By Irvin Himmel
`Most denominations teach and administer some kind of an act which they call baptism. In some cases, the truth is set forth about the action of baptism but not about its design. Some do not follow the New Testament regarding either the action or design.
A lot of folks have submitted to denominational baptism (whatever kind or purpose), and it is hard for them to see why they need to be baptized in the name of the Lord. When attempts are made to teach them, a familiar response is, “Well, I am satisfied with my baptism.”
The fact that someone is satisfied with his baptism does not prove that it is right. (Some are satisfied with their condition without anything that is even called “baptism.”) The important question is not, `Am I satisfied?’ The vital question is, ‘Have I satisfied God?’
Sprinkling and Pouring
Some preachers pour a dash of water on a person’s head, or it may be a mere sprinkle, and they call that action baptism. The person who has submitted to sprinkling or pouring may say, “I am satisfied with my baptism.”
God is not satisfied with sprinkling and pouring. How do I know? I know, not because I am playing God or sitting in judgment, but because His word plainly says we are “buried” in baptism (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12). We cannot substitute an action of our own choosing for that which God has prescribed and expect to find approval with Him.
Paul found some men at Ephesus who had been baptized (Acts 19:1-5). They were perfectly satisfied with their baptism until Paul raised some questions. He correctly made them dissatisfied so they would want to obey the Lord. Their problem was not in the kind of action to which they had submitted; they needed teaching on the purpose of baptism.
Paul’s questions brought the admission that these people had been baptized unto John’s baptism. John baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 1:4). He taught the people to believe on the Christ who would come after John. Paul explained the difference between this baptism and that commanded by Jesus (and which is New Testament baptism). The result: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord.”
Some men of the twentieth century would have argued with Paul, “That is not enough difference to amount to anything. I am satisfied with my baptism.” Fortunately, the men at Ephesus did not so reason.
A lot of people think they have been baptized “for the remission of sins” when the fact is that they have not. Some think baptism is essential to salvation but only in the same sense that one must partake of the Lord’s Supper or perform some other duty to please God. They do not understand that sins are washed away by Christ’s blood when one is baptized, and not before baptism.
Some denominations make baptism essential to membership (in that denomination) but deny that it is essential to salvation. This kind of baptism is an institutional act, a denominational baptism, not the baptism taught in the New Testament. One who has submitted to such baptism may be satisfied with it, but where is the scriptural evidence that God is satisfied with it?
The Purpose of Baptism
If one knows that baptism is designed to put him into Jesus Christ in order that he might obtain remission of sins, why would he submit to baptism into a denomination which teaches salvation before and without baptism? Foy E. Wallace, Jr., writing on the purpose of baptism, put it this way: “If one is baptized into the Baptist church, he is not baptized into Christ, because Christ is not in the Baptist church and the Baptist church is not in Christ. If he is in it, one might be baptized into it and get into him; or if it is in him, one might be baptized into him and get into it. But he is not in it, and it is not in him, therefore no one can be baptized into him and get into it, nor be baptized into it and get into him” (,Torch, Nov.-Dec., 1950, p. 28).
New Testament baptism is not designed to put one into a false religion. If one has been baptized into a man-made religion, a denomination, or a cult, he has not been baptized for the purpose taught in the Bible. Baptism is “for (unto) the remission of sins” or to “wash away” sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Remission is found in Christ, not in a denomination, therefore we are “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Furthermore, we are “baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). That one body is the church of Christ, not a denominational body (Col. 1:18). And the body of Christ is not the lumping together of all the denominations!
Have I truly obeyed God in baptism? Is He satisfied with my baptism? One must be taught right on the subject of baptism to be baptized scripturally. Let everyone examine himself by the Bible and make sure of God’s approval.
Truth Magazine, XX:16, p. 10-11
April 16, 1976