There are many baptisms in the Bible. Today we are going to focus on just three of them.
1 Corinthians 2:14 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned
A lot of us look at the scriptures and conclude with our own understanding what we believe the scriptures are saying. The Word of God says that scriptures are spiritually discerned. You cannot understand it with your natural mind.
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2.
The doctrine of Baptisms (plural) indicates that we have more than one type of baptism- Hebrews 6:2. Yet in Ephesians 4: 4-6 the scripture says “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Let’s look at some of these baptisms and understand what they mean.
The word “Baptism” is a transliteration of the Greek word BAPTIZO which means to immerse. In Hebrew it is referred to as a MIKVEH – an immersion. When you talk about baptism you are speaking about being immersed into something.
The baptism into Christ
The book of Galatians speaks about Baptism into Christ, the only baptism that saves. Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ; Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit is the one who baptizes (immerses) you into the body of Christ, not man. (The only physical thing you can do that saves you is opening your mouth and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior). Romans 10:9-10.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (body of Christ)—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. THIS IS SPEAKING OF SALVATION. This is the most important baptism you will ever do.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit. (with the evidence of speaking in tongues)
This baptism is done by Jesus Himself; Matthew 3: 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. When it comes to being baptized with the Holy Spirit, Jesus Himself does this. After the Holy Spirit immerses you into the body of Christ, Christ Himself now baptizes(immerses) you with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1-4; 8:24-17:10; 44-46.
In Acts Chapter 1, we see Jesus giving His disciples instructions, preparing them for the coming Holy Spirit.
In verse 8 He says but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. The word power here is DUNAMIS (Greek). it means “strength, power or ability”. So, Christ is saying to them, “go into the upper room so you can receive strength, power or ability.” When you continue reading you will see the results of the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism with water
Baptism with water is an expression of our salvation and Baptism into Christ. This is done by man- Acts 8:35-39; 10:47
Water baptism is the answer of a good conscience- 1 Peter 3:18-21. Therefore, it is only for those who are born again or saved or already baptized into Christ. This is why Philip told the Eunuch, “If you believe” (which is what already saved him) then he can be baptized. It is also the reason why Peter explained that if Cornelius household were speaking in tongues then they must be saved already and therefore, we should not refuse them water baptism. Water baptism is therefore for the saved, it is not designed to get us saved.
Baptism (Baptizo) the immersing in water is something we are all familiar with. It is declaring publicly that we have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, rejecting our old way of life, and totally surrendering to Him. When we are placed under the water and raised back out of it, we are symbolically stating that we have died to sin, that our old life of sin has been buried, and that we have been raised to new life in Jesus. This is exactly what took place when Christ died on the cross for us. He died, was buried and rose again. This can only happen after we have received Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. Acts 8:35-39; 10:47.
One should ask the question, how does salvation come? The answer? Only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8; Colossians 1:20.
Ephesians 2:8 says we have been saved by grace. (unmerited, unearned, undeserved). It is a gift. I did not have to do anything to earn God’s favor. He gave it freely. Grace was offered and all I needed to do was to accept it by faith. After I have accepted it by faith Romans 10:9-10 (salvation), then I can be water baptized showing the world what Christ did for me on the cross. After that I am accepted in the beloved.
Ephesians 1:5-7. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Notice, this scripture is saying that we are already accepted in the beloved. This means that we are already part of the family of Christ when baptism (into Christ) takes place. The Father did this because it pleased Him, and because it pleased Him, we are redeemed and have our sins forgiven. All this before we even dreamed of being baptized with water or baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
You will find scriptures that seemingly suggest that baptism is needed for salvation, but you must first understand what is meant by those scriptures. (remember scriptures are not understood with the natural mind but by the Spirit of God).
E.g. Acts 2:38 38 Then Peter said to them, “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. The word FOR (eis) Greek carries the connotation of ‘because of’ or ‘in regard to’ or “in view of”. So, when you read this passage it should say “…be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins…”. So, because my sins have been removed, I shall be water baptized.)
Water also speaks of the Word. There is a lot of confusion around the statement that Jesus made to Nicodemus. John 3: 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. This is another scripture that people would use to show that water baptism is needed for salvation. Let us take a closer look at what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus. He said, “unless one is born of the water and the Spirit”. Water here speaks of the Word. He is saying here, in order for you to be saved (Born again) you must be born of both the Word and the Spirit.
The New Testament uses water as a figure of the new birth. Regeneration is called a “washing” brought about by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God at the moment of salvation (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:26; John 13:10). Christians are “washed . . . sanctified . . . justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). The “washing” Paul speaks of here is a spiritual one. This has nothing to do with a natural cleansing.
There are also four scriptures in the Bible that describes the Holy Spirit as “Water”. John 7: 37-39; Isaiah 44:3; John 4:14; 1 Corinthians 12:13. These scriptures do not teach that water baptism is required for salvation.
Water baptism Is important in that it physically shows what Christ did for you spiritually, but it is not the means of remission or forgiveness of sins. The Bible is very clear that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ.
Let us look at the account of Cornelius in Acts 10. Cornelius was a Gentile centurion who feared God. He was a man who prayed earnestly to God and God heard his pray. In verse 4 we see the Lord responding to Cornelius’s prayers. He did this in the form of a vision. The Lord sent an angel to tell him that his prayers and his alms had gone up to God as a memorial. He also admonished him to send men to Joppa for Peter who was the disciple of Jesus.
Peter was a Jew. The Jews did not associate themselves with Gentiles. They considered them unclean. In Acts verse 10 Peter went up on the roof to pray. While praying he fell into a trance. In this trance the Lord showed him animals which were considered unclean under the Jewish law. These animals were not to be eaten. then a strange thing happened. The Lord said to Peter “rise Peter, kill and eat”. Of course, Peter’s response would be no. after all these animals were forbidden. But the Lord said something to Peter that I am sure would have been very strange to him. he said verse 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. It was at this moment the men that Cornelius sent came to him. if Peter had not seen that vision he would not have responded to Cornelius. What God allows; no man can deny.
This ended in the household being saved. But look at what Peter said in verse 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? This is saying that these people were saved. They had already received the Holy Spirit. Now Peter is saying that they should be allowed to be water baptized. Up until that time it was a strange thing to see a Gentile receive Jesus as Lord and Savior and even being baptized with water.
If water baptism is the basis for our salvation, then this would then mean that man has the power to decide whether we can be saved or not. Our eternal hope would literally rest in the hands of man not God. What if Peter had said no. then this would mean that they would remain in their sins. They would not have been allowed salvation.
In conclusion, there is only one baptism necessary for salvation. This is Baptism into the body of Christ. this is done by the Holy Spirit. Hence the reason for understanding Ephesians 4: 4-6 (one baptism).
I pray that the Lord will open your understanding to his Word.
PASTOR KAREN BRUCE