This is the last post in a series on water baptism. In Part 1 and Part 2 we explored what water baptism is and how the early church performed it. Part 3 introduced the teaching that water baptism can provide salvation – a teaching that we thoroughly debunked in Parts 4a, 4b, and 4c.
Based on all of that, to finish this series, let’s answer the questions “Who should be baptized and when?”
As usual, we’ll go back to the Scriptures and see the pattern established there:
- John baptized people “as they confessed their sins” (Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5) and because of their “repentance” (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:12-16). Repentance means change of heart, mind, and action.
- The apostles baptized people “who accepted [Peter’s] message” about Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41)
- Philip baptized Samaritans “when they believed…as he was proclaiming the good news” (Acts 8:12)
- Philip baptized the Ethiopian official after he “proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35-38)
- Ananias baptized Saul after his encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18)
- Peter baptized people in Cornelius’ house after they “received the Holy Spirit…[and] accepted the word of God” (Acts 10:44 – 11:1)
- Paul baptized Lydia after God “opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying” (Acts 16:14-15)
- Paul and Silas baptized their jailer and his family after he asked what he “must do to be saved” and “he had come to believe in God, together with his entire household” (Acts 16:30-34)
- Paul and his team baptized people in Corinth after they “believed” (Acts 18:8)
In every single recorded case, baptism followed someone’s belief in Jesus Christ. Even if was at the same time they believed, in each case, they believed first and were baptized after.
There is not a single biblical case where a person was baptized first, then believed in Christ or was baptized for salvation without believing in Jesus.
Additionally, it seems that everyone who believed in Jesus Christ for salvation was baptized, most of them as soon as possible afterward.
I don’t think this needs a lot of explanation.
Who should be baptized? Everyone who has already believed in Jesus, turned from their sins, and accepted his salvation.
When should a person be baptized? As soon as possible after their salvation.
At OTCC we’ll baptize anyone who has accepted Christ as long as they understand what baptism is – an outward expression of an inward reality.
The only caveat to this practice for us is in the case of minors. If an under-age person wants to be baptized, and he or she is still living at home, we must have permission from the parents. (The same is true of church membership.) We will not baptize minors against their parents’ wishes.
Have you turned from your sin and believed in Jesus Christ for salvation? If so, have you been baptized in water to express that publicly?