|Study 10: Baptism Into
The Vital Importance of Baptism | How Should We Be Baptized? | The Meaning of Baptism | Baptism and Salvation | Digressions (Re-baptism, The Level of Knowledge Required Before Baptism, The Thief On the Cross, A Sample Baptism Service) | Questions
Digression 30: Re-baptism
Some people feel very reticent to be baptized after having already had what they thought was a 'baptism' of some sort, either by sprinkling as a baby, or by full immersion in another church. However, before baptism there must be repentance and proper belief of the true Gospel (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15,16). Baptism is only baptism by reason of these things being in order before the immersion in water. Mt. 28:19,20 associates baptism with first hearing the teachings of Christ explained. A young child is incapable of repenting or understanding the Gospel; in any case, sprinkling is not baptism. A swimmer diving into a swimming pool may be immersed in water, but this is not baptism, because the person is not consciously responding to the true Gospel. The same is true of those who are immersed whilst believing false doctrine; they have been immersed but not baptized.
There is only "one faith", i.e. one set of doctrines which comprises the true Gospel, and therefore only "one baptism" - the baptism which occurs after believing the "one faith". "There is one body (i.e. one true church)...even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God" (Eph. 4:4-6). There are not two hopes, as is believed by those who say that it does not matter whether we believe our reward will be in Heaven or on earth. There is only "one God" - Jesus is therefore not God. It follows that if, when we were baptized, we failed to understand basic doctrines like the Kingdom of God, the nature of God and Jesus, etc., then our first 'baptism' was not valid.
John the baptist immersed people, calling upon them to repent, and teaching them certain things about Jesus (Mark 1:4; Luke 1:77). However, this was insufficient. Acts 19:1-5 records that some whom John had baptized had to be baptized again because of their incomplete grasp of certain doctrine. Like those whom John baptized, we may feel that at our first dipping we did make a genuine repentance and a new start. This may be true, but it does not take away the need to receive the "one (true) baptism" which can only occur after grasping all the elements of the "one faith".