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 (Q and A on Biblical Doctrines)
Chapter 9: Water Baptism
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Q1 Who gave the commandment for water baptism?

The commandment for water baptism came from the Lord Jesus. Prior to His ascension, He instructed, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19); “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15–16).

In light of this, the True Jesus Church performs water baptism for whoever accepts the complete gospel of salvation. 

Q2 What effects does it have?

Water baptism brings about the following effects:

• Removal of our sins and giving us a clear conscience before God (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Heb 10:22; 1 Pet 3:21) 

• Spiritual rebirth and newness of life (Jn 3:5; Rom 6:3–4; Tit 3:5)

• Enabling us to put on Christ and to belong to Him (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27)

• Justification before God (Rom 3:24–26; 5:9)

For these reasons, it is directly related to our salvation.

Q3 How does it remove our sins?

The Book of Hebrews says, “And according to the law almost all things are purged with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb 9:22). In the Old Testament, priests used the blood of animals to atone for people’s sins on a regular and on-going basis. This practice foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). Today, the blood of Jesus is present in the water during baptism by the power of the eternal Spirit, making it effective for the removal of sins once for all (Heb 9:12–14; 1 Jn 5:6–8).

Q4 Why is the shedding of blood necessary?

The shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins was always a part of God’s redemptive plan: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev 17:11). His ultimate will was to overcome sin and to redeem sinners through the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb 9:11–28).

As an additional note, because blood signifies life, Christians are not permitted to consume blood or the meat of strangled animals (Acts 15:29; cf. Gen 9:4; Lev 17:12–14).

Q5 Why does it have to be the blood of Jesus?

It must be the blood of Jesus because He alone is holy, sinless and worthy. “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?” (Heb 9:14); “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet 1:18–19).

Q6 What power does His blood have?

The blood of Jesus has the power to:

• bring about the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7).

• cleanse us and make us holy (Heb 13:12; 1 Jn 1:7).

• justify us and save us from God’s wrath (Rom 5:9).

• secure our purchase (Acts 20:28).

• redeem us (Eph 1:7; Rev 5:9).

• free us from the devil’s accusations (Rev 12:10–11).

• bring peace and reconciliation with God (Eph 2:13; Col 1:20–22).

• forge an everlasting covenant between God and ourselves (Mt 26:28; Heb 13:20–21). 

Q7 Jesus shed His blood 2,000 years ago. How can it still be effective today?

The blood of Jesus is still effective because it has enduring power. The writer of Hebrews explains: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). It is present during water baptism through the work of the “eternal Spirit” (Heb 9:14).

Q8 What is the fountain mentioned in Zechariah 13:1?

The prophecy in Zechariah 13:1 states: “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” This fountain was opened up when Jesus was nailed to the cross. His disciple, John, witnessed a soldier piercing His side with a spear, causing a miraculous flow of blood and water (Jn 19:34). Hence, when writing First John, he recorded specifically: “This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 Jn 5:6). 

Today, this fountain is present whenever the True Jesus Church performs water baptism. Through the power and witness of the Holy Spirit, the blood of Jesus is present in the baptismal water for the remission of sins (1 Jn 5:8). 

Q9 What makes water baptism effective for salvation?

The Bible highlights the factors that give water baptism its efficacy: water and the blood of Jesus, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the name of Jesus, and the power of the Lord’s word.

When Jesus was pierced on the cross, both water and blood flowed out from His side (Jn 19:34). This reveals that the two elements are inextricably linked and work together to give water baptism its effect. Pertinently, when we study the Bible’s references relating to water baptism alongside those relating to the blood of Jesus, we come to equate water baptism with the presence and power of Jesus’ blood: 



Water baptism

Blood of Jesus

Forgiveness of sins

Acts 2:38; 22:16

Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:22, 26, 28

Salvation and redemption

Mk 16:16; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21

Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 1:18–19; Rev 5:9

Cleansing and sanctification

Acts 22:16; 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:26; Heb 10:22

Heb 9:14; 13:12; 1 Jn 1:7; Rev 1:5; 7:14


1 Cor 6:11; Tit 3:5–7

Rom 5:9

Reconciliation with God and a clear conscience

Heb 10:22; 1 Pet 3:21

Eph 2:13; Col 1:20; Heb 10:19–22

Revelation of God’s righteousness

Mt 3:15

Rom 3:25

Enabling a person to belong to God/Jesus Christ

Mt 28:19; Rom 6:3; Gal 3:26–29

Acts 20:28; Rev 1:5–6; 5:9–10


Aside from water and the blood of Jesus, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is also at work during baptism: “And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one” (1 Jn 5:8).

