Can we just find something else to fight over? Infants, adults after believing, sprinkling, immersed, immersed backwards, immersed forward, once, twice, three times, on the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ. It “saves” you, it doesn't save you, its an “outward” sign of something that has happened internally, its a testimony and for others to witness.
To tell you the truth, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Its very clear that when you study the scriptures and have the Author of the Good Book teach you, what EXACTLY baptism is and does.
The word baptism in the New Testament is used numerous times and indicates 7 different types. Let's first look at what the “word” baptism means. Baptiso is the Greek word, meaning to immerse, dunk, or a process to dye something. No definition ever defined it as sprinkling anything. Sprinkling is a “man made” tradition, not a scriptural definition.
The 7 types of Baptism as shown in the New Testament are as follows:
John the Baptist's baptism: an act of repentance, turning away from sin, given to John by God as indicated by Jesus when He asked the Pharisees who it was from.
Jesus' baptism in water: baptized by John the Baptist, yet John knew that Jesus had NO need of the baptism that he was preaching, as Jesus was without sin and therefore not needing a baptism as an act of repentance. So why did Jesus get baptized if he didn't need to repent? The answer can be found in Ezekiel where the Lord set forth ordinances for the Jews when ordaining Priests. As Jesus turns 30 years old, this is when one officially becomes an ordained Priest, to enter into the Priesthood, that person must undergo a baptism. Jesus was simply obeying the very laws and ordinances that He put into place.
Jesus' baptism on the cross: when James and John approach Jesus to be seated one on his left and one on his right, He asks, will you drink the cup that I drink and be baptized with the baptism I will be baptized with? What is this “baptism” Jesus speaks of? It is the baptism where while on the cross, He will be immersed completely into all the sins of the world, He will be “dyed” and stained from this baptism, so much so that the Father will be forced to look away and abandon Him in this wretched state.
Baptism of more than 3,000 on the day of Pentecost: the disciples at this point having been taught baptism for the remission of sins, after over 3,000 of the 50,000 present are “cut to the quick” by words implementing them in the death of Jesus, they repent and are immediately baptized.
Baptism by the Holy Spirit and fire: (Mt 3:11) this is to be immersed fully into the Holy Spirit. It may happen at the time of a water baptism or at a later time, scripture does not set a specific place, event, or time that it happens. Some even found themselves baptized in the Holy Spirit before a water baptism (Acts 10:47)
Some erroneously teach that the one and only manifestation of a Holy Spirit baptism is in speaking in tongues, this is NOT substantiated in scripture. Although there are many instances where that was AN immediate manifestation, it is not dictated by scripture to be THE manifestation.
Baptism of the people of Israel under Moses: (1 Cor 10:2) by a cloud and when passing through on dry land when the Red Sea was parted.
Baptized into the Body of Christ: (Gal 3:27) although this is scripturally referenced, it is somewhat of a mystery as to exactly when this happens, but we might find some clues in the Romans 6 passages.
For a better and more thorough understanding of baptism in water, we will need to look at all the scriptures. I won't go into ALL of them here as there have been entire books written on the subject.
Let's start with the last command from our Lord Himself: (Mt 28:19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This sets an ordinance, first teaching everyone about Christ, then when “baptizing” them, do it in the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The order of “when” to be baptized is set for us on the day of Pentecost: Acts 2:38) “Repent and be baptized”. Just how the baptism is performed will have to be learned from other texts.
The best being when Philip was witnessing to the Ethiopian eunuch. At some point in the witnessing process from Philip, the Ethiopian came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, reached the conclusion that he should be baptized and seeing water proclaims, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” to which Philip replied, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch then confessed Jesus Christ and went down into the water and he was baptized. The order being set, believe then baptism. All passages of scripture follow this trend, in NO cases is it varied.
