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#9. REBAPTISM: WHEN SHOULD A CHRISTIAN BE RE-BAPTIZED?

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Greek Word Study βαπτίζω baptizo baptize.
Greek Word Study βάπτισμα baptizma baptism.

Introduction 9.1

The purpose of this section is not to condemn those who have not been baptized correctly, for the responsibility here lies with the one who baptizes more than the one who is baptized. Much rather it is to point the way forward to spiritual unity in the body of Christ, by setting out the scriptural reasons for rebaptism. This is a bible study about rebaptism, showing when a Christian should be should be re-baptized. Before we do this, let us define our terms. Those who think that they have been baptized because they have been sprinkled, or had water poured upon them, need to be baptized by the correct method of full immersion. This is a baptism for believers only, baby baptism is not scriptural. Those who have been baptized by the correct method of immersion, but not "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (See #4. Baptism Lord Jesus Christ), have not been baptized correctly according to the teaching given in this study. Rebaptism is then in order for all those who have not been correctly baptized.

#9.1 RE-BAPTIZE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT BEEN CORRECTLY BAPTIZED

#9.11 Rebaptism is Scriptural

Greek - ACTS 19:1-7 - English
ἐγένετο δὲ, ἐν τῷ τὸν ἀπολλῶ εἶναι ἐν κορίνθῳ, παῦλον διελθόντα τὰ ἀνωτερικὰ μέρη ἐλθεῖν εἰς ἔφεσον καὶ εὑρών τινας μαθητάς 1 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,
εἶπέ πρὸς αὐτούς, εἰ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐλάβετε πιστεύσαντες; οἱ δὲ εῖπον πρὸς αὐτόν, ἀλλ οὐδὲ εἰ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἔστιν, ἠκούσαμεν. 2 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there is any Holy Spirit.
εἶπέ τε πρὸς αὐτοὺς, εἰς τί οὖν ἐβαπτίσθητε; οἱ δὲ εἶπον, εἰς τὸ ἰωάννου βάπτισμα. 3 And he said to them, Into what then were you baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism.
εἶπε δὲ παῦλος, ἰωάννης μὲν ἐβάπτισεν βάπτισμα μετανοίας, τῷ λαῷ λέγων εἰς τὸν ἐρχόμενον μετ᾽ αὐτὸν ἵνα πιστεύσωσι τουτ’ ἔστιν, εἰς τὸν χριστὸν ἰησοῦν. 4 Then said Paul, John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
ἀκούσαντες δὲ ἐβαπτίσθησαν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἰησοῦ. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
καὶ ἐπιθέντος αὐτοῖς τοῦ παύλου τὰς χεῖρας, ἦλθε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἐπ᾽ αὐτούς, ἐλάλουν τε γλώσσαις καὶ προεφήτευον. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.
ἦσαν δὲ οἱ πάντες ἄνδρες ὡσεὶ δεκαδύο. 7 And all the men were about twelve.

Note: Here we have twelve men (v7), who were disciples (v1), and who had been baptized by John the Baptist (v3), with a baptism of repentance (v4). Paul delayed nothing to re-baptize them "in (Gr. εἰς) the name of the Lord Jesus." (v5) (See #6. Baptism into name Lord Jesus). Why did he do this? There is no evidence that the process of baptism used by John the Baptist was any different to that used by Jesus or his disciples, but certainly here Paul did not think John's baptism to be sufficient in any way, otherwise he would not have re-baptized them. Two differences that can be noted are:

(1) What the believers understood about baptism when it was performed, and
(2) The words which were actually said during the process.

As far as the first point is concerned, certainly few (if any) fully understand the significance of baptism when they undertake it. It is usually done very early in the Christian life, as one of the first acts of obedience, and as an expression of the individual's faith, long before the spiritual understanding that comes with maturity has been obtained. As far as the second point is concerned, there is no evidence that John the Baptist used the name of Jesus when he baptized, or any other name for that matter, so these converts had to be re-baptized using the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

#9.12 The Words Spoken are Important

Are the words said during the process of water baptism that important? Does it really matter whether we say, "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ", or "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:"? Well, if we meditate upon the following scriptures, we can see how important words are:

(Proverbs 18:7) "A fool's mouth is his destruction,"
(Proverbs 18:21) "Death and life are in the power of the tongue:"
(Matthew 4:4) "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
(Matthew 12:36) "every idle word that men shall speak, they will give account of in the day of judgement."
(Matthew 12:37) "by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Life, death, destruction, justification, and condemnation, will all come to us through the words that we speak. Jesus said that the words he spoke were "spirit and life" (John 6:63), and God attaches so much importance to his words that it is written;

(Psalm 12:6) "The words of Yahweh are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times."
(Psalm 119:140) "Your word is very pure:"
(Psalm 119:160) "Your word is true from the beginning:"
(Proverbs 8:8) "All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverse in them."
(Proverbs 30:5) "Every word of God is pure,"
(John 17:17) "your word is truth."

In fact God is so particular about every word that he has said, "I will not alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." (Psalm 89:34). He has told us not to add to his words (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6), or suffer the end time plagues (Revelation 22:18), nor diminish from them (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32), or lose our salvation (Revelation 22:19; 20:15). Yes, it is important what words are spoken when we are baptized, and one day our work of baptism will be tried by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13), which is the word of God (Jeremiah 23:29). If it is not done right, it will be burned, and we will suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:15).

