Question: When should one be rebaptized?
Answer: Anyone who has been baptized according to the teachings of the New Testament Scriptures,and who did so out of an obedient heart, does not need to be rebaptized. In fact, there is no such thing as second and third baptisms. One who has scripturally answered the gospel call never needs to be baptized again. Even if the individual sins and leaves the church, if and when they return, they need only repent of their sins and confess them, asking God for forgiveness Acts 8: 13-24. This is exactly what Simon was told to do. Neither does one need to be rebaptized if they were baptized by someone (the one doing the baptizing) who was in error. I have heard of some who claim if one obeyed the gospel under the preaching of someone who was practicing some type of error in worship, then the baptism was invalid. Such is just not the case. The administrator in the act of baptism does not affect the validity of the baptism. The preacher could secretly have an evil heart, and be living a life of hypocrisy, that however would not cause the baptism of the individual to be rejected. If such should be the case, we would have to trace our baptism all the way back to the days of the apostles in an unbroken line in hopes of making sure everyone was baptized by someone who was 100 percent right. That not only is impossible, it isunnecessary. But what about someone who has left the church and gone into some denomination? Do they need to be rebaptized? I don’t believe so. What they need to do is come back to the church, confessing their sins Acts 8: 13-24; 1 John 1:9, and asking God’s forgiveness. There are situations, however, where people who have been “baptized” i.e., (been immersed in water), need to be scripturally baptized. For example people who were sprinkled when they were infants need to be scripturally baptized. Infant baptism is not taught in the Scriptures. Infants cannot comply with the prerequisites of spriptural baptism such as “believing,” “repentance,” and “confession.” They are incapable of doing the things commanded by the Scriptures, hence their so called baptism is not acceptable. (See Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10; Mk.16:16) Infant baptism also flies in the face of our Lord’s teaching about the innocence of little children in Mt. 18:3 and 19:14. Children are not sinners, hence have no sin of which to repent. Another group of people who need to be scripturally baptized are those who say “I was saved, then I was baptized.” The clear indication is that the person thinks baptism has nothing to do with salvation. To them baptism is nothing more than an outward expression of an inward change, that previously took place. The Scriptures teach that one is saved, forgiven, has his sins remitted, and washed away, after baptism not before. Note Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16 and 1 Peter 3:21. This being the case, the individual who feels he was saved before baptism, needs to realize the place of baptism in the Lord’s plan and submit to it. It is also
the conviction of this writer that one who has been baptized into a denomination needs to be rebaptized. One does not become a member of the Lord’s church by accident, but by purposeful action. Paul teaches in I Cor. 12:13 “For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body.” By the teachings of the one Holy Spirit we are all baptized into the “one body” or church. The saved were added to the church in Acts 2:47. When one joins a denomination they do not become members of the Lord’s church. He does not add them to His church. They do not believe they are members of the church of Christ. Just ask them. They will tell you the denomination to which they belong. These people need to be baptized scripturally even though they have already been immersed by someone. Another class of people who need to be rebaptized are those who have not been properly taught and did not know what they were doing when they were baptized. That raises the question “just how much does one have to know in order to be baptized?’To answer,let us look at Acts Chapter 2.Thesepeople were baptized after hearing their first sermon. What did they know? They knew that they were sinners, they had crucified Christ, and when they learned that, they wanted to know what they had to do. Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins v. 38. They gladly received his word and were baptized whereupon the Lord added them to the church. Hence, we conclude, one needs to know he is lost, that he is a sinner, that Christ died for his sins, and in order to be forgiven he must believe in Christ, repent of his sins and be baptized for the remission of sins. As one grows in Christ he will learn many things he did not know when he obeyed the gospel. That has caused some to wonder if they knew enough when they were baptized. As a result some have wanted to be rebaptized for fear that they did not know all they needed to know. In many of these cases, I personally feel that rebaptism is unnecessary. If the candidate understood the things mentioned above, that is all that was necessary. I might add just here that one who finds himself in an unscriptural marriage, does not need to be rebaptized. Being rebaptized will do him no good. He needs to get out of the unscriptural marriage and that will take care of the problem, rebaptism won’t change the marriage status. Finally, I believe that people who were baptized for the wrong purpose need to be rebaptized. The scriptural purpose for baptism is the remission of sins. One should never be baptized in order to get someone to marry them, or just because someone else is being baptized, or just to please ones spouse, friends, or parents. Baptism for such reasons will not result in the forgiveness of sins.
Ronny F. Wade