Re-Baptism: A dialogue

Bob: I like you, but I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

Larry: What’s the problem?

Bob: I think your church is too judgmental!

Larry: Ironically, that is a very judgmental statement, but I’m interested to know why.

Bob: I don’t think that it is right for your church to re-baptize Christians that have been baptized at other churches.

Larry: It has nothing to do with the church that they were baptized in. We simply try to obey the scriptures.

Bob: But they did obey. They were already baptized!

Larry: In Jesus' name?

Bob: No, but…

Larry: Then they didn’t obey Acts 2:38.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins

Peter instructed everyone to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Can you obey this command without being baptized in Jesus' name?

Bob: Well, technically no, but I just don’t think that it really matters.

Larry: You think that you can willfully disobey a command and be saved?

Hebrews 5:9…he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Bob: I just think that it means the same thing regardless of what you say when you baptize them. You don’t have to actually say “Jesus”.

Larry: So are you cool with never praying in Jesus' name? It means the same thing. God knows what you are talking about. Maybe if you are sick, you would prefer that we anoint you with oil and pray but never call the Lord by name?

Bob: That is different. There is power in His name.

Larry: Exactly, there is power to forgive sins!

Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 

Bob: That’s another thing, baptism isn’t for the forgiveness of sins, His blood does that. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.

Larry: His blood would take away the sins of the whole world, but not everybody will be saved. How do you apply the blood?

Bob: I guess it is only applied to those that believe.

Larry: True believers obey. Faith without works is dead. You must obey the command to be baptized if you believe. I’m actually glad that you mentioned Hebrews 9 because it uses examples from the Old Testament to explain the New Covenant. The blood that was mentioned was the blood of sacrifices and pointed to Calvary. Verse 19 tells us how the blood of the sacrifices was applied. It was first mixed with water and then applied by the water!

Bob: So you are saying that Jesus’s blood is applied initially at baptism? That would make baptism necessary for salvation. That would be salvation by works.

Larry: The only one doing the work would be Christ. We simply receive His mercy by the washing of regeneration (rebirth).

Titus 3:55 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

We in obedient faith are baptized. This is symbolic of the burial of Christ. He rose up in new life. We by faith believe that God will bury our old man, forgive us of all sins, and give us a fresh start. It will be a new life in Christ!

Romans 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Jesus said that it was a necessary part of being born again. You must be born of the water.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Bob: You think that Jesus was commanding believers to be baptized?

Larry: Absolutely. I know that some would debate this conclusion, but baptism is certainly the main topic throughout John 3. Jesus makes it even clearer in Mark 16:16.

Mark 16:16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

To be saved you must believe and be baptized. True belief will require you to be baptized. Again, our faith in God’s plan is what makes baptism effective. If we get baptized but don’t really believe, we simply get wet. Without belief we are damned. Baptism should be an act of faith in God and His promise.

1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Bob: Baptism saves us! Wow that is pretty plain.

Larry: Notice that it isn’t because of our works. All we can do is wash our flesh. Baptism brings salvation by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ! Only the Lord can cleanse our souls and give us a good conscience toward God.

Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Let's recap quickly to make sure that you are putting this together. The blood of Jesus remits sins and purges our consciences (Hebrews 9:14). Baptism gives us the answer of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism applies the blood! This is why Peter said to be baptized for the remission or forgiveness of sins.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…

Bob: I always thought that baptism was just a public confession of our faith.

Larry: No, it is much more than that. This is why we see new believers being baptized immediately in the New Testament. As soon as they believed, they were baptized. It didn’t matter if it was in the middle of the desert or literally in the middle of the night, baptism was the first response to the gospel. It could happen individually like the eunuch, in a small group like Cornelius’s household, or in a crowd like the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost. However an individual encountered the gospel, they were expected to respond by being baptized for the forgiveness of all their sins.

Bob: What about people that repent but aren’t baptized?

