Chapter 27 - BAPTISM
Baptism has been a divisive issue for years, causing a lack of the unity among believers. Those who have said there is no water baptism for today's program of God and their endeavor to clear up the controversy only added to the controversy; and if they had any valid points in their dispensational understanding it was rejected by other believers who could not get passed the teaching of no water and they rejected the whole premise. Also there are those who have practiced water baptism for salvation and perform infant baptism only adding to the non-Scriptural conclusions. Then the last group recognizes that water baptism is for believers after salvation but they do not give a clear explanation from Scriptures or a consistent reason why it was instituted as it was in the New Testament.
I hope that as we continue not to cause division or a disunity but an understanding only found in Scripture for the Body of Christ, the church today and the understanding of the covenants and dispensations as they relate to water baptism. Water Baptism is a practice for today's dispensation and should be practiced to celebration a new believer's desire to be part of the membership of the local church. Water baptism itself was not a new practice for the Jews, they only wondered why John was baptizing, Hebrews 6:1-2. The question today is how water baptism relates to our dispensation and the others in the future (The Dispensation of the Kingdom and the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times).
Remembering water baptism relates to the identification with the Covenant of redemption and it is not a dispensational key or principle. Being baptized under any dispensation does not make a dispensational change. However the reason for the practice will change in a dispensation as to the people in which it is being applied whether individuals of the Nation of Israel before they were laid aside or to all believing mankind after Israel was laying aside. Today because of a dispensational change Israel's covenant relationship as relating to the Abrahamic and Palestinian covenants (see Covenant chapter) has no bearing on salvation, but all mankind come to salvation the same way today.
Water Baptism is for today's practice by believers
Water Baptism is for today's practice by believers (The practice will continue through the Millennial Rein of Christ I believe.) and is for one's personal Testimony that salvation (personal redemption) has occurred and they want to identify with Christ Jesus' death, burial and resurrection and their committed to walking a new life. It illustrates to the local assembly that God has sealed the individual being baptized, it shows immersion into Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13 and now the believer is willing and ready for service with the local believers, 1 Corinthians 12.
Just as Jesus Christ's work began after His baptism service begins after membership. Our Lord accomplished His work once here on earth - so water baptism is a onetime event in keeping with the illustration to a local Body of believers of salvation in Jesus Christ.
The whole ceremony is accomplished by the baptizer a believer filled with the Holy Spirit appointed by God, (the baptizer today is not always filled because of sin but should be). Not submitting to water baptism shows the pride of those who refuse and this refusal has risen questions whether or not salvation has really occurred and those who refuse must struggle within themselves if they were saved with the Holy Spirit as to their refusal and why they refused.
Submitting to water baptism shows a personal illustration of death to self and pride.
The immersed believer into the water illustrates ones death and burial in the spiritual scene but yet being alive in the water just as Jesus died physically He lived spiritually and His body did not see corruption, Act 13:36-38 but was preserved for His resurrection, (At our death a believer has an intermediate body until the resurrection of their dead body, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 cf. 1 Corinthians 15, 2 Thessalonians 4:18-23.).
The coming up from the water illustrate the spiritual transformation of the body in the resurrection from death where the body and spirit is again united.
The leaving the water one shows the walking in the new life with Jesus Christ and ready for service.
A new believer should be baptized as close to salvation as possible and received as a member of the local body of believers for service and growth. Membership into a new assembly because of moving to different areas or some another reason one is not to be re-baptized because the work of God in salvation is a ones for all accomplished event, but the new assembly should investigate the testimony of the individual and if the believer has been baptized since they believed and if they were not disciplined out of the previous assembly for sin they should be welcomed into the new local church. If they were disciplined out and have not reconciled the difference then they should be rejected until repentance and reconciled.
Membership with believers should not be any harder than salvation. Remembering when one is first saved they are a child in the faith and need to grow, membership should embrace the new believer and not make the individual 'jump through hoops first'. I find no place in scripture were it says membership is for only the mature but the Scriptures shows immediately after one believes membership with the local believers for service occurred. Baptism seems to be the ceremony for that membership. Acts 2:41, for those who heard the message of the gospel, received it and then they were baptized and note they were pounced members after the baptism.
The covenant Israelites and proselytes under the Dispensation of Promise
The covenant Israelites and proselytes under the Dispensation of Promise who were believers, they became obedient and repented. Reconciling their relationship with God by identifying themselves with the baptism of John completing the progressive steps need to putting the New Covenant into operation, Act 2-8.
The introduction to water baptism by John with the New Covenant in the Dispensation of Promise was practiced and was to be practiced in the transition to the Dispensation of the Kingdom here on earth. Baptism was a outward expression for an Israelites identification of repentance as a covenant people and their identifying with the promised Messiah and their earthly Kingdom which was prophesied. Baptism by John was given in preparation of the fulfillment of prophecy of the Davidic Covenant by the Messiah and coming Kingdom, 2 Samuel 7:8-16.
The Word of God prophesied that John the Baptist would be born, Matthew 3:3, Isaiah 40:3. He was to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ and was to announce the earthly Kingdom to Israel with the Lord Jesus Christ as Israel’s Messiah and Savior, Matthew 3:11.
