A Scriptural View of Baptism


Elder Truman Keel

Water baptism is one of two ordinances given to the Church. When entered into by a scripturally qualified candidate, administered by a scripturally qualified administrator, and a scriptural mode, water baptism is a most beautiful and comforting act of obedience, and. Jesus set the example for us.

(Mat. 3:15) “And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him.”

There are many of the Lord's people in the world that take this ordinance (given to the Church); which is the only Scriptural method by which members are received into the Church; and take the joy out of obedience to it by mistakenly using it as a means of obtaining the remission of their sins (eternal salvation or regeneration): Losing the sweet joy of answering their good conscience toward God, by viewing or using the ordinance as a burden or law, which they must comply with to become a child of God.

Let us endeavor to analyze the entire process of water baptism step by step, viewing water baptism as a means of regeneration. I am convinced by the scriptures, that we have authority to baptize believers only. One is not a qualified candidate if he or she is not a believer.

In (Acts 8:36) the Ethiopian asked the question, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? In (acts 8:37) “And Phillip said, if thou believest thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Phillip was satisfied that he was a qualified candidate as evidenced by him baptizing him. Did you notice, how not being a believer would have hindered him from being baptized? In reference to (Acts 8:37) Phillip said if thou believest thou mayest, not if thou will believe. I am persuaded, that we cannot believe before regeneration. If water baptism were used as a means of regeneration it would not be possible to have a proper candidate until after baptism, who can believe? (Acts 13:48) “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord, and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” Why do not all men believe? (JN 10:26) “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said to you.”


If water baptism is necessary in order to be born of the spirit of God, then we must conclude that you are not born of the spirit of God until the baptism is completed. Brethren, consider what you would be taking down into the water under these conditions. You would be immersing a carnal minded, unregenerated, non-believing sinner for the purpose of them receiving spiritual life. I am persuaded, that one immersed under the conditions will be raised in the same condition they were before immersion. I can find no scripture to support the theory that while this person was under water that they were born of the spirit of God and became a believer. Remember, our example was to baptize them that were believers before they went into the water.


I believe this to be a false doctrine and it has robbed God’s children of the peace that comes with a god conscience toward God.  (I Peter 3:21) The like figure (Ref. V 20) where unto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The word also (in addition to) indicates to me the saving by baptism is in addition to another saving, but all saving is by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The translators were sincere and truthful enough they inserted a parenthesis (explanation) to emphasize that this saving did not put away the filth of the flesh, but was the way to have a good conscience toward God.


Brethren, when one of God’s little ones has been obedient to the gospel call and is baptized scripturally, they have access to a peace beyond understanding.

I would like to borrow a thought from a dear Brother. I don’t think he would object. If I understood correctly, he said, that God is always at peace with His children based upon the finished work of His Son. Read (II Cor. 5:19) “to wit that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;”

I think we are not at peace with God many times, because of our disobedience. I weep for God’s children that enter into baptism with a slavish fear of escaping wrath and missed the great joy and peace that comes with submitting in obedience to His command. I pray these thoughts may be of some spiritual value to the Lord’s people.