Since there is only one God, one Lord, one Spirit, one faith, one hope, and one body, there can be only one symbol (one type of baptism, by immersion) to represent the beginning of a new life and our identification with these great facts of Christianity and our acceptance into the body of Christ, the church. Matthew 3:13-16; Ephesians 4:3-6.
Baptism is an outward sign pointing to an inward spiritual washing, a cleansing from sin by the blood of Christ already experienced by the believer who has accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour. Apart from this relationship with Christ, baptism, like any other rite, is merely a meaningless outward form. The death and burial of the “old man,” as well as the resurrection of the “new man” with Christ, for a new life in Him, are represented by this ordinance. Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-9; Colossians 2:12, 13; 1 Peter 3:21; Ephesians 4:22-24.
Baptism is a covenant with God, by which the candidate declares publicly that he has renounced the world and has decided to become a subject of the kingdom of Christ. Ephesians 2:19; Colossians 3:1-3; Hebrews 8:10-12. As the believing and repentant sinner is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, he shows that he accepted the call out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. His sins have been forgiven. He has put on Christ, he has placed himself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and he is ready to be united with Christ’s visible church on earth. Therefore, baptism is the sign of entrance into Christ’s spiritual kingdom. Matthew 28:19, 20; Colossians 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9; 3:21; 1 John 1:9; Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:47.
The Bible does not teach infant baptism. Only those who have reached the age of accountability can be baptized, provided the following conditions have been fulfilled: faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour (Mark 16:16; Romans 10:13, 14; Acts 8:12, 36-37; 18:8); thorough instruction in the truth (Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 8:35); repentance (Acts 2:38); conversion—a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21).
“Baptism is a most sacred and important ordinance, and there should be a thorough understanding as to its meaning. It means repentance for sin, and the entrance upon a new life in Christ Jesus. There should be no undue haste to receive the ordinance.”—Vol. 6, Testimonies for the Church, p. 93.
After the approval of the church, the act of baptism is performed by an ordained and authorized worker of the gospel. Mark 3:14.
Baptism (Greek baptizein, to dip or immerse) is by immersion in water, preferably in a running stream or clear lake. Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:38, 39; John 3:23.
“Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He has made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Before man can find a home in the church, before passing the threshold of God’s spiritual kingdom, he is to receive the impress of the divine name, ‘The Lord our Righteousness.’ Jeremiah 23:6. Baptism is a most solemn renunciation of the world. Those who are baptized in the threefold name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, at the very entrance of their Christian life declare publicly that they have forsaken the service of Satan and have become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 91.
“It is the grace of Christ that gives life to the soul. Apart from Christ, baptism, like any other service, is a worthless form. ‘He that believeth not the Son shall not see life.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 181.
Test of Discipleship
“None can depend upon their profession of faith as proof that they have a saving connection with Christ. We are not only to say, ‘I believe,’ but to practice the truth. It is by conformity to the will of God in our words, our deportment, our character, that we prove our connection with Him.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 92.
“It should be understood whether [the candidates] are simply taking the name of Seventh-day Adventists, or whether they are taking their stand on the Lord’s side, to come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. Before baptism there should be a thorough inquiry as to the experience of the candidates. Let this inquiry be made, not in a cold and distant way, but kindly, tenderly, pointing the new converts to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Bring the requirements of the gospel to bear upon the candidates for baptism.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 96-97.
“There is not enough careful, prayerful, painstaking investigation in accepting members into the church. . . . There is one thing that we have no right to do, and that is to judge another man’s heart or impugn his motives. But when a person presents himself as a candidate for church membership, we are to examine the fruit of his life, and leave the responsibility of his motive with himself. But great care should be exercised in accepting members into the church; for Satan has his specious devices through which he purposes to crowd false brethren into the church, through whom he can work more successfully to weaken the cause of God.”—Review and Herald, January 10, 1893.
Although baptism is generally performed only once, a person should be rebaptized upon repentance if he has broken his covenant with God through apostasy. There is also an example of rebaptism for other reasons than apostasy. When Paul found some disciples in Ephesus, they already believed the truth and were already baptized with a correct baptism and in the right manner. But when they received a clearer knowledge of the truth, they were rebaptized. Acts 19:1-5. Honest souls when come to the knowledge of present truth will recognize the need to go through the door to enter Christ’s spiritual kingdom.
“Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to His spiritual kingdom.” —Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 91.
“The honest seeker after truth will not plead ignorance of the law as an excuse for transgression. Light was within his reach. God’s word is plain, and Christ has bidden him search the Scriptures. He reveres God’s law as holy, just, and good, and he repents of his transgression. By faith he pleads the atoning blood of Christ, and grasps the promise of pardon. His former baptism does not satisfy him now. He has seen himself a sinner, condemned by the law of God. He has experienced anew a death to sin, and he desires again to be buried with Christ by baptism, that he may rise to walk in newness of life. Such a course is in harmony with the example of Paul in baptizing the Jewish converts. That incident was recorded by the Holy Spirit as an instructive lesson for the church.” —Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 133.
“If you have lost your Christlikeness, my brethren and sisters, you can never, never come into communion with God again until you are reconverted and rebaptized. You want to repent and to be rebaptized, and to come into the love and communion and harmony of Christ.”—Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, p. 366.
“I speak to our leading brethren, to our ministers, and especially to our physicians. Just as long as you allow pride to dwell in your hearts, so long will you lack power in your work. For years a wrong spirit has been cherished, a spirit of pride, a desire for preeminence. In this Satan is served, and God is dishonored. The Lord calls for a decided reformation. And when a soul is truly reconverted, let him be rebaptized. Let him renew his covenant with God, and God will renew His covenant with him.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 262.