We’ll answer this question, but first let’s understand that water baptism plays no part in our salvation. It is by grace alone, through faith, that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). It’s not by anything we do. Salvation is only by what Christ has done. We cannot add anything to the work that He did, by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Our response to Christ’s work is to repent (turn from sin), turn to Christ and trust in Him alone for salvation.
When we repent and trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross, He saves us, and we are baptized into Him by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…
In this baptism, we are also given the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to comfort (John 14:16), teach (John 14:26), guide (John 16:13) and seal (Ephesians 4:30) us.
This is the baptism of our salvation. Once again, this is not something we do, but something Christ does for us (John 1:33), and no water is involved.
Water baptism is a church sacrament (a church ceremony, or practice, that is considered holy and sacred because of its spiritual significance). Water baptism varies greatly among denominations in both practice and significance. There are two sacraments of baptism performed by Christians churches —(1) infant baptism or (2) youth and adult baptism (sometimes called believer’s baptism because the person makes a profession of faith). These baptisms can be performed by the sprinkling of water or by partial or full immersion in water.
Many churches that practice infant baptism do so with the understanding that the baby is being baptized into the family of believers and dedicated to the Lord. It does not impart any forgiveness of sins, since only Jesus can forgive sins, and only His blood can wash us clean (Revelation 1:5).
In this type of dedication or infant baptism, both the parents and the congregation affirm their trust in Christ as Saviour and commit to raising the child in the Lord’s will and His ways. As the child grows and matures, the child still must repent and trust in Christ to receive forgiveness of sins and be saved by Him. The age, or level of maturity, at which a child can come to Christ will vary (Read more about the age of accountability), but with sound biblical teachings, even young children can understand the gospel, respond to it and be saved by Jesus.
When salvation is received, by someone baptized as an infant, they are called in Scripture to make a public profession. Churches that practice the sacrament of infant baptism also have the sacrament of confirmation. In confirmation, a believer confirms the vows made by their parents on their behalf and publicly professes their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
Baptism of Youth and Adults
Other denominations wait until a child is old enough, or mature enough, to understand their sin and the gospel of saving grace (the age of accountability). Once someone has repented and trusted in Jesus, and been saved by Him, they then make a public profession of faith in baptism. This is often done by full immersion into water.
By outward appearances, full immersion baptism is similar to the baptism practice of John the Baptist. However, it is very different in meaning. John the Baptist used water to baptize unto repentance (Matthew 3:10). It was a baptism of purification based on the confession of sins (Matthew 3:6). It was not forgiveness of sins since John did not have the power to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins and it is received by trusting in Jesus and being washed by His blood, not water.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
The Bible is clear, water baptism is not necessary for salvation. However, there are some churches that would disagree. Search the Scriptures. It is only by Jesus that we are saved (Romans 5:9, Acts 4:12).
If Baptized as an Infant, and Later Confirmed, Do I Need to Be Re-baptized?
NO. If water baptism is necessary for salvation, then the Lord erred when the thief on the cross trusted in Him and Jesus promised, “Assuredly [truly], I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
We know that the Lord did not err. His words are true and His words to the thief were a promise of salvation– yet the thief on the cross was not baptized. The thief on the cross did the only thing that is necessary for salvation. He called out to Jesus in trusting faith, knowing that Jesus is the Lord and He has the power to bring people into His kingdom.
So if you were baptized as an infant, and later confirmed, you don’t NEED to be re-baptized. In confirmation, you made a public profession of your salvation. However, if you wish to be baptized again, or your church requires it for membership, you should certainly do so. Testifying publicly to what Jesus has done for you, and in you, is always a beautiful thing. It glorifies God and reminds everyone who witnesses your profession of the riches that God has already imparted to you when He saved you.
If Water Baptism Is Not Necessary for Salvation, Should It be Eliminated?
Absolutely not! While water baptism has no saving power, it does have sanctifying benefits. Water baptism is a public profession of God’s mercy and grace, whether it’s by believing parents and congregants who vow to raise a child in the knowledge of the Lord, or as a personal profession by a redeemed sinner who has been saved by the grace of God.
I do not want to be misunderstood on this, so let me clarify. Although there may be no need to be water baptized, it is a beautiful sacrament and should be practiced. If one was baptized as an infant, they must understand that they should make a public profession when Jesus saves them. This can be done in confirmation or water baptism. If one was not water baptized as an infant, they should be baptized. However the sacrament is practiced, it is a beautiful testimony that proclaims the mercy and grace of God and His goodness in saving sinners.
Do Not Let This Be Divisive
Various churches and denominations have different views on what water baptism signifies and how it should be practiced. I encourage you, DO NOT let this doctrine become divisive among believers. Search the Scriptures for your understanding. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will reveal all truth.
The Bible is clear that we are to profess with our mouth that which we believe in our hearts (Romans 10:9-10), so be ready to do so. Share the saving grace of Jesus with others, by telling of what He has done for you and what He desires to do for all people.
An email was received suggesting this is putting infant baptism “on par” with believer’s baptism. That is not the case.
Infant baptism could be considered similar to infant dedication. It has no saving power. Confirmation could be considered similar to believer’s baptism in that they are both are a profession of faith and that the person has been saved by Jesus by grace alone.
Remember, the question was whether water baptism is NEEDED. We cannot say that someone who was baptized as an infant, has been saved by Jesus, made a profession of faith, but was never immersed in water baptism, NEEDS to be baptized.
The point of this article is that the water of baptism does not save anyone. Only the baptism (washing) in Jesus’ blood (Rev 1:5) has saving power. But don’t hear me wrong. Believer’s baptism is a beautiful way to proclaim the gift of salvation and it is to be commended. Some churches require it, but others do not. And, we should not let this be divisive.
Jesus prayed for unity in the Church, not for uniformity. According to your church’s tradition, tell the world of what Jesus has done in saving you…and then never stop telling people. Especially tell those who do not know Jesus. Tell them that Jesus loves them and offers forgiveness for their sins and new life in Him. To Him be the glory!
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