Question: What are baptismal practices of other faith groups?

Question: What are baptismal practices of other faith groups?

            There are two main baptismal practices in churches.  There is infant baptism and believer’s baptism.  Infant baptism is most often practiced by those in the Catholic Church and those who follow a Covenant Theology (although neither would agree on the other’s theology) and the parent makes the decision on behalf of the child.   Believer’s baptism is taught by most other churches who teach that the person must make his own profession of faith and submersion into water is the normal mode.

            Those who teach infant baptism draw upon several concepts for support.  First, because circumcision was the sign of the Abraham Covenant and it identified the boy with the nation of Israel, infant baptism is said to be a continuation of identifying the infant with the family of God.  Also, many use the proximity of circumcision and baptism in the Colossians 2:11-12 as being significant.  James Buswell in his A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion states that infant baptism indicates membership in the covenant, not necessarily personal faith (2:262).
            Secondly, an historical argument states that church fathers supported infant baptism which identifies the child with the church.   However, some in the early church also taught baptismal regeneration (you must be baptized in order to be saved), which is error (heresy).
            Thirdly, there are examples from Scripture where whole households were baptized (Acts 11:14; 16:15, 31; 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:16).  It is argued that infants were included.
Yet there is another view against infant baptism.  Scripture always follows an order of “believe and then be baptized” (Matt. 3:2-6; 28:19; Acts 2:37-38; 16:14-15, 34).  Secondly, baptism is considered an initiation rite of joining the Christian believing community and therefore must be done only with believers. Thirdly, the passages that describe those who were baptized in the households, had believed. This would exclude infants. Fourthly, if the infant were baptized, in the case of one believing parent and one unbelieving parent, then that unbelieving parent would be baptized and that seems to contradict Scriptural intent.
Within the spectrum of those who follow believer’s baptism, there is a divergence of the mode, but most accept immersion into water.  The divergence of the mode consists of whether the baptism should be in a baptistery, lake, or running stream or river.  Some prefer a stream or river, because the water is considered living. 
Immersion is symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Immersion into the water is identification with the death and burial of Jesus.  It recognizes a death to the old way of living as an unbeliever.  Coming out of the water is identification with the resurrection of Jesus to a new resurrection life.  It is recognition and proclamation of walking in newness of life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
There are some denominations and religions who teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.  This is called baptismal regeneration.  Grace sees that baptism is an ordinance and as a public proclamation of faith, but not a requirement for salvation.
Regarding the view of other religious beliefs on baptism, please note the table below.  

Baptisms of Other Religions
It expresses a person’s personal faith in Christ, who died for our sins. By immersion only. Baptisms by other churches are accepted on conditions.
It is not necessary for salvation. By immersion only. Baptisms of other churches accepted if done by immersion. Infants are not baptized. Candidates must first believe.
By pouring, sprinkling or immersion. Baptisms of other churches accepted when performed as Catholic Church prescribes. Necessary for salvation. Infants are baptized.
Baptism is not a physically manifested rite or ritual. Do not immerse, sprinkle or do any outward ordinance. Baptism is the spiritual purification of daily life.
Through the Atonement, Christ the Redeemer and Savior assured redemption, or resurrection, for all. Provides for salvation and exaltation according to our personal worthiness. The baptismal covenant is the first covenant a person makes with God. Members are baptized at the age of 8, the age at which they begin to take accountability for their sins.
Done by immersion, showing one’s obedience. Symbolic of death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Only those old enough to know what they are doing when they confess the name of Christ are baptized.
By immersion for the remission of sins and entrance into church. Essential to salvation must be performed by one holding proper priesthood authority. Required of all 8 years & older. Infants are not baptized.
By immersion or pouring. In an emergency any Christian may baptize saying “in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Ghost”. Necessary to salvation. Infants are baptized.
By immersion, in lake or river, no fonts in Kingdom Hall. Symbolizes being dead to old way of life. Baptism does not cleanse from sin. Infants are not baptized.
By sprinkling, pouring or immersion. Baptisms performed by other churches accepted when all Bible conditions are met. Necessary to salvation except in rare instances. Infants are baptized.
By sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Is only an outward sign of one’s entrance into the church. Baptisms of other churches accepted. Not necessary to salvation. Infants are baptized.
By sprinkling, pouring, or immersion which ever method is preferred by the applicant. Baptisms of other churches accepted. Not necessary for salvation. Infants are baptized.
Do not believe in outward ritual of baptism. The ongoing spiritual process should not be treated as an event. Inward baptism and communion are most important to spiritual life.
Do not baptize. Members are admitted by the following covenant “In the love of truth and spirit of Jesus we unite for the worship of God and the service of man,” or by signing statement of ethical purpose.
Done at time of confirmation and reception into church. Infants presented by parents or sponsor. Usually performed by sprinkling.
            The above chart was obtained from:

