Believers Baptism

SERMON TOPIC: Believers Baptism

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 17 December 2023

Topic Groups: BAPTISM

Sermon synopsis: Baptism is a symbol of new life. It’s like an initiation rite. It’s a moment in time when a believer in Jesus chooses to publicly declare their allegiance to Jesus and their intention to serve him and follow him for the rest of their lives.

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1) Baptism into the body of Christ


Holy Spirit


A repentant sinner


Body of Christ

The doctrine of baptisms is one of the six foundation doctrines listed in Hebrews 6:1-2. There are 3 main baptisms for the Christian.

2) Baptism in water

A believer

A believer


3) Baptism in the Holy Spirit


A believer

Holy Spirit



If there are many baptisms, why in Ephesians 4:5 does Paul speak of “one baptism”?

Eph 4:4-6 (NIV) There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

Because there is one saving baptism - baptism into the body of Christ. The context of Eph 4:4-6 is about the body of Christ (the church) and hence it refers to the one saving baptism (i.e. one baptism by the one Spirit into the one body).


DEFINITION: At the time of salvation, the REPENTANT SINNER is baptized by THE HOLY SPIRIT into THE BODY OF CHRIST.

Gal 3:26-27 (NIV) You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

This baptism is a baptism into Christ’s death – baptism in water is an outward symbol of this:

Rom 6:3 (NIV) Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?


The Spirit baptizes us into Christ’s body:

1 Cor 12:12-13 (NIV) The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free...

Remember the body of Christ is the church (not a building, but all believers globally).

Col 1:18 (NIV) And he is the head of the body, the church... (cf. Col 1:24)

So at conversion, the Holy Spirit supernaturally places us into Christ’s body – the global church.



Baptism is a symbol of new life. It’s like an initiation rite. It’s a moment in time when a believer in Jesus chooses to publicly declare their allegiance to Jesus and their intention to serve him and follow him for the rest of their lives.





Of the seven sacraments practiced by the Papal church, Protestants only retained the two which were Biblical - the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.

These are the two signs of the New Covenant

As the Lord’s Supper may not be given to unbelievers (1 Cor 11:28), neither should Baptism.


After belief in the gospel and repentance, a BELIEVER is baptized by another BELIEVER in WATER.

By the 2nd century we hear the first reports of infant baptism. At this time, Tertullian opposed the practice.

Baptismal regeneration is the idea that water baptism is essential for salvation and it was one of the earliest heresies to enter the church.

From the idea that baptism was necessary for salvation, came the practice of baptizing children, just in case they died in infancy.

Jesus instructed us to baptize disciples, not babies

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit... (Matt 28:19, NIV)


Jesus instructed us to baptize believers:

Mark 16:16 (NIV) “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved …”

So the Biblical precedent is to baptize believers or disciples. As babies do not yet have the capacity to believe or even understand the concept of salvation, we do not baptize infants.

Even with John’s baptism (which is not the same as Christian baptism) – repentance came first and then baptism. John would not baptize those who did not demonstrate repentance already:

Matt 3:7-8 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”


The NT teaches ‘believers' baptism’ with repentance as a prerequisite, which infants are incapable of doing. On the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:38 (NIV) Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized…”

When Paul was in Corinth “many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8, NIV)

The disciples of John the Baptist that Paul encountered at Ephesus, already believed (Acts 19:2) and then were baptized (Acts 19:5).

In Samaria “when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:12, NIV)


Acts 8:35-36 (NKJV) Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”


Acts 8:37 (NKJV) Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” *

So when the Ethiopian Eunuch asked what could prevent him from being baptized, we see that belief in Jesus was a prerequisite.

* Verse 37 is left out in many versions because it is absent from many of the oldest Greek manuscripts e.g. Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Vaticanus. But many church fathers who lived before the oldest Greek copies we have quote the verse including Irenaeus, Cyprian, Pacian and Augustine. It was also included in most of the early English Bibles (Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, the Great Bible, Bishop's Bible and Geneva Bible. It is found in the Vulgate and in many Old Latin manuscripts (l, m, e, r, ar, ph, and gig). It is found in the Greek Codex E (8th century) and several Greek manuscripts (36, 88, 97, 103, 104, 242, 257, 307, 322, 323, 385, 429, 453, 464, 467, 610, 629, 630, 913, 945, 1522, 1678, 1739, 1765, 1877, 1891, and others).” Codex Laudianus (Uncial 08 [Ea]), c. 534-550 AD, is the oldest manuscript of the book of Acts that has been found which contains Acts 8:37.


Acts 8:38 (NKJV) So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.


Warren Paynter writes in “First Principles 03 - The doctrine of baptisms”:

One of the arguments used by the advocates of paedo- baptism is the fact that there are several passages in the book of Acts where we read of a whole household being baptized. Apart from the fact that there are households where there are no small children or infants, it is clear from these Scriptures that baptism only followed after faith. *



Cornelius and his household heard the gospel and Peter ends his message with these words, indicating that belief is the criteria for forgiveness:

“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)

Acts 11:18 indicates that they repented:

“So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

Acts 11:14 shows that it was hearing the message of the gospel that would lead to the salvation of his household:

He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

Peter only instructed that Cornelius and his household be baptized after he saw the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As Peter knew that this gift is only given to believers, he realized that they met the criteria for water baptism:

Acts 10:44-47 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message… For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

The Philippian jailer and his household had the gospel proclaimed to them.

