"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." ~ Mark 1:4 

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Believer's Baptism

What is baptism?

Baptism is when a believer undergoes water immersion to symbolise the mortification of the old man (the flesh) and to be born again, to be born of God, and thus are renewed in the new man (the spirit). It is a commandment by Jesus (Matthew 28:19) that a believer goes through baptism. This is not a salvation issue, as it is merely a symbolic representation of being born again, and to be baptised without believing is merely going to be dunking one in the water. One does not need to get baptised to get saved any more than an Old Testament saint needed to be circumcised to get saved. Rather, it is a symbol of what believers undergo to picture what will happen to them when the day of the Lord comes and they will enjoy a glorified body that knows no sin.

Mode of baptism

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Matthew 3:5-6

The first instance of baptism comes from a voice crying in the wilderness named John the Baptist. He was given such a name because his ministry involved baptising people by the Jordan River, immersing one in the river while the people were confessing their sins.

Jesus was the first example of one doing a believer's baptism, that all righteousness may be fulfilled. Consider the way Jesus had it done, with John baptising him, and that example is the one believers must follow. John protested, insisting that Jesus should be the one baptising him. It should be noted that he went up straightaway out of the water, showing how baptism is performed.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 3:13-17

There is no mention of water sprinkling somebody as a mode of baptism. It defeats the whole purpose of the symbolism of being born again. Even the Greek Orthodox church knows that baptism is water immersion by its Greek word baptizo (βαπτίζω) and practises immersion. Water sprinkling is practised by the Catholics and various Protestant denominations, most notably the Calvinists. Baptists practise the Biblical water immersion.

Who should get baptised

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
Acts 19:4

Baptism should only be done to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. If one does not believe, this is merely just dunking to get oneself wet. One example of this comes from Acts 8 where Philip baptises the Ethiopian eunuch who recently came to believe.

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Acts 8:36-38

If one reads the modern translations, verse 37 is notably missing, which takes out the most important part: the confession of faith. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading Isaiah 53 but could not understand who it was talking about. Philip expounds the reading to him, and he came to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The eunuch sees the water, asks what hinders him from being baptised, and Philip tells him that he needs to believe with all his heart before he even considers doing the baptismal rite. Once he shows that he did believe, he undergoes the baptism.

There is no Scriptural support for infant baptism, as an infant cannot make the conscious choice on believing the gospel by himself. He will have to grow, knowing right from wrong, in order for him to make that choice to believe. Infant baptism is practised by Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox (even though they immerse the baby), and various Protestant sects, most notably the Calvinists. Most Reformed scholars will link Old Testament circumcision as the predecessor to baptism, and use it to justify infant baptism, but it is a very roundabout argument and there are no straightaway verses stating that it is okay to sprinkle or immerse a baby who did not make the choice. Every Biblical example has people who made the conscious choice to believe and thus practise immersion.

The symbolic nature of baptism

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:3-4

Baptism is a symbolic rite and is not tied to one's salvation in any way. Just like repentance of sins, one does not get baptised in order to get saved, but one does it because he is saved. This is also another way one can confirm to other men, who cannot read hearts, that he is indeed one of them. Not getting water baptised does not deny one's entry to heaven as it is clearly faith alone that gets a person to heaven. So what does baptism symbolise in the Bible?

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
1 Peter 3:21

Baptism, according to Romans 6, is symbolic of one's flesh being mortified with Jesus Christ, being baptised into his death. One is dead to sin once he is born again as a child of God. He should walk in newness of life if he is baptised into death. This is so that the believer may then lead a new life of holiness unto God, as a child of God, his new man knows no sin (1 John 3:9). As one's flesh is mortified, being dead unto sin, he should also be alive unto God through the Lord Jesus Christ. He died unto sin once, just as how Jesus died once and was raised again from the dead, so too does baptism represent the resurrection and the hope of the last day when believers are made incorruptible.

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
1 Corinthians 15:29

In the famous resurrection proof chapter Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, he asks why we would baptise for the dead if the dead would not rise at all? It says that baptism is a symbol of the resurrection of the dead, following the pattern of Jesus Christ being risen up from the dead, the same also is the case for his followers who will also, in the same manner, rise from the dead also. Believers undergo the water immersion to picture or foreshadow that day which is to come and because it is a commandment from the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

The spiritual baptism with the Holy Ghost

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Matthew 3:11-12

There is also the implications of a spiritual baptism which is separate from the physical water immersion. John would tell people, as he is just a man, that he can only baptise through water, but the lamb of God will baptise the Holy Ghost. Some of this may sound cryptic, but it is once more a distinction between the physical and the spiritual. One should be spiritually baptised if he believes. This is reflected by Jesus' own saying.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Mark 16:16

People who cannot understand this passage will think Jesus is preaching baptismal regeneration (aka one needs to get water baptised to get saved). He is not. He tells his followers that one must believe and be baptised to be saved, but he that does not believe is damned. He does not say one who does not believe and is not baptised shall be damned. So what did Jesus mean by this? Some may believe that in the physical realm, because baptism was a common practice in those days, most believers would get baptised after he confesses his faith. However, this passage has a more spiritual application than that of the physical.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:5

Refer back to John the Baptist's saying that Jesus will baptise with the Holy Ghost. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit within believers is a Biblical doctrine, and if one believes, he will be baptised by Jesus with the Holy Ghost.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Titus 3:5

There are more verses which also support this. Jesus Christ mentions that he will provide the living water, referring to everlasting life. In this case, however, one may see it as a reference to the Holy Ghost himself, who Jesus says he will send as the comforter.

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
John 4:10

Once you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he will seal you by the Holy Ghost, washing you with the living waters that is the Holy Ghost.

That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:12-14

Seeing that one must believe in order for Jesus to baptise you with the Holy Ghost, it is inherently clear that this is all within the same package. It is not the physical immersion of water that saves, as obviously it is physical and not spiritual, but a believer will be baptised by Jesus with the Holy Ghost, which is part of the whole salvation package. Salvation, being once and done deal, ends up with the Holy Ghost residing in a believer. If you do not believe, you will not be baptised with the Holy Ghost.

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