What does it matter what I believe? Comes in a pack of 25.
“I don’t believe that it is necessary, but I can’t see that it hurts anything.” So spoke a very sincere believer to me some time ago. This person went on: “I believe that baptism is merely a testimony to our salvation. The water doesn’t take away sins or have anything to do with our salvation.”
This person’s attitude is typical of many fine Christians on the subject of water baptism. But let’s see “what saith the Scripture,” after all, that is the believer’s final authority (Gal. 4:30).
In the first place, we need to notice that the water ceremony was closely connected with the forgiveness of sins for Israel. Observe John the Baptist’s commission in Luke 1:76-77, given by prophecy of the Spirit-filled Zechariah: “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto this people by the remission of their sins” (emphasis mine).
As John began to carry out this commission when he was thirty years of age, Luke 3:3 explains: “And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (emphasis mine).
Indeed, the record has it that John baptized “all Jerusalem” and “all Judea,” who came to him (Mt. 3:5-6), “confessing their sins.” Paul adds the testimony that John preached the baptism of repentance to “all Israel” (Acts 13:24).
No matter what we think of it, Israel associated the act of water baptism with the remission of sins according to these verses. Thus, when the crucified, risen Lord Jesus gave the commission to the Twelve Disciples in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” – they were not surprised. No one tried to correct the Lord to make Him say, “He that believeth and is saved ought to be baptized.” No, the water did not wash away their sins, but it is evident the candidates (for forgiveness) had to be baptized in water in order for their sins to be washed away. On the Day of Pentecost, those who responded to Peter’s message asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer was very plain: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38, emphasis mine).
In Acts 8:35-37, when the Evangelist Philip “opened his mouth and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus,” it seemed very natural for the eunuch to say, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”
From these Scriptures one would never get the impression that water baptism “has nothing to do with salvation!” The answer is dispensational, as we shall see.
Truths That Are Hidden by Affusionists
So far, as its not hurting anyone is concerned, let’s notice some important teachings that are clouded if one practices the water ceremony: The pedobaptist who places a few drops of water on a baby’s head, performs the ceremony with the appropriate words on the basis of Colossians 2:11-12. “In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead.”
The philosophy is that just as the eight-day-old Jewish infant was circumcised by the priest to assure a covenant relationship, so also the child born into a Christian home is to be baptized. Whether or not one believes the sacerdotal claim that this act absolves original sin, is not in question here. However, the wonderful truth of Christ’s circumcision on the Cross, having vicarious benefits to all who trust Him, is hidden to those who substitute pedobaptism for circumcision on the basis of these verses. The marvelous truth that God kept secret for 4,000 years of Old Testament times, and all through the years of the life of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ, plus the post-resurrection ministry of the Twelve Apostles, finally revealing it unto the Apostle Paul, is still hidden from all who practice water baptism. They fail to see that just as surely as the present-day believer’s circumcision is spiritual, “made without hands,” so is his baptism, “through the operation of God.” There is just one baptism for today, and that is spiritual baptism. “For one by Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whe6ther we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Truths That Are Hidden by Immersionists
As to using water baptism for a testimony to our salvation, there is no such instruction in the Word of God. Furthermore, the tendency is to identify this ceremony with the baptism mentioned in Ephesians 4:5, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”
Most denominational leaders of immersionist persuasion insist that calling this “Spirit baptism” would negate the very practice of water baptism. It plainly states one baptism. As some have said, “IfEphesians 4:5 teaches Spirit baptism, then every Baptist who has ever preached is in error on the subject.”
But what about Galatians 3:26-27? “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
One way that we know that immersionists cloud this truth of being baptized into Christ is by the reports received from evangelists and missionaries. A typical letter will inform: “Thirteen conversions and seven baptisms for this month.” Thus, real baptism (thirteen) is clouded by ritual baptism (seven), and the glorious truth that all thirteen had been submerged together into one Body (1 Cor. 12:13) is substituted for a ceremony. Sadly, such verses as Romans 6:3-4 are cited as proof texts. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
The convert then carries on the error as he testifies of his conversion as one experience and his baptism as a subsequent event.
Those who insist that the ceremony of water baptism is not necessary to have one’s sins washed away, but can’t see that the practice hurts anything, are robbed of many spiritual truths. Their eyes are blinded to seeing:
The distinctive purpose and ministry of the Apostle Paul for this age (Gal. 1:16-18; 2:8-9).
The basic seven unities of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1-7).
The difference between the Kingdom Commission (Mt. 28:19-20), and the Church Commission (2 Cor. 5:14-21; Eph. 3:1-10).
The reason why God is not making priests today (Ex. 19:5-6; 2 Pet. 2:5, 9).
Why speaking in tongues, performing miracles and practicing water baptism are all found together in Scripture (Mk. 16:15-20).
Why the Church, the Body of Christ, will not go through the Tribulation and the Kingdom Church will (1 Thess. 4:13-18; Mt. 24:13-24).
The distinction between the secret Rapture and the open Revelation at Christ’s coming (1 Cor. 15:50-51; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 1:7).
The importance of the ethnic divisions (1 Cor. 10:32), and of rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
Perhaps not understanding these and a host of other truths in the Bible does not “hurt anything” so far as salvation is concerned. However, it certainly will keep one from “coming to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4)”