In addition, water baptism is effective when it is conducted in the name of Jesus, in accordance with the commandment of the Lord and the teaching of the apostles (Mt 28:19; cf. Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5). This is because the name “Jesus” has the power to save (Acts 4:12).

Finally, water baptism is effective for salvation because it is the word of Jesus (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5). Jesus says, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:63). Therefore, when we perform water baptism in the way prescribed by the Bible, we are assured that it will lead to life and salvation.

Q10 What is the spiritual significance of water baptism?

Water baptism has the following spiritual significance:

It enables us to escape from the power of darkness. The time before Jesus’ resurrection was a time of darkness (Lk 22:53). When He resurrected, He overcame the power of darkness and was able to say, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:18–19). From these words, we understand that Jesus established water baptism as the way to salvation for mankind. It enables us to be transported from darkness into light, and into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Acts 26:18; Col 1:13–14).

It frees us from the Mosaic Law. “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:56–57). Through the shedding of His blood, Jesus paid off our debt of sin and redeemed us from the law (Gal 4:4–5). The outcome is that, when we are washed in His blood through water baptism, we are delivered from the law and its curse (Rom 7:6; Gal 3:13), enabling us to begin a new life under grace (Rom 6:14).

We die, are buried, and are raised up with Jesus. Paul teaches that water baptism signifies the death and burial of our old self with Jesus, and our resurrection with Him to a newness of life (Rom 6:3–4; Col 2:12–13).

Q11 Some Christians argue that we are saved by faith alone and that water baptism has nothing to do with salvation. Are they right?

No, they are not. When the Bible talks about salvation by faith, we need to understand that faith not only entails belief, it also entails a practical expression of that faith—namely obedience to the commandments of the Lord. Hence, elder James reminds us that faith should be accompanied by actions: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (Jas 2:14); “Do you see that faith was working together with [Abraham’s] works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (Jas 2:22).

Importantly, water baptism is the commandment of Jesus (Mk 16:16). Therefore, while faith is certainly important, we also need to follow through practically by obeying Jesus to receive water baptism. If baptism had nothing to do with salvation, He would not have commanded it. 

Q12 Today, there are different beliefs and practices relating to water baptism: some churches do not perform it; others do, but claim that it is not necessary for salvation. Are they right?

No, they are not. Water baptism is the plan of God and an integral part of the gospel of salvation (Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:4–5; 22:16). We must therefore believe that, through baptism, we can attain God’s forgiveness and salvation.

True faith is revealed through obedience to the word of Jesus (Jn 8:31). Sadly, some churches have gone against His teaching by abolishing water baptism. Other churches perform it, but deny its power to save (1 Pet 3:21), remit sins (Acts 2:38) and to bring about spiritual regeneration (Tit 3:5). In effect, they regard baptism as nothing more than a ceremonial rite. Such stances go against the truth of the Bible.

Q13 Some Christians claim that water baptism does not wash away sins, as these are forgiven when a person accepts Christ, or that baptism is merely a testimony before God, man, angels and demons. Are they right? 

No, they are not. The workers in the early church urged people to receive water baptism for the forgiveness of sins. For example, Peter preached, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...” (Acts 2:38), while Ananias told Saul (Paul), “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Nowhere in the Bible does it say that water baptism merely serves as a testimony to others—and certainly not for indicating in retrospect that our sins have been forgiven.

Q14 The Bible describes a criminal who received salvation when he repented on the cross. Does it not prove that water baptism is unnecessary?

Luke 23:39–43 is a unique biblical account of someone repenting at the point of death and receiving salvation through the personal assurance of Jesus. Pertinently, when it happened, Jesus had yet to complete His work of salvation—to die, shed His blood and resurrect—and, therefore, to establish the new covenant, of which water baptism would be a part (Col 2:11–13). Hence, it was only after He resurrected—when He gained all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18)—that He issued the commandment to perform baptism for the remission of sins and for salvation (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16; Lk 24:46–47). His disciples proceeded to do this from the day of Pentecost onwards, once the Holy Spirit had descended to establish the New Testament church (Acts 2:41). In light of this, anyone who denies that water baptism is necessary for salvation is, in effect, going against the teaching of the risen Lord.

Q15 When is it the right time to be baptized?

