The Scriptural Case for Immersion
The New Testament consistently connects baptism (derived from a Greek. word that means to dip or immerse) with salvation themes. (All scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard (1977) Bible)
- The Bible connects baptism with the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 3:3 - And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
Acts 2:38-39 - And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself."
Acts 22:16 - 'And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'
- The Bible shows that there is a connection between baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38 - And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19:2-3a - and he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." Act And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?"
- The Bible states we are "baptized into Christ".
Romans 6:3 - Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Galatians 3:27 - For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
- Jesus Himself said baptism was to be a part of "making disciples" and promised salvation to those who believed and were baptized.
Matthew 28:19 – "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Mark 16:16 – "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
- The apostle Peter stated plainly that "baptism now saves you" and describes it as an appeal or pledge to God for a good conscience.
1Peter 3:21 - And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
- Inspired Biblical History shows that when people believed the gospel they were baptized. This should never have changed. Here are some of the examples:
Acts 2:41 – So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Acts 8:12 – But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
Acts 8:36, 38 – And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" …And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Acts 16:33 – And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.
Acts 18:8 – And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.
In light of these clear scriptural teachings, we should not be asking "Why immerse?" at all. Rather, the question should be "Why not immerse?"
Most denominations within Christendom don't immerse and the few that do think of it only as a "church ordinance". Others sprinkle infants and call this baptism, even though this was never done in the New Testament. Some of these churches teach – or at least used to teach - that the baptism of babies is for the forgiveness of "original sin". But the baptism of believing and penitent adults "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38) is rarely taught or practiced in today's Christendom.
The idea of immersion having any place at all in our receipt of salvation has had no part in most believers' religious training. As a result, many "believers" find it strange – or even offensive - that anyone would see baptism as a necessary part of salvation.
Why does so much of Christendom neglect this ordinance, commanded by Christ? The short answer is that it is rejected because of religious tradition. In other words, it is neglected for no good reason.
It's still in there!
The story is told (and it may or may not be authentic) of an old country preacher in debate against a college professor from one of the grand denominations of Christendom. The topic was whether or not the Bible taught that being baptized was necessary for salvation. The country preacher contended that it was necessary, whereas this great doctor of theology denied it.
Again and again the college professor would advance eloquent arguments against baptism's place in our receipt of salvation. And by way of rebuttal the country preacher would open his Bible again and again to Acts 2:38-39 and reply "It's still in there!"
I don't think I ever heard whether the audience was won over by the old preachers arguments or not. But it doesn't matter. What matters is that "It's still in there!"
I am by God's grace,
Rich In Christ