Truth: Baptism

Truth: Baptism 

The basic meaning of baptism is “identification.”  The word baptize means to immerse, but the concept means identification.  For example, Homer wrote in B.C. 850, that soldiers would dip or “baptize” their spear tips into a bucket of pig’s blood, which identified the spear with war and death.  When a rag was dipped into a bucket of dye, the rag was baptized or identified by the color of dye.

There are eight different baptisms mentioned in the Bible.  There are five real baptisms and three ritual baptisms.  A real baptism is where there is an actual identification of something with something else and is dry.  A ritual baptism is where water is involved in some manner giving a symbolic identification.

The five real baptisms include the baptisms of Moses; Fire; Cup; Holy Spirit; and Noah. These are actually dry identifications.  In other words, the person who was baptized remained dry.

First, the baptism of Moses is an identification of Israel with Moses and the Red Sea.  Paul writes, “All were baptized into Moses and within the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2) In this case, the nation of Israel went through the Red Sea on dry ground and remained dry.  Who were those who got wet?  The Egyptians were wet and died!

Secondly, the baptism of Fire is an identification of unbelievers with judgment and specifically judgment of unbelievers cast off the earth at the Second Advent. Matthew records, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt. 3:11) The fire is God’s judgment.  Unbelievers will be identified with the judgment of fire. There is no water involved.

Thirdly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the identification of the Church Age believer into the body of Christ.  This is a salvation ministry of the Holy Spirit entering the believer into union with Christ in the body of Christ.  Paul writes, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body– whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free– and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13)  It is what unites all Church Age believers together (Eph. 4:5).  This did not occur in the Old Testament.  It began as one of the mystery truths of the Church Age.  Paul writes,

26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.
27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which1 is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:26-27)

This baptism is what provides equality in God’s family,

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:26-28)

Fourthly, the baptism of the Cup identified Jesus with the cross. Jesus said to his disciples,

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized.  (Mark 10:38-39)

Jesus warned the disciples that they too would be identified with the cross by dying to themselves, although not on the cross Jesus was hung.  In His humanity, Jesus did not desire the cross, but was willing to accept the Father’s will and go to the cross.  He said, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)  God the Father identified with Jesus all the sins of the world and Jesus became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21).

            Fifthly, the baptism of Noah was an identification of Noah’s family with Noah on the Ark.  Peter records for us,

spirits in prison,  20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited1 in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
 21There is also an antitype which now saves us– baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 3:19-21)

Those who were baptized into Noah remained dry on the Ark and those who became wet died.

            There are also three ritual baptisms in which literal water represents something else.  First, there is the baptism of Jesus, in which the water represented the Father’s plan and the baptism symbolized Jesus’ commitment to fulfill God’s plan.  It began the public ministry of Jesus.  Matthew records this baptism,

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He1 saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:13-17)

            Secondly, the baptism of John was identification of John’s converts with the Kingdom of God and the water represented the kingdom.  John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptizeyou with the Holy Spirit and fire.(Matt. 3:11) 

            Thirdly, believer’s baptism is identification of the convert with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  The water represents the Body of Christ and burial of the old self.  Luke records in Acts, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:41)

            Baptism is a one-time event, symbolizing one death and one resurrection to walk in newness of life.  Communion is the other ordinance in the church that is done repeatedly, in order to look back, look at the present and look forward. Communion remembers the death of Christ, encourages fellowship with the saints and declares Christ’s death until He comes.


Question: Why does Acts 8:16 not include Spirit baptism?

Question: Why does Acts 8:16 say that “they had simply been baptized in the name of Jesus” but didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until Peter came and laid hands on them? Does it have to do with the gift of the Holy Spirit just then being given? I have always believed when someone comes to know CHRIST and puts their faith in Him for salvation, that person receives the Holy Spirit at that time?
Great question and thanks for asking.  Let’s get just a little more context.

