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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, September 10, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).

The New Testament answers all questions on baptism. If you study the New Testament carefully on the subject of baptism all the questions will be quickly answered by Scripture.

I. First, how are we to be baptized?

The Greek word transliterated “baptize” is “baptizo.” It means “immerse,” “put under the water.” Great pedo-baptists agreed, but continued to sprinkle because of inherited Catholic tradition and influence. Although they were Protestants, they retained the sprinkling method of Catholicism.

John Calvin was the father of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches, which practice infant sprinkling. But Calvin said,

“The very word baptizo means to immerse” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1902, pp. 822-824).

Martin Luther was the founder of the Lutheran Church, which practices infant sprinkling. But Luther said,

“Baptize is a Greek word [that is] translated immersion. I would have those who are baptized, wholly dipped in water” (Luther’s Primary Works, Hodder and Stoughton, 1896, p. 347).

However, his followers did not, and still do not, follow the practice of immersion that he favored.

John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist Church, which practices infant sprinkling. But he said,

“The ancient method [was] immersion” (John Wesley, Notes Upon the New Testament, note on Romans 6:4).

But, even though he knew better, Wesley continued the custom of sprinkling babies.

Jesus was immersed, clearly shown in the circumstances of baptism in the English translation,

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).

Christ had to be put under the water to come up out of it, to “fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).

The fact that there had to be “much water” shows they immersed.

“Because there was much water there” (John 3:23).

If they were sprinkling they would not need “much water.”

II. Second, who should be baptized?

1.  No infants were “baptized” either by sprinkling or immersion in the New Testament. Not one.

a.  The Catholics teach that the new birth comes by baptism, but this is not in the Bible. This is why they sprinkle babies.

b.  The pedo-baptizers (infant baptizers) teach that babies are brought into a covenant relation with their parents and the church by baptism, but this is not in the Bible.

2.  In the New Testament no one was baptized until after he was converted. This is a great Baptist distinctive called “believer’s baptism.” Only converted people should be baptized.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).

They had to receive his word in preaching before baptism. This excludes babies.

“And when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).

They had to believe before they were baptized. This excludes babies, who are as yet unable to believe and be converted. Babies are too young to understand the meaning of baptism. In the New Testament, baptism always comes after conversion, never before conversion.  Putting baptism in the place of conversion replaces Jesus Christ with baptism.  Therefore it is an antichrist doctrine.  

III. Third, why are we to be baptized?

1.  Out of a desire to follow the example of Christ.

"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).

"Ye should follow his steps" (I Peter 2:21). 

2.  Out of obedience to Christ, who said to be baptized.

“Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

3.  To be identified as a member of the local church.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).

They were added to the local church at baptism by becoming members of the local church at Jerusalem.

Baptism is the way a converted person becomes a member of the local church. Baptism is the outward sign of the inward work of the Holy Spirit that unites a convert with the local church.

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit”
      (I Corinthians 12:12-13).

Water baptism also is a picture of the inner work of the Spirit in uniting a person with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (under the water – death and burial; out of the water – resurrection).

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Thus baptism is the outward sign of the inward work. It shows (1) the convert’s membership in the local church, and (2) the convert’s union with Christ. Bible baptism shows that the convert is united with Christ in His death and resurrection. Baptism also shows that the convert is united with the local church as a member. This is what baptism means in the New Testament!

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 3:13-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”
(by Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf, 1700-1760;
translated by John Wesley, 1703-1791).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).

I.   How are we to be baptized? Matthew 3:16, 15; John 3:23.

II.  Who should be baptized? Acts 2:41; 8:12.

III. Why are we to be baptized? Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:41;
I Corinthians 12:12-13; Romans 6:3-4.