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Why We Need Thorough Bible Study Before Baptism — 24 Comments

  1. Hey William, gn

    I would like to respond to the question you posted Why We Need Thorough Bible Study Before Baptism. In a clear and simple tone, No one does not need through bible study before baptism, the thief on the cross-1st example. And finally, the day of Pentecost; the people ash what should we do Peter response repent and believe in the Name of Jesus and thus shall be save

    • Hi Ronald,
      I think this may be a case where "the exception proves the rule."
      Jesus Himself used the example of counting the cost to build a tower to demonstrate that His followers need to understand the cost of following Him. (Luke 14:27-29) We cannot understand the cost without thorough teaching. We cannot agree with what we have never been taught.

      If there is no teaching, what's the point of baptism? I mean, people go under water all the time - they "baptize" themselves, so to speak, but it has no spiritual meaning. ("To baptize" literally means to immerse.)

      Now to your exceptions that prove the rule:
      The thief on the cross had a pretty clear understanding of His sinfulness and and what Christ could do for Him. I understand that he had heard Christ teach but had fallen into worse sin. He repented and asked Christ to remember him when He would come into His kingdom.

      Do you really think that the thousands of people who were baptized at Pentecost had not heard of Jesus before? Do you really think they came with blank minds and just on the basis of Peter's preaching decided to be baptized? What might their backgrounds have been? Did they need to be taught about the Sabbath, Creation and the state of the dead?

      • Dear pastor William & Inge 🙂

        So, I agree 100% with Ronald words because of my own personal experience:

        I was a devout Hindu for almost 36 years of my life and after receiving the Holy Spirit on the 10th of May 2023 (through the joint but individual prayers of 6 Christian people & I had not even having the uttered the name of King Jesus nor even opened The Holy Bible), I married a Muslim lady (having had a Christian upbringing from her granny) on the 2nd of June 2013 & received my first bible as a wedding present from her: A King James Bible. So, I have always hated reading up till that stage (I only read because my engineering bachelors degree had required me to do so 🤣) & this 722-page edition was even more daunting because of the Shakespearean language.

        So, on Wednesday 5th of June 2013, I decided to play a game. I said: "God, I don't know why you have never spoken to me all my life, but I am going to open this book and I want you to show me something." So, I opened the book & pointed with my eyes closed and when I opened my eyes, I was pointing at 1John4:8 KJV : "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

        So in my first verse, I got "God is love."

        So, the next Sunday (9th June 2013), I went to church for the first time with my new wife to Kensington Community Forum (KCF) Church (in Bezuidenhout Valley, Johannesburg, South Africa). We were just on time and the ushers made some place for us at the back left. As we sat down the pastor announced: "Are there any others for a baptism today ?". so, I turn to my new wife and ask her what baptism meant and she tried as best as she could to explain to me what this meant, but it went over my head; but I still put my hand up and got dunked in a pool later that afternoon.

        I love this verse: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.", King Jesus in Matthew 11:25 KJV.

        So, reading the Holy Bible is definitely not a pre-requisite for baptism, nor uttering the name of King Jesus for receiving The Holy Spirit and entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21 KJV).

        P.S. Since then, I have read the Holy Bible (and I am on my 3rd full read using the one year reading plan) & every day it gift to have the opportunity to read it & to converse with Him.

        • Thank you for your testimony, Brendan. I can certainly understand why you think as you do. And I am so happy that God called you and you answered Him.

          What you have shared demonstrates that God meets people where they are and does all in His power to save them - in spite of mistakes made both by the 'evangelists' and those who are 'evangelized.' But, as a general rule, it is better to follow the practice of Jesus who went about ministering to people and teaching them before asking them to follow Him. Remember He said that His followers need to "count the cost." That can't be done without information.

          • So, for those of you who are searching for the "formula" to enter the kingdom of heaven, here it is:

            1. Humble yourself (As King Jesus did in Matthew 3:15 KJV) by full immersion in God's love.
            2. Resist Satan (As King Jesus did in Matthew 4:4,7,10 KJV)
            3. Repent (As called for by King Jesus in Matthew 4:17 KJV). However, note the exceptions stated by King Jesus in Matthew 12:31,32 KJV (your intention counts).
            4. Follow King Jesus' ways (Matthew 4:19 KJV) & help pull others into the kingdom of heaven.

