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Discovery Magazine 8/1/2018

Was Baptism in the Old Testament?

Dear Digger Doug,

In the Old Testament, since they did not have to be baptized, would they have to say, what we call today, the Sinner’s Prayer?
                                                                                                    Levi Dollahite, Bremen, GA


Dear Levi,

I am glad to see that you are thinking seriously about what the Bible teaches. You have asked an excellent question. The answer has several parts. First, the Bible actually teaches that the Israelites were baptized. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, we read that “all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” These verses are talking about the time that God’s people left Egypt and walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. Since they had water on either side, and the cloud of water above them, they were “immersed” (which is the meaning of the word baptize) in water. Second, it is important to understand that baptism in the New Testament was different from the Old Testament. After Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, Peter and the apostles preached that those who believe in Christ should be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). When that happens, a person is baptized “into Christ” (Galatians 3:27), not “into Moses” as the Israelites were. Third, to answer the final part of your question, the Sinner’s Prayer is never mentioned in the Bible. Nobody in the New Testament was ever instructed to say it, and nobody in the Old Testament was either. It is not found in the Bible anywhere. People who misunderstood God’s teaching on baptism in the New Testament made up the Sinner’s Prayer. But God, in the Bible, never wrote it down or asked anyone to say it. Thanks for the great question.

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