forgiven and to go to heaven is to believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead on the third day!   

The only liquid that can wash away your sins is the blood of Jesus, not the waters of baptism!

Why would anyone believe that baptism washes away sins or saves you?


Many base that belief on a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of Scripture. 

Let me share some verses with you that may seem to teach that baptism saves us, but upon closer examination you can see that this is not the case!

Listen to God’s Word! 

Mark 1:4 (NKJV)
4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Acts 2:38 (NKJV)
38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16 (NKJV)
16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

            Many times people will take these verses and say, “It says they were baptized for the remission of sins.”  Or they will say, “They were baptized and their sins were washed away.”

            Is that what it says?  No it is not!

            Think with me.  It says they repented and called on the name of the Lord and their sins were washed away.

What if a person was baptized, but did not repent or call on the name of the Lord?  What would happen to them?  They would only get wet!

            We are forgiven when we call on the name of the Lord or repent of sins and trust in Jesus!

            Some say Mark 16:15 teaches baptism saves!


Listen to God’s Word! 

Mark 16:15-16 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.


Please notice that the words “and does not get baptized” do not appear in the second part of verse 16.  If both were necessary, both would be repeated.

            Consider this!


·        The Bible says that Jesus’ main mission was to seek and save the lost, but did you know that he did not baptize anyone except possibly his disciples? 


Listen to God’s Word!


John 4:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John
2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),

If baptism was required for salvation Jesus would have baptized everyone he could have gotten his hands on! 

·        The apostle Paul was one of the greatest soul winners the church has ever known.  Listen to what he said about baptism! 

1 Corinthians 1:14-17 (NKJV)
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.
16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

            Again, if baptism was essential to salvation Paul would not have made such a remark!

·         The Bible is filled with passages that explain salvation but do not even mention baptism! 



John 3:16 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Romans 10:13 (NKJV)
13 For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

If baptism was essential for salvation, then it would be mentioned every time the subject of salvation was brought up!


·        Finally, the thief on the cross was never baptized, but it is certain that he went to heaven! 


Do you remember the story of the thief on the cross?  The Bible tells us that when Jesus was crucified, there was a thief crucified on either side of him. 

One of the thieves looked to Jesus and mocked him saying,

Luke 23:39-43 (NKJV)
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us."

  • \\ 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?
    41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." *
  • \\ 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
    43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." *

This thief was never baptized, but it is certain that he went to heaven. 

I did not share this passage to give you the idea that baptism is not important or that it is unnecessary.  You and I need to be baptized.  I am sure he would have been baptized if he would have had the opportunity.

The point I am making is this.  Baptism is not essential for salvation.  It does not save you!

At this point, someone might be tempted to ask,



Let me share some reasons to do it! 

·        Do it because you wish to follow the example of the Lord!


Jesus was baptized.  You and I should do the same.  You and I should follow his example!

Do you realize Jesus walked sixty miles to be baptized?  He walked way out into the wilderness to be baptized.  If he can walk sixty miles to be baptized you and I can be baptized as well!

·        Do it because you wish to obey the commandment of Jesus!


Why do I encourage people to be baptized? 

I do not urge you to be baptized because I am on commission.  I do it because I want to obey the Great Commission! 

Listen to God’s Word!

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Jesus commanded us to baptize believers.  He commanded believers to follow him in baptism. 

My job or calling is to teach you what Jesus said. 

You should be baptized not because I said you should, but because he said you should!


·        Do it because you love the Lord Jesus!


Do you love the Lord Jesus?  How do you know?  How do you express that love?

Do you send him love notes?  Do you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside when you worship?  How do you know if you really love Jesus? 

He expressed his love by dying on the cross! 

Jesus told us how to express our love to him.  He said,

John 14:15 (NKJV)
15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

You cannot be clearer than that!  You do not need to know Greek and Hebrew to figure that one out!  

·        Do it because you wish to be identified as a believer!


What is the purpose of baptism?

Baptism identifies you as a follower of Jesus Christ. 

Baptism does not save you, but it is a symbol of salvation. 