            The key thing to remember, is that God was there before everything else including the universe, the earth & the Holy Bible. He will guide His children through the gift of The Holy Spirit (This is the major thing that Satan and his children can't access (Matthew 13:38,39 KJV).

            Stay the course (Matthew 5:48 KJV) & may the force be with you 😀 🙏

      • Sister Anderson ❤️ gm. Thanks for your timely response to comment I made on this piece Elder Williams posted, so then I would like to reply.
        You see for the things I read in scriptures about the things God instructs man to do. For the most part did the opposite. Mainly because we have mastered the craft of refusing to perform a simple this saith the Lord.

        So let's return to the test Matthew 28:16-20 in fact I'd like to draw your attention to all four gospel writers with the exception John fully embraced the mission statement. (You'll agree that John fully embraced the mission too).

        Look with me if you will. Bible says 1) make disciples 2) baptize 3) teach them. That's simple maths. So when we follow Jesus' examples there's no lacking. However, we often do our own thing and follow our own dictated the end result missing the mark. Let's do what God says

        • Dear Ronald,
          As a student and teacher of language, I dare to point out that a sentence is not "simple math."
          In this case, Jesus said

          19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:19-20

          In this translation, the first thing Jesus asked His disciples to do was to teach. . William used the NKJV which says to "make disciples" instead of "to teach." This should tell us that "to teach" and "to make disciples" mean approximately the same thing. That is, the original word can be translated either way.

          In other words, the main command is to "make disciples," and this cannot be done without teaching. Jesus further says that to "make disciples" involves baptism and teaching. Any way you read it, teaching is the primary focus of the "great commission." Baptism then becomes a public declaration of accepting Christ as Savior according to the teachings of the gospel.

          If, as you suggest, teaching only follows immersion (baptism), then people could just be baptized by going for a swim at a party and learn about what is involved in Christianity some time later. Baptism would essentially be meaningless.

          How much teaching needs to be done before baptism is another subject, and we trust that Spirit-led pastors use their sanctified judgment in the matter.

      • Thank you for your comments. Often we focus on the Sabbath, state of the dead and we never focus and share what Jesus has done for us and the very person we are ministering to don’t hear or see Christ in us. The first teaching and lesson we share with others is kindness, love and compassion a Godly example of Christian living. People will be drawn to Christ through us and God will share his love to people we minister to through us. My personal testimony is I fell in love with Jesus and was baptized when the appeal was made. All the other doctrines of the church was learned later through Sabbath school attendance and seminars. I believe as we pray for the Holy Spirit to bless us to show the love of Christ to others those we serve and live among will be drawn to Christ and baptism and teaching will continue to mature the believer in their faith. The comments are a blessing to me and thank you all.

        • Thank you for your testimony Kevin. My testimony is very similar. I fell in love with God as a child and have always wanted to live not only for Him but With Him. I am sure the Spirit of Prophecy passage I shared implied way more than just knowing doctrine. It also implied like the rest of my article that we need to know what it means to pick up our Cross and follow Jesus. Jesus says that everyone who follows Him must pick up his or her cross. Not everyone needs to be an Adventist to be saved. There will be more Catholics in heaven than Adventists by far! But all will have picked up their cross. Maybe not in the sense that we are thinking, and maybe they did not even thinking of it as picking up a cross. Many will be in heaven who never heard the name of Jesus but responded to the Holy Spirit just know it was right.

    • Good morning Ronald, I am a little confused by some things you have said here. You reference the thief on the cross yet the thief on the cross was never baptized after accepting salvation. Salvation and baptism are two different things. The first study I do with people is on the plan of salvation. As soon as they accept Jesus I know they are saved as we continue studying for baptism. We do not think like those in the dark ages that a child must be baptized right away in order to be saved if it dies. That is not how it works. There will be many people in heaven who were never baptized. Jesus' baptism counts as their baptism.

      Peter told the people to repent and be baptized. Repentance shows your life has been changed and John the Baptist asked the same thing when he was baptizing. Matthew 3:7-12. So there has always been a Biblical screening process, and preparation before baptism.

