A River of Life
The Story . . .
2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman was a brave, rich, and famous commander
for the armies of Syria who contracted leprosy, the most
dreaded disease of Bible times. Leprosy meant isolation from
loved ones and a slow, wretched death. A Hebrew slave girl
who worked in Naaman's house said that if her master would
only go to the prophet Elisha in Israel, he would heal Naaman
of his leprosy.
Willing to grasp at any thread of hope, Naaman made the
long trip to Israel. With him was a small
band of personal bodyguards and a
king's ransom to pay for this miracle of
healing. When Naaman finally stood
before the humble house of the prophet,
Elisha would not come out. Instead, he
sent his servant with these simple
instructions: "Go and wash in Jordan
seven times, and thy flesh shall come
again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."
2 Kings 5:10.
The prophet's command to wash
implied that Naaman was dirty! Being
told to wash seven times-and in a
muddy river, no less-was too much for
the proud Syrian general. In a rage,
Naaman spun his horse around and
began riding home. But in order to reach
Damascus, Naaman had to ride by the Jordan River. As he
passed by, Naaman's servants urged him to try the prophet's
advice. So he stopped his horse, slid down, and laid aside the
armor that covered the awful evidence of his leprosy. Naaman
slowly stepped down into the waters of the Jordan. Six times
he plunged under the water with no results, but when he came
up the seventh time, the leprosy was gone! His skin was as
pure and healthy as a baby's.
Just as Naaman experienced restoration, you too can have
a healing new-birth experience!
Fill in the blanks after reading each Bible text.
1. What New Testament prophet used the Jordan River for
baptizing, or cleansing?
Matthew 3:1, 5, 6 In those days came _______________ the
_______________, preaching in the wilderness of Judea. ... Then went
out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan,
And were _______________ of him in Jordan.
NOTE: The Gospel stories begin and end with the subject of baptism. Obviously
this is a very important teaching to Jesus (Matthew 28:18, 19).
2. What glorious Bible ceremony symbolizes a "washing"
from the leprosy of sin?
Acts 22:16 Arise, and be _______________, and wash away thy sins,
calling on the name of the Lord.
NOTE: The Bible ordinance of baptism symbolizes the washing away of sin from
a person's life, as well as the new birth.
3. According to the Bible, how many different kinds of
baptism are acceptable?
Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, _______________
NOTE: At least 15 different ceremonies are called baptism today, but according to
the Bible, there is only one true baptism.
4. What does the word "baptize" mean?
Colossians 2:12 _______________ with him in baptism, wherein also
ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath
raised him from the dead.
NOTE: The Greek word "baptizo" means "submerge," "plunge under," or
"immerse." A person has not been baptized unless he has been completely
submerged, or buried, in water. This word "baptizo" is always used in the Bible in
reference to the sacred ordinance of baptism. The Greek words for "sprinkling" or
"pouring" are never used.
5. Jesus is our example. How was He baptized?
Mark 1:9, 10 Jesus came ... and was baptized of John in Jordan. And
straightway coming _______________ _______________ of the water,
he saw the heavens opened.
NOTE: John baptized Jesus by immersion in the same river where Naaman was
cleansed from leprosy. Note that they were "in" Jordan (not on the riverbank)
and that Jesus came "up out" of the water. This is why John was baptizing in
"Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there." John 3:23.
Christians are to follow the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21), who was baptized
by immersion "to fulfil all righteousness." Matthew 3:15.
6. How did Philip baptize the treasurer of Ethiopia?
Acts 8:38, 39 They went _______________ both into the water,
both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were
come _______________ _______________ of the water, the Spirit
of the Lord caught away Philip.
7. What other truths are symbolized by baptism?
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that
like as Christ was _______________ _______________ from the dead
by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
NOTE: Baptism symbolizes Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. There is
first death to sin, then burial of the old life of sin in the water, and finally
resurrection from the water to a new life. Baptism by immersion fits the
symbolism perfectly. The life of sin dies, then there is brief suspension of breath
while the person being baptized is leaned backward into the water until the
body is fully covered, or buried, in the water. Then the person is raised up out
of the water, taking a fresh breath as a newborn baby, to live an entirely new
life, symbolizing the resurrection. No other form of baptism fits this Bible
symbolism. Some say they keep Sunday holy in honor of the resurrection,
but this practice is never mentioned in the Bible.
8. How important is baptism?
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be
_______________; but he that believeth not shall be damned [lost].
John 3:5 Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he
_______________ enter into the kingdom of God.
NOTE: Baptism is clearly mandated by Scripture as essential. However, when
baptism is impossible, as it was for the thief on the cross, Jesus gives that person
credit for His baptism (Matthew 3:15).
9. What blessed ceremony can be compared to baptism?
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ
have _______________ _______________ Christ.
