Water Baptism Apart From a Church (What the Bible Says)


People worshipping in church

Can you get baptized without joining a church?

You can be baptized without joining a specific denomination of church, however, once a new believer is baptized they instantly become a member of God’s family. The Bible calls believers the body of Christ, and this body is the Church of Jesus Christ, which is His family.

The Bible has a very different perspective on what the Church is than what our modern-day religions have.

In the Bible, the Church is the family of God. It is the believers on the earth who have sincere love for God and who carry out His plan on the earth. This Church, the true Church, comes together as a family to celebrate Jesus and to stir one another up in love and good works.

On the contrary, the religious church of our modern age is an institution that is surrounded by membership and traditions. It is a collection of modern Pharisees that nullify the Word of God with their traditions.

If you decide to get baptized according to a religious organization then, typically, you will be joining that institution the moment you are baptized.

But if you decide that you want to follow Jesus, and you get baptized because you want to live for Him, then you will be joining His Church (or family) the moment you repent of your sin and are baptized.

I don’t mean to be too critical of the modern church. In fact, a lot of church buildings and organizations have a true desire for God and are really His disciples. However, there are still a lot of Christian organizations that do church, rather than be the Church.

By this I mean there are Churches that come together with the sole desire to love and obey Jesus, and then there are churches that come together to simply carry out the traditions that they have known since childhood.

And typically, when there is a membership question with regards to baptism, it is usually the latter church not the former.

It is important to remember that the early church didn’t have denominations with opposing views of Christianity. They had one Church. And when someone repented of their sin and was baptized to Jesus Christ, they joined the Church.

Not in a physical sense like a membership or club member, but rather in a spiritual sense.

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

When a believer is baptized, the Spirit of God takes that new believer and baptizes them into the body of Christ, which is the Church.

This is the reason the Bible calls water baptism “baptism in the name of Jesus” because we are getting baptized into Christ.

“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.(Acts 8:14-16)

“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.(Acts 10:47-48)

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)

So, in short, when we get water baptized we are joining a Church, we’re just not joining the world’s church, rather we are joining the Church of Jesus Christ that consists of true followers of Jesus.

Does water baptism have to be in church?

Water baptism does not have to be in a church building. The truth is water baptism can be carried out anywhere that there is enough water to fully immerse the new believer. The early church consistently baptized people in lakes, streams, and seas. In fact, we never see the early church baptize someone in a religious building.

A perfect illustration of this is when Phillip preached the Gospel to a eunuch on the road to another city.

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:35-38)

As you can see from these verses the eunuch’s conversion and baptism were not done in a church. In fact, it was probably done in some stream out in the middle of the desert.

Another example is in Acts chapter 19 when the apostle Paul meets some disciples of John the baptist. When he encounters them he realizes that they didn’t have a full understanding of the Gospel, that they were still waiting for the coming Messiah.

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:4-5)

“When they heard this, they were baptized.” This language implies that their baptism was immediate. It’s also important to remember that they didn’t have bathtubs like we do today, so Paul had to go to the nearest body of water to baptize them.

Can you be baptized at home?

Water baptism can be done anywhere. It doesn’t matter where the body of water is, there just needs to be enough water to fully immerse the new believer.

As mentioned in the above section of this article, water baptism can be done anywhere. It can be done in a church building, at the lake, at the ocean, or even in your own home.

Currently, I live near the ocean so when I meet someone who wants to follow Jesus I take them to the beach and I baptize them. If for some reason we are unable to go to the beach, I would meet them at our home and baptize them in a bathtub.

The early church preached a gospel that required an immediate response, and a part of that response is water baptism. So throughout the book of Acts, we see people getting baptized immediately after they repent, in whatever body of water that they are near.

It is a foreign thought to have someone wait to get baptized and to force them to be baptized in some “holy” place. The book of Acts is our example and pattern for how a church should function, and if we follow their example we will start to see the same fruit that they did.

How to be baptized at home (or anywhere else)

Step 1: Ensure that the person who is getting baptized has repented of their sin and has put their faith in Jesus for their salvation.

The Bible tells us that the first action we are to take towards the Gospel is: repent and believe.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Faith always comes before baptism. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Notice how faith is the primary focus because without faith baptism is nothing but a pool party.

The same goes for repentance. The apostle Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

You see how repentance comes first and then comes baptism. The Bible refers to baptism as a baptism of repentance but that is because baptism is meant to be the first action a repentant person takes in their walk with God.

Step: 2: The person who is getting baptized should fully understand what water baptism is all about.

Water baptism is all about dying to the old life of sin and rising to the new life that God created for you. It is us identifying with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

We identify with His death and burial by going under the water, and we identify with His resurrection when we come out of the water.

The apostle Paul put it this way,

“Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:2-4)

If you are baptizing someone, or you yourself are being baptized, I would recommend reading Romans chapter 6 so the person getting baptized can fully understand what baptism is all about.

You can also read an article that I wrote titled Water Baptism (A Complete Study). I go pretty in-depth in the topic and it will clearly show the purpose of water baptism.

Step 3: Have someone who has already been baptized, and who loves Christ, baptize you.

The Bible consistently shows that people who have already been baptized, and who are followers of Jesus, are the ones baptizing new believers. Nowhere in scripture do we see people get baptized without a more mature believer present.

However, there can be times when there is no one around you who can possibly baptize you. Maybe you are in an area where there is intense persecution and you just can’t get to anyone to baptize you. No worries. Baptism is all about true repentance and a pure desire to follow Jesus.

If you are in a situation where you cannot find someone to baptize you, do it yourself. I would recommend reading this article on this topic to assist in guiding you through the process. See Can you water baptize yourself?

Step 4: Be sure to baptize by fully immersing the individual in the water.

The word baptism comes from the Greek word baptizo. It means immersion. So water baptism cannot be true baptism without being fully immersed in the body of water.

That’s why the scripture says that Philip took the eunuch into the water to baptize him. “And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:38)

Step 5: Rejoice with them that they are a new creation!

If you just baptized someone, or you just got baptized, rejoice! Get excited about it!

The individual who just got baptized took their entire old life and buried it under that water, and when they come up, they became a brand new creation. That is something to get excited about, so be sure to give God praise for giving you new life.

Requirements for Chirstian Baptism

The only requirement for Christian baptism that is mentioned in the entire Bible is that the individual must repent of their sin and truly believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If the candidate for baptism understands this and acts on it, they’re to be baptized immediately.

The Bible never reveals any other requirement other than the need for the individual to be a believer in Jesus.

Here is a list of passages of scripture of how the early church handled the requirements of baptism:

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.(Acts 2:38 & 41)

They “gladly received his word and were baptized.” Meaning they had a belief in Jesus as their Messiah and then they repented of their sin.

“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” (Acts 8:12)

Notice that when the people of Samaria believed, they were baptized. There was no sixth-month gap of waiting for the individual to meet a set of requirements so they could finally be baptized. As soon as Philip could see that they believed, he baptized them.

“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:36-37)

Again, Philip waited for the only requirement for baptism to be revealed in the eunuch’s life, and as soon as his faith was evident, he gladly baptized him. “And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:38)

I hope this article assisted you in your walk with the Lord. If you enjoyed this article, please consider giving a donation of any amount by going to the support page. The support I receive from you enables The Biblical Foundation to reach more people with the teachings of the Word of God.

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