      Granted I have seen some churches make the process very complicated and I do not believe it needs to be complicated. For example I know of a situation where an Adventist mission group which I will not name came into a city and had meetings but would not baptize anyone if they still drank sodas. That is way too extreme for me. I do not believe the process should be complicated but it should be Biblical.

    • Considering the issue of the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:10-11), I think, candidates of baptism ought to know the nature of that kingdom before they are entering into that kingdom (John 18:36), also the nature of the king (John 18:37), the condition of entering that kingdom by baptism (John 3:3.5), the nature of the candidates of that kingdom (Matthew 11:28-30), as well as the promised heritage, connected with that kingdom (1Peter 1:3-5). The apostle Paul reminds the Ephesian Church that they been instructed in Christ`s teachings bevore they had become church members by baptism (Ephesians 4:20-21). Thus, fundamental instruction bevore baptism belongs to early church praxis, not excluding further instruction after Baptism.

      Winfried Stolpmann

      • To know King Jesus will not get a person into the kingdom of heaven, since even the devil knows King Jesus (Matthew 8:29 KJV).

        You have to be known by Him (Matthew 7:23 KJV).

    • Baptism is immersing a person in the knowledge and understanding of the character mission and purpose of YHVH Yeshua and the Holy Spirit. The believers who have accepted and internalized this knowledge have allowed it to shape their thoughts and actions. Thus, having the mind of the Yeshua will receive the holy spirit and be acceptable to YHVH.

  2. Interesting when we speak of counting the costs of discipleship/teaching people all God has commanded... as Adventists, we're usually referring to sabbath keeping, dietary laws. MOST interesting because those are the VERY TWO things the Bible mentions the kingdom of God is NOT made of...?

    Instead. Why not "teach" them how to develop a love for Jesus that compels them to follow Him as much as the disciples and early church believers sacrificially, fearlessly did?

    That being said. While there is need in teaching before baptism, there is even MORE VALUE in teaching afterward. Sadly that is where we fall short, time and time again. We say baptism isn't the goal, but the records don't reflect that.

    • Elle I totally agree with you and that is one of the reasons why I developed the In Light of the Cross study guides, as a way to help people see God as someone who wants an amazing relationship instead of someone who just has amazing facts. I also use Pastor Sandes group study guides which teach us how to build a relationship with God. Also in studying with people for baptism I ask them what their skills and interests are in serving the church once they are baptized into the church. I don't want to just baptize them. I want to see them become disciples and make other disciples. We must be relational. However at the same time it is challenging because sometimes the person studying for baptism is not being honest and has no desire to actually become a disciple. They say all the right things just to get dunked, but once they are dunked we never see them again. It is not because the church dropped the ball on them but because they never actually intended to be a disciple they just wanted to make their family happy by getting dunked or they believe, no matter what we show them, that all they have to do to be saved is just get dunked. So it works both ways, but it is very beautiful when the baptismal candidate is led into a loving relationship with Christ and helps disciple others into a loving relationship with Christ.

  3. I am not in agreement with you on this one William.

    As I read it baptism as shown in the Bible has never portrayed what you describe. Absolutely a knowledge of why you are being baptised and who you are believing in is critical. But must that knowledge be perfectly complete and fully detailed? At what point do you say “that is sufficient knowledge”?

    I see us focusing on baptismal classes as being the entry examination for becoming a Seventh-day Adventist. Further we apply limitations on baptism I do not see in the Bible at all.

    And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’

    There are many ways to read that passage. You might read it saying, those to whom Jesus spoke alone have the authority to baptise and teach. Fortunately none that I know of hold that position.

    The Adventist church has long taught, in common with most Christian communities, that that commission was given to every believer. But when it comes to baptism, we have some very strange and Biblically unsupported beliefs. Our manual states that only pastors may baptise (elders can baptise only with conference president approval). We further establish baptism as the membership application for the church, and further require full training in all 28 Fundamental beliefs as a prerequisite.

    The Gospel Commission was given to every single follower and believer in Jesus, not to pastors only. This is abundantly clear. But we have the cart before the horse here. We read and teach and profess that the gospel commission is:

    Go into all nations and teach them to observe all things I have commanded you then be baptised by an ordained pastor, become a church member, then after further study in how to answer questions on doctrine, become a disciple.

