Daniel I. Hiler
If, as some affirm, baptism has nothing to do with one’s eternal salvation, perhaps it is not important to know what valid baptism is—the baptism that the Lord approves. But this belief has no basis in the New Testament. Christ placed baptism between the sinner and his salvation, saying in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” and one of His apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, said, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). He also said that baptism saves (1 Pet. 3:21). Another apostle said that there is one baptism, just as there is one God and one Lord (Eph. 4:4-6); that is, there is one baptism that God and Christ recognize as the valid one, the one authorized by them. The New Testament mentions the baptism of John, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the baptism in fire, the baptism of suffering, and the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. Which of these is the one the Lord commanded that saves? An apostle of the Lord said, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Certain it is that the baptism Christ commanded is the baptism in His name, because the expression “in the name of Christ” means by the authority of Christ or commanded by Christ. The baptism of John was of no effect after the resurrection of Christ, as can be seen by reading Acts 19:1-5, where it is related that some who had been baptized into John’s baptism were baptized again.
Was the baptism in the name of Christ baptism in the Holy Spirit, in fire, or in water? The eunuch of Ethiopia, mentioned in Acts 8, was baptized in water (vv. 36-39), and the apostle Peter asked in Acts 10:47-48, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” That the act of baptism was immersion is made clear in Rom. 6:4, where the apostle Paul says, “We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death” (See also Col. 2:12). If men had not invented false teachings and false practices, the question of baptism would not be hard to understand.
Men say that before they have developed sufficiently to be able to believe, babies must be baptized. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), and the apostles baptized believers (Acts 8:12; 16:33-34; 18:8). Many say that a sinner is saved as soon as he believes, but they require him to be baptized in order to join their church. The apostles baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). The scriptures nowhere say that a saved person must or may be baptized but that those who have not received the remission of their sins should be baptized (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
Is it to be believed that the Lord accepts the baptism of a person who, believing that he is saved, is baptized not because the Lord commands him to be baptized but merely because he has to be baptized to join a certain denomination? Are we to believe that the Lord accepts as obedience to Him something done not because He commanded it but in order to fulfill a purely human requirement?
You of my readers who have been baptized without knowing or without believing what the Lord says concerning baptism, will you not think seriously on what you have done, and then, repenting, be baptized in obedience to the command of Christ and receive from Him the full forgiveness of your sins?