Water Baptism Q&A

Questions on Receiving the Water Baptism

8.0 Romans 10:9-10 says "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." Therefore, one only needs to believe and confess with your mouth to be saved. Why do you then claim that water baptism is required for salvation?

Jesus says in John 3:5  Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

Jesus never lies. He emphasizes here in John 3:5 that unless one is born of water (water baptism) and the Spirit (receiving Holy Spirit), no one can enter the kingdom of God.  Romans was written by Paul. Do you think there is a contradiction here between what Jesus says and what Paul says? If so, do you think Jesus outranks Paul?

Actually, there is no conflict. In fact, when Paul wrote in Titus 3:5,

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Here the washing of rebirth refers to water baptism. Paul was not contradicting himself either. In Romans 10:9-10, the Christians were under severe persecution and therefore, he emphasized the courage to confess that they believed in Jesus. The receipients of the book of Romans were already believers and presumeably already baptized. So Paul was encouraging them to continue to perservere in their faith. When we study the Bible, we need to look at it as a whole. For example, Jesus answers the rich young man's question on how can one inherit eternal life in Luke 18:18 by answering in Luke 18:20 that he must keep the Ten Commandments. So we can see from these few verses that we need to be baptized and we need to keep the Ten Commandments in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus emphasizes in Matthew 7:21 that we will be "evildoers" if we do not do the will of my Father who is in heaven:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Doing the will of God is obeying God's commands, not just in one verse, but the entire Bible. Through the Bible, God reveals to us all the elements of salvation that we must have in order to be saved.

8.1 John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” A person receives eternal life when he believes; he does not need to be baptized.

•         Believing in Christ is not just intellectually agreeing that he is Lord and Savior. True faith involves obeying his words (Lk 6:46-49). We are saved by grace through faith, but faith without deeds is not true faith (Jas 2:14–20). Even the demons believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Mt 8:28–29; Lk 4:41), but their belief is not true faith (Jas 2:19-20). We cannot dismiss the necessity of baptism since baptism itself is part of and an act of, belief and faith in Jesus Christ (Mk 16:16; see Acts 16:30-33).

8.2  “Mark 16:16 mentions the need both to believe and to be baptized, for it was assumed that once a person believed in Christ, he would be baptized to publicly express his salvation. This same verse indicates, however, that the only basis for condemnation is unbelief: ‘He that believeth not shall be condemned.’”1

•         If it is assumed that baptism, with no saving effect, follows belief, then why did Jesus say, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”(italics added)? Wouldn’t this be redundant? This very statement by the Lord is clear proof that a person must be baptized to be saved.

•         If baptism is an expression of salvation, why didn’t the Lord say, “He who believes will be saved, and his baptism expresses that salvation”?

•         The logic should instead be applied to the second phrase, “He that believeth not shall be condemned.” It is assumed that if a person does not believe in Christ, he will not be baptized. A person who does not believe obviously would not want to be baptized. So to say, “He who believeth not and is not baptized shall be condemned” would be redundant.      

•         Baptism is not simply a public expression of salvation. We receive God’s saving effect through baptism (1Pet 3:20-21; Col 2:11-12; Rom 6:3-4; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Gal 3:26-27; see also Questions 7.2 & 7.3).      

8.3 In Acts 16:30-31, the jailer asked Paul, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Thus belief is the sole requirement for salvation.

•         Belief in the Lord Jesus also consists of belief in and following his word (Jn 5:24; see Lk 6:46-49). This is why Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to [the jailer] and to all who were in his house” (Acts 16:32). And having believed in the word, “immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33). There are many similar examples in which converts were baptized immediately after they had accepted the gospel (Acts 2:41; 8:12, 35-36; 9:18; 10:44-48; 16:14-15; 18:8).

•         True belief involves obedience. It is by faith that one repents and is baptized. So the words, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” do not contradict with or deny the necessity and saving power of water baptism.

8.4 Acts 3:19 reads, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Baptism is not necessary since a person’s sins are forgiven when he repents.        

•         We must read the Bible in its entirety. If repentance alone can cleanse sins, wouldn’t this verse contradict with Acts 22:16, where it says, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins”?         

•         We do not deny the necessity of repentance. But repentance is coupled with baptism (Acts 2:38). And it is during baptism, not repentance, that sin is washed away (see Rom 6:3; Acts 22:16).