It is kind of like a wedding band.  Putting a wedding band on your finger does not make you married, but if you are married you will wear a wedding ring to identify yourself as a married person!

When a person gets saved they are to follow the Lord in baptism to identify themselves as true followers of and believers in Jesus Christ.

Immersion in water symbolizes,

§  Jesus’ death burial and resurrection!

§  Your death to sin and resurrection to new life!

§  The cleansing of sin! 

·        Do it because you wish to please the Lord!


When John baptized Jesus the Bible says God spoke from heaven saying,

      “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

      Why did God choose to speak from heaven like that?

      I believe he did it for at least two reasons. 

First of all he wanted to identify Jesus as his Son.  Everyone who heard the voice of the Lord that day knew that Jesus was indeed the very Son of God.

Secondly, the Father spoke from heaven to express his pleasure with his Son!  God the Father was pleased that his Son was obedient to him.

Now, that does not mean that if you get baptized the Lord will speak from heaven, but it does mean that God is pleased with us when we obey him! 

God loves us whether we obey him or not, but when we do what he says, he is pleased with us!

Finally, we have one more question! 




According to Scripture a person should be baptized as soon as possible after they believe! 

John the Baptist preached and the people came forward to be baptized!

At the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and thousands were saved and baptized!

Philip preached and the Ethiopian Eunuch believed and was baptized!

Let me ask you a question!

Have you been saved?  Has there been a time when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

If so, have you been baptized?  Have you been baptized by immersion?

If you have not yet been baptized, I would like to encourage you to make a commitment to be baptized.  This is a great way to start off the New Year!

It will help you drive a spiritual stake in the ground!

My testimony of baptism!


Let me share this and I am done!


I got saved when I was about nineteen years old while I was watching Christian television in my own home. 

Sometime after that I found a church home and began attending regularly!

In fact, I had been attending regularly enough that they asked me to help take up the offering. 

I can still remember one evening during revival when the invitation was given I felt God was telling me to go forward.  My heart was pounding out of my chest.  My palms were sweaty.  I felt like God wanted me to go forward.

At the time I was not sure why.  I was scared to do it.  I had taken up offering that night.  I thought people would think I was a hypocrite. 

I fought it for what seemed like an eternity, but finally I went forward.  I thought God was telling me that I needed to go forward to be saved, but when I got there I realized what God was saying.  He was telling me that I needed to make my decision public.

This is what Baptism is about.  Baptism does not save you.  It is your way of going public with your faith.

Some of you need to take that step.  If so, let me tell you what to do!

Come forward today!


Fill out a baptism card!


Let me know!


We can set it up for next Sunday morning or night! 











·        For what it is worth, this is what many prominent church leaders have taught!

“I would have those who are to be baptized to be entirely immersed, as the word imports and the mystery signifies (Martin Luther the founder of the Lutheran Church).”


“The word baptize signifies to immerse.  It is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church (John Calvin the founder of the Presbyterian Church).”


“Buried with him, alludes to baptizing by immersion according to the custom of the first church (John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Church).”

While all of these churches baptize by sprinkling or pouring their founders said that baptism by immersion was the practice of the first century church!   



Some are afraid.  Some are shy.  Some are scared.  Some are embarrassed.  Some are too old.  Some are sick.  Some have toupee.  They are ashamed of Christ. 




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·        Because you wish to proclaim the gospel of the Lord!

Most of you will never be called to preach, but all of us can proclaim the gospel through baptism.

As I stated earlier, baptism is a symbol.  It is a symbol of salvation.

Listen to God’s Word!

Romans 6:3-6 (NKJV)
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

According to this passage, baptism symbolizes a few things!

First of all, it symbolizes Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for our sins!

Secondly, it symbolizes our death to sin and our resurrection to a new life in Christ.  When we are baptized we can proudly proclaim that we are Christians, but we also proclaim that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world and that he rose from the dead on the third day!

Many of you have friends and family who would never come to hear me preach, but they will come to see you baptized.  What an awesome opportunity to share your faith with family and friends!

·        This is clearly how Philip baptized!


Listen to God’s Word! 


Acts 8:38-39 (NKJV)
38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

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