Baptizo

Baptism has been the root of quite a bit of contention in the Body of Christ. It is a transliteration of the word Baptizo, which bears a manifold definition.

  1. to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
  2. to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe
  3. to overwhelm

Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptised shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle! Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.

Is baptism necessary for salvation and if so, which definition best illustrates the method?

 

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Baptizo

  1. If Baptism doesn’t effect the union or promise union between me and Christ, what difference does it make whether I’m dunked, sprinkled, or they put salt on my tongue? For obedience’s sake, I suppose. But surely the Holy Spirit has more important things to worry about than whether I’m sprinkled or dunked, so long as I have received the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake by faith. Well, if Baptism is merely a sign pointing to the reality of union with Christ, you’d be led to think that the Holy Spirit sets us free from the dead letter of Jewish ceremonies which pointed to Christ only to impose a new set of merely external signs.

    On the other hand ,if Baptism is a means by which the Holy Spirit desires and promises to effect renewal and bestows living faith in Christ, what difference does it make whether a handful of water is poured on my head or I’m dunked in the Jordan River?

    Thanks be to God, Baptism doesn’t merely outwardly picture rebirth and renewal, but it actually unites us with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6) and makes us partakers of the divine nature (Colossians 2).

    • Im not sure you’ve made your stance very clear, but to answer your initial question allow me to respond. The word baptism as it is a transliteration may or may not denote the use of water. For instance, it is shown that when Jesus spoke to the 2 disciples about baptism he spoke of his death, literally. And so it is in several places that the word is used. Baptizo is used several times throughout the book of Romans, but never with a reference to water. arguably the book of Acts speaks about baptism in a rather obscure way. Tradition has dictated what is not clearly seen in scriptures for quite some time. Is the baptism of repentance water? certainly. But the baptism of the Holy Ghost? No. So then we see that God may not be so shallow as to turn someone away from his presence on the grounds that though they had sincere faith in him all their life, they never got baptized in water.

    • Livingonaprayer

      Are you saying that you believe in baptismal regeneration through water? What if someone was never water baptized at all but professes faith and walks in obedience? Are they saved? What about an infant who has never repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ? Does water baptism save them?

    • Livingonaprayer

      Are you saying that you believe in baptismal regeneration through water? What if someone was never water baptized at all but professes faith and walks in obedience? Are they saved? What about an infant who has never repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ? Does water baptism save them?

    • Livingonaprayer

      My question about baptismal regeneration (through literal physical water), not the “living water” (Holy Spirit) that Jesus said He gives in John Chapter 4 and 7 is directed to Rev. Karl Hess based on his above comments. I apologize my question appears twice.

      John 4:1-15
      Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
      Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

      A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

      Jesus states in John Chapter 7 what He means by living water.

      John 7:37-39
      Rivers of Living Water
      On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

  2. It would indeed be silly if God were to save people apart from works of the law and then require the work of Baptism as a precondition for salvation. But Scripture teaches that a man is justified apart from works, solely by faith in Christ.

    Still, the New Testament continually emphasizes the importance of Baptism. Jesus’ parting words to His disciples before His ascension in Matthew: “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and fo the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you.” Acts repeatedly shows the disciples preaching to Gentiles, and this is followed very quickly by Baptism. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Peter says in response to the question “What shall we do, now that we realize we put to death our Messiah?” The Ethiopian Eunuch in ch. 8 (?) gets a few hours of instruction from Philip, and Baptism played such a central role in the apostolic message that in this short time the eunuch has already come to desire Baptism. The epistles of Paul and Peter continually reference Baptism.

