Understanding Baptism as an Elementary Principle of Christianity.
Baptism simply means to “immerse, dip into, or submerge”. The word is used 115 times in the King James Bible. Most religious people including Christians, do not read, study and follow the Bible as they should, especially for things that should be basic to our spiritual foundation. How many reading this, were baptized as infants by sprinkling of water on your head? How many were baptized into church membership of some church you were attending? Where do you see infants being baptized or sprinkled in the Bible? How does that fit with what water baptism is said to be? Do you think if you are water baptized you are a Christian or saved or going to heaven?
Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
The plurality of the word ‘baptisms’ indicates there is more than 1 baptism, yet in Ephesians 4:4-6 it says there is only one baptism. So, let’s look at what the scriptures say about this. My goal is to provide clarity of the baptisms and the scripture references for each of them.
Ephesians 4:4-6 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one LORD, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
BAPTISM IN WATER
Matthew 3 and Mark 1:4 shows John’s baptism in water to be a baptism unto repentance. People came confessing their sins and they were showing outwardly what they felt inwardly. Someone can be water baptized but if there is not repentance from the heart, it means and does nothing.
BAPTISM OF JESUS
Matthew 3:13-17 shows Jesus asking John to baptize Him in water even though He had nothing to repent from, to be an example of the right thing to do to be righteous. Jesus Himself did not water baptize anyone, but His disciples did. Followers of Christ should be water baptized, unto repentance, though it in and of itself, does not save anyone.
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST (Spirit)
Matthew 3:11 shows this as being separate and different from water baptism. See also Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-18, Acts 8:14-17, Acts 9:1-6. This baptism comes on or upon you and endues you with spiritual power from on High. The disciples were commanded and told to wait, as it was to give them power to be His witnesses everywhere in the world.
BAPTISM INTO JESUS
Read Acts 2:12-18 and 10:43-48 and Acts 19:1-6 and see in the context, there were 3 distinctly different baptisms. Disciples were water baptized but they did not have the Holy Spirit and they were not saved. They were baptized into Christ Jesus means they entered Christ and Christ in them, and they were a part of the body of Christi When the Holy Spirit came into them they were saved! They still needed something more than being saved and being water baptized. They needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit to give the spiritual power to serve God.
Where is the power today? Why do people neglect God’s command to be baptized in the Holy Ghost?
The word baptisms as used above is plural, as there are more baptisms than just one. There is only one baptism unto salvation which is verified by many scriptures. One can be baptized in water but not be saved. Water baptism is an outward sign of an inward doing, and it’s a step of faith and obedience before God and man that we want to turn from our sinfulness and live a holy and godly life. It is one of many steps we take as His followers. Being baptized into the body of Christ and having the Spirit of God come in you is what happens when people sincerely believe in Jesus as God come in the flesh to pay the price for their sins. They are born again, as a new spiritual creation!
Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
The scriptures in Matthew 3 show clearly that John’s baptism in water was a baptism of repentance. People baptized in water needed to show they desired to turn and repent from their lives of sin. Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5 show people confessing their sins as they were being baptized. They were acknowledging they had been living apart from God and they wanted to repent and go the other way. John stated people being baptized needed to show by their “fruit” (thoughts, words, and deeds) they were sincere. Many today who have been baptized and even regular church goers do not show outwardly they have repented or have spiritual fruit showing which glorifies God.
Luke 3 :8-14 shines a light on lifestyles of improper motives and attitudes and raises the question whether water baptism was meaningful or being used as some religious act of hypocrisy. Once we step out by faith really believing in Jesus as having come into the world to die for our sins as well as the sins of all mankind, we need to read and study the instruction manual (Bible) to see who God is and what He wants of us. As we read and hear the word of God, God speaks to us very personally and we need to be doers of the word and not hearers only. We are to continue to grow in wisdom and understanding and in godly lifestyles. The Bible says that when we are in Christ we are new spiritual beings and the old person of the flesh should die out. The nature we feed is the nature that will be dominant. Feed your spiritual nature with the word and you will be godly!
Water baptism is an outward sign before God and man that you are turning to God and asking Him to help you be holy and godly in all your ways. We see from Acts 19:4 there were disciples who had been water baptized but they were not spirit filled and baptized into the body of Christ. Many have been baptized as infants or into church membership. but there was no personal repentance from the things of the world. They are without the power of God and not living for the things of God. Without repentance, water baptism means nothing!
3“Into what, then, were you baptized?” Paul asked. “The baptism of John,” they replied. 4Paul explained: “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
In closing, all of us accepting Jesus to be our Savior and Lord need to continue growing and walking by faith in all we do. If you were water baptized, and understood it was unto repentance, but you have backslid and not been living for Christ the way you should, you don’t need to be baptized again and again. The bible says when we sin we should confess our sin from a sincere heart and God will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We need to ask God to baptize us in the Holy Spirit which we see is a distinct difference of the Holy Ghost ‘’falling upon” or “coming upon” believers and enduing them with power from above. It is for today and God is not a respecter of persons. It is different than the Spirit coming upon you. The disciples were told to wait for it and it would help change their lives (Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4-5,8). Ask that you might receive and seek that you may find. Step out in faith to GO ALL THE WAY! A half baked cake is good for nothing so don’t be content being a half-baked Christian. Don’t start out with the right intentions and emotions but give in to the things of the world. These things will all pass away, but all mankind have been created to exist forever.
Where we spend eternity is given to each person to decide for themselves. God gives us free choice and He loves us. He does everything He can to have us willingly tum to Him and accept His gift of eternal life found in Christ Jesus. There are only 2 choices for every person. Either you are for Him or you are against Him. You walk and live in the flesh or you walk and live in the spirit. Life is made up of choices and choices reap blessings or curses. When we look to God and step up in faith to trust Him and do His will, we are blessed! Baptisms are the stepping stones of your faith.
Ask yourself if God calling you to take some more steps?