Water Baptism (continued)

There is no doubt that God has ordained the performance of water baptism -- as a means of identifying one's self with the body of professing believers. In Acts 19:1-7 the scripture shows how that certain disciples of Ephesus had been baptized unto "John's baptism", that is, that they were identified with John the Baptist. They needed to be identified with the Savior, Jesus Christ and so were baptized in His name instead. Here are two verses that show how the Bible uses the idea of baptism as a means of expressing one's identity with God's people. 1 Cor 10: 1,2 (OT church) and 1Cor 12:13 (NT church).

In each example of water baptism in the Bible it is important, I believe, to note that in every instance, those who were baptized with water already believed in Jesus. The water baptism was simply an expression of their new found belief in Jesus as their Savior. Remember that faith is the evidence of Salvation as Hebrews 11:1 says:

" Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

In other words, these people were already saved when they became baptized (although they probably did not realize that they were saved yet, they could only see their need for Jesus) Baptism was not a step toward Salvation for them. Their baptism, like every good work that they would desire to do after recognizing that they truly believe, is simply an evidence of their Salvation. Just as Ephesians 2: 8-10 says,

" For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

It is so important for a person to understand that if they recognize true believing in their heart, it exists only because God put it there (Matthew 16:15-17). The Bible is very clear that ultimately our Salvation is the product of His Divine Election (Romans 9:11-16 / Ephesian 1:4-11 / 2 Timothy 1:9) and is altogether His Work alone. Acts 13:48 says,

"...And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

If we are trusting in our work in any way for our Salvation, (to include the work of water baptism) then we probably do not have Salvation. Is water baptism really important then? Not for Salvation, it isn't. And what could be more important than Salvation? I realize that many churches make water baptism to appear so important that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit -- the baptism that does save us -- is almost never spoken of.

A few more verses to consider:

John 4:2 -- says that Jesus Himself never baptized with water, but the disciples did (could this be so that we would not get confused about how water baptism relates to Salvation?)

1 Corinthians 1:17 -- the apostle Paul says that Christ sent him "not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" yet in Matthew 28:19 we have the great commission where the Lord commands all believers to go out and to "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..."

So, here we see that even the great commission verse cannot be referring to water baptism, because that would contradict what the scripture said in 1 Corinthians 1:17. A more accurate understanding of the great commission verse would be that as the gospel is brought to the nations, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place as God applies the Word to the hearts of people.

It is my prayer that you will look up these verses in their proper context. I hope that these comments I have shared with you may be a help and blessing to you as we seek to know and understand the Lord and His precious Word.

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