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You Cannot Perform Water Baptism on Your Own

Updated: Feb 8, 2023


Can I Baptize Myself Privately

The answer to whether you can baptize yourself privately is no. This is not me, as a Pastor, desiring to hold unrighteous religious power over your life. The reality is, if anyone had the authority to baptize themselves, it was Jesus during His earthly ministry. However, He did not and instead sought out His prophetic forerunner - John the Baptist. Jesus said something interesting to John during this encounter: “you must baptize me because this fulfills all righteousness”.

John was surprised Jesus came to him, Jesus being the Messiah, for such a sacred mission. However, if you believe it is OK to baptize yourself, privately, you are claiming a right Jesus never did. Of course, Bible students know Jesus said: “a servant cannot be greater than their master”. This statement has eternal and everlasting importance so so not take it lightly.

Of more importance, is the question of why you are even considering such a thing? Let’s make one (1) assumption: you are trying to avoid other people for reasons only known to yourself. One of the foundational tenets of being a follower of Jesus, is fellowship with other believers. While I would never suggest you cannot accept Jesus as your savior, privately, baptism is something different. Even when receiving Jesus privately, you could not have done this alone either. Someone, prior to this, shared Jesus with you, right? However, water baptism is part of the “born again” experience.

Here are a few instances of salvation and water baptism being mentioned together.

Mark 16:16: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved."

  • Acts 2:38: "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"

  • Acts 22:16: "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name."

  • 1st Peter 3:21 - "And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

  • Colossians 2:12-13: "Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins."

  • Titus 3:5-7: "He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior."

In summary, water baptizing yourself (privately) is of no effect because it is not according to the Word of God. Next, Jesus did not do so either.

What to Say When Water Baptizing Yourself

I read an article which provided a “process” by which you can water baptize yourself. There are three (3) problems with that article, however. First, it could not have been written by a competent Bible teacher. Next, anyone baptizing themselves has declared a right Jesus Christ never reserved for Himself. In effect, “personal baptizers” know better than our Lord and Savior. I guess they are the Messiah and Jesus the follower.

Finally, God will not accept anyone who does not come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus asked: “why call me Lord if you refuse to do what I tell you?” Please do not accept the musings of online questionable clergy who say anything different. The Word of God is the final authority.

Here are six (6) things you should declare when water baptizing yourself:

  • “Lord, I know better than you because I am going to baptize myself.”

  • “Jesus is my Messiah, but I am endowed with the authority that even He was not given.”

  • “I know scripture says: we should not forsake coming together but I am writing my own holiness program. I can do anything I want, if a say I love Jesus anyway”.

  • “I am going to interpret scripture according to what I believe, even though I know what is in direct contradiction to the word of God”.

  • “I am exempt from the biblical authority of anyone Jesus set up over His people to teach, preach, lead, baptize, and fellowship with”.

  • “Because I'm going to water baptize myself in defiance of scripture, I understand I am going down into the water unclean and coming back up the same way”.

In summary, if you are a follower of Jesus, you should do what He does and say what He says. Jesus is the one (1) who said you must be baptized of water and fire (Holy Ghost). He went to someone given the authority to baptize, how do you declare authority He never did nor commanded?

How is Water Baptism Defined

Water baptism is the act of submitting to the tenants of Christianity through water submersion as a sign of being “born again”. It symbolizes the cleansing of sins and the new birth of the baptized person into a new life in Christ. Regardless of what you have seen in movies, baptism is water immersion and not “sprinkling”. It is also a public declaration of one's faith and a sign of obedience.

Some, like the denomination I am a part of, view this as an outward expression of an inner transformation. We believe that through baptism, we are united with Christ in His death, resurrection, and are given the Holy Spirit.

Here are six (6) biblical examples of water baptism:

  • John the Baptist performed water baptisms as a symbol of repentance in preparation for the coming of Jesus.

  • Jesus Himself was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.

  • The Apostle Peter preached about the importance of water baptism in his sermons and encouraged new believers to be baptized.

  • In the Book of Acts, we see many instances of individuals being baptized after accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. One such person is a Gentile named Cornelius.

  • The Apostle Paul writes about the symbolism of water baptism representing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

  • In the New Testament, baptism is linked with receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In summary, water baptism is the submersion of a new Christian convert, in a body of water, to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In scripture, it must accompany the “born again” salvation experience.