    So if we agree that Baptism is not a new ceremonial law which it is necessary to fulfill in order to be saved, why is it so important to the apostolic preaching? I’m suggesting that most bible believing Christians in the US approach this the wrong way. They have to ask themselves, “Why is Baptism so important if it isn’t necessary for salvation?” Instead of trying to find some reason why a purely symbolic activity would matter so much to God, I would suggest that it should be thought of a different way. Do Christians go to church in order to fulfill a duty or merit eternal life? No, a believing Christian goes to church because, at least in the inner man, he delights in the Word of God becase in the Word of God he hears the declaration of the good news from the Lord–that our sins are forgiven on account of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross.

    Baptism is like that instead of like the ceremonial requirements of the Old Testament. It’s not merely an empty sign. Instead it is a means by which Christ gives the gift of faith or strengthens faith in HIm. In Baptism Christ gives and offers all that He won for us by His death on the cross–forgiveness of sins, deliverance from eternal death, from the power of the enemy. I’d suggest that looking at it this way resolves the conundrum we would otherwise have about why God puts such emphasis on what many think is a mere symbol of the renewal of the heart by the Spirit. Why does God make a big deal about an act that in itself (as is commonly taught among bible believing Christians) cannot save and which, if not received, will not damn? The answer is that Baptism does give salvation just as the Gospel gives salvation. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes….” In the same way, “You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

  3. livingonaprayer

    Is water baptism in any form a commandment after Christ’s resurrection or church tradition?

    How can we determine if Matthew 28:19 refers to actual water baptism or a baptism into Christ? Which Bible verses state that we are to be baptized with water AFTER we receive the Holy Spirit?

    Do we know if this means baptized in water?
    Acts 2:38
    And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    If Acts is about the birth of the church and the coming of the Holy Spirit, it seems strange that baptism in physical water would be emphasized since that seemed to be associated with John the Baptist, who was the last Old Testament prophet. How can we tell if those baptisms always refer to water?

    If there were mikvehs available around the temple for the Jews, I would assume that it is where water baptisms could have taken place for 3,000 at Pentecost. When the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, would the mikvehs have been destroyed too? Would they then be forced to only baptize in rivers, seas or synagogues? If Paul stopped going to the Jews in the synagogues, and churches were established in homes, would they have only been able to baptize where there were lakes or rivers?

    Acts 3:1 says Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3 p.m.). They healed the lame man and then Peter began to speak in Solomon’s Portico about Jesus. Next in Acts 4 it says it was already evening, but that many of those who heard the word believed and the number of the men came to about five thousand. Would Peter and John have been able to accomplish water baptisms for a few thousand people between 3 p.m. and evening before Peter and John were arrested? Also, if the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees arrested them, would they have even allowed the earlier baptism of 3,000 at Pentecost?

    In John Chapter 3 Jesus discusses being born again with Nicodemus and then John and the disciples are baptizing. Next, in John Chapter 4, a discussion arose with John the Baptist and a Jew over purification and states when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John, he left Judea and departed again for Galilee and talked to the woman about living water. Did Jesus not baptize, but only his disciples, because Jesus was not yet glorified and it regularly states John baptizes with water, but Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and that would not take place until Pentecost? The Jewish mikvehs where they performed tevilah (immersion) is required to contain “living water” that must be in contact with the groundwater of a stream, or rainwater caught in a cistern. Immersion in a stream or ocean is also acceptable. The Jewish purification rituals reference tevilah and mikveh, as well as “living water”.

    “In the Name of” is more than a baptismal formula:

    John 14:26
    But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

    1 Corinthians 6:11
    And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    JOHN THE BAPTIST’S BAPTISM
    • John baptized with water. John said his was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins
    • John said he was not the Christ
    • John came baptizing in water so that Jesus would be revealed to Israel
    • John bore witness that Jesus is the Son of God (He on whom the Spirit descended on and remained)
    • Jesus’ authority was established at his baptism
    • John said the one coming after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit
    • John contrasted his baptism with the baptism that Jesus would perform
    • John’s baptism took place before Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection

    JESUS’ BAPTISM (THE ONE HE GIVES)
    • is with the Holy Spirit spiritual “living water”
    • is with fire
    • gives the promise of the Father

    JESUS WAS BAPTIZED TO:
    • to fulfill all righteousness
    • so that Jesus would be revealed to Israel
    • so that John could bear witness that Jesus is the Son of God
    • shows that he on whom the Spirit descends and remains is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit

    Unfortunately, there are so many divisions across religions and denominations about the mode of water baptism and the meaning and role it plays in our lives. The focus of many religions has become the visible symbol and not the invisible reality of a sovereign act of God done in the heart.

