I had an interesting conversation with someone recently. The topic was, "Can a person baptize themselves". A hypothetical situations was used where a man is walking alone in the woods and finds a bible. He reads the bible and wants to get saved. Can he baptize himself at the first opportunity? Or must he wait to find a believer to baptize him.

That is a question that many have pondered over, but think about this. Jesus said that we must confess his name before men/people and confession is necessary before baptism. One does not have to find another Christian to baptize one as there is no benefit obtained from a certain person doing the baptizing. What is important is that one be baptized for the right reason, that is for the remission of sin. Alexander Campbell persuaded a Baptist preacher to baptize him and he made it plain he was being baptized for the remission of sins. Baptism without a witness or witnesses could become very questionable as no one could prove it. Such would open the door for persons to become members of a congregation without having been baptized if the person were dishonest and we know there are plenty of that type around today.


My classmates belong to the Assembly of God and they say a person doesn't have to be baptized to be saved.

Do you have any suggestions for me to help convince them of the truth?

We would suggest that you cite several scriptures that teach the necessity of baptism.  Let their argument be with the scriptures rather than you.  They can choose to obey the scriptures or ignore them, God does not force anyone to obey Him, however, he only saves those who are obedient (Hebrews 5:8,9).  Look at such passages as Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:26,27; 1 Peter 3:21. 

Ask them if anyone can be saved out of Christ, then show them what Paul says in Galatians 3:26,27.  Why would a command be given if it did not have to be obeyed, and Peter commanded baptism in Acts 2:38 in accord with Christ's commands in Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16 and then we see the Hebrew writer stating that He saves those who obey Him (Christ).  Your friends will probably not accept these scriptures because their minds are closed on the subject, but you can be assured that you have shown them what the scriptures teach and that is about all one can do.

I have been questioning my baptism recently.  I was baptized when I was ten years old.  I believe that I was as sincere as a ten year old child can be, but I can't honestly say that I totally understood the commitment that I was making.  I also must admit that I was feeling some pressure because my classmates and friends from church were becoming Christians and questioning me as to why I hadn't done it yet.  I have seriously considered being baptized again, as I have been involved in a Bible study with one of our elder's wives.  But, if I do decide to take this step, I want it to be
between me and God.  The elder whose wife is studying with me will baptize me.  But am I wrong for not wanting anyone else to know?

 

No, you are not wrong in wanting to keep the information private.  That is usually the case, however, there are exceptions.  I have baptized adults who were not happy with their earlier baptism in which they did so publicly but others have had it done privately.  Since you were already in the church in most everyone's mind it would be no great advantage to tell everyone of your rebaptism.  It is a matter of personal choice.


I have a friend who does not believe that immersion is important in baptism. However, she is going to be baptized in a Baptist church just to be on the "safe" side. She says that immersion is just a human thing. How do I explain to her that it specifically states that immersion is not just a human thing?

The Greek word for baptism is baptizo, which means to dip, to plunge, or to immerse. What we have in our English Bibles is a transliteration, not a translation. That means that the Greek word was not translated, merely its major form was brought over into the English language. However, even without a knowledge of the Greek language, one only need read the Bible and it can plainly be seen that nothing other than immersion could be practiced for baptism. Matthew 3:16 and Mark 1:10 both say that after Jesus was baptized He came up out of the water. 

Why would he need to go down into the water if John was only going to sprinkle Him our pour water on Him? John 3:23 says that John was baptizing in Aenon because there was much water there. Why did John need much water if he was only going to sprinkle or pour? When Philip baptized the Ethiopian, Luke says they both went down into the water and both came up out of the water, Acts 8: 38-39. Why did they both need to go down into the water if Philip was only going to sprinkle or pour? Romans 6:4 says we are buried with him, Jesus, by baptism. 

