The Urgency of Baptism

By Paul Smithson

It is important to notice that in each and every Bible example of individuals becoming Christians, they were baptized (Acts 2:38,41; 8:12; 8:36-39; 9:18; 22:16; 10:48; 16:15; 16:33; 18:8; 19:5).

We also find that there was an urgency concerning baptism. For instance, the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8He commanded his chariot to stop and was baptized immediately (Acts 8:36-39). In the case of the Philippian jailer, it was after midnight and his jail had just been destroyed by an earthquake. Paul and Silas had welts and wounds on their backs from being beaten. The jailer had almost committed suicide. Yet, he was taken and baptized “the same hour of the night” (Acts 16:33).

These things are understandable when we consider the words of our Lord and His apostles. Jesus said,  “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mk. 16:16). The apostle Paul declared, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Peter wrote, “…baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 3:21).

What cannot be understood is why denominational doctrines teach that baptism is not necessary for salvation! The Scriptures plainly teach that baptism like belief, repentance, and confession, is a part of God’s plan for the forgiveness of sin.

Some may ask, “But why baptism?” It will help us to see the answer to this if we make a basic observation. No one can be saved without the blood of Christ. We are redeemed, forgiven, cleansed by the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Rev. 7:14). Other passages say that baptism does precisely the same thing. Baptism is said to remove sin and cleanse the conscience (Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1Pet. 3:21).

Does this present a problem? The Bible first says the blood takes away one’s sin, and then it says baptism does. What is the truth? There are only two possibilities. Either the Bible contradicts itself, or there is some connection between the two. Obviously, there has to be a connection. The connection is that baptism is the means by which one contacts the blood of Christ.

Jesus shed His blood in His death (Jn. 19:34). Of course, we cannot contact the actual physical blood of Christ; however, we must contact His blood for the forgiveness of our sin. Paul explains how this is done stating, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:3-4). Newness of life (i.e., being born again) comes only after being buried into the death of Jesus through baptism.

Therefore, we see why baptism is found in every Bible example of conversion, why it was urgent and still is today.

About the Author
Paul Smithson is the evangelist for the Westwood church of Christ in Tullahoma, TN