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Lesson 6 Who Should Be Baptized


Devotional Reading:   Acts 8:34–38


Memory Verse:           Acts 2:38


Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.




Matthew 3:1, 2. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.


Luke 3:3–8. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5Every 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; 6And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. 7Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.


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


Acts 8:12 But 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 22:16. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.




Matthew 3:1, 2. John had more than baptism to preach, he preached repentance and the kingdom of God.

Luke 3:3. John connected repentance and the remission of sins with baptism. It is not baptism that effects remission but repentance. Baptism testifies to this remission. V7. John did not baptize without question all who came to him. This is a good hint to ministers. V8. John demanded not only professed repentance but evidence that repentance had taken place. He demanded reformation of life. Neither race, blood, nor religious associations entitle on to baptism, but a definite change of character.

Acts 2:41. Those baptized were such as received the word. An intelligent acceptance of the truth precedes baptism.

Acts 8:12. Philip’s converts first believed then were baptized. Both men and women are included, but no mention is made of infants.

Acts 22:16. Baptism is insisted upon as an immediate act; no tarrying is to be permitted. In baptism there is a cleansing from sins, which, however, is ceremonial, but nevertheless important.






1. All people.


A) The commission to baptize reaches to all the world, all nations, to the end of the world. B) Both sexes are included. Circumcision in the Old Testament was for males only, but baptism is for both men and women.


2. The believers.


A) Jesus so taught (see Mark 16:16). Believing is to precede baptism, and baptism without faith is of no avail. B) Those who heard and believed Philip were baptized. There is first an assent to the truth. Philip preached more than baptism, all of which was believed. C) Those who received the word were baptized. This implies more than a passive belief and assent. There is included an active acceptance of the conditions imposed in the message. All unbelievers, disbelievers and rejecters of the message are excluded from baptism.


3. The penitent.


A) John taught repentance with baptism. He required his converts to first repent, and in some instances demanded proof of repentance in amended lives. B) Peter likewise required repentance fist (see Memory Verse). Though these were Jews and professed people of God, repentance was demanded of them to precede baptism.


4. Converted people.


A) Baptism symbolized the death to sin and new life in Christ, therefore it is proper for converted people only. Those who are still sinners are not proper candidates. B) The Samaritans were converted under Philip’s preaching and were baptized. They had not yet received the Holy Ghost. Ordinarily baptism follows conversion and precedes the reception of the Holy Ghost. In two instances—the cases of Paul and of Cornelius—the Holy Ghost was received previous to baptism. In both instances baptism immediately followed.




1. The doctrine stated.


A) The Catholic position. Catholics hold that baptism is a sacrament and necessary to salvation. No unbaptized infant can enter heaven. B) The Protestant position. On the contrary, most Protestants who practice infant baptism hold that the children of Christians are holy and that “of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Therefore they are entitled to baptism.


2. Arguments in its behalf.


A) The Catholics claim no Scriptural ground for the practice, holding church dogma sufficient. The doctrine is consistent with their system. B) Protestants admit that it is not directly taught in the Scriptures but they seek to establish it on the following Scriptural grounds: It takes place of circumcision. This ceremony has ceased, and baptism takes its place. Jesus blessed the children brought to him. We should bring them to him in baptism.


3. Objections to it.


A) Christ said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” This should silence the Catholic position. B) Baptism does not take the place of circumcision. The Jewish Christians baptized and also continued circumcision. They had both. Circumcision typifies conversion, not baptism. There is no proof of the baptism of infants. The jailer’s family all heard the word, believed, and rejoiced. No infants were present. There is no evidence of infants in the other cases. It originated in the apostasy under the idea that baptism is necessary salvation. Protestants have perverted the original meaning of the rite. It is unnecessary. It bestows no spiritual benefit on the child and does not make his later conversion probable. It is positively harmful. The child is led to believe that he is a Christian because he was baptized, so he does not feel the need of conversion. It becomes a substitute for the new birth. It perverts the purpose of baptism. It robs it of its true symbolic character as representing a definite Christian experience.




1. It is not intended to save.


A) It cannot by its nature. It is a ceremony performed by man, whereas salvation is a divine work wrought in the heart by the power of God. B) It is not the new birth, for baptism has no spiritual life to impart. We are born of the Spirit and not of the will of man, which would be the case were baptism the new birth. C) We are saved through the blood of Christ, and not through water baptism.


2. It fails to save.


A) Simon the sorcerer believed and was baptized, but Peter found later that his heart was not right. Possibly his repentance had not been genuine. B) Multitudes today depend on baptism for salvation but they are not saved from sin. Baptism cannot change the heart.


3. Salvation must come first.


A) Repentance and faith precede baptism. These are the conditions for salvation, and when they are met from the heart one is saved though not yet baptized. B) Some were sanctified before baptism. This proves beyond doubt that salvation precedes baptism, for God does not give the Holy Ghost to unsaved people. Since people may be both saved and sanctified before baptism, it is not a saving ordinance. C) Baptism is a burial, so it follows death. Men must first be dead to sin. We do not bury people to kill them but because they are already dead.


4. Its salvation is ceremonial.


A) There is a cleansing in baptism. Baptism is connected with remission of sins by Peter, and Paul is told to wash away his sins. B) Paul was saved, sanctified, and commissioned to preach previous to his baptism. The actual cleansing had taken place. He was not to wash away his sins ceremonially. C) Peter calls it salvation in a figure. It was the ark, not the flood that saved Noah. One may be saved without baptism. The dying thief is an example.