The Doctrine of Baptism: Part I

Baptism is one of the 6 basic foundational doctrines of Christianity as stated by Paul in Hebrews 6, which every Christian must fully understand and embrace before moving ‘on unto perfection’.

It is unfortunate if the only baptism you’ve ever received is the baptism of John, often referred to as the baptism of water.

You’ll realize, in Hebrews 6:2, the word baptism is in plural. It is ‘the doctrine of baptisms’ [plural], not ‘the doctrine of baptism’ [singular].

This means the complete doctrine of the Christian faith includes more than one baptism.
This article is the beginning of a series of articles that shall discuss this fundamental doctrine. 

Basically, there are 4 types of baptisms mentioned in the New Testament:
1. Christ’s baptism of suffering
2. The baptism of John
3. Christian baptism
4. Baptism in the Holy Spirit

What is Baptism?

The Greek word translated ‘baptism’ in Hebrews 6:2 is ‘baptizo’, which Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines as “to immerse, submerge; to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet)”.  ‘Baptizo’ is derived from the primary verb ‘bapto’ which means ‘to whelm, i.e. cover wholly with a fluid. Of cause we all know a fluid can either be a liquid or gas. Thus, ‘baptism’ means to entirely immerse or submerge in something.

Enough of definitions, let’s understand the types of baptisms available so you can know which one you need to go for, and if you’ve received the right portion.

1. Christ’s Baptism of Suffering

This baptism is spoken of by Jesus. Once, the sons of Zebedee asked for the honor of sitting with Christ on His right hand side in heaven.

Jesus answered them saying they truly didn't know what they were asking for.  Mark 10:38 

Jesus was speaking of the of the suffering awaiting Him through His death for the sins of all mankind. He was to be immersed in suffering, buried in the tomb, and resurrect in a new body.

Jesus also speaks of this baptism in Luke 12:50.

2. The Baptism of John

The baptism of John the Baptist was the baptism in water connected with the message of repentance. John the Baptist was to preach the message of repentance and baptism and his ministry marked the beginning of a new spiritual age (Luke 16:16)

In order to be baptized, John made two demands on people: Repentance and public Confession of sins.  Those who were willing to meet these God-given requirements were baptized in Jordan River as a public testimony. It was an outward sign that they had repented of their sins.

To show that the two demands were important than the baptism itself, John refused to baptize some religious leaders who came to be baptized.

He demanded they show evidence of real change in their lives before he would baptize them (Matthew 3:7-8) 

This tells you it doesn’t really benefit you to be baptized in water before repenting and confessing your sins. And, it’s really sad that religion has lied to many people by leading them to believe that just baptism of water makes you right with God. That’s not true. Baptism is just but a visible confirmation that those being baptized have already experienced repentance and forgiveness. You’ve probably heard that God looks into our heart, not our physical looks.

3. Christian Baptism

This is the baptism of Christians. Yea, it’s the baptism by water like John’s, but as we shall learn later, there is a difference between the two.

It is important to know who is supposed to be baptized and how to do it. This baptism was well illustrated by Jesus Christ when he was baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17)

Jesus was baptized not to give an evidence of repentance of sins since He had no sins, but to set a righteous example of behavior which He wanted all believers to follow.

Should babies be baptized?

Jesus was not baptized as a baby. When he was an infant His parents brought Him to Jerusalwm to present Him to the Lord, but He was not baptized until He knew what He was doing and the reason why He was doing it.

Babies should not be baptized until they understand the meaning of the act and have met the Biblical requirements. There ain’t no set age at which understanding comes; it depends on the mental and spiritual development of each child.

Sprinkling or Immersion?

Every church has its own way of doing it. Some immerse in water. Others sprinkle with water. Some don’t even use water – some hover a flag over you. But being Christians, it means we should follow what Jesus Christ did. Jesus went down into and then came up out of the water. Considering the Biblical meaning of the word ‘baptize’, we must conclude He was fully immersed in the waters of Jordan.

By this act, Jesus showed an outward obedience to the will of God, fulfilling his plan. It’s only beneficial to us if we be obedient to God by following the example given by the one we profess to love and follow, Jesus Christ.

This brings us to the end of part I. In the second part of this series, we shall learn the requirements of  Christian baptism and why you should be baptized.

I welcome you to share your thoughts and questions in the comment box bellow. Blessings!