“Baptism … is also now saving you.”—1 Peter 3:21
[From ws 03/20 p.8 May 11 – May 17]
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, is also now saving you (not by the removing of the filth of the flesh, but by the request to God for a good conscience), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
What we do we learn about baptism from this week’s theme scripture.
Jewish ceremonial washings symbolized cleansing from sin but only achieved external cleansings.
Baptism achieves far more than those ceremonial washings; baptism leads to a clean conscience when we exercise faith in the ransom sacrifice. Although the ark in Noah’s day saved 8 lives (verse 20), they did not receive eternal salvation. The resurrection of Christ provides us with eternal salvation.
The purpose of this article is to assist the reader to discern whether or not they are ready for baptism. Let us review the article and see what we can learn from the writer and the scriptures cited.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEDICATION AND BAPTISM
What is dedication?
According to paragraph 4 when making a dedication you approach Jehovah in prayer and tell him you will use your life to serve him forever. Matthew 16:24 is cited as the supporting scripture for this statement.
Matthew 16:24 reads:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and keep following me.”
It is important to note that Jesus did not say that those who are baptized should pick up their torture stake and follow him, he said “Anyone”.
There is also no mention of the apostles being baptized anywhere in the scriptures. Although it is possible that Jesus could have baptized them himself if you consider the instruction he gave to them to baptize people of all the nations recorded in Matthew 28:19,20.
In Matthew 4:18-22 Jesus simply invited the brothers Peter and Andrew and two other brothers, James and John who were all fishermen to follow him. It does not mention that he requested that they get baptized first or dedicate themselves.
The Bible does not mention the requirement to dedicate oneself before baptism.
Even if you would search for the word “dedication” in most translations, you would not find the word in relation to baptism.
Dedication and devotion are usually used interchangeably. For instance, in the New International Version 1 Timothy 5:11 reads:
“As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry.”
In the New Living Translation, the scripture reads:
“The younger widows should not be on the list, because their physical desires will overpower their devotion to Christ and they will want to remarry.”
What is important is dedication or devotion to Christ both before and after we are baptized. The Bible is silent on whether this is a requirement before baptism.
Also consider the example of the Ethiopian Eunuch which we discussed in last week’s review in Acts 8:26-40: https://beroeans.net/2020/05/03/love-and-appreciation-for-jehovah-lead-to-baptism/
“How is dedication related to baptism? Your dedication is personal and private; it is between you and Jehovah. Baptism is public; it takes place in front of others, usually at an assembly or a convention. When you get baptized, you show others that you have already dedicated yourself to Jehovah. * So your baptism lets others know that you love Jehovah your God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and that you are determined to serve him forever.”
The paragraph is correct when it states that dedication is personal and private. However, does baptism have to be public and at an assembly? Is there a requirement to let others know that we love Jehovah through baptism?
In Acts 8: 36 the Eunuch simply exclaims to Phillip: “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” There was no formal event or forum that was required for him to get baptized.
Jesus also provided a much more meaningful measure of how we would see whether someone really worships or loves Jehovah. Luke 6: 43-45
43“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” – the New International Version
A person who truly loves Jehovah and his ways would display the fruitage of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
There is no need to show others we are dedicated to Jehovah except through our conduct. The scripture in 1 Peter 3:21 says that baptism is “the request to God for a good conscience” not a public declaration of our faith.
“Two Questions to Be Answered on the Day of Your Baptism
Have you repented of your sins, dedicated yourself to Jehovah, and accepted his way of salvation through Jesus Christ?
Do you understand that your baptism identifies you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with Jehovah’s organization?”
There is no requirement to answer any of these questions. There is no evidence that any of Christ’s followers in the first century were asked these questions let alone evidence of the existence of Jehovah’s witnesses. Exercising faith in Jesus’ ransom is the only real requirement for one to get baptized and even then no human should have the authority to decide whether or not you can get baptized based on the answer you give them.
Paragraphs 6 and 7 provide plausible reasons as to why baptism is necessary, these are supported by the text in 1 Peter 3:21
Paragraph 8 “Your love for Jehovah must be the primary basis for your decision to get baptized”
This is very important. Your love for Jehovah will help you to stick to Jehovah even after your baptism. Much like the love for a marriage mate will make you stick to them after your wedding day.
Paragraphs 10 – 16 speak about the basics truths that one can learn before making a decision to get baptized such as Jehovah’s name, Jesus and the ransom sacrifice as well as the Holy Spirit.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE BAPTISM
Most of the thoughts in paragraph 17 regarding the steps to be taken before baptism involve one’s personal relationship with Jehovah and are for the most part in line with the scriptures. What is not scriptural is the statement: “You qualified to become an unbaptized publisher and began preaching with the congregation.” As we stated in last week’s review, based on the baptism of the Eunuch, there is no formal qualification process for baptism. In fact, the Eunuch only began to preach after getting baptized. This qualifying criterion is simply there to ensure that all witnesses comply with the directive from the Organisation to preach from door to door even before they get baptized.
The questions asked for qualification for being an unbaptized publisher and for getting baptized are designed to give the elders comfort that you have accepted the Organisation’s doctrine on a few key issues that they consider fundamental to being a Jehovah’s Witness.
Paragraph 20 really summarises what the baptism process is about for the Organization; “As a baptized Christian, you are now part of an ‘association of brothers.’” Yes, in effect what baptism does for you as one of Jehovah’s witnesses is to earn you a place in the Organisation rather than in a personal relationship with Christ.
The article is designed to make witnesses believe that there is a scriptural process to be followed when one gets baptized. There is also the unscriptural notion that baptism is a public declaration to others of your dedication. These teachings are not supported by the scriptures. Since the scriptures are silent on dedication and process leading to baptism, baptism remains a personal decision and no one should impose their own ideas as to when or how it should be done.