  4. livingonaprayer

    John MacArthur’s sermon titled: John the Baptist’s Testimony to Christ John 1:19-37 – March 15, 1970 – 1503B states: John was baptizing the Jews as a symbol of spiritual cleansing and a symbol of the purification of the people of Israel preparing for Christ’s arrival. The Old Testament associated the coming of Christ with some sort of cleansing and had the idea of purification, which was done with water. Zechariah 13:1 indicates the same thing that when Messiah comes there’s going to be some kind of a purification, some kind of a cleansing. The Jew had associated the coming with Messiah with some kind of cleansing and purification and baptism was just such a symbol. The Jews figured that baptism would come along or some form of cleansing, and this is what John was doing, they figured that was coming with Messiah.

    John MacArthur’s ESV Study Bible, page 1540 says of John 3:5: Jesus referred not to literal water here but the need for “cleansing” (e.g. Ezekiel 36:24-27). When water is used figuratively in the Old Testament, it habitually refers to renewal or spiritual cleansing, especially when used in conjunction with “spirit” (Numbers 19:17-19, Psalm 51:9-10, Isaiah 32:15: 44:3-5; 55:1-3, Jeremiah 2:13, Joel 2:28-29). Thus, Jesus made reference to the spiritual washing or purification of the soul, accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the word of God at the moment of salvation (Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5, ), required for belonging to his Kingdom”.

    John MacArthur’s ESV Study Bible, page 1864-1865 states of Hebrews 10:22: The imagery in this verse is taken from the sacrificial ceremonies of the Old Covenant, where blood was sprinkled as a sign of cleansing, and the priests were continually washing themselves and the sacred vessels in basins of clear water. Being “washed with pure water” does not refer to Christian baptism, but to the Holy Spirit’s purifying a person’s life by the means of the word of God (Ephesians 5:25-26, Titus 3:5). This is purely a New Covenant picture (Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:25-26).

    • Okay, but John MacArthur’s opinions are not authoritative for me. I’d like to see Scripture that validates his opinions.

      I note that you have cited Ephesians 5 and Titus 3 as illustrations of “the Holy Spirit’s purifying a person’s life by means of the word of God.” Are you then willing to recognize the Word of God as a means by which the Holy Spirit effects regeneration?

      Or would you say about the Word of God, as you do about Baptism, that it is merely a “symbol and not the invisible reality of a sovereign work of God done in the heart”?

      To clarify, I am not arguing that Baptism is “the invisible reality” nor the visible reality of “the work of God done in the heart.”

      I am arguing that, as you appear also to believe, in converting the heart God uses means. First of all the Holy Spirit uses the means of the written and proclaimed word of God to work in the heart and create justifying faith in Christ. He does not simply fall upon people who have never heard God’s Word. The Holy Spirit offers Christ’s righteousness in the Gospel, and also by means of that same Word creates faith in those who are by nature spiritually dead and without power to respond in faith (Eph. 2).

      If you agree with that you also will understand what I am saying about Baptism. It is not the reality of conversion itself, just as the Word of God is not rebirth itself. But Baptism, which is instituted by Christ, is a means by which God offers the righteousness of Christ and by which the Holy Spirit works faith. That is because Baptism is, to quote your citation from Ephesians, “washing with water by the Word.” It is water which has Christ’s command, “Make disciples…baptizing…” and which also is ” a washing of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5)” because it is not mere water, but water joined with God’s creative and redeeming Word.

