WHO NEEDS TO BE REBAPTIZED?
by R.J. Evans
“And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:3-5).
The above is an example of some at Ephesus who needed to be rebaptized. They had been baptized “into John’s baptism” which was no longer valid. Perhaps, they had been taught and baptized earlier at Ephesus by Apollos, who “knew only the baptism of John,” whom Aquila and Priscilla had taken “aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:25-26). Christ gave the command to be baptized when He gave the Great Commission (Mk. 16:15-16; Matt. 28:18-20). His baptism is the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 that went into effect on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-41). Thus, John’s baptism had become obsolete, and was no longer in force or valid.
There are many people today who strongly object to the inclusion of baptism in God’s plan of salvation. Even if they were “baptized,” they believe it was for some other reason than what the scriptures teach— “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Thus, relying on an unscriptural baptism, when approached about being scripturally baptized, they protest with the affirmation: “I’ve already been baptized; I’m alright!” But one who so steadfastly opposes Bible teaching on baptism could not possibly have been scripturally baptized. It is not possible to be taught wrong, and baptized right. Let us observe some examples of those who need to be rebaptized:
1. Those whose baptism has the wrong authority behind it. Some are baptized by the authority of some man-made denomination. To begin with, Jesus never authorized denominationalism—He taught against it (Matt. 15:13-14; 16:18; Jn. 17:20-26). Thus, Jesus never authorized denominational baptism, even if claimed to be “for the remission of sins.” For example, the Mormon church baptizes “for the remission of sins,” but the authority of Christ is not behind it. Morman baptism has the authority of man behind it—Joseph Smith, its founder. The baptism our Lord has commanded is by His authority—in His name (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 3:17).
2. Those who were sprinkled as infants. Sprinkling is not baptism; baptism (baptizo) is immersion in water—a burial (Jn. 3:23; Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12). Scriptural baptism is for those who are old enough to be held accountable unto God for their sins. Infants have no sins, therefore, they are not the proper candidates for baptism. Scriptural baptism is for penitent believers who can confess by mouth their faith. i.e., penitent sinners who are in need of salvation (Mk. 16:15-16).
3. Those who have made the wrong confession. In as much as Bible baptism is to save us (Mk. 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21), most of the religious world believes they are saved prior to being baptized. Such a confession as— “God for Christ’s sake has pardoned my sins” (or various versions of the unscriptural so-called “sinner’s prayer”) prior to baptism is unauthorized by scripture. The proper confession of faith that precedes baptism is found in the example of the Ethiopian, who told Philip, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And then we have the proper confession when the eunuch said: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). After that, they both went down into the water, Philip baptized him, and the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:38-39).
4. Those who have been baptized for the wrong purpose. When one disavows any connection between baptism and salvation, then what he submits to is not Bible baptism. The idea that one is baptized because he has already been saved (some describe it as an outward sign of an inward feeling) is totally foreign to Bible teaching. We are not baptized becausewe are saved; we are baptized in order to be saved. The “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) of the Bible “saves” (Mk. 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21), is “for remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), or “washes away sins” (Acts 22:16), and puts one “into Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
5. Those who become members of the wrong church. How could one be scripturally baptized into Christ and yet end up in some human, man-made church? Some are baptized today into a denomination as a result of a vote taken by the congregation. The right (scriptural) baptism puts one into the Lord’s body, the church (Acts 2:36-47; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27).
6. Those who wear the wrong name. Those who are baptized by the wrong authority, into the wrong church, invariably begin to wear a man-made, unscriptural religious name or title. Scriptural baptism makes one simply a Christian—a disciple of Christ (Acts 11:26; 26:28)—a name he is honored to wear (Jas. 2:7; 1 Pet. 4:16).
What should one who has been “baptized” with an unscriptural, invalid baptism do? Exactly what those in Acts 19:5 did— “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In other words, the one in this situation should be happy to be baptized again, scripturally, by the right method, for the right reason, by the right authority, and for the right results. Are you one who needs to be rebaptized?