•         Peter does not mention baptism here because his main message is that the people should turn from their evil (v. 26). One must repent before he considers baptism (Acts 2:37-38).

8.5 According to the Bible, water baptism is not required for salvation; rather, it is an evidence that salvation has already taken place2.

•         Baptism is far more than just an expression of salvation. Rather, according to the Bible, believers are saved through baptism (1Pet 3:20–21; Tit 3:5).

•         The Bible makes it clear that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16; 2:38). If believers’ sins are forgiven before baptism, then the command to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins would be misleading. If baptism is only an expression, why then does the Bible repeatedly emphasize its effect?

8.6 The phrase “for the remission of sins” in Acts 2:38 should be translated as “in view of the remission of sins” or “referring to the remission of sins.” In other words, we must be baptized to show that we have already received the remission of sins when we believed the gospel. John said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto [eis] repentance” (Mt 3:11). This is the same language as “for [eis] the remission of sins” (Lk 3:3; Acts 2:38). Baptism does not bring about, but is a result of, repentance. Likewise, baptism does not bring about, but is the result of, the forgiveness of sins.

•         If remission of sins takes place apart from baptism, why was Paul commanded not to wait but be baptized to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16)? Why such urgency in the command if his sins had already been washed away?

•         The Greek word eis means “for” and is rarely used to mean “in view of.” That is why the Bible translators chose “for” instead of anything else.

•         If we were to read Mt 3:11 as “I baptize you with water as a result of repentance,” the force of the language would be lost. The correct interpretation would be that the ministry of John, which was to baptize, would bring about the effect of repentance among the people. (This effect is general—the effect of leading people to repentance. It does not mean that the action of baptism causes inward repentance of the individual being baptized). So the meaning of [eis] in this case is still “for,” not “in view of” or “as a result of.”

•         While it is important to emphasize faith and inward conversion, it is wrong to deny the effect of the sacraments and consider them as mere outward rites.

8.7  “Being born of water” in John 3:5 does not refer to baptism. It either refers to the rebirth through God’s word (Eph 5:23; Jas 1:18; 1Pet 1:23), or serves as a synonym for the Holy Spirit because the rest of the passage is about the Holy Spirit.

•         It is true that the Bible uses water as a symbol for the Holy Spirit (e.g. Jn 7:37-39). But to interpret the water in John 3:5 and the washing in Tit 3:5 as only referring to the Holy Spirit would be forced because water and Spirit are mentioned together in Jn 3:5 and washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit are mentioned together in Tit 3:5. The reason Jn 3:6-8 emphasizes Spirit rather than water is that Jesus was speaking of a spiritual rebirth, not a physical one (Jn 3:6). In fact, baptism and receiving of the Holy Spirit are closely related and together they comprise the spiritual rebirth of which Jesus was speaking. To be born of the Spirit, we need to accept baptism and live a new life according to the Spirit.

•         The Bible clearly teaches spiritual rebirth through baptism. Rebirth involves receiving a new life. This new life is given to a person when his old self has died and been buried during baptism (Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12). So considering the use of the words “water” and “washing,” it would be correct to interpret Jn 3:5 and Tit 3:5 as referring to the specific event of baptism.

•         The word of truth and baptism are not mutually exclusive but are closely related (cf. Eph 5:23). The word of truth includes the command of baptism, and baptism is effective because God’s word has promised salvation through it (Mk 16:16; 1Pet 3:21). It would be a mistake to refer to the birth through the word of truth in order to deny the rebirth through baptism.

8.8 Paul stated, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Cor 1:17). He rarely baptized anyone. If baptism truly washes away sins, why was he not sent to do this necessary and important task?

•         It would be wrong to assume that Paul rarely baptized people. In Acts alone we read two instances of baptism where Paul was directly involved (Acts 16:33; 19:5).

•         The context of 1 Corinthians tells us that the Corinthian believers took pride in being the followers of prominent workers of God. Lest anyone took pride in receiving his baptism or claimed that they were baptized into Paul’s name (1 Cor 1:13), Paul reminded them that his mission was not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. Even if it were true that Paul hardly baptized anyone, nowhere does he deny the necessity of baptism. Just because Paul did not personally perform baptism himself does not mean that it wasn’t done or that it had nothing to do with salvation.

8.9 If baptism is indeed for the forgiveness of sins, as you claim, then does it mean that Jesus also had sin that he needed to be baptized?

