Bob Prichard

Topic(s): Baptism, Salvation

Acts two describes the beginning of the Lord’s church almost two thousand years ago on the Jewish day of Pentecost.

Hearing Peter’s words, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), they that “gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). According to Acts 2:47, the Lord “added to the church daily such as should be [or, those who were being] saved.” Thus the Lord added three thousand people to His church as they obeyed the teachings of the apostles by being baptized.

While the administrator of baptism is unimportant, the purpose in baptism is of utmost importance. Anyone properly baptized, as those three thousand were on the day of Pentecost, is added unto the Lord’s church. A person baptized for the wrong purpose, however, has no assurance that the Lord will add him to His church.

For example, if a man was baptized simply because his wife wanted him to be baptized, and he made no real commitment to the Lord, then Jesus certainly would not add that man to His church, because pleasing or obeying a wife is not the Lord’s purpose in baptism. We see, then, that it is important to know and understand the Lord’s purposes in baptism.

Jesus commissioned his disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). The purpose of baptism, then, as stated by Christ, is to save the believer. Scriptural baptism then, is preceded by belief in Christ. Peter told those gathered on Pentecost, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). So Peter said that the purpose of baptism of the penitent believer is for the remission (forgiveness) of sins.

Ananias commanded Saul of Tarsus, “Why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Here again the purpose of baptism is stated, to wash away sins. Paul declared to the Galatians, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Thus baptism puts the obedient believer into Christ, where there is salvation.

Peter compared baptism to Noah’s ark, saying, “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 Peter 3:21). Peter clearly said, “baptism doth also now save us.”

The Scriptures show that baptism is an immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins, upon which the Lord adds that penitent and obedient believer to His church. A baptism administered merely as a denominational ordinance to those who have already been saved, or to a child that is unaware of the significance of baptism, does not fit the New Testament pattern for baptism.

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