Objective: To clarify the purpose of Baptism in accordance to God's word.
Submitted by: L.A. Feliciano. Released April 18, 1999 to the Public Domain.
Be Born Again
What about those who died without being baptized?
INTRODUCTION: Baptism is an act of obedience to the Word of God, and an external expression that we have placed our faith in the son of God, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is expected for the person to be born again. If the person is not born again, the actual ceremony baptism would become just that; another religious ceremony lacking it's original purpose.
The act of introducing or submerging under water, or being wash with water. In ancient tiems religious washing were common to pagan religions Before Christ, but the baptism that we find in the New Testament is derived from the Old Testament, and from the Intertestamentary Judaism.
The Law prescribed diferent types of washings with water:
- To consecrate the Priest that served at the Tabernacle - Exodus 29:4 "Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the Tent of my presence, and have them take a ritual bath.
Before entering the Tabernacle to minister before God - Exodus 30:20-21 "When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations."
- Present - Isaiah 1:16 "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;" Psalm 51:2 "Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51:7 "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. "
Future - Ezekiel 36:25 "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. " Joel 2:23 "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. "
II. IT'S MEANING
The New Testament Baptism is an act of obedience to the Word of God, in which the one that is baptized testifies publicly his identification with Jesus Christ; the death of the old nature. When the individual comes out of the water, it typifies that the person has resurrected with Jesus Christ, and that he/she will be walking in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
The meaning of Baptism is found in the book of Romans chapter 6, verse 3-5:
"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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: "
Being submerged under the water typifies the death of Jesus for us, in which the one that is baptized, acknowledges that he/she is a sinner, deserving the wages of sin. By doing this the individual is confessing publicly his/her faith on Him that died to redeem them from sin. The old nature is death, and when the person rises from the waters, he/she is professing their resurrection together with Jesus Christ.
Baptism does not give us the New Life, but is simply an external expression that the person has that Life, and that he/she has made the decision to walk in it.
I Peter 3:21 "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:"
III. Being Born Again
Therefore, baptism in itself does not provide salvation unto a person. Instead each one individually is required to experience being born again.
John 3:3 "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. "
John 3:5-7 teaches the following:
"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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. "
Many differing views has risen out of John 3:5 that states that: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit". Some say that it is argument enough that settles that baptism is a requirement to be born again. But what is it that Jesus is trying to tell us?
How can we determine the meaning of the verse "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit" ? In order to accomplish this, we are going to use a principle established in the Second book of Peter 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation".
This states that we are not allowed to interpret a biblical verse apart from what has been given to us in the scriptures. Therefore, we cannot give unto scriptures our own personal interpretation. The Bible is it's own interpreter, in the power and illumination of the Holy Spirit.
So let us take a look at other verses in the Bible, that teaches about being born again.
John 3:14-15 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Here we find another biblical principle, that states that we must first believe in Jesus, but it does not mention baptism as a requirement to be born again; just believing in HIM.
John 1:12-13 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. "
Therefore, being born again happens when we believe, and then receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior of our lives. And this is something completed by God alone, not by men or by any efforts, which certainly excludes baptism. For baptism is an act of obedience to the Word of God, done through those men and woman that had decided to follow HIS WAYS.
James 1:18 explains that: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. "
Peter adds unto this in First Peter 1:23 that we are "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. I Peter 1:25 "And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
Therefore, the instrument that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit has utilized for us to be born again is the Word of God, not water baptism.
Ephesians 5:26 gives us a definite example of water being used to simbolized the Word of God: "..That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,"
In the light of these verses, in conjunction with John 3:5, we can recognize the meaning of the verse that: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God". Therefore, water here typifies the Word of God; The Gospel of Jesus Christ, by which God through the Holy Spirit, utilizes to bring about the New Birth.
IV. What about those who died without being baptized?
What happens if someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and then dies suddenly without being baptized?
The best example that we can find in the Word of God, is the moment when Jesus was hanging on the Cross with two criminals side by side.
Luke 23:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
Luke 23:40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
Luke 23:41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
This verses gives us the confirmation that baptism is part of obedience to the Word of God, but is not the element that grant us salvation.
First we must be born again, and then obey His Word until the end.
"... and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. " MATTHEW 28:20