•         Jesus is without sin (Jn 8:46; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15).

•         John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance (Acts 19:4). It did not have the power to cleanse sins since Jesus had not yet offered his body and shed his blood (see Heb 9:26). Only baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus can wash away sins (Acts 2:38; 4:10,12; 10:43).

•         Jesus was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15), meaning to fulfill the will of God and duty as a man. Jesus, being in the flesh, must also obey the Heavenly Father’s will (see Jn 4:34). His baptism therefore sets an example of obedience to God’s requirements. It also shows us that we need to be baptized to be accepted by God. Incidentally, the correct manner of baptism is demonstrated as well (immersion: “went up out of the water”; see Mt 3:16).

•         As far as the Lord Jesus himself was concerned, his baptism also served as a testimony to his ministry and that he was the Messiah whom John had been preaching about (see Jn 1:30-34).

8.10 The Bible states that our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ (Rev 1:5). How can the water during baptism possibly remove a person’s sins?

•         The apostle John bears witness that from Jesus’ side flowed blood and water (Jn 19:34). In 1 John 5:6, John explains that Jesus did not come by water only (here the water refers to baptism; notice water is mentioned first), but by water and blood, and that it is the Spirit who testifies. In other words, the effect of Jesus’ blood, by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, is present during baptism to cleanse the sin of the person being baptized. Although the candidate’s body is immersed in water physically, yet his spiritual being is cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb 10:22 “washed”=immersed).

•         The explanation by John is confirmed by the baptisms performed in the True Jesus Church, during which many have witnessed blood in the water.     

8.11 The mode of baptism is insignificant and it makes no difference how one is baptized. After all, the Bible never instructs believers how baptism should be performed.              

•         The definition of baptism itself already denotes how and where one should be baptized (i.e. immersion in living water). If done otherwise, the action could not be called baptism, nor could it carry any effect to cleanse sins.           

•         The way a person is baptized carries great spiritual significance (e.g. bowing of head signifies dying with Christ in the likeness of his death; full immersion signifies complete burial of the old self). And, in addition to this spiritual significance, baptism in the correct manner actually results in the effect of death and burial of the old person and resurrection of the new person (Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:12).

•         Eph 4:5 points out that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”. All true believers of Jesus Christ must believe in the same Lord, hold the same faith, and receive the same baptism. So it is important to know what the Bible says about how one should be baptized.           

•         The baptism of salvation has spiritual power to cleanse sins. The baptism is thus different from the traditional ablution of the Jews or proselyte baptism. It must be performed in the name of the Lord Jesus since a person receiving baptism of salvation is baptized into Christ, who forgives sins through baptism (Gal 3:27; Acts 2:38); He is not simply following a ritual.

•         Although the Bible does not specifically prescribe the mode of baptism, the Lord Jesus and the disciples did set examples of baptism for believers to follow.

8.12 Are you saying that a person’s salvation hangs on such trivial details as the mode of baptism? Such teaching is contrary to the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith because it presupposes that God saves us based on technical correctness of the procedure.

•         Naaman was cleansed when he followed Elisha’s instructions (2Ki 5:10-14). The ten men with leprosy were healed as they went on the way according to the Lord’s words (Lk 17:11-14). The blind man received his sight when he obeyed the Lord and washed in the Pool of Siloam (Jn 9:6-7). In each of these instances, it was the grace and power of God, not the action of the person that saved them. But their willingness to obey showed their faith in God, and through their obedience, God’s healing took its effect on them.

•         The mode of baptism in itself does not save us. We are saved by grace through faith. But it is wrong to reduce baptism to mere “procedures” we go through. Baptism is our Lord’s command, and the cleansing is made effective through God’s word (Eph 2:26). During baptism, God acts to bring us salvation (Col 2:11-12). We, in turn, receive God’s grace by receiving baptism in obedience to his word.

•         It is wrong to trivialize the biblical way of baptism. Faith means being willing to obey God’s word even if it appears trivial and doesn’t seem to make sense. It is such faith that God looks for. By imitating the Lord and the apostles in baptism, we aim to follow God’s word as closely as possible. If we claim to have faith but do not want to obey God’s will, we cannot receive God’s grace of salvation.