The Bible says John came water baptizing, Matthew 3 the Israelite practiced many baptisms, Hebrews 6:2. We may ask, why he was baptizing? John came water baptizing those who were already in a covenant relationship with God.
Israel was God's covenant people who were under the Promise administration, (or dispensation) waiting for their earthly Kingdom so why water baptism. John was calling them to repentance as a nation, one individual at a time, calling them to righteousness for they had corrupted themselves not producing the fruit God desired the Nation to produce; Hebrews 6:1-2, --- not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, -- gives the connection of baptism and the repentance they needed if they were to be the dispensers of the New Covenant and receive the Messiah and the Kingdom which was at hand or about to happen, Mark 1:4,14-15, Matthew 21:31-32.
They were to identify with John’s message and by being water baptized one showed their acceptance of John's message, of their personal sin of dead works and faith. Water Baptism was not for salvation, but individual identification with repentance of sin for the reconciling of their Nation to God and identification with the Messiah, which was promised from God for National deliverance by a new king, who was an Israelite bringing the deliverance and the new Kingdom.
John fulfilled the prophecy spoken to Israel that one would come calling them to repentance fulfilling the prophecy by water baptism, Mark 1:1-4. One of the keys to a dispensation is the way the dispenser ordained for the dispensation is doing their work giving God's message to the world and producing fruit, (See the chapters on the failures of a dispensation and the chapter on the judgment because of the failure, keys 9. 11).
Believers today perform the same kind of repentance when they confess their sin as believers 1 John 1:9 and show their faith by their works, James 2 carrying out the commission for this dispensation which God has call the dispensers of the Gospel of the New Covenant for today 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. The witness to the world of non-believers and offering them the truth from God that they could be part of God's people is a universal principle, Proverbs 11:30, Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, Isaiah 43:9-12, Revelation 7:3-9. What believers have called the Great Commandment for witnessing has been our commission since the Garden of Eden when God did not bring immediate judgment on mankind but brought loves and wants all men to be saved, 2 Peter 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:8.
Our Lord Jesus was water baptized to identify with Israel as their savior and King and in doing so Jesus Christ identified with Israel and the human race, Matthews 3:13-17. He was without sin therefore no repentance was needed, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 9:11-14 but just as the sacrifice under the Old Covenant was identified with the sinner our Lord's sacrifice was His identifying with Israel and the human race, Leviticus 16:15-16, Hebrews 9:15. Jesus Christ was the sacrifice for the completion or satisfaction God required for the sinner under the eternal New Covenant, which was applicable to all Dispensations and is a universal principle, Romans 5, Romans 8:1-4, (It is important to remember that a dispensation in not a covenant and a covenant is not a dispensation but a dispensation can have universal principles found from other dispensations which related to a previous covenant. Also, a new revelation can be given in the dispensation's operation which will relate to some aspect of an existing covenant.
Dispensations fail because of a combination of reasons: because of God's longsuffering running out, because of the permeation of wickedness and sin, because of the failure of the instruments of God to bear fruit in their responsibility, or God bring final judgment on evil which He does at the end of the Millennial reign on Satan and those who follow Satan in his attack on the Lord Jesus Christ, Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10 see the chapter on the 7 keys or principles to a dispensation).
The Nation of Israel needed repentance because of the corruption and apostatizing from the promise requirements given to them from God and the fact they were to be a Holy Nation which they were not, Luke 3:7-9, Matthews 23:13-39, Act 7. They had apostatized rejecting repentance and their reasonability to God the Father and after King Solomon, going downhill with the rejecting of the Father, then the rejection of the Son and finally the rejection of the Holy Spirit in their responsibility to God and the world under the New Covenant. These failures relate to the seven principle found in every dispensation. Whenever a dispensation is approaching the end we see this kind of failure which ends with the judgment of God for mankind's failure, (see the chapter on the seven keys or principles of a dispensation and the chapters on the failures of a dispensation and the judgments from God on the dispensation).
Would a Israelite who was outwardly in covenant relationship but inwardly lacked faith and trust in God's revealed truth given Israel under their promised covenant be saved? It seems by what Jesus said to the Pharisees and Scribes, they would not have been saved because even under the Dispensation of Promise trust and faith was a prerequisite and with their individual obedience showed their true faith if it was there, Matthews 23:13-39.
However, there were many Israelites who did have faith and accept personal responsibility for their sin and were obedient to the prophesied demand of John message living by the truths given them under their personal covenant from God. We also know water baptism was not for salvation because the thief on the cross next to Jesus received salivation by faith directly given by Christ Jesus without water baptism. The religious leader's hearts were shown that their faith was in their works of Moses and religion and not truly in the person of Jehovah, Matthew 3:4-10. The universal principle of faith without works does show the heart of an individual it showed then as it does today and it will in the future generations, James 2, Matthew 25:43-46, Luke 10:25-37.
