Baptism : Its Meaning and Functions

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Baptism

By

Reshma Soodeen

Caribbean Nazarene College

In partial fulfilment of the requirements for
Course: DT 200 Survey of Theology
Lecturer: Mrs. Donnamie Ali
Date: April 15, 2013

Introduction
Baptism seems to be one of the most controversial points of doctrine and therefore, there are many traditions and teachings regarding the subject. According to Purkiser (1978), the concept of Baptism varies greatly in theological significance as well as mode. In terms of believes, the continuum extends from infant baptism to adult believer’s baptism. Some groups argue that full immersion into the water is necessary during baptism, while others argue that it is not. The idea and significance of Baptism varies tremendously in the different branches of the Christian churches. Baptism is mentioned several times in the bible. In Matthews 3:2-12, John preached to the Jews, that they should repent for their sins in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom. He spoke about Baptism with water as well as baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. The belief is that Baptism accomplishes the washing away of sin. 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…” The Bible also states that, on judgement day, Jesus will judge all who has lived, and separate the saved from the unsaved. The saved will go to eternal life in the Kingdom, while in unsaved will be cursed with eternal punishment. (Matt. 25:31-46). With this in mind, one can see the importance of finding the answer to the question, What can I do to be saved? Romans 3.23 states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This means then that everyone is in need of salvation. According to Acts 4.12, salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. To be saved one must hear the good news of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:14), Believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God (Hebrews 11:6; Acts 8:37; Mark 16:16; John 8:24), Repent of our sins (Luke 13:3), Confess faith in Jesus Christ ( Romans 10:9), be Baptised (Acts 2:37-41; Peter 3:21; John 3:3-5; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-8; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:26-27; Mark 16:15-16 and Ephesians 4:5), remain faithful and carry one’s cross daily (Rev 2:10; Matt 24:13; Luke 9:23). In the most basic terms, baptism can be thought of as a sign and seal of the covenant of grace. It is a symbol which points to the idea of a greater reality. When the church performs baptism, it testifies to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and signifies the sinner’s union with Jesus in all that he did and accomplished on behalf of mankind. Baptism along with the Lord’s supper or communion, is also a seal. In baptism the Lord places his mark upon the baptized. The repentant and professing Christian receives the seal of heaven’s ownership. (Powell 2008). This paper will look at Baptism with water as well as, its meaning and its functions. What is Baptism?

Baptism is the outward sign of accepting Jesus Christ. Although baptism by itself does not save, baptism and salvation goes together. Baptism is something that one does after they have accepted Christ into their lives. There are many questions surrounding the concept of baptism, two of which are: should infants be baptized and should it be full immersion or is sprinkling sufficient? These questions go back to about 400 AD, to a man named Augustine. Augustine came up with the idea of “original sin”, which means that at birth, everyone inherits the sins of Adam, and is therefore separated from God from the beginning of their lives. Parents were obviously and understandably concerned about this, and decided to baptise their children in the event of them dying before accepting Jesus Christ as their saviour. Since full immersion of infants would have been risky, they decided to sprinkle the children with water. Matthew 18:10 indicated that children are...
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