•         Other than the grace of God and the atonement of Jesus Christ, the effect of baptism comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:21-23; 1Jn 5:6-9). God has established the True Jesus Church with the Holy Spirit, revealed to her the truth of salvation, and confirmed the truth with the works of the Holy Spirit. In particular, God has revealed to her the “one baptism” according to the Bible (Eph 4:5). Through our faith in the word of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit and through the testimony of the Holy Spirit, our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ during baptism. So it is important for us to receive the baptism of the True Jesus Church because of the perfect gospel that she preaches and the presence of the Holy Spirit in this church. The issue once again boils down to whether we have the faith to humbly obey God’s will, which he has revealed and testified to with the Holy Spirit.

8.13 Sprinkling is a form of baptism. God promised in Ezekiel 36:25 that he would sprinkle on his people to make them clean. In 1 Peter 1:2 the apostle Peter states that believers have been sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews also confirms that our hearts have been cleansed by sprinkling (Heb 10:22).

•         Sprinkling is not baptism. The word “baptism” is derived from the Greek word baptismos, which means immersion. The Greek word baptein (baptism) means to plunge, to immerse, or to wash3.    

•         The language in Ezekiel 36:25-26 is figurative (e.g. heart of stone and heart of flesh). So the cleansing through sprinkling is figurative of the inward cleansing (see point 4). The reference to sprinkling comes from the ceremonial cleansing in Numbers 8:6-7.

•         1 Peter 1:2 does not refer to the physical action of baptism, but the spiritual cleansing by the sprinkling of Christ’s blood (sprinkling of blood is a foreshadow in the Old Testament; See Heb 9:18-22). If the verse did refer to actual sprinkling, then one must be sprinkled by the physical blood of Christ (which is impossible).

•         Hebrews 10:22 cannot be a basis for sprinkling. On the contrary, this verse actually supports baptism by immersion. Notice that it is the heart, not the body, that is being sprinkled spiritually; the body is “washed with pure water” physically (washed=immersed4). So when the candidate is immersed in water during baptism, his spiritual being is being cleansed.         

8.14 Sprinkling should be permissible, especially when the candidate is seriously ill or when it is not convenient to perform baptism with immersion. In Acts 2:41, for example, when 3,000 were converted in one day, it must have been almost impossible to perform baptism other than by sprinkling.

•         Sprinkling is not baptism (see previous question). The Word of God cannot be altered regardless of the circumstances.

•         There are countless miracles in the True Jesus Church concerning candidates of baptism in critical illness being healed by God during baptism.           

•         It was not uncommon for large numbers of people to be baptized. John the Baptist, for example, constantly performed baptism for the people at Aenon “because there was much water there” (Jn 3:23; attesting to immersion). It is certainly possible to baptize 3,000 with immersion in one day if there were, say, 30 people performing baptism at different spots at the baptismal site.

8.15 If baptism must be by immersion, why did the Bible not say clearly that it must be by immersion?

•         Any reader of the original language would have no such problem because the Greek word “baptism” should be translated as immersion. That is why the Greek or Orthodox Catholics still baptize with immersion.

•         When the King James version of the Bible was translated in 1611, the translators realized that translating the word “baptize” literally as immersion would have caused great embarrassment and confusion to the church of England. The Episcopalian church was then, and is now, supported and controlled in England by the government. So King James instructed the translators to transliterate the Greek word baptizo as baptize. The word baptize, which was never used before, was thus added to the English language.

8.16 In Matthew 28:19, Jesus clearly instructed the disciples to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

•         If the Lord’s exact words were a formula to be recited, then why did the disciple always baptize or instruct the people to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5)? “In the name of” is not just recitation, but indicates the authority and power of the risen Christ (Phil 2:10-11). It is in Jesus that we can have the forgiveness of sins during baptism (Col 1:14). Because it is into Christ that we are baptized (Gal 3:27), the baptismal candidate must believe the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Savior and determine to live for Christ all his life. Instead of saying “in Jesus’ name,” which he never once did, Jesus mentioned “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of Holy Spirit” to show that all authorities that are God’s have now been given to him.

•         “Father,” or “Son,” or “the Holy Spirit” are not names. They are titles. The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is “Jesus” (Jn 5:43; 17:11; 14:26), and there is only one name (singular).

•         There is no other name (than the name of Jesus Christ) under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:10,12). Only through the name of Jesus is a person’s sin cleansed during baptism (Acts 2:38; 10:43).

8.17  “In the name of Jesus” does not need to be a baptismal formula. It means in the authority or in relationship to Jesus Christ (Col 3:17).

