the Bible ( verses only
The Bible speaks of baptism in
three ways. Two of the ways are the work of God and one way is
the work of man. The Bible refers to them as water baptism, baptism of the Holy Spirit, and baptism of fire.
Water baptism is a work that we do, baptism of the Holy Spirit
and of fire is a work that the Lord does in us (Matthew 3:11).
1 Peter 3:21 says that baptism saves us, but "not the putting
away of the filth of the flesh" (which is what physical water
does) but rather "the answer of a good conscience toward
God". In other words, salvation is the result of what is
happening on the inside (where the conscience is) not the result
of what is happening outside the body. On the inside is where
the baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place -- and this is the
work of God, and this is what saves us.
Listen to Titus
"Not by works of righteousness
which we have done, but according to His mercy He
saved us, by the washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit;
which He shed on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Savior;
that being justified by His
grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of
The Bible is very clear that
no work that we do could ever lead to salvation, just as Titus 3:5 said. Notice also what Romans 4:5 says about working for one's salvation:
"But to him that works
not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, His faith
counted for righteousness."
In order for anyone to be allowed
to dwell with God (who is perfectly just, and perfectly good,
with a perfect hatred for what is evil) that person must be righteous.
As you may already realize, all of mankind has fallen from righteousness
and there is none righteous, "no, not one" (Romans
3:10-12). Not a single human being can measure up to
God's standards of righteousness because they are perfect
standards. Notice what James 2:10
"For whosoever shall
keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty
Wonderfully, God who is Love
and perfect in Love, has provided for us a way that we
can be made right with our Creator. That way is by giving the
"gift" of righteousness freely to those who believe.
God is able to justly do this by giving Himself as a ransom
for us. He ransomed those who believe in Him from the eternal
consequences of their sins by allowing Himself to suffer in their
place. He suffered the punishment they rightly deserved. Jesus
purchased the "gift" of righteousness for those who
truly believe (through His perfectly righteous life and horrific
death). The Bible declares, however, that even the faith in our
heart is also a "gift" of God -- not our work
but a work His Spirit has done in us. See Ephesians
"For by grace are you
saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift
God: Not of works, lest any
man should boast.
For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God
has before ordained that we
should walk in them."
Good works, to include the work
of water baptism or works of repentance could never be a requirement
for salvation. First of all, because no "good" work
that we do, could ever be good enough to be worthy
of eternal paradise and be good enough to pay for all of our sinfulness.
Only the work Jesus did is able to accomplish these things for
us. Also, if our work in any way was a requirement for salvation,
then we would be entitled to some of the glory (or credit) and
could boast that we were a little better than the unbelievers
who are damned. But the reality is that we are desperate sinners
down to the core of our nature unable to do anything that is worthy
enough of His Saving us.
As we see in Ephesians
2:10, it says we are created in Christ Jesus "unto
good works". That is, good works are the product of salvation,
the result of being saved, not the means by which we are saved.
Salvation is altogether the work of God which He works in us by
His Spirit. True and believing faith is the evidence of the Holy
Spirit within us (see Galations 5:22) it is the evidence that
we have been saved (see Hebrews
11:1). And if true believing exists within our heart
then we will also have a desire to want to do God's will, to repent
of our sinful ways, and to seek Him continually for the ability
to repent and do His will. And we want to "do" these
good works as a means of thanking God for His incomprehensible
mercy toward us (see 1 Thessalonians
5:18). The true believer does not repent and do good
works in order to get to heaven, he does them because he knows
he is going to heaven. He realizes he is completely unworthy of
this gift but cannot deny the presence of faith in his heart.
God wonderfully, has provided a way for the true believer to act
upon that burning desire in his heart to thank God. That way is
by seeking through good works and words to communicate God's Word
to others. This is necessary because God uses His Word to produce
saving faith in the hearts of people (see Romans
10:17, 1 Peter 1:23,
In the light of these truths
you might ask, 'What is the purpose of water baptism then?'
Water baptism is a means by which
we proclaim that Jesus has saved us. It mainly is a way to identify us with the community of
professing believers. There are numerous accounts of this in the
book of Acts. This was especially important at the beginning of
the New Testament when the world was just beginning to hear about
Jesus. It serves as a physical symbolic picture of the spiritual
work that the Holy Spirit does in us. Most of the time when the
Bible is referring to baptism it is speaking of baptism of the
Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many churches teach water baptism
as a requirement for salvation, but this is obviously contrary
to the Word of God. In fact, the main distinguishing characteristic
of a false gospel or of any false religion, is that underneath
all the doctrines and practices lies the one element that I must
"do something" in order to be saved. The Lord does in
fact command us to believe in Jesus and to repent, but the reality
is that no one will -- that is, that no one will unless
the Lord first saves them (see Romans
3:11, John 6:44).
One of the main verses that people
use to say that water baptism is a requirement for salvation is
found in John 3:5.
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of
the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof,
but canst not tell whence
it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the
However, in this
verse as with all the Bible, we must allow the Bible to define
it's own terms. If this verse were referring to water baptism
then it would be a clear contradiction of 1
Peter 3:21. Since we know that the Word of God cannot
have contradictions, we must compare scripture with scripture
to see if the Lord may have any additional meanings for the word
"water" (other than physical water). We see that in
Ephesians 5:26 He uses
it for a reference of His Word:
"...That he might sanctify
and cleanse it (His
church) with the washing of water by the word..."
(see also in John
If we apply this meaning to John 3:5 we see that it makes perfect sense
that "unless a man is born of water (the Word) and of the
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." As says
also Romans 10:17, James
1:18 and 1 Peter 1:23.
More on WATER
Click here for the third type of Baptism, BAPTISM OF FIRE
If you should have questions or comments about what is said
or have need for additional verses, please send an e-mail by Clicking Here