“Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of Divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made…which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation (Heb. 9:1-2, 10).

      Baptism did not originate with John the Baptist! Does that surprise you? Most Christians believe that it did. Furthermore, (hang on to your hat! Are you ready for this?) many baptisms mentioned in the Bible have nothing to do with water! That’s the truth!

     While most people believe that baptism has something to do with the practice of religion, they are ignorant or confused about baptism’s meaning or method. Because of the widespread confusion and tension generated by ignorance and misinformation concerning baptism, many feel it is best to “leave sleeping dogs lie.” And, at times, perhaps, it is best to remain silent rather than to precipitate any further strife among true believers. The famous preacher and dispensationalist, John Darby, when questioned about what he held concerning baptism, answered, “My mouth!” However, to remain silent is very dangerous for the lost soul who believes that he or she is saved because they were baptized.

     The purpose of this study is not to be exhaustive in identifying all the baptisms mentioned in the Scriptures, or to answer all the questions about baptism, but to call attention to the ONE REAL BAPTISM that saves.


     There are four general categories of views held on the subject of baptism as it is practiced today in the community of professing Christians: (1) called baptismal regeneration—meaning, as some would express it, “You meet the blood of Christ in the water. (2) This is seen as an initiation into church membership and a life of Christian service of those already saved. The method by which this is done varies, but the meaning is generally explained as a representative ritual which pictures the believer’s union in Christ. (3) This is usually explained as taking the place of the Old Testament circumcision of the eight-day-old-child and viewed as a sign and seal of what is called “the Covenant of God’s Grace. (4) Spiritual baptism (meaning a baptism without water, performed by God the Holy Spirit only in the Dispensation of Grace) by which the believer, at the moment of trusting Christ alone for salvation, is appositionally placed into Christ, being joined to Him eternally as His Body.


     Baptism, whenever, wherever, and however it is found, always means to identify, whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament! This cannot be successfully argued against. What may be argued is, to what was this identification connected and how? To baptize means “to be so identified with something as to become one with it…so identified with something that its nature or character is changed…so identified that a real change has taken place.”

     But if we want to go beyond mere definition and make a right application, we must “rightly divide” between the REAL and the RITUAL baptisms, the WET and the DRY baptisms, and the Spirit’s baptisms—WITH and BY.


The agency by which ritual, representative identification/baptism was accomplished was sprinkling, washing, pouring, and/or dipping. The ancients considered a sword, dipped into or sprinkled with blood, to be baptized, or metal tempered by the dipping or pouring of water, or cloth dipped in dye, and even a sunken ship was considered to have been baptized. The agency by which real, actual identification/baptism was accomplished was always an “operation of God…without hands” (Col. 2:11-12).


Representative identification. Water is used. Water is symbolic of something else.

  • Baptism of John (Mt. 3:6, 11). John the Baptist lived in the Dispensation of Israel. Water rituals of baptism, both those commanded by the Law and those by the tradition of the Pharisees, were common Place. John’s baptism was a challenge to the Pharisees’ authority. He was not questioned about the meaning of baptism, but about his source of authorization (Jn. 1:25). John’s message was “Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand…Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight” (Mt. 3:2-3). Water is symbolic of the coming Kingdom which John preached. People, when baptized by John, were indicating, “I have believed in Christ; I am now symbolizing that identification with His Kingdom by baptism” (Acts 19:1-5).
  • Baptism of the believer in the Kingdom: a continuation of John’s baptism (Mt. 28:19). Water represents the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as King and symbolizes their citizenship in the Kingdom and their subjection to the King. In baptism, the believer is obedient to the plan and will of God.
  • Baptism of Jesus: (Unique baptism). Water was used. Water is symbolic of the Father’s will. Jesus Christ was not a sinner. Our Lord was obedient to the plan and will of God. In being baptized, Jesus Christ identified Himself with the Father’s will in securing our redemption (Mt. 3:13-17). Christ’s baptism was the counterpart (ritual) for the (reality) of the baptism of the Cup/Cross (Mt. 20-22-23). We CANNOT “follow the Lord in baptism.”


Actual Identification

  • Baptism of Moses: The children of Israel were identified with Moses in the cloud as they passed through the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:1-2). This is a national baptism. The Israelites are united to and identified with Moses the Deliverer. This baptism formed the “Church in the Wilderness” or the “house” rule of Moses (Heb. 3:3-5; Acts 7:37-38). It is possible that this church is the “body of Moses” over which Michael the archangel strove with the Devil (Jude 1:9, connect this with Rev. 12:1-13). If this is true, then it is likely that Moses’ baptism is an anti-type of the baptism by the Holy Sprit which unites/identifies believers today with Christ, the “Deliverer like unto Moses” and formed the Church which is Christ’s Body.
  • Baptism of the Cross or Cup: (Mt. 20:22; 26:39. Jesus Christ was baptized/identified “numbered with the transgressors” (Mk. 15:28), and drank the cup filled with our sins (Jn. 18:11). He identified with our sin and bore it on the Cross. He was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). God the Father’s wrath fell on Christ the sinner’s substitute at the Cross (Isa. 53:4-6, 10). When Christ came the first time, He was baptized by the Cup/Cross. When He comes the second time at the end of the Tribulation, He will baptize unbelievers with the cup of His wrath (Rev. 14:10).
  • Baptism of Fire: (Unbelievers). The baptism of Judgment of the Second Advent of all unbelievers—the Battle of Armageddon (Isa. 13:9-10; Mt. 25:31, 33; 3:11-12; 24:37-41; Lk. 3:16-17; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). The baptism of Fire is the judgment that comes at the Second Advent. Unbelievers are cast off the earth, and believers go into the Millennium. Illustrated:
  1. “As the days of Noah were…” (Mt. 24:37-41; Note: Isa. 13:9-10).
  2. Wheat and Tares (Mt. 13:24-30; 36-43)
  3. Good and bad catch (Mt. 13:47-50)
  4. The good man of the house (Mt. 24:43-51)
  5. The Ten Virgins (Mt. 25:1-13)
  6. The Gentile Sheep and Goats (Mt. 25:31-46)
  7. The Jewish Talent Test (Mt. 25:14-30)
  • Baptism by the Holy Spirit: (Believer—1 Cor. 12:13). This baptism enters the believer into union with Christ at the moment of salvation (Eph. 4:3). He is identified as a member of His Body (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12; Eph. 4:5). The mechanics of this Spiritual baptism are given in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and did not occur in the Old Testament or in any previous dispensation. It was a revelation made by the Holy Spirit exclusively to and through the Apostle Paul. This union is so complete that believers are not only joined to Christ, but to each other, erasing all social, cultural, racial and gender distinctions (Gal. 3:26-28; Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12), giving both Christ and the believer a new identity (2 Cor. 5:16-17). This baptism is the beginning of the Church, the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 1:18). Spiritual baptism is not an experience (no “goose bumps” or speaking in tongues), but is what we call positional truth (Eph. 1:3-6). In being baptized BY the Spirit, we are entombed, immersed (never to emerge) into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12). This is not only REAL baptism but the ONLY baptism to remain in this Dispensation of Grace (Eph. 4:5). This baptism cleanses and saves the sinner, making him a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).