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There's a lot of controversy over baptism. Some believe in infant baptism, some believe in sprinkling while others believe in full immersion. Some believe that without baptism there is no remission of sin, that in fact, if you were actually saved but died before you were baptized you would not be received into heaven. Who is right and who is wrong? Let's see what the scriptures have to say about baptism and it's importance.

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MATTHEW 3:4-6 "And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 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."

Why did John baptize his followers? Several sources I read said God first gave John the command to baptize and the whole concept was born with him but this is not true. The word Baptize means: "to admit to Christianity by means of baptism." 2. "To cleanse or purify" the Greek word for baptize (baptein) means: "to dip."

Followers of John or Jesus who participated in the baptismal rite, whether Jew or Gentile wouldn't have found the practice totally unfamiliar. Water is the element naturally used for cleansing the body and it's symbolic use entered into almost every religious practice, especially Jewish practices. The purification rituals of Judaism stressed cleanliness and worthiness to serve the Lord. (Lev. 13-17; Num 19) The ritual of washing was similar to baptism in it's purifying implications (Mark 7:4; Heb. 9:20). The Jews have a ritual where they baptize proselytes. Some say it began at the same time as John began baptizing (McKnight). Others say it began before. (Beasley-Murray)

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MATTHEW 3:11-17 "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. 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."

The question has been asked, "Why did Jesus have need to be baptized by John?" the answer: "To fulfill all righteousness." The law required all priests at the age of thirty to be consecrated and then anointed (Exodus 29:4-7). After He was baptized (or washed) He was anointed by the Holy Spirit, thus fulfilling the Old Testament priesthood type for His redemptive work. (Mt. 3:16-17) (Acts 4:27, 10:38)

If Jesus was willing to humble Himself to be baptized by John we should also want to follow His example in the baptism ceremony. (Notice Jesus' baptism was full immersion, not sprinkled and not a cup of water poured over Him.) I believe if we are going to follow His example, we should follow it wholly.

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Acts:2:41 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

Acts 8:36-38 "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."

When should we be baptized? I believe once we have repented of our sins, asked Jesus into our hearts and confessed with our mouth that Jesus is our Savior we should make plans to be baptized. There is no reason to wait to be baptized but on the other hand, if you are not baptized immediately after you are saved, will you go to hell if you die? Mark 16:16 is the scripture most often used to prove that without baptism there is no remission of sin. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Notice what the second part of the verse doesn't say. It doesn't say, "he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned." All through the Bible God asks people to believe on Him. He asks them to accept Him. Baptism is an outward sign of that acceptance but it is very important. If it wasn't, Jesus would not have done it as an example for us to follow and then told us to do it, too. Baptism is something every Christian should do following conversion but if it is impossible for someone to be baptized because of illness or other circumstances are they condemned to hell? No, because baptism is not what saved them in the first place. Ephesians 2:8-9 " For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." We can't wash our sins away with water. No work or ritual that we perform can cleanse us from our sins. Only the blood of Jesus can do that!

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Keep the most important thing
the most important thing.
First, give your heart and life to Jesus!
Once you have done this, follow Him in Baptism!
This is an outward sign of an inward cleansing!
The Lord taught it and that's good enough for me!

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