Acts 16:29-32 The jailer … asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.


He and his household believed first and then were baptized. Note that “he and his whole family” had first “come to believe in God”.

Acts 16:33-34 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God - he and his whole family.

Lydia first responded to the gospel before she was baptized:

Acts 16:14-15 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia … The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” …

The case of Crispus shows that believing precedes baptism:

Acts 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.





In the NT Greek, there are different words for immersion, pouring and sprinkling. ‘Baptizo’ is never translated as ‘sprinkle’ or ‘pour’, but as ‘baptize’, ‘dip’ or ‘wash’.

Our English word ‘baptize’ is transliterated (via Latin and Old French) from the Greek word ‘baptizo’ and means “immersion”.

In the Bible, only blood was sprinkled (rhantizo); not water.


rhantizo, rhantismos

ekcheo, epicheo, katacheo







Our English word ‘baptize’ is transliterated (via Latin and Old French) from the Greek word ‘baptizo’ and means:

“immersion, submersion and emergence” [Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words]

“to dip, immerse, submerge” [Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon]

Strong’s New Testament Greek Lexicon says of “baptize”:

to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)

to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe


The baptism commanded by Jesus in the making of disciples is an immersion in water. The topic formerly was warmly debated, but in these days there is general scholarly agreement. *

The New Testament descriptions of baptism imply a full bath. *

* “The church of Christ: a biblical ecclesiology for today” (1996)


“New Testament scholars generally agree that the early church baptized by immersion.” *

* “Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament” (1997)


“… modern NT scholars generally concede, regardless of denominational affiliation, that Christian baptism in NT times was by immersion, as it was and still is in Judaism.” *

* Exploring Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period (2002).

In a burial, the whole body is ‘immersed’, not just ‘sprinkled’ with earth.

This is not a good way to bury someone!

Baptism symbolizes death, burial and resurrection. (Rom 6:3-4)

Church history doesn’t determine what we believe; only Scripture does (Sola Scriptura). But church history does help us understand how the early church and their successors understood the Scripture.

Immersion was not only the practice of the apostolic church, but also of the early church. Tertullian, a 2nd to 3rd century North African Christian, writes, “The act of baptism itself belongs to the flesh, because we are immersed in water.” *

* In aqua mergimur. Do Baptismo, cap. 7, pars ii. p. 37. Lipsia, 1839.

Hippolytus of Rome in the early 3rd century speaks in detail of baptism by immersion. Here is an excerpt:

When the person being baptized goes down into the water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say: “Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?” And the person being baptized shall say: “I believe.” Then holding his hand on his head, he shall baptize him once. 1

1 The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus

Archaeologists have shown that this traditional Roman house centered around an open court or atrium was built around the year 200 AD. Around 230 the building was modified to meet the needs of the local Christian community... The most significant change was the modification of a room to become a room to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism. Changes included the addition of a tub along one wall and the decoration of the walls with murals echoing the symbolism of Baptism. *

* http:// faculty/ farberas/ arth/ arth212/ Early_Christian_art.html

Theodore of Antioch (c.350–428), an early Bishop of Mopsuestia (central Asia Minor) wrote in detail of their practice of baptism by immersion:

Believing this we come to him for baptism, because we wish now to share in his death so as to share like him in the resurrection from the dead. So when I am baptized and put my head under the water, I wish to receive the death and burial of Christ our Lord, and I solemnly profess my faith in his resurrection; when I come up from the water, this is a sign that I believe I am already risen... *

* Baptismal Homilies, 3.5, 9, 18, 19, 20 [Catechetical Homilies, 14]; Edward Yarnald, The Awe-Inspiring Rites of Initiation: Baptismal Homilies of the Fourth Century, (Slough, England: St. Paul Press, 1972), 192ff.

The “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles” is a collection of eight treatises possibly from Antioch in Syria, dated from 375 to 380 AD. It describes the meaning of the immersion and rising up out of the water:

This baptism, therefore, is given into the death of Jesus: the water is instead of the burial... the descent into the water the dying together with Christ; the ascent out of the water the rising again with Him. 1

Ambrose (4th C), expounding the baptismal death in Romans 6:3, says, “The death, therefore, is a figurative, not a real bodily death, for when you are immersing you present a likeness of death and burial.” 2

1 Cum enim mergis, mortis suscepis et sepultarae similitudinem. Do Sacramentis, lib. ii. cap.7. 2 “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles”, Book 3, Section 16/17

After the conversion of Constantine resulted in the legalization of the church, large buildings for public worship began to appear. Baptismal fonts were constructed in separate enclosures alongside these churches. *

Cote lists the locations of 65 baptistries in Italy alone, giving the approximate dates of construction (from the 4th through the 14th centuries) and the shapes of the fonts … Regardless of other differences, all 65 were constructed for baptism by immersion. *

In the late 6th century, although infant baptism was also being practiced, it was still by immersion and not sprinkling. *