We can receive water baptism when we have heard and accepted the gospel of salvation, and believe with all our heart that Jesus Christ is God, our Saviour (Acts 8:37). The Bible, for example, records:

• 3,000 people believing and receiving baptism on the day of Pentecost, after hearing Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:41). 

• the Ethiopian eunuch believing and being baptized by Philip on his journey home from Jerusalem (Acts 8:36–38). 

• Lydia and her household being baptized when the “Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14–15). 

• the jailer and his family believing in Jesus and being baptized by Paul and Silas in the middle of the night (Acts 16:25–34).

• the Corinthians being baptized after hearing and believing (Acts 18:8).  

Q16 Should infants be baptized and why?

Yes, they should, for the following reasons:

• They are born with sin and are subject to its outcome, which is death (Rom 5:12, 14). Like adults, they need the salvation of the Lord.

• Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). This truth applies to everyone, without exception.

• Israelites were circumcised on the eighth day after birth in order to enter into a covenant with God—an act that prefigured water baptism (Col 2:11–12). Later, God established a new covenant with His people through the blood of Jesus Christ, which we can now enter into through water baptism. Like circumcision, the new covenant is inclusive of infants.

• Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is open to children: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mk 10:14–15).

• The Israelites would have crossed the Red Sea with their infants—an event that typified water baptism (1 Cor 10:1–2; cf. Ex 10:9; 12:37; 14:21–31). 

• In apostolic times, whole households received water baptism (e.g. Acts 16:15, 34). In the original Greek, the word for “household” is oikos and refers to a couple, their children, and any servants and relatives living in the home.[1]

Q17 Infants are unable to believe in the Lord, so how can they be baptized?

Parents have a duty to ensure both the physical and spiritual well-being of their children. Therefore, as long as they have faith, their infants can be baptized. In fact, the Bible puts great emphasis on parental faith (e.g. the healing of the royal official’s son, Jn 4:46–53; the deliverance of a demon-possessed girl, Mt 15:21–28).

After their children have been baptized, parents should raise them up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). We can learn from the examples of Lois and Eunice who brought up Timothy to have a genuine faith (2 Tim 1:5). “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6).

Q18 Where should water baptism be performed?

The Bible shows us that water baptism should be carried out in natural living water, such as rivers, creeks, streams, lakes and seas. We note, for example, that John baptized Jesus in the River Jordan (Mt 3:13; Mk 1:9). He also performed baptisms in Aenon near Salim “because there was much water there” (Jn 3:23). Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch when “they came to some water” in the desert (Acts 8:36). Nowhere does the Bible indicate that it is acceptable to perform baptism in man-made vessels or bodies of water.

Q19 What is the correct way to baptize?

Aside from the requirement to perform it in natural living water, the correct mode of water baptism also entails:

Full immersion. In the account of Jesus’ baptism, we learn that, “When He had been baptized, [He] came up immediately from the water…” (Mt 3:16). Also, when Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, both of them “went down into the water” (Acts 8:38). Full immersion is important because it signifies our death and burial with Christ (Rom 6:3–4).

Bowing of the head. Paul says that baptism entails our being “united together in the likeness of [Jesus’] death” (Rom 6:5). The Gospel of John describes that likeness as the bowing of the head: “...And bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit” (Jn 19:30). Furthermore,  when we bow our head,  we acknowledge that we are sinners who need God’s mercy and forgiveness (Job 10:15; Ps 40:12; Lk 18:13).

Calling upon the name of Jesus. Jesus told His disciples to baptize people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). The disciples correctly interpreted His meaning by baptizing believers in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5). The Bible states that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). 

Administration by a qualified baptist. The baptist should be an ordained minister of the True Jesus Church who himself has been baptized in the correct manner and has received the Holy Spirit. This could be an elder, deacon or preacher. In this way, we can be sure that he has been sent by the Lord and carries His authority, like the apostles (Jn 20:21–23; Rom 10:15).

Q20 How many times can we be baptized?

We should only be baptized once. This is because Jesus died one time for us: “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb 10:14). However, the baptism we receive must comply with God’s requirements, for there is only “one baptism” that leads to salvation (Eph 4:5).

The importance of the correct water baptism is illustrated clearly in the Bible’s account of the believers in Ephesus. Prior to their meeting with Paul, they had already received John’s baptism for repentance. Nevertheless, Paul took care to re-baptize them in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins (Acts 19:1–5). This indicates that anyone who has not yet received the correct water baptism—one that meets the standard of the gospel—will need to be re-baptized.


© 2012 True Jesus Church.

[1]       Strong’s reference no. G3624.

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