We've now established who and when, now begs the question, is it “mandatory”? The answer is an astounding Yes AND No. The burning question MUST be “saved from what?” in order to effectively answer the mandatory question. Mark 16:16 proclaims that “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” This leaves one scenario unresolved, whoever believes but is NOT baptized. What becomes of them? If your theology is that when you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart, that is when you are saved, then the word “saved” needs to perhaps be more clearly understood at this point.
In the purest sense of the word, that which is lost, those that already stand condemned, are in need of salvation. Salvation from what, or better yet, by Who? When a person is lost and condemned, they are destined for eternal separation from Almighty God, specifically, the Father part of the Godhead. In eternal separation, one would experience the “wrath” of God, this is what we are saved from, the wrath of God. What part of us is this wrath directed at? The answer would be our spirit and soul, as the body returns to dust after we die, at least this corruptible part of us does. So one answer for is baptism necessary for salvation, is definitely NO.
So what is meant by the passage of Mark 16? Could there be something else we might need saving from? A closer look at the way we are created, in the very image of God reveals the answer. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; correspondingly to us; body, soul, and spirit. We learn from Galatians that the spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit. Paul in Romans 7 adds even more confusion to this by stating that the very good he desires to do, he does not do, yet that which he doesn't want to do, he does, but not him, rather the corrupted fleshly nature that is in his physical body.
The body, our flesh, that which is corrupted, flawed, and set against God, then must be the second part of this equation, what else must we need to be saved from?
Will you go to heaven without being water baptized? Yes! Will you have a greater struggle against the flesh in trying to follow and please our Lord without being immersed in water, the answer again is Yes. But God is not a cruel God, leaving us without a remedy. To see His remedy, we need to look at what ALL baptism does.
The predominant text is Romans 6. Baptized into Christ, baptized into His death, having been buried, united with Him in the likeness of His death. These are all action terms, not some symbolic good gesture but action, united, buried, walk, raised. Is that it? Like Christ, I was buried, like Christ I was raised? Usually this is where the teaching ends with a resounding Yes, that is it.
When I first believed, my action was to take a step of faith, believe, God then did His miraculous transforming of my spirit into an unblemished, justified, purified, redeemed spirit that could and would fully be so entwined with the Holy Spirit that there could be no distinction. I didn't understand it, I wasn't even really taught it, I was just told it, but regardless, it happened anyway.
So it is with this ordinance called baptism. Two very profound scriptures that I've NEVER even heard taught on in Church are directly tied to this ordinance.
Colossians 2:11-13 a circumcision done without hands? The removal of the body of flesh? When did all that happen? According to Paul at the moment you took action and were “buried” with Christ in baptism. “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God,” But one dare not build a doctrine on but one scripture, that would not be rightly dividing the Word of God. Is there another scripture that shows this principle of a “spiritual” circumcision? Romans 2:28-29 ...”nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit,”
Body, soul, and spirit – if we see that there is an event where we can then be saved from our flesh, it is when the Spirit of God circumcises our flesh and cuts it away from our heart or spirit.
Is this not so much more than merely an “outward” sign of what has occurred inwardly. Is it not much more than just letting a group of people watch you go down in the water in an action to unite with Christ's death and resurrection?
The argument that one does not need to get baptized at all taken from the thief on the cross next to Jesus is a weak argument. All I have to say is that if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, AND you find yourself on a cross and unable to get to water, then don't get baptized. A side from that, if you can't get into a couple of feet of water, identify with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, then my bet is you'll probably also have a difficult time loving your neighbor.
The people who watched me get baptized in 1971 in a small Baptist Church in Sedgwick, Ks are not in my life some 40 years later testifying to that baptism. They certainly weren't around when a church I was at in Florida decided that my original baptism didn't "save me" or that I was "saved wrong" (which is a strange statement in and of itself). What the Lord showed me 5 years later was that my second baptism was not going to re circumcise me, so I got wet. This is not to say that if you would like to get “re baptized” not to do it, it may very well be the step of faith that solidifies your identification with Christ in your mind in a way never experienced before.
So go to all people everywhere proclaiming Christ, making disciples, and baptizing them.
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