* http:// archive/ 1981/ March/ baptism-in-the-early-church * Gregory, bishop of Rome writes in 591, “Now we, in immersing thrice, signify the sacraments of the three days’ sepulture; so that, when the infant is a third time lifted out of the water, the resurrection after a space of three days may be expressed… neither so is there any objection to immersing the person to be baptized in the water once…” [Book I, Epistle XLIII]

Lanfranc (11th century) * and Bernard Of Clairvaux (the most prominent cleric in 12th century France) refer to baptism by immersion. **

* “Being made conformable unto his death in baptism, for as Christ lay for three days in the sepulchre, so let there be a trine immersion in baptism.” [Sic in baptismate trina sit] ** “Baptism is the first of all the sacraments, in which we are planted together in the likeness of his (Christ’s) death. Hence trine immersion represents the three days we are about to celebrate.” [Trina mersio]

The first recorded departures from the practice of immersion in baptism were in special cases only i.e. due to deathbed or sickbed baptisms, or scarcity of water.

In the 13th century, the renowned Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas noted that baptism by immersion was more common than sprinkling.

However it was not until AD 1311 that the Council of Ravenna seems to give sprinkling preference over immersion.


The Bible only indicates single immersion, but the practice of triple immersion started early. It is still practiced today by the Eastern church. Some of the arguments used for triple immersion include:

It is mentioned as being their practice by Hippolytus of Rome (3rd C), Theodore (4th-5th C), Peter Chrysologus (4th-5th C), Jerome (5th C), Leo the Great (5th C), Gregory I (6th C) and Bernard Of Clairvaux (12th C).

Three is the number of the Trinity. Jesus instructed us to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. And so they immerse three times – once for each member of the Trinity.

Baptism signifies burial - and the number three represents the number of days Jesus was in the tomb.


In the 4th and 5th centuries Christians often delayed their baptisms until late in life. This was because of the prevalent idea that mortal sins committed after baptism were sins against the Holy Spirit and hence unforgivable.

But the Bible teaches that you can be baptized immediately after salvation.

After praying for Paul shortly after his conversion, Ananias says to him, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” [Acts 9:16, cf. Acts 9:18]

Warren Paynter writes of the examples of baptism recorded in the book of Acts:

We notice that there was no question of a long probationary period, during which the convert was to prove himself. Baptism followed immediately after the candidate made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of the converts in the early church were raw Gentile heathens who worshipped all manner of idols but, once they had expressed faith in Christ, they were enjoined to follow the Lord through the waters of baptism. *



Water baptism doesn’t save you.

Baptism in water does not wash our sins away. It is an outward confession of faith from those who are already saved. It expresses what has already happened inside when we believed the gospel, repented and were then baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.

If there is water baptism without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sin. There is simply a transformation from a dry sinner to a wet sinner.



Baptism in water may take place without regeneration (as in the case of Simon the Sorcerer).

Regeneration make take place without the baptism in water (for the thief on the cross was not baptized at all, and Cornelius was baptized after both regeneration and the baptism in the Holy Spirit).


So if baptism is not critical for salvation, why then should we be baptized?

Firstly, it is a command from the Lord (Matt 28:19-20).

Anyone who has experienced God’s grace in salvation, should automatically respond with a desire to obey his commands. Thus, every true believer should naturally want to be baptized. So while baptism is not necessary for salvation, their experience would be questionable if a person claiming to believe refused to be baptized.

We are baptized to follow the precedent set by Jesus. Not being sinful, Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, but nevertheless he chose to both identify with sinful men and to set us an example.

Matt 3:13-15 (NIV) Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

It was the practice of Jesus in his ministry:

John 3:22 (NIV) After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. [cf. John 3:26, John 4:1-2]

It was the practice of the early church. The accounts of repentance and salvation in the book of Acts are always followed by baptism in water. E.g. on the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:41 (NIV) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Baptism is a powerful external symbol of at least 6 spiritual things:

Baptism symbolizes death, burial and resurrection.

Rom 6:3-4 (NIV) Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

1) Baptism symbolizes our DEATH TO SIN and the BURIAL OF THE OLD LIFE OF SIN.

2) Coming out of the water symbolizes the RESURRECTION TO A NEW LIFE:

Rom 6:4 (NIV) We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Col 2:12 (NIV) having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Gal 3:26-28 (NIV) You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ…

3) The immersion in water also symbolizes a “CLOTHING OURSELVES WITH CHRIST”

4) Baptism is the SIGN OF THE NEW COVENANT

Any covenant must be signed. In the Old Covenant, circumcision was an outward sign of an inward reality. In the New Covenant baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality.

Col 2:11-13 (NIV) In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins...

5) It is a symbol of CLEANSING FROM SIN

Note what Paul was told by Ananias subsequent to his Damascus Road conversion

Acts 22:16 … Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.


By our baptism we publicly declare our faith that Jesus has made us spiritually clean and that our conscience is now clear before God.

1 Peter 3:20-21 (NIV) who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also - not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.


Rom 10:9-10 (NIV) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Matt 10:32-33 (NIV) “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

AUTHOR: Gavin Paynter

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