Why Did Jesus Get Baptized by John the Baptist

Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist is a significant event in the New Testament. It showcases humility and obedience of Jesus in fulfilling the righteousness God sent Him for. Despite being sinless and without the need for repentance, Jesus chose to be baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15) Further, our Lord’s baptism obedience demonstrates a willingness to fulfill the Father's plan for His life.

John the Baptist, who was known for the baptism of repentance, recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Initially, when Jesus approached John to be baptized, John resisted. However, Jesus encouraged John to “fulfill all righteousness”. This event also marked the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. Further, it was accompanied by the descent of the Holy Spirit and a voice from heaven declaring Jesus as God's beloved Son.

Here are six (6) reasons had to be baptized by John the Baptist:

  • John was described as the “forerunner” of Jesus. This means that he would preach prior to the revelation of Messiah, as well as “fulfill” righteous requirements (such as baptizing Jesus).

  • Jesus had to identify with John’s ministry of “baptism” for the remission of sin. This is not to declare Jesus in need of “sin cleansing”, only that He modeled the expectation of “righteousness” for others.

  • The baptism of Jesus had to occur for the Holy Spirit to descend, and for people to hear God declare: “This is my Son (Jesus) in whom I am well pleased”.

  • This was the first revelation of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit more commonly called the “Godhead”. The word “Trinity” is misleading.

  • John could not have known Jesus was the Christ until He appeared for baptism. This is incredible because they were “natural” cousins.

  • Jesus did not ask anyone who would come after to do anything He would not do Himself. This included so-called religious sacraments such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

In summary, in order to fulfill His Earthly ministry, Jesus had to be baptized by John the Baptist. John, as Jesus’ forerunner, would not have even known Jesus was/is Messiah unless the baptism of Jesus occurred.

What Makes a Water Baptism Invalid

The pivotal thing making water baptism invalid is the condition of one's heart. An old preacher told me: “people go down in the water as a dry devil and come back up as a wet devil”. More simply: there was no change in their lives because they never really turned their lives over to Jesus.

This means that if a professed “saint” is baptized simply as a formality, or because it is expected, it is no better than a “bath”. In the New Testament, baptism is linked with the acceptance of Jesus and a public declaration of one's faith.

Another factor of such invalidity is if it is performed by someone who is not authorized to perform baptisms. In the New Testament, we see only those appointed leaders performing this sacrament. However, what is a leader in the Kingdom of God? A leader in church is someone who has accepted Jesus as Savior, and understand the Word enough to accept the importance of salvation and baptism. In some denominations, such as the one (1)

I am in, only ordained ministers to do this. Although that is what we do, this is not a hard fast biblical rule. Relationship with Christ is what is most important and not “title”. If a baptism is performed by someone who is not authorized or qualified, it may not be considered valid in the eyes of the church. Again.

Authorized and qualified is relationship with Jesus. Other leaders may not feel the same, but these are the “authoritarian dictators”. There is no text which explicitly forbids “non church leaders” from performing this.

It's important to note that validity of a baptism is not solely determined by the form or method of the baptism. It is more about the faith and intention of the person being baptized and the authority of the baptizer.

Remember 1st Peter 2:4-10 teaches of the “priesthood of all Believers”. Anyone can lead a lost person to salvation in Jesus, but only a select few can water baptize? Where is that in scripture?

Here are three (3) other instances of invalid water baptism:

  • Infants can neither be saved nor baptized. According to scripture, personal belief in Jesus must precede salvation, which precedes baptism. (Romans 10:9-10)

  • Water sprinkling as opposed to being dipped in water is not valid. There is nowhere in scripture allowing “sprinkling” as a substitute for immersion. One religion not only baptizes children but sprinkles them with water. Both are biblically invalid no matter what “Papa” declares in his ‘holy writ’.

  • Being baptized by someone who is unregenerate, and not born again. You do not have the authority to ask a friend, who is not a follower of Christ, to dip you in water.

In summary, there are situations when the best intentioned of baptisms are invalid. One which may seem invalid, baptisms performed by non-ordained ministers, is actually quite valid if done by a born again Believer.

Image Header Courtesy of Gabriel Ballerini @ Pixabay

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