      The distinction you draw between “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” and “water Baptism” is one I’ve heard before, but I’ve never been able to figure out what the justification is for making this distinction. As far as I know, baptizoo is never used anywhere in Greek to signify a “spiritual” washing; it always refers to a physical washing with water. Of course, that doesn’t prove anything one way or the other. But I can’t see anywhere in Scripture that supports this distinction. Even after Cornelius received the Holy Spirit apart from Baptism (Acts 10), Peter still had him (and his household) baptized with water. He did this not because it was a law that it had to be done, but because Baptism is a gracious gift of God. Note Peter’s (and the Holy Spirit’s) choice of words: “Can anyone FORBID water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47)

      I agree with you that it is foolish to argue about how one should be baptized and treat Baptism as though it is a work we must accomplish properly in the attempt to be fully obedient. Baptism is not a symbolic action we undertake even though we don’t really need to, just as worship is not primarily our activity to glorify God. Instead, just as in worship God serves us by giving us His Spirit through the Word, so Baptism is God’s gracious gift to us whereby He gives us His Name and promises that we are united with His Son.

      I would say more about the Name of God and its relationship to God’s dwelling in the temple, but I have already gone on too long.

      Thanks to both of you for the respectful discussion.

      • Sorry, I forgot to elaborate on this:
        “Can anyone FORBID water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47)

        Peter could have said, “Well, they’ve already received the Holy Spirit, so do we still need to bother with the water baptism?” But instead, “Can anyone forbid them baptism?” Because the question, “Do I have to be baptized” didn’t occur to Peter, since Baptism meant being buried and raised with Christ (Romans 6, Colossians 2) and thereby participating in the righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5) which Christ alone accomplished.

        It is not a question of adding the work of Baptism to the righteousness of faith in Christ. It is a matter of receiving the gifts by which the Holy Spirit creates and strengthens faith in Christ. Of course a person can be saved who believes the Gospel and then is not able to be baptized. A person can also be saved if he never reads the bible apart from Sunday, or even if he skips church two out of four Sundays a month, so long as he remains in faith in Christ. But why would you try to get by on as little as God’s gracious word as possible? And why would you try to live the Christian life without the gift of Baptism which Christ explicitly links with being a disciple before ascending to heaven (Matt 28)?

  5. Livingonaprayer

    To answer the first question. No, I do not believe WATER baptism is required for salvation. We are saved by Christ ALONE and NOTHING we do, including water baptism. Christ gives the Holy Spirit to believers apart from anything we do. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an act by God’s Holy Spirit whereby He takes a believer and places him in the body of Christ.

    • Indeed, I agree with you. Thanks for your comment.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® by Boost Mobile

    • Yes, we are saved by Christ alone and nothing we do. (I’m assuming you would also say that we are saved by faith in Christ alone, right? And I’m also guessing that we would agree that faith in Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, not anything we do–correct?)

      Baptism is not something we do. The Holy Trinity does baptism; it is His work. It is also God’s work when a person who hears the Gospel or receives baptism believes in Christ and is brought from death to life. God works faith not by His naked majesty but by means of His Word, preached and written by men who are mere dust and ashes; and He creates and strengthens faith through the word joined with earthly water. This should not be surprising, since Almighty God atoned for the sins of the world not by His naked majesty but by assuming human nature, laying aside His majesty, and suffering death on the cross. If He accomplished our salvation in and through a created thing (His human nature), then it should not be amazing that the Holy Spirit uses created, lowly things as instruments by which He regenerates us.

      • Livingonaprayer

        I appreciate your feedback. I agree with what you said above, that the Holy Spirit does baptism, but I would say that is the baptism that places us into Christ – Holy Spirit baptism. Men do water baptism. Only Holy Spirit baptism can regenerate. Water baptism is merely a visible symbol. I am sure you would agree that pastors have baptized many people that turned out to be unbelievers that they thought were true believers at the time of their baptism. Did all the water baptized individuals continue in faith? If baptism is only by the Holy Spirit, there would be no such thing as unbaptized believers and baptized unbelievers. Only God knows the heart to determine if salvation is genuine. Besides the gospels and Acts, the other books of the New Testament don’t appear to emphasize water baptism.

