Bible Basics (5th edition): A study manual revealing the joy and peace of true Christianity

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“He who believes and is baptized will be saved” MARK 16:16
Baptism is one of the most basic Bible doctrines (see Hebrews 6:2 for example).  True baptism can only occur after a correct grasp of the basic truths which comprise the Gospel.  If you wish to become truly associated with the great hope which the Bible offers through Jesus Christ, then baptism is an absolute necessity.

“Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) in the sense that the promises concerning salvation were made only to Abraham and his seed.  We can only have those promises made to us if we become in the Seed, by being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:22-19).

Jesus therefore clearly commanded His followers:


Baptism – Start of a New Life

Belief of the Gospel alone cannot save us; baptism is not just an optional extra, it is a vital prerequisite for salvation.  Baptism must be followed by a lifetime of continued obedience to God’s Word.  Jesus emphasized this:  “Most assuredly, I say unto you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

“Born of water” refers to baptism:  after this, one must be born again of the spirit.  This is an ongoing process “Being born again….through the word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).  Thus it is through our continued response to God’s spirit word that we become born of the spirit.

Baptized Into Christ

We are “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:27), into His name (Acts 19:5; 18:16; Matthew 28:19).  Note that we are baptized into Christ – not into any church or any human organization.  Without baptism we are not “in Christ”, and therefore not covered by His saving word (Acts 4:12).

True Belief Compels Baptism

The book of Acts of the Apostles shows the vital importance of baptism and emphasizes how immediately people were baptized after accepting the Gospel (e.g. Acts 8:12, 36-39; 9:18; 10:47; 16:15).  This emphasis is understandable once it is appreciated that without baptism our learning of the Gospel is in vain.

The prison keeper at Philippi was suddenly plunged into the crisis of his life by a massive earthquake which completely broke up his high security prison.  The prisoners had ample opportunity to escape – something which would have cost him his life.  His faith in the Gospel then became real, so much so that “the same hour of the night….immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33).  Many a hesitant candidate for baptism can take true inspiration from that man.  That he could make such an act of faith in the middle of huge immediate problems is proof enough that he already had a detailed knowledge of the Gospel, seeing that such real faith only comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17 cp. Acts 17:11).

Acts 8:26-40 records how an Ethiopian official was studying his Bible whilst riding in a chariot through the desert.  He met Philip, who extensively explained the Gospel to him, including the requirement of baptism.  Humanly speaking, it must have seemed impossible to obey the command to be baptized in that waterless desert.  Yet God would not give a command which He knows some people cannot obey.  “As they went down the road, they came to some water”, i.e. an oasis, where baptism was possible (Acts 8:36).

The apostle Paul received a dramatic vision from Christ which so pricked his conscience that as soon as possible he “arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).  Paul later talked about his life after baptism like this:  “I press toward the goal for the prize….” (Philippians 3:7,8,13,14).  This is the language of an athlete straining forward to break the finishing tape.  Such concentration of mental and physical endeavour should characterize our lives after baptism.  Baptism is the beginning of a race toward the Kingdom of God; it is not just a token of having changed churches and beliefs, nor is it a passive entrance into a relaxed life of easy-going adherence to a few vaguely stated Christian principles.  Baptism associates us in an ongoing sense with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-5).

As was true for Paul, so it is for all who have been properly baptized; baptism is a decision which one will never regret.  All our lives we will be aware that we made the correct choice.  Of few human decisions can we ever be so certain.  The question has to be seriously answered: “Why should I not be baptized?”

How Should We Be Baptized?

There is a widely held view that baptism can be performed, especially on babies, by sprinkling water on their foreheads (i.e. ‘christening’).  This is in stark contrast to the Biblical requirement for baptism.

The Greek word ‘baptizo’, which is translated ‘baptize’ in the English Bible, does not mean to sprinkle; it means to completely wash and immerse in a liquid.  This word is used in classical Greek concerning ships sinking and being ‘baptized’ (i.e. submerged) in water.  It is also used with reference to a piece of cloth being dyed from one colour to another by ‘baptizing’, or dipping it into a dye.  To change the colour of the cloth, it is evident that it had to be fully immersed under the liquid, rather than have the dye sprinkled upon it.  That immersion is indeed the correct form of baptism is borne out by the following verses:




There are several Old Testament indications that acceptable approach to God was through some form of washing (Priests:  Leviticus 8:6; Exodus 40:32;  Israelites:  Deuteronomy 23:11;  Naaman a Gentile: 2 Kings 5:9-14).

So baptism refers to a complete dipping in water after first understanding the basic message of the Gospel.

