The Christian Ordinance of Water Baptism

Author Name: 

Baptism as an ordinance for the church and of the church on earth is a command of our Lord Jesus. He specifically commanded it in His “going away message.” He established it just before going to His present position at the right hand of God on His throne in Heaven. He plainly said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28:19-20). We believe this command was for the universal church of all earth time, for all disciples of all earth time, and until Jesus returns in His celestial body, wherein He will bring about the consummation of this present age and forever fulfill salvation for the saints of all time. We reject the teaching that this command was specific only for Jesus’ apostles. Some even say baptism is optional for the Christian. If the Bible gave no other confirmation concerning the rite and practice of water baptism, those final words of Jesus would be sufficient to establish water baptism as a practice of the Christian church and brotherhood. The true Church of Jesus on earth will, and has always accepted baptism as a command.
Baptism was practiced immediately on the beginning day of the church. On Pentecost, Peter answered those convicted of sin through Holy Spirit preaching; "...when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men, and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38). Peter answered them correctly and according to the words and command of Jesus. While there could arguably be isolated occasions where a disciple, seeking to follow Jesus would physically be forbidden water baptism, or where death or mental disorder overtakes before baptism could be practically engaged in, we believe that disciple would not be rejected salvation by the Father Almighty. However, we have no scriptural examples after the church began where water baptism is given as “optional” for disciples of Christ. The acts of the apostles and church of the New Testament is replete with example of this practice and ordinance of faith belief. Nowhere is there an indication that it is “discretionary.” We believe water baptism will be the desire of all those who sincerely repent and seek after Him. In that way, we believe it is an essential part of Christian obedience and Christian faith and is a literal practice for the present church on earth.
Baptism stands in the New Testament as a chief and essential element of faith and practice. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom 10:9-10) Only cults, false religions, and antichrist teaching deny the doctrine and established practice of believer’s water baptism. Our forefathers correctly chose against the false doctrine of “original sin” which is the underpinnings for infant baptism and child evangelism theology. The scriptures neither teach nor support the doctrine of “original sin,” therefore we stand by the Word of God and New Testament practice of believer’s water baptism upon confession of faith in Jesus Christ. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 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” (Acts 8:35-38).
Baptism is sign and symbol of a cleansed, sanctified, and purged conscience. “Which sometime were disobedient when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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” (1 Pet. 3:20-21). Peter parallels Noah’s sanctified life of faith to be saved in the ark to the sanctified conscience of the baptized one. The practice of baptism aside from his faith, of course, would not save his soul, yet faith brings about obedience and signals that the conscience is purged from evil. His heart is sanctified by faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus and results in water baptism—as a sign outside a business place advertising what is within. Of course, the “sign” could be misleading, false or outright deceptive, but in a bona fide business establishment, the sign outside advertises the truth within. In like figure, water baptism is a sign of the sanctified, obedient Christian and represents the purified conscience within.
Baptism is the entrance rite into brotherhood joy and accountability. Like as flesh circumcision was entrance rite and covenant with and into the Hebrew brotherhood, strict Sabbath observance was a sign and covenant into the covenant of Moses’ dispensation of grace. So believers' water baptism is a sign, covenant, and entrance rite into the New Testament church (assembly of believers and brotherhood accountable responsibilities). “Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me [body of Jesus]. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit” (John 13:6-10).
We believe, according to the greater context of Scriptures and Grace, that there indeed could be isolated situations where there is no body of believers to whom an individual can place his responsibilities and accountability. However, where there are two or three others, we believe baptism is counted in God’s eyes as a personal desire and entrance into a visible body of Christ. We reject the notions and unscriptural teachings that each individual is the “church” of himself/herself. Baptism is, therefore, the desire not only to obey Christ but to become part and parcel of Jesus’ body on earth—to choose answerability, counsel, reproof, and encouragement from other human beings who are also the Body of Jesus. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.