    To me, I read the words of Jesus being restricted and narrowed and reordered. I read it as make a disciple through baptism and training. Not make a disciple through training then baptism/church membership.

    Yes, a full belief in all our unique beliefs by thorough study and then profession of belief in them before the church members about to vote them into membership is a just and proper requirement. But while I wholeheartedly condone that, I do not believe baptism should be tied to that function.

    A thorough study of all Bible passages mentioning baptism teaches to me the following:

    Repentance: this requires a knowledge of what sin is and what Gods law requires. Or otherwise put as in Jesus answer to the question on what must be done for eternal life, obey the 10 Commandments, the Royal Law. Further the baptismal applicant must see themselves in the mirror of the Law as sinful and condemned

    Belief: in Jesus as the Messiah, the Holy One of God, the Son of Man, who was made sin for us, though innocent and perfect, died in our place to set us free from sin, who was crucified, placed in a tomb on Friday, rested on the Sabbath, and was resurrected by God on Sunday the third day. Then accept Jesus as your Lord and as your God.

    Understand: that baptism is joining him in his death then rising with him in his resurrection and is a public declaration before God, the watching universe and your fellow man, of your commitment to become his disciple.

    Now be baptised. Immediately. At the closest submersible body of water at hand. A bit of water at the side of the road you are travelling on, a bath in an earthquake shattered prison, anything is good enough.

    This is how I read the scripture instructions and our inspired given examples.

    The Great Gospel Commission was given by Jesus in terms of broad sweeping inclusiveness to the unlikely and the undeserving.

    In the words of Jesus again “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

    • Greetings Ian and happy Sabbath to you and to all!

      You say you do not agree with me but yet I agree with most of what you have said. You say we do not have to perfectly understand everything before being baptized. That is what I believe. I have had to struggle to convince parents to let their children get baptized assuring them they will continue learning throughout eternity. What I am finding is everyone has their own definition of "thorough Bible study" and I by no means meant know everything by the time you are baptized. In Evangelism page 320 Ellen White talks about many making a nominal profession. I believe like her we need to know what it means to walk with Jesus and live not only for but with Jesus, and not just doctrines.

      I also believe that you do not need to be an Adventist to get to heaven. Adventists will be in the vast minority in heaven! However I do believe you need a good enough understanding of what it means to be an Adventist to be an Adventist. Being Adventist and being saved are two vastly separate things. I have on rare occasions baptized people into Jesus without baptizing them into the Adventist Church. But my general understanding is that being baptized into the body of Jesus is baptizing them into a church which is body of Jesus.

      No, I don't expect children or adults to know it all when they are baptized-I am a 5th generation Adventist and a pastor who absolutely does NOT know it all. I am learning all the time. But I believe the teachings of Jesus and even John the Baptist teach us we need to know what we are doing when we are baptized, and what it means to live not only for but with Jesus.

      Thank you for your comment and allowing me to clarify any misconceptions.

      PS I am in total agreement that the Bible does not limit the person doing the baptism to the pastor. The Florida conference graciously allowed me to perform baptisms long before ever becoming a pastor.

  4. We need to not only study but also understand the Gospel mission and Commission not just from the standpoint of Matthew 28:16-20 but also from the standpoint of Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, and John 20:21-23. There were believers in the Apostle Paul's day that had been baptized by John the Baptist and the Apostle had them be Baptized in the name of Jesus. But this was not a "rebaptism," as some would like to claim because being baptized into John the Baptist's baptism was allowed by God because it was a baptism of repentance from sin into righteous living, which God accepted of them. BUt now they had greater light with the Apostle Paul into being baptized into Jesus baptisme by Paul. This is why some are allowed to become members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church by "Profession of Faith," because they have been already baptized into Jesus but now they have greater light for the Seventh Day Sabbath Keeping so they come in by "Profession of Faith." The Apostle Paul compared baptism into Jesus as "Circumcision." No one had ever been "Recircumcized," in the past this was an impossibility. so like wise, there is no need for someone that has accepted Christ as a Sunday Christian to then become Re-baptized into Jesus again. "Profession of faith" is quite acceptable to these believers.

