BAPTISM    Baptism in 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 3:5-7,

"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

eternal life."

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 is

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 says:

"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty

of all."

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 2:8-10,

"For by grace are you 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

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, James 1:18)

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.

John 3:5-8,

"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 Spirit."

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 4:13,14).

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.


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

back to main page