NOTE: Baptism is like the marriage ceremony. The Bible says, "For thy Maker
is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name." Isaiah 54:5. As a woman takes
her husband's name in marriage, so Christians take the name of Christ-
thereafter to be called Christians. Both ceremonies must be based on love and
commitment if they are to be meaningful. Baptism is as essential to the
Christian life as a wedding is to a marriage.
10. What command did Jesus give to His people just
before His ascension?
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
_______________ them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost.
NOTE: Peter followed this command when on the day of Pentecost he told the
penitent people, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ." Acts 2:38.
11. What biblical qualifications must precede baptism?
A. Understand Jesus' teachings (Matthew 28:19, 20).
B. Believe all of Jesus' teachings (Mark 16:16).
C. Repent of past sins (Acts 2:38).
D. Believe with all your heart (Acts 8:37).
E. Agree to turn from sin (Luke 3:7, 8; Romans 6:5, 6).
F. Accept Christ as your personal Saviour and experience the new birth
(2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3, 5).
NOTE: Since an infant cannot comply with any of the above steps, obviously it is
not scriptural to baptize a child until he is old enough to comprehend the gospel.
12. Where did all of the counterfeit forms of baptism
Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the
_______________ of men.
NOTE: Baptism by immersion was the only form of baptism practiced during
Bible times and for centuries after the cross. But then, misguided men introduced
other forms of baptism for the sake of convenience. Thus, God's sacred ordinance
of baptism was distorted and its rich symbolic meaning obscured.
13. What does the Bible say about those who put the
teachings of men before the truth of God?
Matthew 15:9 But in _______________ they do worship me, teaching
for doctrines the commandments of _______________.
Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be
14. But doesn't the baptism of the Holy Spirit replace
baptism by immersion?
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and _______________
_______________ every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the
remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the _______________
NOTE: No! Notice that while Peter was preaching (Acts 10:44-48), the Holy
Spirit fell upon all who were listening, many of whom had not been baptized. But
even though they had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter
insisted that they be baptized in water as well.
15. Is rebaptism ever proper?
Acts 19:2-5 They said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether
there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye
baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily
baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they
should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
When they _______________ this, they were _______________ in the
name of the Lord Jesus.
NOTE: One day when Paul was preaching in Ephesus, he found 12 men who
had been baptized by John the Baptist, but who had never heard of the Holy
Spirit. So upon receiving this substantial new light, they were rebaptized. Likewise,
if a person has completely lost his Christian experience, he should be rebaptized
upon returning to the Lord. Rebaptism is also appropriate if a person was not
baptized in the biblical method.
16. Is baptism connected with joining a church?
Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and
the same day there were _______________ unto them about three
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the
Lord added to the _______________ daily such as should be saved.
Colossians 3:15 Ye are called in one _______________.
Colossians 1:18 He is the head of the body, the _______________.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into
NOTE: The Scriptures are unequivocal. All of God's people are called into one
body, which is the church, and we enter it by baptism. After birth, a baby must be
placed in a family for nurturing, protection, and growth.
17. If I refuse baptism, whose counsel am I refusing?
Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the _______________
of _______________ against themselves, being not baptized of him.
18. When Jesus was baptized, what did His Father say?
Mark 1:9, 11 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from
Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. ... And there
came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am
NOTE: When any of God's children repent of their sins and are baptized, He is
Would you like to begin preparing for the sacred rite of baptism so God can say of
you, "Thou art my beloved son [or daughter], in whom I am well pleased"?
If you would like to know more about baptism, contact the pastor or group
leader who is presenting these studies and express your desire.
This section provides additional information for further study.
The Model Baptism
Jesus was not baptized because He needed cleansing from sin, for He was
sinless (1 Peter 2:22). This is why John the Baptist was so perplexed when
Jesus came to the Jordan River, asking to be baptized by him. John said, "I
have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" Matthew 3:14.
So why was Jesus baptized? There are three main reasons. First, He was
baptized in behalf of those who cannot be baptized themselves. Sometimes
when people accept the Lord in prison or in a hospital, circumstances do not
allow them to be baptized. Jesus gives them credit for His baptism. The thief
on the cross was one example (Luke 23:43). Second, Jesus was baptized as an
example, that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). And third, Jesus
was baptized so we can, by studying His experience, know what to expect
To illustrate, let's take the following verses word by word and see what we
can expect from our baptism. Matthew 3:16 and 17 reads: "And Jesus, when
he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens
were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove,
and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
"The heavens were opened" = We receive access to God.
"He saw" = Our spiritual eyes are now opened, giving us
new understanding and perception.
"The Spirit of God" = We recognize His leading.
"Descending like a dove" = Peace gently enters our hearts.
"A voice from heaven" = We will begin to hear that still, small voice.
"My beloved son" = We are adopted into His royal family and
become citizens of a different country.
"I am well pleased" = God gives us complete acceptance and