BAPTISM now SAVES Us?
Many people claim that water baptism is a requirement of salvation, in that if anyone is not baptized in water they are not saved. Likewise, if they have been baptized in water, they are saved. This exhortation is to bring to you Holy Ghost understanding, if you are willing to receive it.
Let’s begin by reading the verse most often quoted by those of this belief:
- 1 Pet 3:21 “The like figure [that of Noah and the flood] whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”
I attempted to see a correlation between the flood and water-baptism. First of all, Noah and his family were not submerged in water, nor saved by the water; on the contrary, the sinful world was destroyed by it. Likewise, if we look at the parting of the Red Sea (1 Cor 10:1-2), the Israelites were not covered in water, but the sea swallowed up the sinful soldiers and killed them all. Therefore, the only correlation I see is that water baptism symbolizes cleansing of sin by death of the sinners. No one was saved BY the water, but rather THROUGH the water (1 Pet 3:20).
The Baptism of John vs The Baptism of Jesus
Eph 4:5 declares that “There is ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM” and it’s time to shed some light on the fact that this ‘one baptism’ is not the mere baptism of WATER. We can look at the Apostle Paul’s ministry to the disciples at Ephesus in Acts 19:1-6:
- “He said to them, ’Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John's baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.”
In Acts 2:38, we read, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Keep in mind that Peter preached these words on the Day of Pentecost (the Day the Holy Spirit came down upon them and baptized all 120 in that upper room, prior to his preaching). Water was not present in that upper room when the Holy Spirit was poured out, according to Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28). This is what is known as ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit’, evidenced by what appeared to be ‘tongues of fire’ resting upon each individual’s head. Likewise, the Apostles began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).
Let’s go back to John the Baptist’s testimony in Mat 3:11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This was Paul’s message to the disciples at Ephesus!
It’s obvious these disciples had already received John’s water-baptism of repentance, yet they had not received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can assume they may have been water-baptized in the name of John, for it was after they heard they were to “believe in Him who was coming after John, that is, in Jesus”, they were then “baptized in the name of the LORD Jesus”, at which time they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The other side of this, however, is Acts 8:15-16: "Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)". So even water baptism in the name of the LORD Jesus does not guarantee receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There's got to be more to our understanding.
Jewish or Roman Baptism?
Some assume that “when Paul had laid his hands upon them”, it indicates they were baptized again in water. Did you know that water baptism, also known as the mikveh, NEVER allowed the one being baptized to be touched by another? THIS would have been the type of baptism our LORD Jesus partook of. The person would enter a body of flowing water (aka “living water”) and would fully submerge themselves in the presence of a witness(es). John came to bear witness of Christ and thus he was the witness at the mikveh of our LORD.
The Jews view the mikveh as a symbol of new birth and rightfully so. It is the same for born-again believers today. Jesus said in John 3:5 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Is He speaking of water-baptism here? Actually, no. If you look at the next verse and the context of the whole chapter, we see the interpretation: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh [water of the mother’s womb], and that which is born of the Spirit [born of God] is spirit.” If anything, you should view water-baptism as your new or second birth.
The Jews had many rituals of cleansing besides the mikveh, namely that of circumcision. However, we can read in Rom 2:29, “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Now can we correlate this to 1 Pet 2:21, in that water-baptism is not about “the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God”? If literal circumcision or literal, living water could cleanse us, we would not have needed the shed blood of our Savior!
If water-baptism was absolutely necessary for salvation, Paul would NOT have stated in 1 Cor 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”
- Let’s look at Heb 9:22: “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
Where does this come from in the Law? Lev 14:13 “And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the priest's, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy:”
There was a sin offering (either the blood of one of two goats or a lamb) and a burnt offering (a ram = imputed righteousness). You may read more about these offerings or sacrifices in my hub The Ram for Abraham! We must understand that the shedding of blood alone FORGIVES sin, and the total consumption (baptism) by fire imputes righteousness.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Fire
Truly, the LORD Jesus shed His blood as our sin sacrifice and He alone baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE! The Greek word for 'fire' is 'pur', meaning trials and afflictions. Ironically, it is the same word used for the Lake of Fire! The Lake of Fire is also called the ‘second death’ (Rev 20:14). Our LORD said in Rev 2:11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”
We are forgiven by His shed blood, immersed in the Living Water (John 4:10; 7:38) and consumed in His FIRE. The wholeness of salvation is brought to consummation by overcoming trials and afflictions (Rev 21:7), where our faith shall come forth like GOLD, tried in the FIRE seven (complete) times (Job 23:10; Rev 3:18; Dan 3:19; Ps 12:6). Let's look at a couple of scriptures regarding the words of our LORD:
- Luke 12:49-50 "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!"