The Meaning of Baptism

One of the reasons for baptism by immersion is that going under the water symbolizes our going into the grave – associating us with the death of Christ, and indicating our ‘death’ to our previous life of sin and ignorance.  Coming up out of the water connects us with the resurrection of Christ, relating us to the hope of resurrection to eternal life at His return, as well as to living a new life now, spiritually triumphant over sin on account of Christ’s victory achieved by his death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).

Because salvation has been made possible only through Christ’s death and resurrection, it is vital that we associate ourselves with these things if we are to be saved.  The symbolic dying and resurrecting with Christ, which baptism gives, is the only way to do this.  Sprinkling does not fulfil this symbol.

New Way of Life

At baptism, “our old man (way of life) is crucified” along with Christ on the cross (Romans 6:6); God “made us alive together with Christ” at baptism (Ephesians 2:5).  However, we still have human nature after baptism, and the fleshly way of life will keep raising its head.  The ‘crucifixion’ of our flesh is therefore an ongoing process which only begins at baptism, hence Jesus told the believer to take up his cross each day and follow Him, as it were, in the procession towards Calvary (Luke 9:23; 14:27).  Whilst a life of true crucifixion with Christ is not easy, there is unspeakable consolation and joy through being also united with Christ’s resurrection.

Christ brought about “peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20.  See also Philippians 4:7; John 14:27; 2 Corinthians 1:5).

There is also the freedom which comes from knowing that our natural self is really dead, and therefore Jesus is very actively living with us through our every trial.  The great apostle Paul could speak from much experience of this all down the long eventful years of his life:



Saved By Christ’s Resurrection

Association with Christ’s resurrection to eternal life gives a person access to the same at His return.  It is through sharing in this resurrection, then, that we can finally be saved (1 Peter 3:21).  Jesus stated this in very simple terms:  “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).  Paul likewise:  “We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son….we shall be saved by His life” (resurrection; Romans 5:10).  By associating ourselves with Christ’s death and sufferings in baptism, and our subsequent way of life, we will surely share in His glorious resurrection. (2 Timothy 2:11,12; 2 Corinthians 4:10,11,14; Philippians 3:10,11 compare with Galatians 6:14).

Luke 3:12 records how the “tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, Teacher, what shall we do?”  There is a parallel between desiring baptism and realizing that we must do something concrete in our lives.  The baptism process brings us into the realm of God’s gracious forgiveness and redemption, and into living contact with the real Christ.  There is no way we can be passive to this and do nothing about it.

Baptism is Vital for Salvation

When we are baptized we should try not to continue in sin, seeing we are “dead” to it (Romans 6:2).  This is one of the most basic implications of baptism.  We will realise that the unbaptized world (including those who have not been baptized properly) has no hope and we will try with all our heart to persuade others to be baptized.  Baptism can never be undone; we for evermore live our lives with a sense of responsibility to God (1 Peter 1:17-19).

Carrying Christ’s Name

The wonder of being baptized into Christ means that like the early brethren, we will rejoice to suffer shame for the sake of carrying Christ’s Name (Matthew 10:24,25).  It will be “enough” for us that we know something of our Lord’s sufferings.  The more we reflectively read the Gospels, the more we will know the nature and extent of His sufferings, and the more we will see in our own something of His.

Loving One Another As Ourselves

Paul reasons that we are the body of Christ by baptism; and nobody hates their own body.  He feeds and cares for it.  This not only means that the Lord will likewise care for us (Ephesians 5:29-30).  It means that we now have the basis of self-respect and a healthy love of self (the kind the Lord had in mind when he said we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves).  Because we are to count ourselves as the body of Christ, we no longer need to wallow in the feeling that we are so unworthy, we aren’t worth making the effort with.  And therefore we should truly love our brother.


“One Man In Christ”

By being baptized into Christ, all that is true of him becomes true of us.  We must aspire to be united, because “ye are all one man in Christ” (Galatians 3:28 RV).  We “are all sons of God” (3:26) because of our baptism into the Son of God.  And so Paul goes on to reason that just as Christ was “the heir”, who is “master of all”, “even so we” were kept under the law for a time (Galatians 4:1-3). The basis of our unity is that there is only one Jesus, and by being in Him we are living lives committed to the imitation of that same man.  The unity between baptized believers is enough to witness to the world and arrest their attention – that this is all something true and valid. 