        The Book of Acts was a time of transition for the Jews of the early church from the old to the new covenant. The old things of Judaism faded out slowly and all of Christianity hadn’t yet been revealed. It was years before it moved out of the synagogue and had an identity all its own. It was a transition period for the disciples as well. The gospels contrast John’s baptism (water) with Jesus’ baptism (Holy Spirit). The disciples were baptizing people in water in the gospel of John before Jesus’ resurrection. Where was Christian baptism introduced in the Bible that set it apart from John’s baptism, proselyte baptism, Holy Spirit baptism, or even Jewish ceremonial cleansings? If Matthew 28:19 refers to water baptism, and not Holy Spirit baptism, how would the Jews be able to differentiate John’s baptism from Christian baptism? Would it look any different to them than what John was doing in the wilderness? Matthew 28:19 says “or into”. Does baptizing them “into” the name necessarily mean water?

        Where were water baptisms mentioned beyond the Gospels and the Book of Acts as commandments to the Church?

        Instructions from Jesus to the disciples after his resurrection appear to be these verses below, not just Matthew 28:19. Are all of these not the great commission?

        Matthew 28:18-20
        And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
        a. Matthew 28:19 Or into

        Luke 24:46-49
        and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

        John 21:15-17
        When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. ”He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

        Acts 1:4-5
        And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

        Acts 10:42-43
        And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

        This is definitely an important discussion and people have many views on this topic.

      • Both of you present compelling evidence. I wonder if there is a common ground between the two of you?
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      • I can’t write long right now but I’ll try to read your post more carefully later. I just wanted to discuss this now:

        “I appreciate your feedback. I agree with what you said above, that the Holy Spirit does baptism, but I would say that is the baptism that places us into Christ – Holy Spirit baptism. Men do water baptism. Only Holy Spirit baptism can regenerate. Water baptism is merely a visible symbol. I am sure you would agree that pastors have baptized many people that turned out to be unbelievers that they thought were true believers at the time of their baptism. Did all the water baptized individuals continue in faith? If baptism is only by the Holy Spirit, there would be no such thing as unbaptized believers and baptized unbelievers.”

        This is why it’s important for people with my theology to get out of the house more. It’s so important to discuss theology with Christians from other traditions and give them a fair and respectful hearing. I had forgotten that one of they key differences between Calvinism and the theological viewpoint I’m representing here is how each understands the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion. You have summed up the reformed view admirably, I think.

        But let me press you on this point: “Men do water Baptism.” Okay, that is true in a certain sense. We could also say, “Men wrote the Scripture” or “Men proclaim God’s Word.” But you would agree that even though human beings are instrumental in proclaiming the Gospel, it is still God’s Word, and God still works through it. Right?

        Does the preaching of the Gospel stop being God’s word because someone doesn’t believe–because it doesn’t “work” on some people?

        I think you would agree that it remains God’s word even when it is rejected. The preacher who preaches according to Scripture has the confidence that what He preaches is a. God’s Word because it is in accord with the Holy Scripture and b. that God has commanded us to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples, and therefore the work of preaching comes with divine authority as well as divine promises.

        It’s the same with Baptism. We baptize not on our own authority, but on Christ’s, since He sent the disciples to make disciples by means of baptism and teaching. Since Christ instituted baptism, it is really his work. If a king sends a servant out to give a box of gold to another king in his name, you could say that the servant “gave” the gold. But in reality it was the king who gave, using the servant as an instrument.

        The fact that many people who are baptized fall away or receive baptism without faith does not make baptism a human work. It just means that the person who was baptized did not believe the promise attached to baptism, or fell from that faith.