14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Act 8:14-16)
Is the Holy Spirit received at salvation? Normally yes.  God the Holy Spirit baptizes, regenerates, indwells, gives a spiritual gift(s) and begins the sanctification process at the moment of salvation – faith in Christ.   However, Acts is a book of transition and is descriptive in nature rather than prescriptive (it describes what happened rather than declares what will happen). In this instance, the people received the Word of God and were baptized in the name of Jesus, but they did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Why?

Remember that Jesus in Acts 1:8 told the disciples that they would be “witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”  In Acts 1-7 the gospel was proclaimed in Jerusalem, but it took the persecution against the church to send the gospel scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1-2).  Saul (later Paul) made havoc of the church, but godly men like Philip went down to the city of Samaria preaching Christ (Acts 8:3-5).  Yet, Philip was not one of the disciples directly commissioned by Jesus.

Consider several things.  First, when Peter and John were sent, they took the authority directly given to them by Jesus to Samaria in fulfillment of Acts 1:8 and confirmed Philip’s ministry among the Samaritans. Second, Peter and John would authenticate God’s ministry through them and prevent a schism between the Jews and Samaritans. Consider that when Jesus was returning to Jerusalem and He passed through Samaria, the Samaritans did not receive Him (Luke 9:52-53). So when Peter and John prayed the Samaritans would receive the Holy Spirit, it was far different than when John wanted to call down fire on them (Luke 9:54). And thirdly, Jesus had given the keys of heaven to Peter (Matt. 16:13-20). Peter opened the doors to the Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 2).  Here he opens the door to the Samaritans (Acts 8).  Peter will open the door to the Gentiles with Cornelius in Acts 10.   

There are challenges to the timing of the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 10:44-48, the Holy Spirit came on Gentiles before they were baptized. The text says there also, that they were baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48).   Yet, in Acts 19:5, Paul met some disciples from Ephesus who had been baptized into John’s baptism.  When Paul explained the gospel and when they heard the message, Paul baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 19:5-6).

So why? God wanted to demonstrate that the line of authority came through the Jewish apostles.  But He also wanted everyone to know the Samaritans were equal with the Jews, because of the oneness they have in Jesus (Gal. 3:28).  God didn’t want there to be two “universal” churches.  There had been too many years of conflict between Jews and Samaritans.  All believers were equal in Christ.  Again Acts 8:16 is descriptive and transitional.  It does not prescribe what must happen.

Set Free in Christ to Live for Him

What a great response to our message last Sunday, “You are set free in Christ to live for Him!” I love how God sets us free that we are no longer under law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14), which makes us want to love the Lord with all our heart. It motivates us to want to live for Him rather than for self! It makes us want to press to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, rather than the sinful ways of the world. You are free to please Him, not the requirements of the law. You get to live for Him, not something in the world. And you’ll see that love, by who is getting the attention in your life!

One of the topics in the message was the subject of baptism. Paul wrote that we are “buried with Him in baptism” and we looked briefly at baptisms in Scripture. I mentioned there are real and ritual baptisms. The three ritual baptisms are :
1) the baptism of John (Matt. 3:1-11)
2) the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:13-17)
3) the believer’s baptism (1 Cor. 1:13-17).

A ritual baptism involves immersion and identifies the person with another subject, as in:
1) the kingdom
2) Christ’s public ministry on earth under the Father’s authority
3) identification with Christ’s burial and resurrection unto life, respectively.

By contrast, a real baptism is an actual identification with the object mentioned. For example:
1) the Baptism of Moses (1 Cor. 10:1-2) is Israel’s actual identification with Moses going through the Red Sea
2) the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13) is the actual identification of the believer with the body of Christ
3) the Baptism of Fire (Matt. 3:11) is an actual identification of the unbeliever into Fire at the end of the Tribulation and Great White Throne judgment
4) the Baptism of the Cup (cross) (Mark 10:38-39) is Christ’s actual identification with the cross
5) the Baptism of Noah (1 Pet. 3:18-19) is an actual identification of the seven souls with Noah.

Let’s bring it back to you – you were buried with Christ, so you are free in Christ to live for Him. You are not under the law or requirements, so you are free to pursue with all your life to live in holiness and truth! By the way, Justin’s youth paintball expedition went fantastic! Great charge on the opposing forces! Too bad they nailed you so well! Only minor battle wounds and the old guys still have what it takes to whoop up on the younger soldiers! It was a great day of bonding!