There are many questions regarding Christian baptism, but perhaps one of the most asked questions is, “Should you be baptized more than once in life?” To answer this questions, it helps to know what water baptism is truly symbolizing?
You Should Be Water Baptized Only Once Because You Are Baptized in the Spirit Once
Despite there being many Christian denominations with widely differing views on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that every Christian is baptized in the Spirit once at the moment of their conversion.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Notice in 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul makes clear that we were “all baptized by one Spirit.” Some charismatic Christians teach that you can be saved but not baptized in the Spirit, which would clearly contradict 1 Corinthians 10:13. Additionally, as Ephesians 1:13-14 explains, Christians were “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” When? “When you believed.”
Water baptism is a symbolic representation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Since you are baptized in the Holy Spirit only once at the moment of your conversion, you should be water baptized only once.
You Should Be Water Baptized Only Once Because You Can Never Lose Your Salvation
Full immersion baptism is the only example we have in Scripture (Matthew 3:16, Acts 8:39). Full immersion baptism visibly symbolizes what happens to us spiritually through the power of the gospel. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ and you are saved by his grace, your old self dies with Christ and you’re raised to new life with Christ.
One of the reasons you should only be baptized once is because you are saved once and for all through the power of the gospel. Being immersed in water, which means you are completely submerged below the surface, is a symbolic representation of how you died with Christ and were buried with Christ, like being under ground in a grave or tomb. When you are raised out of the water, this is symbolizing how you have been spiritually raised from the dead to new life in Christ, like coming out of the ground or tomb.
You can never lose the salvation and justification God gives you. Certainly people “fall away from the faith,” but biblically this means they were never truly saved to begin with. Since you cannot lose your salvation, you will never need to receive your salvation again. Therefore, there is no symbolic reason to be water baptized more than once.
Communion Should Be Done Regularly, But Baptism Should Be Done Only Once
There are only two biblical sacraments: communion and baptism. Communion should be done regularly, for one, because Jesus said so (Luke 22:19). Jesus didn’t say how often we should take communion, but the Bible does make clear that we should do it regularly.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (1 Corinthians 11:26-28).
Here we can see that one of the reasons we are to perform communion regularly is because we are to examine ourselves regularly. Again, you cannot lose your salvation, therefore we should not be baptized more than once in life. However, we are often in need of forgiveness, cleansing, and examining ourselves before the Lord. We are saved by the gospel once, but we are in need of the gospel day by day, moment by moment. We must regularly confess our sins and seek God’s forgiveness, which is symbolized through regularly remembering the sacrifice of our Lord when we partake of communion.
Most people desire to be baptized again after they turned from the Lord but then came back to him. While their motivation is certainly right, the Bible does not instruct us to be baptized again every time we backslide but repent. Communion is the right sacrament to partake of after we have repented and turned back to the Lord.
What About Being Baptized More than Once If You Had a False Conversion?
The only scenario where I personally would feel comfortable baptizing someone for a second time would be if there was evidence of them not being saved during their first water baptism. Life is messy. Oftentimes people think they are saved, but then they reject God and prove that they were never really saved to begin with. God in his mercy, however, often genuinely saves people like this later. There life truly changes this time, and thus they realize they are now actually saved for the first time.
When a scenario happens like this, perhaps it is right to be water baptized again. Even then, however, there is a strong biblical argument that the baptism done before the genuine conversion is still sufficient to symbolically show the faithfulness of God. Even though this person ran from God, God continued to remain faithful.
Being baptized once is a reminder of the faithfulness of God. Each person and pastor will need to pray about what they feel God and his word are leading them to do when answering the question, “Should you be baptized more than once?”