If baptism is essential, then must erring Christians be rebaptized? Why was Jesus baptized?
Question 1: If Baptism is a requirement for salvation, and you say that a person can lose their salvation, then why don’t they have to be baptized over and over when they sin? It would seem that if you actually lose your salvation then you would need to be baptized again.
Question 2: Why was Jesus baptized? Jesus was perfect, right? So we know he didn’t have to do this for salvation. Please explain.
Being born again is similar to physical birth – a person cannot enter again into the womb and be born a second time. John 3:1-5. God’s command for one who has erred is to repent and confess his sins. For example, review the situation of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. In verse 13 Simon believed and was baptized. However, in verses 18-19, when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands miraculous powers were bestowed, Simon coveted the power that the apostles had and offered them money for that power. Peter’s response was swift and strong: “20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” vv. 20-21. To correct the situation, Peter did not require Simon to be baptized again. Rather he commanded: “22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” V, 22. There can be no question but that Simon had lost his salvation based upon Peter’s description of his condition: “23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” V. 23. Fortunately, Simon made the correct soul-saving response: “24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.” V. 24. In his first general epistle, John wrote, “9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.
You are correct that Jesus did not need to be baptized for the remission of sins. That was the purpose of John’s baptism. Luke 3:3. When Jesus came to be baptized of John, John at first refused, saying that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Matthew 3:13-14. In insisting that John baptize him, Jesus stated the reason for his baptism: “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.” Matthew 3:15. Being baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” involved at least three things. 1) John was God’s messenger sent to Israel to prepare the way for Jesus. It was God’s will that Jews be baptized of John. Jesus had no sins to remit by baptism, but it would have been sin for him to disobey the command. 2) While Jesus had no sin, Isa. 53:12 tells us, “he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many.” G. Campbell Morgan, in his commentary on Matthew 3:15 wrote, “There, in baptism as in incarnation and birth, and finally and for consummation, in the mystery of His Passion, we see the King identifying Himself with the people over whom He is to reign, in the fact of their deepest need, and direst failure.” 3) God was pleased with Jesus’ obedience: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17.
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)