•         It is true that the Bible does not say that a person’s salvation hinges on the baptist’s pronouncement of Jesus’ name, and it is true that “in the name of” should be more than a formula. But it is also unlikely that the apostles baptized people “in the name of the Lord Jesus” or “in the name of Jesus” without actually saying so. There is evidence that the apostles did say, “in the name of Jesus” when they cast out demons because that was what the exorcists did when they imitated the apostles (Acts 19:13).

•         In Acts 19:4-5, the believers were re-baptized. Not only were they commanded to believe in Jesus, they were baptized again “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In terms of the way of baptism, what would be different about this baptism from the baptism they have received if the name of Jesus was not pronounced?

•         The name “Jesus” is very important. It carries authority and honor (Phil 2:9-11). God has revealed to the True Jesus Church to baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus and has confirmed such baptism with miraculous signs and wonders. In the same way, God often manifests his power by casting out demons through believers who do so in the name of the Lord Jesus. But it is not merely the recitation of the name that makes baptism effective or drives away demons. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit and the promise of God that manifests God’s power in Jesus’ name.

8.18 Baptism may be performed in a pool or in a baptistry.

•         Baptism in the Bible was performed in natural water 4. The Lord Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (Jn 3:13). John the Baptist also baptized at Aenon (Jn 3:23); the word “Aenon” means “spring.”

•         There is no Scriptural basis for baptism in pools.

•         It has been prophesied that a fountain would be opened to cleanse sins (Zech 13:1). Figuratively, baptism is represented by the flood at Noah’s time (1Pet 3:20) and by the crossing of the Red Sea (1Cor 10:1-2). The prophet Micah also prophesies that God would “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic 7:19). In all cases, baptism is always represented by natural water, never man made pools or cisterns.

•         The early church also performed baptism in living water5.

8.19 If you insist that baptism must be performed in natural flowing water because the Lord Jesus was baptized in the river, then shouldn’t you also perform baptism in the Jordan River only?

•         The apostles baptized at places other than Jordan, such as on the desert road (Acts 8:26, 36-38) or in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5). This shows that the exact location of baptism is not important, as long as there is abundant natural flowing water (Jn 3:23).

8.20 What is the biblical support for baptizing people with their heads bowed?

•         In Romans 6:3-4, Paul states that believers are “buried with Christ through baptism into death.” Through baptism, we receive the spiritual effect of dying with Christ. Paul continues in verse 5, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom 6:5). Since our death with Christ is signified by baptism, our union with Christ in the likeness of his death is also signified by baptism. In other words, the manner of baptism during biblical times was in the likeness of the Lord’s death. Paul uses this physical likeness in baptism to discuss the spiritual likeness that believers carry.

•         The description of the physical likeness of Jesus’ death is found in John 19:30, “bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” This is the only detail that John records. He describes the appearance of the Lord’s death even though the appearance should have been normal for a person who died on the cross. It is on this basis that we understand what the physical likeness of the Lord’s death refers to.

•         In the Bible, the bowing of head is a gesture that signifies disgrace and heaviness of sin (Ps 40:12; Lk 18:13; Job 10:15). Just as Christ died to sin once for all, we also die to sin so that sin should no longer have power over us (Rom 6:2,10). As we bow our heads and be immersed in water, our sinful self dies and is buried with Christ. As we rise from the water, we are raised with Christ and receive a new life in him (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12).

8.21 The phrase “uniting together in the likeness of His death” refers to a spiritual likeness to Christ’s death. It cannot be taken to literally mean bowing of the head during baptism.

•         While the “likeness of His death” refers putting off of the sinful self, in the context of baptism, it also refers to the manner of baptism. Since baptism signifies spiritual truth and effect, the way it is performed must be biblical. Otherwise, it loses its signifying character. This bowing of the head in the physical likeness of Christ’s death is essential since it signifies the spiritual unity with Christ in the likeness of his death. This action represents the actual death of the old person during baptism (see Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:12).

8.22 If we must receive baptism in the physical likeness of Jesus’ death, shouldn’t we also stretch out our hands and put our feet together during baptism?

•         The Bible stresses the likeness of the Lord’s death, not the likeness of his crucifixion.

•         The only biblical description of the likeness of Jesus’ death was that he bowed his head (Jn 19:30).

