Proper Doctrine for
Baptism may only be administered to a subject voluntarily repenting of known sins and professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior from sin by His death and resurrection.
The exchange between Philip and the eunuch gives a precise statement of faith necessary for baptism – Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Acts 8:36-37). This act of baptism followed private preaching of Jesus Christ and His death from Isaiah 53. And this doctrine necessary for baptism was identical to what Philip required in Samaria, which baptisms the apostles approved and justified (Acts 8:12-17).
Jesus taught that His disciples were to baptize those who believe the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins according to the Scriptures (Mark 16:15-16; I Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus did not swoon; He died and was buried. He did not die a martyr’s death; He died a substitutionary death for the sins of His people.
The doctrine of Jesus Christ includes repentance from sins, for only those forsaking their sins are worthy of being His disciples (Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 14:25-33; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-6). Baptism is the public and formal act of conversion, which is the turning away from sin and the turning toward righteousness (Luke 3:7-14; 7:29-30).
Since apostolic baptisms occurred soon after hearing of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-38; 8:30-37; 10:34-44; 16:14-15,31-33), there could not have been much instruction beyond the historical facts of the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Catechism classes and other required forms of instruction before baptism have no Scriptural basis, if the subject has repented of his sins and believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Saviour. Such classes were invented to compensate for the “easybelievism” of false theology and to provide Pharisees additional control over entry into the kingdom of God.
The details of further instruction and conversion are to occur after baptism, according to the commandment of our Saviour (Matthew 28:19-20; Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1-3). It is our duty after baptism to add knowledge to our faith (II Peter 1:5; 3:18; I Peter 2:1-3).
The Scriptures require that the man who baptizes be an ordained teacher in the church. This point is easily confirmed by reviewing the record of the early church in the book of Acts. It was only the apostles or other ordained teachers who baptized in the New Testament.
The Scriptures teach that an individual to be baptized must first repent and believe the gospel. This requires the subject to be of sufficient age to comprehend the essential elements of the gospel and agree with them. The Scriptures know nothing of baptizing infants. The subject of baptism must have an active conscience in order to give answer.
Baptism is an immersion of the subject completely under water. This is done to represent (show a likeness or figure of) the burial and resurrection of Christ, which put away our sins. As everyone knows, a thing is neither buried nor planted with only a sprinkling. Baptism must provide a figure of the resurrection of Christ, which is only done by immersion.
Baptism does not put away sin. It is only a figure of how our sins were put away by Christ’s death and resurrection. Baptism is simply an answer and testimony to God for what He did by Himself. It is the answer toward God of a conscience made good by the blood of Christ.