Larry: Have you considered the testimony of Paul? Jesus shined His light into Paul’s life. He spoke to Paul. Paul believed and obeyed the voice of God. He was a repentant, obedient believer. Yet these were the instructions that He received:

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

His sins were washed away when He finally called on the name of the Lord in baptism.

Bob: Let me make sure that I understand. Baptism is for salvation. Specifically, it is an act of obedient faith to apply Christ’s blood and receive forgiveness of sins. Our sins aren’t forgiven until we call on the name of the Lord in baptism.

Larry: That is a pretty good summary. There is only one name with the power to forgive sins. There is only one name that brings salvation. It is the name of Jesus. This is why every single recorded baptism by the New Testament church was in the name of Jesus. Not Some. Not Most. EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!

Bob: That is pretty convincing evidence, but I still struggle with you telling people that they need to be re-baptized. It still seems judgmental to tell people that they aren’t saved.

Larry: We aren’t being judgmental when we say that the Bible clearly instructs everyone to be baptized in Jesus' name. If you haven’t been, then you need to be.

I don’t think that it is mean spirited or critical to share the light of God that we have received. We are instructed to preach the Word because all people will be judged by it. Shouldn’t our desire always be to please the Lord?

I have no right to change the apostolic pattern. I can’t say that it is okay to ignore Peter’s commandment regarding baptism. Paul warned that anyone preaching any other gospel would be accursed. I can't add to it or take away from it. 

I know that God is rich in mercy. I also know that His judgment is true. He is both fierce and compassionate. I simply place those that choose not to obey in the hands of God. I hope that they will all be saved, but I don’t have the authority to proclaim them saved. The only authority that God has given me is to preach His word.

Bob: I do see the scriptures. Honestly, I would consider being baptized in Jesus’ name, but it seems like it would discredit my first baptism. It was one of the most significant moments in my walk with God. I decided that night that I would live for Christ the rest of my life.

Larry: I agree that night was very important and special.

Bob: But I thought that you believed that baptism had to be in Jesus’ name?

Larry: I do believe that it should always be administered in Jesus’ name. However, that does not mean that I think we should deny the experience that you have had.

There is a great example of re-baptism in Acts 19.

Acts 19:3-5 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.

Paul came across some disciples of John. He acknowledged that they were true believers. Upon finding out that they had been baptized by John but not baptized in Jesus' name, He encouraged them to be re-baptized.

These men had already stepped out and publicly confessed their sins. They had responded to the voice of God even when the religious leaders tried to discourage them. The day John baptized them had been so influential that they were still faithful and believing years later. Paul asked them to continue with that same obedient faith and respond once again as God showed His will to them more perfectly.

I encourage anyone that has been previously baptized to once again in obedient faith step into the water now that God has further revealed His will. Anyone that was baptized without the name of Jesus called over them or did not realize that they were being baptized by faith for the forgiveness of sins, should once again respond to the Lord and receive all that God has for them.

Bob: I see that, but there is one other problem. If you are right then most people I know have been wrong. My grandma was a Godly, Christian woman. She prayed and loved the Lord. She wasn’t baptized in Jesus' name.

Larry: I understand what you are saying. I also have family members that have died without being baptized in Jesus’ name. I would be guilty of judging if I made assurances outside of the Word. I comfort myself in knowing that God’s judgment is always righteous.

In truth, we can only answer for ourselves. The response of others to the message neither justifies nor condemns us. The fate of those that loved the Lord but never heard of Jesus’ name baptism is not in our hands. The Bible does give us clear instructions and warnings about God’s expectations for those that have heard.

James 1:21-25 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

What will you do with what you have heard? You know that everyone is commanded to be baptized in Jesus’ name. You know that biblically the church baptized exclusively in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of sins. Are you ready to obey?

There is no greater honor than calling that holy name and putting on Christ. All of your past failures and mistakes are covered by His perfection.

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

What could possibly stop you?

Bob: There really isn’t anything. I’m ready to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and to start new and fresh completely forgiven of every sin.


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