The word “baptism” essentially means “immersion” or “burial” in its Greek connotation. It takes on additional shades of meaning when it is connected with certain personalities or events. The result is several different baptisms in the religious world. 

There are three scriptural baptisms, all revealed in the New Testament: John’s baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and Christian baptism. They are all immersions; the first and third in water. A fourth baptism – “with fire” – will follow at the second coming.  Matt. 3:10

Man has added at least two other “baptisms” with water; neither is in conformity with the truth. One of these is infant “baptism”.  Seldom, if ever, is it really a baptism because it is administered by sprinkling or pouring and not by immersion, which by definition is what baptism is.


The practice of infant baptism is an outgrowth of the theory of “original sin”. We have addressed this thoroughly in another essay, “Age of Accountability”, and have shown the error of this doctrine and practice. It is a baptism for the wrong reason, in the wrong way, at the wrong time and turns God’s plan for baptism on its head: placing baptism before belief.


Another baptism, frequently encountered, is practiced by some of the “faith only” school.  These hold that we are saved when we believe and “accept” Jesus as our Savior.  Baptism is not considered necessary nor does it wash away our sins.  Their position is that baptism follows because of the remission of sins (which they hold took place at the belief stage).  This practice also turns God’s plan on its head, putting the remission of sins ahead of repentance, confession, and baptism.


The question arises: does a person who has been baptized, including by immersion, in either of these two ways, need to be rebaptized when they learn and follow the truth?


The large number of us who are converts from a denomination don’t even give it a second thought, discounting our infant baptism as of no effect.


It is mainly with the second group, those baptized by immersion as adults in a “faith only” sect, where the question really becomes an issue.


There are two ways to look at it – logical and scriptural.  Let’s examine both using as our standard God’s eternal plan which is faith, repentance, confession, and baptism for the remission of sins, resulting in the gift of the Holy Spirit and salvation.


The “faith only” baptism changes the order.  Is this important?  It positively is in God’s natural world.  If we change the order of the human birth sequence from conception through the natural development process to the breaking of water and natural birth, we will have a vastly premature and fatal birth every time.  If the critical lift-off sequence for one of our rocket launches were altered, we would likely have a failed mission if not a catastrophe.  Keep in mind that the “faith only” plan not only has baptism out of place, but also repentance and confession.


In addition to the sequence aberration, baptism under this doctrine is also for the wrong reason.  Can we retroactively assign the correct reason to do it and have it count?  If you took a test in school and put down a certain answer that was wrong, and then years later learned better and went back to the teacher to get your mark changed, do you think it likely that would happen?  Have you ever known it to happen?


Let’s examine the question in the light of the scriptures to see if we can find a chapter and verse answer.


We cite the baptism of John for help.  His was a baptism (immersion) in water.  The time was at the beginning of Christ’s ministry some three years before the church and Christian baptism were established.  He has come to prepare the way for Jesus.


John’s baptism was a baptism “unto repentance” (Matt. 3:11) and upon the “confession of sins” (verse 6).  It seems repentance may have followed baptism as they were commanded to “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (verse 8).  The followers of John were considered disciples of John.  He would, however, teach them to look for the mightier one who would come after him.


Here was baptism in water tantamount physically to the Christian baptism to follow.  But it differed in these ways: it was not for the same reason, the confession was for sins instead of belief in Christ as the son of the living God, repentance may have followed rather than preceded baptism, there was not gift of the Holy Spirit, and those baptized were not added to the Lord’s church.


In a substantial way, John’s baptism was similar to the “faith only” baptism of today.


Did those who were baptized by John have to be rebaptized when they found Jesus and became Christians?


As a lawyer would say, I submit the following evidence: Acts 19:1-5 “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye have believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit.  And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?  And they said, Unto John’s baptism.  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”


Now, we have a chapter and verse answer which sanctions rebaptism under certain circumstances.

 


Does this closely correlate with the “faith only” baptism?  Some may express doubt, but where there is doubt, the intelligent course is the safe course.  Submit to rebaptism if you have any anxiety or lack of confidence in a previous baptism of any kind.