#9.13 Exact Obedience is Important to God

There are some who may ask, "Is God really so serious about us obeying what he says? will he really judge us if we do not do it exactly as he has said?" Perhaps if we could ask a few people who have disobeyed God in the past we might find the answers:

(1) Adam and Eve were forbidden one simple thing by God, "of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it:" (Genesis 2:17), and they disobeyed (Genesis 3:6). Just eating one piece of forbidden fruit each, brought an unimaginable catastrophe of sin, death, and suffering on all mankind (Romans 5:12). Yes, God will judge us if we disobey.

(2) When Lot and his family escaped from Sodom, they were told, "do not look behind you," (Genesis 19:17), but when Lot's wife looked back, she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Yes, God will judge us if we ignore his instructions.

(3) Nadab an Abihu "offered strange fire before Yahweh, which he did not commanded them. And there went out fire from Yahweh, and devoured them, and they died before Yahweh." (Leviticus 10:1-2). Yes, God will judge us if we do things that he has not commanded us.

(4) Miriam spoke against Moses (Numbers 12:1), made God angry (Numbers 12:9), and became leprous for her sin (Numbers 12:10). Yes, God will judge us when we speak against those who are doing God's will.

(5) God forbade any work to be done on the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:10), and when a man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath, he was put to death by stoning (Numbers 15:32-36). Yes, God will judge us if we disobey his commandments.

(6) Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, spoke against Moses (Numbers 16:1-3), which led to the earth opening up and taking them and all their belongings to "sheol" (Numbers 16:27-33), after which fire consumed another 250 men who offered incense before the Lord (Numbers 16:35). Yes, God will judge us if we speak against those who do his will properly.

(7) When the children of Israel spoke against Moses and Aaron in the desert of Zin, asking for water (Numbers 20:1-5), God commanded Moses, "speak to the rock" (Numbers 20:8), and Moses "smote the rock twice:" (Numbers 20:11). As a punishment for this disobedience, God deprived both Moses and Aaron entrance into the promised land (Numbers 20:12; 20:22-29; Deuteronomy 32:48-52; 34:1-6). Yes, God will judge us if we do not obey his instructions properly.

(8) God instructed Saul to destroy Amalek, all their people, and all their livestock (1 Samuel 15:2-3), but Saul feared the people (1 Samuel 15:24), spared the king, and permitted them to save the best of the livestock to sacrifice unto God (1 Samuel 15:8-9, 15, 21). For this disobedience Saul was rejected from being king (1 Samuel 15:23, 28). Yes, God will judge us when we do not carry out his instructions properly.

(9) When God gave instructions for transporting the ark of the testimony, he instructed it to be carried by the priests (Joshua 3:6; 1 Chronicles 15:2) with staves through the golden rings on the ark (Exodus 25:12-15), and also said, "they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die." (Numbers 4:15). However, when David transported the ark back to Jerusalem, the wrong way, on an ox cart (2 Samuel 6:1-9; 1 Chronicles 13:1-12), Uzzah touched the ark to prevent it from falling, and died for his error (2 Samuel 6:6-7; 1 Chronicles 13:9-10). Yes, God will judge us if we do not do things the way that he has told us to do them.

(10) Ananias and Saphira sold a possession, kept back part of the price, and lied about how much they had sold it for (Acts 5:1-11). They both died instantly. Yes, God will judge us if we try to deceive him or his people.

The God that we serve today is the same God that dispensed all these judgements upon disobedient people, and he has not changed. He is "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning." (James 1:17), and he has said, "I am the LORD, I do not change;" (Malachi 3:6). So what judgement will he now dispense upon those who carry out his instructions improperly? upon those who prefer their established tradition more than the truth of his word, and unity in the body of Christ? The real point is that anyone who knows how to do something right for God, and deliberately does it differently, has a wrong heart and a wrong spirit. Obedience to God will be a pleasure to his true people, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:3).

#9.14 How can we Find the True Church of God?

This is specifically for those who baptize using "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:" (Matthew 28:19), or "the name of Jesus" only, or even "the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38), during water baptism, and who believe themselves to be either the true church of God, or part of it.
Jesus has many "sheep" who are hearing his voice (John 10:27) through his word, and who are looking for the "one fold" (John 10:16), which some may interpret as the true church of God. They are looking for a people who are obedient to the word of God, described as "those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." (Revelation 14:12). There may be some "new born babes in Christ" out there in the world, wandering through the denominational maze of churches, looking for the true church of God, who know only one truth from God's word: that they must be baptized using "the name of the Lord Jesus Christ". How then will they ever find the true church if the true church is not baptizing right? The true church of God owes it to the "other sheep" to signal them in the right direction, by showing obedience to God's word where it can be seen.
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed a prayer to his Father:

(John 17:20-23) "Neither pray I for these (the apostles) alone, but for those also who will believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one; as you Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: ...
... that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one:"

In this he describes a spiritual unity which is perfect. Those who baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" can never be at perfect unity with those who are baptized "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ", because this doctrine has separated churches. Some of the latter sadly regard the former as unsaved, and destined for hell fire. It must be obvious that a wrong baptism, which causes this kind of division in the body of Christ, is not from God. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), nor is he the author of things contrary to the prayer that Jesus prayed, but we should all know who is. Which of us are prepared to stand before Jesus on judgement day and defend a baptism which has caused division in the church, and delayed the answer to his prayer?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you see the truth of all this? If so then please act on it, for the apostle James not only said, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17; 2:20; 2:26), but he also had this to say to those who teach error, and lead God's people into disunity:

(James 3:1) "My brethren, do not be many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."

Jesus had this to say concerning those who knew God's will but did not do it:

(Luke 12:47) "And that servant who knew his lord's will, and did not prepare himself, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes."

All false teachings sow discord.

(Proverbs 6:16-19) "These six things does Yahweh hate: yes, seven are an abomination to him; ... he who sows discord among brethren."

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