How could sprinkling or pouring signify this burial? Colossians 2:12 says with are buried with him, Jesus, in baptism. Again, how could sprinkling or pouring signify a burial? When someone is buried in the ground, are they not completely covered over by the dirt? The funeral directors do not just sprinkle or pour dirt on them. When someone is placed in a tomb in a mausoleum, is the body not completely sealed from view? The only conclusion one can draw from what the New Testament shows and teaches is that God demands immersion for the remission of sins.


In what name or names do you baptize?

According to Matthew 28:19 there are three names in which one is baptized. "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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." (Matthew 28:18-20) This was Jesusí specific command to the apostles. 

There are some who say that baptism is to be only in the name of Jesus because that is what is found in the book of Acts. However, an examination of the four uses of this expression shows that this was not a clear-cut formula. Acts 2:38 uses the expression "in the name of Jesus Christ." Acts 8:16 uses the expression "in the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 10:48 uses the expression "in the name of the Lord." Acts 19:5 uses the expression "in the name of the Lord Jesus." In addition, in the Greek, different prepositions are used: upon, into, in, and into. To baptize "in the name of" stresses the ground or the authority by which the act is performed. To baptize "into the name of", which is how the Greek reads in Matthew 28:19, stresses being baptized into communion with. 

Thus the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 is the one to be used. It was given by authority, vs. 18, and was to last until the end of time, vs. 20.


Is there any mention of Infant Baptism in the Bible?

There is no mention of infant baptism in the Bible. Where some may become confused on this is that in Acts11:14; Acts 16:15, and 1 Corinthians 1:16 it is said that entire households were baptized. The assumption is then made that this must necessarily include infants. However, there are several things that preclude this conclusion.

1) "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him," Ezekiel 18:20. Some teach that infants inherit the sins of their parents. This passage denies that. Further, Romans 5:12 teaches that death passed to all men, not sin. Paul says that death was passed to all men because all sinned, that is, they committed the sins themselves. They did not inherit them.

2) "And said, ‘Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,’" Matthew 18:3. If children are born in sin, it is strange indeed for the Lord to say that when one is converted (turning away from sin) he should become like a sinner. Again, children are not born in sin. To say we are to become like them means to be like them in their purity, innocence and willing obedience to the Father.

3) The Bible teaches that baptism is for the remission, or forgiveness, of sins, Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21. A candidate for baptism must be one who believes in Christ, Mark 16:15-16. Infants cannot believe for they cannot understand what one might teach them.

4) A candidate for baptism must be one who repents of their sins, Acts 2:38. Infants cannot repent because they do not understand the concept of sin, or right and wrong. Also, what sin would an infant have committed for which repentance was necessary?

5) A candidate for baptism must confess their faith in Christ, Romans 10:10; Acts 8:37. How could an infant therefore be a candidate for baptism when he cannot talk? When it is said that entire households were baptized the reference is to those present old enough to understand the message presented and to respond appropriately.


Who needs to be baptized?

In Romans 3:23 the Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." In other words, all men are sinners, and therefore in need of salvation. In regard to baptism, one needs to understand that it is the culmination of the salvation process. Becoming a Christian begins with faith, believing that Jesus is the Son of God, John 8:24. Believing this, I make a conscious decision to turn from the life I have been living serving self and Satan to serve God and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is repentance, Acts 2:38; 3:19. I then must be willing to acknowledge my faith in Christ, or confess Him, Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:10. Finally I am baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of my sins, Romans 6:4; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38. The one who needs to be baptized is the one who believes that he/she is a sinner, believes that Jesus is the Son of God, turns from a life of sin (all of the preceding eliminates infants, for they can do none of them), and is willing to be baptized.


How many times can you be baptized?

When one is scripturally baptized, that is, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, one need only be baptized once. There are, in a sense, two laws of pardon in the New Testament. On the one hand there is a law of pardon for the alien sinner. He is to believe in Christ, John 8:24, turn from his sins, Acts 2:38, confess Christ, Matthew 10:32-33, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, Acts 2:38.