  5. I look at Scripture and see what was done and when they baptized those all those who were saved.

    John the Baptist preached that we should confess our sins and agree to change our lives; and be baptized. Those who heard and had this attitude confessed and were baptized immediately. Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5,

    At the Pentecost, Peter preached repentance and in Acts 2:41' "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3,000 were added to their number that day."

    In Mark 16:16 Jesus said "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." This tells me that the only prerequisite for a water baptism is believing in Jesus Christ and having a true will to follow Him. Baptism, WITHOUT repentance and turning away from a sinful life, won't count concerning salvation. That doesn't mean we may not ever sin again. Sin still dwells in our bodies. We are still sinners because of the flesh within; and we can still be tempted. However, when we are saved through Jesus, we are set free from the power of sin, and Jesus transforms us into His righteousness.

    Acts 16:33--Paul and Silas were in prison praying and singing hymns to God. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake and all the doors were opened and all the chains came loose. The jailer woke to find all the doors open and was so afraid that the prisoners escaped that he drew his sword 🗡️ and was about to kill himself. Peter yelled that they were still in the prison which stopped stopped him from hurting himself.

    The jailer and all his family were saved and and were immediately baptized.

    These are only a few on record where baptism came right after repentance and belief

    • So let's examine these examples:
      John's baptism was the "baptism of repentance." He baptized people who publicly acknowledged they were sinners and were repentant as a result of his teaching/preaching.

      At Pentecost, Peter preached (taught) about repentance in the context of the history of the Hebrew people, the messianic prophecies and the fact that they had crucified the Messiah. In his sermon he supplied the teaching they needed beyond the teachings they had known all their lives.

      You wrote:

      the only prerequisite for a water baptism is believing in Jesus Christ and having a true will to follow Him. Baptism, WITHOUT repentance and turning away from a sinful life, won't count concerning salvation

      And that's exactly true. In order to believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him, they have to learn (be taught) who He is and what He taught. They have to understand what sin is and to repent. All that involves teaching and learning. Today that means Bible study.

      He jailer who repented and was converted was baptized after a Bible study with Paul and Silas.

      They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house (Acts 16:31)

      I'm sure it was quite as "thorough" as it needed to be.

      Yes, baptism is appropriate after "repentance and belief." The purpose of thorough Bible studies is to bring people to the point of "repentance and belief." As a general rule, people to not "naturally" repent and believe, or we would no longer have sin in the world. It takes the Holy Spirit working through human agents to bring persons to the point where they repent and believe what the Bible teaches.

  6. Yet, Celeste Davis, Jesus said to His Apostles that they were all clean because of His words. And He said this to them just before Peter denied Him three times and they all forsook Him and fled and also before He bled for "All Sin," hanging on the cross too. And also, the Apostle John later wrote in 1 John 1:8 that we should never say that we "have not sinned" and two verses later that "We have no sin." And in the middles of those two verses he says that all we need to do is to confess our sins and He will be faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from sin and its unrighteousness too. That still applies for us now. God be praised for this precious promise from Him to us.

  7. To me is has seemed that the conversion experience happens differently for each person. The understanding of our need of a Savior and the realization of the love, mercy, truth, and sacrifice of Jesus being sufficient in a way that we desire to place our trust in Him takes different roads and different understandings for different people. Just like people falling in love and entering into marriage everyone's conversion experience while holding the same elements presents differently. Some will need desire more study and understanding before they are willing to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Others will come to this decision after receiving a basic understanding of who Jesus is. Conversion to a desire to follow Jesus were ever He lead because we understand enough to trust Him seems to be the common theme for baptism. As humans we are unable to read the heart but God know His children's hearts. It would seem that if we focused on understanding the workings of the Holy Spirit we would act based on the Spirits leading and not on our own judgment of when to baptize. Peter would never have thought to preach let alone baptize Cornelius in Acts 10 were it not for him seeing the Holy Spirit falling on them (Acts 10:44-48). He was astonished and could not prevent them from being baptized because he saw they received the Holy Spirit.

    I realize this does not give a thorough presentation of teaching and all the aspects that have to do with baptism. Many of the other portions have already been discussed. It is my only desire that we not forget we are following the Holy Spirit and I think we would error to not include this concept in our understanding of baptism.


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