  6. Livingonaprayer

    I absolutely agree that the Gospel remains God Word and is God breathed even though men proclaim it. It is still God’s Word when it is rejected. What concerns me about the idea of baptismal regeneration in physical water, or any baptism is physical water, whether people believe it has regenerating power or not, is that men willingly submit to it, or have their children baptized and there is no way to determine if they faith is genuine. In the case of a baby, how do we know if they will ever come to saving faith? I think that people tend to treat water baptism as confirmation that they are saved, and can place a false sense of security in that symbol. I know many people that have done just that. I was baptized as an infant, as were my children. I always accepted it as church tradition and knew what it symbolized. I moved to a new area and began attending a non-denominational church that only accepts believer’s baptism, so I thought that I should possibly get re-baptized. I have read all the arguments from both sides regarding infant vs. adult, immersion vs. sprinkling and I can say that all of them have valid points. I decided to go to Scripture for my answer to try to actually find those reasons expressed by both viewpoints. After much research, prayer, and time in God’s Word, I have come to the belief that physical water baptism had a purpose in John the Baptist’s ministry to point the way to Jesus.

    Immersions in mikvehs were part of Jewish life for their various ceremonial cleansings, so what John was doing was probably very familiar and they knew of proselyte immersion (tevilah) or baptism when a Gentile (a non-Jew) became a convert to Judaism. The proselyte also had to offer a sacrifice. Perhaps the baptisms in Acts were proselyte baptisms and the apostles thought it was necessary. It was required that a proselyte man be circumcised as a sign of the covenant, and for both men and women to be ceremonially immersed in “living water”. This tradition, called tevilah (the Hebrew word for immersion) or mikvah after the pool of water in which it performed, continues to the present in both the Orthodox and Conservative Jewish traditions. Many Jews still visit mikvehs today, and there are 353 in the United States alone. See http://www.mikvah.org. Chabad.org states: “The primary uses of mikvah today are delineated in Jewish Law and date back to the dawn of Jewish history. They cover many elements of Jewish life. Mikvah is an integral part of conversion to Judaism. Mikvah is used, though less widely known, for the immersion of new pots, dishes, and utensils before they are used by a Jew. The mikvah concept is also the focal point of the taharah, the purification rite of a Jew before the person is laid to rest and the soul ascends on high. The manual pouring of water in a highly specific manner over the entire body of the deceased serves this purpose. Mikvah is also used by men on various occasions; with the exception of conversion, they are all customary. The most widely practiced are immersion by a groom on his wedding day and by every man before Yom Kippur. Many Chassidic men use the mikvah before each Shabbat and holiday, some even making use of mikvah each day before morning prayer (in cities with large populations of observant Jews, special mikvahs for men facilitate these customs). But the most important and general usage of mikvah is for purification by women. (This is from http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/1541/jewish/The-Mikvah.htm).

    When the priesthood was first established, Aaron, the first High Priest, and his sons were washed (immersed) for their priesthood by the only prophet of God living at that time, Moses. When Jesus was immersed for His priesthood, He was immersed by the only prophet of God (besides Himself) living at that time, John the Baptist. John the Baptist was the last Old Testament prophet.

    Take a look at these verses, and see what you think:

    John said he baptized with water
    (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:31-33, John 3:23-24, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16)

    John said he was not the Christ
    (John 1:20, John 3:28)

    John said he came baptizing in water so that Jesus would be revealed to Israel
    (John 1:31, John 10:40-42, Acts 10:37:38)

    John said he baptized to bear witness that Jesus is the Son of God (He on whom the Spirit descended on and remained baptizes with the Holy Spirit)
    (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-34)

    Jesus’ authority was established at his baptism
    (Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8, John 10:18, Acts 1:22, Acts 10:42-43)

