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
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?)
1:17 -- 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.
If you should have additional questions on this or any
topic please feel free to e-mail them by clicking here
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