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Biblical Water Baptism (Salvific), Episode VII

Updated on March 2, 2014
Baptistry, 4th or 5th century; Location: Saint Vitails, Sdeitla, in the governorate of Tunisia, North Africa.
Baptistry, 4th or 5th century; Location: Saint Vitails, Sdeitla, in the governorate of Tunisia, North Africa.

Referenced Texts

Ge 17:10-11 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.

Jer 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.”

Mt 3:16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

Mt 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Lk 1:59-63 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Jn 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.

Ac 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

Ac 10:47-48 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Ac 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

Ro 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,

Ro 6:1-4 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Ro 6:4-6 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin..

1 Cor 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

1 Cor 15:29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?

Ga 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Eph 3:14:15 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Eph 5:26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

Col 2:11-12 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Ja 2:7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

Biblical Water Baptism, Q&A, Q's 57-65

Defending Water Baptism

In this writing we deal with eight of the seventy questions in our Q&A on Biblical Water Baptism. In this polemic on water baptism we face such anti baptismal arguments as the thief on the cross, and the death of a believer before having an opportunity to receive Christian baptism. Also covered in this article is the meaning of the term "alien sinner," and how such an one may be placed into the body of Christ. Also, here, is seen how water baptism is the fulfillment of an Old Testament ordinance. We examine Ephesians 5:26 and just how it is that the Church is "washed in water by the word." Then this writing will finish with an examination of John 3:5 and what is intended by the phrase, "born of the water."

Having given an introduction, let us proceed to the Q&A. We will pick it up at question #57.

Question 57: What would be the spiritual condition of one who dies before having the opportunity to receive Christian Water Baptism? ∼ Answer: Historically, the Church has recognized a “baptism of desire.” That is to say: If the intention is present, the deed is imputed. This principle is seen in the teaching of Jesus on adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). The truth taught by Christ is: If you desire, the deed is done in the heart. In addition to the “baptism of desire” there is the “baptism of blood” which is imputed upon one who is martyred for the faith before receiving Christian Water Baptism. Paul speaks of “baptism for the dead” (First Corinthians 15:29). Many feel that Paul is referencing the Water Baptism of living Christians in behalf of dead Christians who died before having the opportunity to be Water Baptized themselves. (For Water Baptism for the dead, see Question 69.)

Question 58: How was the thief on the cross saved without being Water Baptized? ∼ Answer: The thief on the cross was saved without being Water Baptized because he died under the old covenant. Water baptism is for entrance into the new covenant which was established by the blood of Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus was not yet shed for the sins of the world at the time of the thief’s salvation and death. Water Baptism serves the purpose of placing the believer into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. (Romans 6:4-6); in that Christ had not yet died, had not been buried, had not yet resurrected, Water Baptism would have been inappropriate for the thief. See First Corinthians 15:1-4 cf Romans 6:1-4. Also see questions 12 through 15.

Question 59: What is meant by the term “alien sinner?” And how is such a one placed into Christ? ∼ Answer: The term “alien sinner” has an unregenerate person in view. This term is used to distinguish between a sinner who is not a child of God and a child of God who sins. According to Galatians 3:27 an alien sinner is placed into Christ by being Water Baptized.

Question 60. According to Colossians 2:11-12, what Old Testament ordinance does Water Baptism fulfill? ∼ Answer: In Colossians 2:11-12 the apostle Paul teaches that Water Baptism fulfills the Old Testament ordinance of circumcision.

Question 61: How is New Testament Water Baptism the fulfillment of Old Testament circumcision? ∼ Answer: New Testament Water Baptism is the fulfillment of Old Testament circumcision in many ways, but the following three items are of the utmost importance:

  1. Old Testament circumcision was the covenant seal (Genesis 17:10-11; Romans 4:11). Even so, New Testament Water Baptism is the seal of the New Covenant (Colossians 2:11-12; see Acts 10:47-48; Galatians 3:27).
  2. In Old Testament circumcision, the foreskin of the male member was cut away to symbolize the removal of sin (Genesis 17:10-11; see Jeremiah 4:4). However, in New Testament Water Baptism the sins of an individual are actually (not symbolically) removed (washed away, see Acts 22:16).
  3. At the time of Old Testament circumcision a name was assigned to the circumcised (Luke 1:59-63). Even so, at the time of New Testament Water Baptism the baptized receives a name, i.e. the name of Jesus (James 2:7 cf Ephesians 3:14-15; also see question 39).

Question 62: What does the Apostle Paul mean in Ephesians 5:26 where he writes that the church is sanctified and cleansed “with the washing of water by the word?” ∼ Answer: When Paul speaks of the Church being cleansed “with the washing of water by the Word” he has Water Baptism in view. He is not employing the word “water” as a symbol of the Word of God as some would suggest. This point is clearly established through the use of the Greek word rhema; which is translated in this verse as “word.” Rhema is a Greek word used when speech is implied or intended. It means: a word spoken by a living voice. Therefore, Paul is referencing a cleansing which takes place “by” the words spoken by a living voice at the time of the ceremonial washing, i.e. the name of Jesus spoken at the time of Water Baptism. (See James 2:7; also see question 39).

Question 63: In John 3:5, where Jesus teaches that one must “be born of water,” is he employing the word “water” as a symbol of the Word of God? ∼ Answer: When Jesus says that all must be “born of water” in John 3:5, He is NOT speaking of the Word of God (see Question 62). Many refer to Ephesians 5:26 for support for this unscriptural view. Jesus has Water Baptism in view, because the Greek text at this point reads: genneithei ek hudatos; that is: born out of water. (See Question 65.)

Question 64: In John 3:5, where Jesus teaches one must “be born of water,” is he referencing the natural birth of a human child? ∼ Answer: When Jesus says that all must be “born of water” in John 3:5, He is NOT speaking of the natural birth of a human child. The logic of the passage refutes this unscriptural view. For instance, Jesus taught clearly that one must be “born of water” or he CANNOT enter the kingdom of God. If Jesus had the natural birth process in view all pre-born babies who die in the womb would be excluded from heaven. This is not in harmony with the righteousness of God revealed in Holy Scripture. Also see Questions at 63 and 65.

Question 65: In John 3:5, where Jesus teaches one must “be born of water,” is he referring to Water Baptism? ∼ Answer: When Jesus says all must be “born of water” (John 3:5), He is indeed speaking of Water Baptism. Review Questions 63 and 64 and the answers. Note especially the Greek of the text: i.e. “ek hudatos;” that is: “out of water.” The imagery is that of one exiting the waters of immersion: see Matthew 3:16, “up straightway out of the water,” and Acts 8:39 “... were coming up out of the water.” Moreover, this understanding is in harmony with everything taught by Jesus and His disciples on the subject of Water Baptism. (See Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; First Peter 3:20-21.)


Apostolically Speaking

☩ Jerry Hayes

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    • Bishop J L Hayes profile image
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      Jerry Lynn Hayes Sr 3 years ago from Texas City, Texas

      Historically, the Church has recognized a “baptism of desire.” That is to say: If the intention is present, the deed is imputed.