•         While the bowing of head also signifies humble repentance (Ps 40:12; Lk 18:13), stretching the hands or placing the feet together would not signify anything related to spiritual rebirth or remission of sins.

8.23 Infants or children may not receive baptism since they do not understand the truth, do not have faith, and cannot repent.

•         Infants and children are born sin (Ps 51:5). Therefore they also need to be born again.

•         The promise of baptism for the remission of sins is also given to the children (Acts 2:38-39). Children were never excluded from God’s covenant with his people (Gen 17:9-14).

•         We must not forbid children from receiving salvation since the Lord Jesus himself does not reject little children but instead loves them (see Lk 18:15-17).

•         Children were healed of their diseases through their parents’ faith (Mt 15:28). By the same token, children and infants may be baptized based on the faith of their parents (Jn 4:49-51). However, we must also keep in mind that it is the grace of God and the cross of Christ, not the conscious choice of humans, that gives baptism its effect. So even if children cannot make a conscious choice to receive God’s grace, they should not be excluded from God’s grace.

•         In the early church, entire households were baptized (Acts 16:15, 32-34; 18:8; 1Cor 1:16). Children and infants are, of course, part of the household.

•         Circumcision prefigures baptism (Col 2:11-12). In the Old Testament the male infants of the chosen people are circumcised on the eighth day (Lev 12:2-3), prefiguring infant baptism.

•         Crossing of the Red Sea prefigures the New Testament baptism (1Cor 10:1-2). The Israelites, including the children and infants, crossed the Red Sea (Ex 10:9-10, 24; 12:31). The children and infants were not left in the land of bondage. In the same way, children and infants must also be baptized to be cleanse of their sins and be released from the bondage of Satan.

8.24 The Lord Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:14). Children do not need to receive baptism because they are already accepted by the Lord into his kingdom.

•         If children are saved by Christ, do they become unsaved when they become adults?

•         The Lord Jesus said that we must turn and become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt:18:3). He was not saying that all children are in the kingdom of heaven.

8.25 If children are baptized when they could not make a choice, what happens if they choose not to accept the gospel when they grow up? Will they be saved?

•         If a person chooses to forsake the covenant of grace, he will have to face God’s judgment (Heb 6:4-8; 10:26-31).

•         Parents have the responsibility to bring their children up in the teachings of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

8.26 Isn’t there biblical basis for baptism for the dead (1Cor 15:29)?

•         This passage does not command baptism for the dead nor make any judgment about such practice. Paul asked the question, “Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). His point was not that such practice was necessarily correct, but that such practice demonstrated people’s belief in the resurrection.

•         Paul could not have endorsed vicarious baptism (the living being baptized on behalf of the dead) because it is against Biblical teaching for several reasons:

  1. Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16). Since all have sinned (Rom 3:23), everyone must be baptized for the forgiveness of his own sins (Acts 2:38). No one may be baptized for the forgiveness of another’s sins.
  2. Baptism is not merely a formality or an immersion of the body; it is a spiritual cleansing and salvation of the soul (1Pet 3:21; Heb 9:14). Once a person dies, the soul leaves his body. Baptizing a living person on behalf of the dead cannot in any way save the soul of the dead.
  3. After a person dies, he is to face judgment (Heb 9:27). Those who had failed to believe in the Lord will be condemned (Mk 16:16; Rev 21:8), and every person will be judged according to what he had done (Rev 20:12). So once a person dies, he has to give an account of his disbelief and no one else may receive salvation on behalf of him.

•         This verse might possibly refer to baptism of family members for the sake of a Christian member who has passed away and had expressed the wish before death that his/her family believe in the Lord Jesus and be baptized.


  1. Harold J. Berry, What They Believe: The Worldwide Church of God (Lincoln: Back to the Bible, 1987) 12-13.
  2. Ibid., 12-13. (The quotation is an argument made by the author, a professor of Grace College of the Bible; it is not the belief held by The Worldwide Church of God.)
  3. See “BAPTISM.” The Encyclopedia of Religion 1987 ed. Mircea Eliade, et al. (New York: Macmillan; London: Collier Macmillan, 1987).
  4. “The external form of baptism was immersion in flowing water which is presupposed in Ac 8:36, He 10:22. . . .”
  5. Hastings. “BAPTISM.” Dictionary of the Bible (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1963).
  6. Everett Furgenson, Early Christians Speak (Austin: Sweet Publishing Company, 1971) 51.