    John said the one coming after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit spiritual “living water” – gives the promise of the Father. John contrasted his baptism with the baptism that Jesus would perform after he was glorified
    (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:26, John 1:33, John 4:10-14, John 7:38-39, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16, Acts 15:8, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 1 Corinthians 12:13.Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:4-6, Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5-6, Colossians 2:8-12, Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 3:21)

    Christianity was at first regarded by the Romans to be a sect of Judaism. John the Baptist continually emphasized that he baptizes with water BUT Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and is given to all believers at the point of salvation apart from any water baptism. I believe Holy Spirit baptism is the New Covenant and John’s the Baptist’s baptism was part of the Old Covenant. Holy Spirit baptism is the only baptism that saves, and it occurs without water baptism taking place. I believe it is purely an act of God done immediately in the life of a believer. Something we don’t feel or are even aware of.

    As was pointed out above by Jonathan Thomas, the definition of baptizo produces a permanent change and only being baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit can produce a permanent change, such as our union and identification with Christ when we become believers. As Jonathan also pointed out, “The word baptism as it is a transliteration may or may not denote the use of water. For instance, it is shown that when Jesus spoke to the two disciples about baptism he spoke of his death, literally.” Also, we have seen that Jesus himself in John, chapter 7 said that the Holy Spirit is “living water”. The Holy Spirit is referred to as water as well.

    If baptism were only by the Holy Spirit, there certainly would not be division among denominations arguing what a valid baptism really is, and then no one would be concerned with the mode of sprinkling or immersion, or whether it is valid for infants as well as adults, because Christ would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit. For those that say only believer’s baptism is valid and require people that have only had an infant baptism be re-baptized, do they have a higher standard than Christ, who has already baptized true believers into His body? Have we taken church tradition, and made it a command of Christ?

    I am glad we are having this discussion, and hopefully others can add to it.

  7. Livingonaprayer

    I absolutely agree that the Gospel remains God Word and is God breathed even though men proclaim it. It is still God’s Word when it is rejected. What concerns me about the idea of baptismal regeneration in physical water, or any baptism is physical water, whether people believe it has regenerating power or not, is that men willingly submit to it, or have their children baptized and there is no way to determine if they faith is genuine. In the case of a baby, how do we know if they will ever come to saving faith? I think that people tend to treat water baptism as confirmation that they are saved, and can place a false sense of security in that symbol. I know many people that have done just that. I was baptized as an infant, as were my children. I always accepted it as church tradition and knew what it symbolized. I moved to a new area and began attending a non-denominational church that only accepts believer’s baptism by immersion for membership, so I considered if I should get re-baptized. At this time, I have not done so. I have read all the arguments from both sides regarding infant vs. adult, immersion vs. sprinkling and I can say that all of them have valid points. I decided to go to Scripture for my answer to try to actually find those reasons expressed by both viewpoints. After much research, prayer, and time in God’s Word, I have come to the belief that physical water baptism had a purpose in John the Baptist’s ministry to point the way to Jesus, but does not appear to be a commandment for today.

    Immersions in mikvehs were part of Jewish life for their various ceremonial cleansings, so what John was doing was probably very familiar and they knew of proselyte immersion (tevilah) or baptism when a Gentile became a convert to Judaism. The proselyte also had to offer a sacrifice. Perhaps the baptisms in Acts were proselyte baptisms and the apostles thought it was necessary during that transition period. It was required that a proselyte man be circumcised as a sign of the covenant, and for both men and women to be ceremonially immersed in “living water”. This tradition, called tevilah (the Hebrew word for immersion) or mikvah after the pool of water in which it performed, continues to the present in both the Orthodox and Conservative Jewish traditions. Many Jews still visit mikvehs today, and there are 353 in the United States alone. See http://www.mikvah.org. Chabad.org states: “The primary uses of mikvah today are delineated in Jewish Law and date back to the dawn of Jewish history. They cover many elements of Jewish life. Mikvah is an integral part of conversion to Judaism. Mikvah is used, though less widely known, for the immersion of new pots, dishes, and utensils before they are used by a Jew. The mikvah concept is also the focal point of the taharah, the purification rite of a Jew before the person is laid to rest and the soul ascends on high. The manual pouring of water in a highly specific manner over the entire body of the deceased serves this purpose. Mikvah is also used by men on various occasions; with the exception of conversion, they are all customary. The most widely practiced are immersion by a groom on his wedding day and by every man before Yom Kippur. Many Chassidic men use the mikvah before each Shabbat and holiday, some even making use of mikvah each day before morning prayer (in cities with large populations of observant Jews, special mikvahs for men facilitate these customs). But the most important and general usage of mikvah is for purification by women.