- Mark 10:38 "But Jesus said to them, 'You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
Wait? I thought Jesus was already 'baptized' by John!
Baptized in the NAME
Why are we to be water-baptized in the NAME of Jesus Christ? First of all, if you are already arguing within your indoctrinated mind that we are to be baptized in the ‘name’ (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, note that NONE of the Apostles carried out this fictitious ‘command’ of the LORD, Jesus Christ. Why? Because Jesus NEVER said that.
- “The Baptismal formula was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son and Holy Spirit by the Catholic Church in the 2nd century (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 2, pg 263)"
In fact, Mat 28:19 never even mentioned baptism in its original text. It read, “Go ye, and make disciples of all nations in My name.”
WOE to the Roman Catholic abomination!
- “The Pope is of great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine laws... The Pope can modify divine law, since his power is not of man, but of God, and he acts as vicegerent of God upon earth." -Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Ribliotheca, " Papa," art. 2, translated.
- "The Pope has the power to change times, to abrogate [to abolish, do away with, or annul] laws, and to dispense with all things, even the precepts of Christ." Decretal, de Tranlatic Episcop. Cap. (The Pope can modify divine law.) Ferraris' Ecclesiastical Dictionary.
The Word of God is NOT to be added to or subtracted from! (Deut 4:2, 12:32; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18-19)
Have you ever thought to look up the Greek word for ‘NAME’? It is 3686. onoma name; (figuratively) the manifestation or revelation of someone's character, i.e. as distinguishing them from all others. ["According to Hebrew notions, a name is inseparable from the person to whom it belongs, i.e. it is something of his essence. Therefore, in the case of the God, it is specially sacred" (Souter).]
Yes, Jesus did say in John 15:16, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.” But what did He mean?
- Let's look up the definition of baptism found in the Strongs Greek 908 1. used tropically of calamities and afflictions with which one is quite overwhelmed.
The Baptism that SAVES
Water baptism is an ordinance and is symbolic of repentance from sin and our commitment to no longer live according to the flesh (death of sin), but according to the Spirit (new life in Christ). If our heart-felt commitment is genuine, this faith will manifest or reveal the character of Christ in us. The act of water baptism, in and of itself, does not forgive sin, guarantee the receipt of the Holy Spirit or save a person. So, don’t tell someone who is on his/her deathbed or bleeding to death on the battlefield that they must get water-baptized or they’re going to hell.
Again, it is only the shed blood of the Lamb that forgives sin. The disciples in Ephesus had not yet received the Holy Spirit when they believed or were water-baptized. On the other hand, if we look at Acts 10:44-48, the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to believers BEFORE they were water-baptized. The Holy Spirit CANNOT baptize (fully envelope/indwell) someone who has not been forgiven! Truly, you become the temple (dwelling place) of the Holy Spirit! (1 Cor 6:19)
According to the following scriptures, salvation comes by overcoming the fire of trials and afflictions that test or prove our professed faith.
- Eph 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith…” This does not say, “By grace you have been saved.” You are saved through FAITH. And what is faith? Simple belief? James 2:19 “the demons also believe, and shudder.” What did Paul mean when he wrote in Phil 2:12, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”? Read Heb 11 to understand faith in action.
- Job 23:10 “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
- 1 Pet 1:7 (NLT) “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
- Rev 3:18 “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”
- Rev 21:7 “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”
- Mat 10:22 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved."
May we OPEN OUR BLIND EYES regarding what the ONE BAPTISM that saves us is; amen.
Salvation: Acts 2:38 or John 3:16?
- Acts 2:38 Satan's Favorite Bible Verse
James Melton Publications (www.av1611.org/JMelton)