Bible Basics: Contents

Part 1: "The things concerning the Kingdom of God" Study 1: God 1.1  The Existence Of God || 1.2  The Personality Of God || Belief In Practice 1: Knowing God || 1.3  God's Name And Character || Belief In Practice 2: Grace (John Parkes) || Belief In Practice 3: The All Seeing God || Belief In Practice 4: God Is Omnipotent || Belief In Practice 5: Responding To The One God || 1.4     The Angels || Belief In Practice 6: God As Creator || Digression 1: God Manifestation || Digression 2:  Why The Trinity Was Accepted || Study 1: Questions Study 2: The Spirit Of God 2.1  Definition || 2.2  Inspiration || 2.3  Gifts Of The Holy Spirit || 2.4  The Withdrawal Of The Gifts || 2.5  The Bible The Only Authority || Digression 3: Is The Holy Spirit A Person? || Digression 4: The Principle Of Personification || Belief In Practice 7: The Implications Of Inspiration || Study 2: Questions Study 3: The Promises Of God 3.1  Introduction || 3.2  The Promise In Eden || 3.3  The Promise To Noah || 3.4  The Promise To Abraham || 3.5  The Promise To David || Belief In Practice 8: Covenant Relationship With God || Study 3: Questions Study 4: God And Death 4.1  The Nature Of Man || 4.2  The Soul || 4.3  The Spirit || 4.4  Death Is Unconsciousness || 4.5  The Resurrection || 4.6  The Judgment || Belief In Practice 9: Judgment Now || 4.7  The Place Of Reward: Heaven Or Earth?|| 4.8  Responsibility To God || 4.9  Hell || Digression 5: Purgatory || Digression 6: Ghosts And Reincarnation || Digression 7: The 'Rapture' || Belief In Practice 10: The Motivational Power Of Understanding Death || Study 4: Questions Study 5: The Kingdom Of God 5.1  Defining The Kingdom || 5.2  The Kingdom Is Not Now Established || 5.3  The Kingdom Of God In The Past || 5.4  The Kingdom Of God In The Future || 5.5  The Millennium || Digression 8: The Kingdom Of God Now (Graham Bacon) || Belief In Practice 11: What The Kingdom Of God Means Today || Study 5: QuestionsStudy 6: God And Evil 6.1  God And Evil || 6.2  The Devil And Satan || 6.3  Demons || Digression 9: The Implications And Origin Of The Belief In A Personal Satan || Digression 10: Witchcraft || Digression 11: What Happened In Eden? || Digression 12: Lucifer || Belief In Practice 12: Battle For The Mind || Study 6: Questions

Part 2: "The things concerning...the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 8:12) Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus. 7.1  Old Testament Prophecies Of Jesus || 7.2  The Virgin Birth || 7.3  Christ's Place In God's Plan || 7.4  "In the beginning was the word" || Digression 13: Jesus The Son Of God (Michael Gates) || Digression 14: Did Jesus Create The Earth? || Belief In Practice 13: Jesus Didn’t Pre-exist: And So What? || Study 7: Questions Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus 8.1  Introduction || 8.2  Differences Between God And Jesus || 8.3  The Nature Of Jesus || 8.4  The Humanity Of Jesus || 8.5  The Relationship Of God With Jesus || Belief In Practice 14: The Real Christ || Digression 15: How The Real Christ Was Lost || Digression 16: The Divine Side Of Jesus || Study 8: Questions Study 9: The Work Of Jesus 9.1  The Victory Of Jesus || 9.2  The Blood Of Jesus || 9.3  Jesus As Our Representative || 9.4  Jesus And The Law Of Moses || 9.5  The Sabbath || Digression 17 The Crucifix || Digression 18: Was Jesus Born On Dec. 25th? || Belief In Practice 15: The Meaning Of Christ’s Resurrection For Us || Belief In Practice 16: Christ Died For Me- So What Should I Do? || Belief In Practice 17: The Real Cross || Belief In Practice 18: The Inspiration Of The Cross || Study 9: Questions || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus 10.1  The Vital Importance Of Baptism || 10.2  How Should We Be Baptized? || 10.3  The Meaning Of Baptism || 10.4  Baptism And Salvation || Digression 19: Re-baptism || Digression 20 The Thief On The Cross || Belief In Practice 19: The Certainty Of Salvation || Study 10: Questions Study 11: Life In Christ 11.1  Introduction || 11.2  Holiness || 11.2.1  The Use Of Force || 11.2.2  Politics || 11.2.3  Worldly Pleasures || 11.3  Practical Christian Life || 11.3.1  Bible Study || 11.3.2  Prayer || 11.3.3  Preaching || 11.3.4  Ecclesial Life || 11.3.5  The Breaking Of Bread || 11.4  Marriage || 11.5  Fellowship || Study 11: Questions ||