    When the priesthood was first established, Aaron, the first High Priest, and his sons were washed (immersed) for their priesthood by the only prophet of God living at that time, Moses. When Jesus was immersed for His priesthood, He was immersed by the only prophet of God (besides Himself) living at that time, John the Baptist. John the Baptist was the last Old Testament prophet.

    Take a look at these verses, and see what you think:

    John said he baptized with water
    (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:31-33, John 3:23-24, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16)

    John said he was not the Christ
    (John 1:20, John 3:28)

    John said he came baptizing in water so that Jesus would be revealed to Israel
    (John 1:31, John 10:40-42, Acts 10:37:38)

    John said he baptized to bear witness that Jesus is the Son of God (He on whom the Spirit descended on and remained baptizes with the Holy Spirit)
    (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-34)

    Jesus’ authority was established at his baptism
    (Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8, John 10:18, Acts 1:22, Acts 10:42-43)

    John said the one coming after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit spiritual “living water” – gives the promise of the Father. John contrasted his baptism with the baptism that Jesus would perform after he was glorified
    (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:26, John 1:33, John 4:10-14, John 7:38-39, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16, Acts 15:8, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 1 Corinthians 12:13.Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:4-6, Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5-6, Colossians 2:8-12, Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 3:21)

    Christianity was at first regarded by the Romans to be a sect of Judaism. John the Baptist continually emphasized that he baptizes with water BUT Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and is given to all believers at the point of salvation apart from any water baptism. I believe Holy Spirit baptism is the New Covenant and John’s the Baptist’s baptism was part of the Old Covenant. Holy Spirit baptism is the only baptism that saves, and it occurs without water baptism taking place. I believe it is purely an act of God done immediately upon faith and repentance in the life of a believer. Something we don’t feel or are even aware of.

    As was pointed out above by Jonathan Thomas, the definition of baptizo produces a permanent change and only being baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit can produce a permanent change, such as our union and identification with Christ when we become believers. As Jonathan also pointed out, “The word baptism as it is a transliteration and may or may not denote the use of water. For instance, it is shown that when Jesus spoke to the two disciples about baptism he spoke of his death, literally.” Also, we have seen that Jesus himself in John, chapter 7 said that the Holy Spirit is “living water”.

    If baptism were only by the Holy Spirit, there certainly would not be division among denominations arguing what a valid baptism really is, and then no one would be concerned with the mode of sprinkling or immersion, or whether it is valid for infants as well as adults, because Christ would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit. For those that say only believer’s baptism is valid and require people that have only had an infant baptism be re-baptized, do they have a higher standard than Christ, who has already baptized true believers into His body? Have we taken church tradition, and made it a command of Christ? I really believe all the disagreements about water baptism actually take away from God’s Glory and give equal weight to water baptism being able to accomplish what only Christ’s death could have accomplished.

    I am glad we are having this discussion, and hopefully others can add to it.

  8. I am so glad you both have taken time to add to this conversation. I have been edified by you both. I hope that you have both been edified as well. Let us approach this topic with an open mind. Lets seek the unity of the faith with one another. let us be one, just as God is one. That’s why I have not added to either side, to preserve the unity and equality. Thank you again.

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