There is another law of pardon for the Christian. Since people are not perfect, there will be times when they sin even after becoming a Christian. Just because one becomes a child of God doesn’t mean that Satan will no longer tempt him to sin. That is something a person has to deal with until they die. So what does a Christian do when he or she sins, be baptized again? The Bible tells us in 1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

So, the blood of Christ is just as available to the Christian as to the alien sinner. In Acts 8 we have the record of the gospel being preached in Samaria and people obeying that gospel and becoming Christians. One of those was a man by the name of Simon. He had seen Peter lay his hands on some Christians and thereby impart to them the special gifts of the Holy Spirit. Simon was so impressed by this that he wanted to buy that same ability. Peter denounced him and told him to repent and pray that God would forgive him, Acts 8:22. This is what a Christian is to do when he or she sins, repent, have a change of heart in regard to that action in which they sinned, and pray, asking God to forgive them.

There is no need for one to be baptized again. One’s initial baptism secures forgiveness for past sins and access to the blood of Christ for any future sins. For sins committed after one becomes a Christian he need only repent and pray.


 

What is John’s baptism? Why was it? When was it? Did people need to be baptized again after being baptized by John?

Before answering this question, we need to understand first who John was, or the purpose of his ministry. According to Luke 3:4-6, "As it is written in the book of the words of Esaisas the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." These words are quoted from Isa. 40:3-5 and are a reference to the one who was to come before the Lord and prepare the way for him. That was John’s role, to get the hearts of the people ready for the coming of Christ. Thus, according to Luke 3:3, John preached a "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," that is, they were to repent, turn from their former manner of life, and be baptized, immersed in water, for the forgiveness of their sins. This baptism, as I said, was for the purpose of preparing the way for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world. This baptism remained in effect until the day of Pentecost when the church was established when men would be baptized in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit would be given as a seal of God’s possession. Those people who were baptized prior to the establishment of the church did not need to be re-baptized. There is no record of such, and those who were baptized on the day of Pentecost were said to have been added unto them, Acts 2:41. There are some mentioned in Acts 19:1ff who were baptized with the baptism of John who were re-baptized since they were evidently baptized following the day of Pentecost and knew nothing of the Holy Spirit, which would have been preached after that time, Acts 2:38.


 

Why do so many denominations preach infant baptism and/or sprinkling when there seem to be no scriptures to support it?

The first recorded incident of sprinkling for baptism comes from about 253 AD when a man by the name of Novation was sprinkled because it was thought he was about to die. The first official recognition of sprinkling for baptism by the Catholic Church was in 1311. However, all New Testament instances of baptism refer to immersion, first, by the very definition of the word. The Greek word baptizo means to dip, to plunge, to submerge, to immerse, and in some cases in the Greek was used to mean to drown. In addition, the instances where baptism is mentioned indicate that what would have taken place would have been immersion. This is noted in Matt. 3:6, 16; John 3:23; and Acts 8:38-39. Also, both Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12 refer to baptism as a burial. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that sprinkling or pouring were ever used for baptism. As for baptizing infants, there may be two possible reasons for this. In two instances in book of Acts reference is made to the households of someone being baptized. It is assumed from this that this would include infants. Two things would forbid this. Baptism is for those who can believe, Mark 16:16. How can we know that an infant believes, it can’t talk. Baptism is for those who can, or need to repent. What does an infant need to repent of since it hasn’t committed any sins? If infants had anything of which to repent, why would the Lord say of them, "…Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," Matt. 18:3? These last questions relate to the second reason why infant baptism would be practiced, and that is the mistaken notion that children are born guilty of sin, that is, they inherit the sins of their parents. This doctrine of inherited sin may be based partially upon Rom. 5:12 where the Bible says, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." But we need to understand that it is death that is passed on, not sin. In fact, Ezek. 18:20 says, "The soul that sinneth shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." The Bible nowhere authorizes sprinkling or pouring for baptism, nor approves infant baptism.