Christ Jesus' church today is called His Body, in the Mystery Dispensation
God’s Word tells us that after Israel as a nation rejected the New Covenant, God began a mystery dispensation, called the church that is His Body (The Dispensation of Grace/Equality). The church age of Christ Jesus' Body is God’s program for today and will end with the rapture of the church called His Body. As we study the order of events for the believer; belief in Jesus Christ come first, then the believer was water baptized to identify himself with Christ to the local church and ready for service. Those churches that hold to the teaching of God’s Word will preach water baptism as the pattern of the truth found in the Word's authority.
Under the Dispensation of Grace which started latter than Acts 2, somewhere between Acts 9 -13 the New Covenant is applicable for the believers, Ephesians 2.
Cornelius's Conversion the first recorded Gentile save
The best example of the order of salvation in the new dispensation is seen in the salvation of Cornelius in Act 10. it is here we see he and other Gentiles believed first that were not proselytes to Judaism, then the Holy Spirit became evident in them and then Peter took Cornelius and those with him and baptized them Acts 10:34-48.
The event with Cornelius was the example God gave in His word that the beginning of the new dispensation had occurred - The Dispensation of Grace/Equality or the mystery dispensation, (administration) was in operation, (Note: repentances for identification with the Nation of Israel and their national sin towards God was not in Peter's message here to the Gentiles but repentance was related to belief and the finished work of Jesus Christ, 43"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." and of course baptism was not mentioned for salvation or in connection of the forgiveness of sin and it was only applied to individuals who could make a cognitive chose to believe first. (Also, note: Act 9-10 the events could have occurred overlapping in time historically with each other).
No longer was it just to Israelites but Gentles on equal bases. Gentiles were being saved apart from be a proselyte to the Promise dispensation or part of the Covenant of Abraham given to Israel. Gentiles were not Abraham seed as Israel and they were not under the law which was added through Moses to Israel. From here on mankind has a different relationship to the covenant and promises given to Israel, Romans 16:25, Colossians 1, Ephesians 1-3.
From this point of transition into the new Dispensation of Grace, Jew as well as Gentiles were to receive salvation the same way, it was no longer any advantage to be a National Jew, they had failed along with the rest of the world explained in the book of Romans in the Bible, 'all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God' (The only advantage was that through their fall the Dispensation of Grace was given, chapter 3 and 10, 11). The New Covenant is not a dispensation but relates to God's redeeming promise of Genesis 3:15; the New Covenants transcends all dispensations and has application to all dispensations from the perspective of the dispensing out of God's redemption and rules for the particular dispensation. The New Covenant cannot be changed but the application has not always been fully know but the truth becomes known as God gave His Word and the understanding of it through the study of the Scripture, Ephesians chapter 2 and 3 shows how the covenant stayed the same but aspect of application to all men became new.
The conversion of the apostle Paul
In the conversion of the apostle Paul (called Saul before Acts 13:9), Acts 9 (Apostle to the Gentiles) we see aspects changing with his belief first, then the evidence of the Holy Spirits presence within, then he was baptized as we saw in Cornelius conversion who was saved after Paul and then we see his connection with the local assembly of believers, (Paul's first repentance occurred but it was not connected to Saul's baptism).
Some have said Paul was baptized to be saved but if you ask yourself what relationship did he have up to his baptism you will see salvation must have occurred before his baptism, Acts 9, Acts 22.
1. On the road to Damascus he acknowledged Jesus Christ when our Lord confronted him with his sin and need. Verses Acts 22:1-11 Paul calls Jesus Lord, and responds to God's confutation asking Him what the Lord wanted him to do, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Acts 9: 20-26, Act 22:17-21. Also, remember Paul was a Israelite in covenant relationship but in error about Jesus Christ. God our Farther call Paul on the road to respond to Jesus as Lord, just as salvation is not given to anyone apart from the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit drawing them to come to salvation, John 6:44 the Farther, 12:32 the Son, 14:26-27,15:26-27, 16:5-11 the Holy Spirit, Act 26:12-18 testimony of Paul's conversion.
2. In verse Acts 22:12-13 Paul received his sight if he was not saved then the act was done on a nonbeliever before he was saved and had his sin forgiven, which is absurd. It is interesting Ananias call's Paul a brother, a relationship given to the redeemed because of salvation. Especially the recording of this account would not be referring the relationship just to a man or because he was a Jew because Ananias was responding to God command his to treat Paul as a believer, verse 10 cf. Acts 9:10-19. Also Paul received the Holy Spirit before baptism, check the order of events of Paul's conversion. "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,"
3. Paul received the Holy Spirit according to the New Covenant under the aspect of the Dispensation of Grace when he believed, God sealed Paul as He does us today, Ephesians 1:13, Romans 5:5 and God gave him a gift for service as God the Holy Spirit does for all saved believers, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, Acts 9:17-18. Also it does not say Paul received the Holy Spirit in connection with Ananias but that he was filled indicating the Holy Spirit was already present which probably happened at the time he receive Jesus as Lord on the road to Damascus. Believers today need to be filled and it is in proportion with their individual obedience as Paul demonstrated after his conversion, Ephesians 5:18. Noting: what Ananias said to him before his baptism, Act 22:14-16 confirms he was save or a believer already according to Acts 9.
4. The recorded record shows his relationship right after being baptized his relationship with the local church of believers in Damascus and then by Barnabas presetting him to the local church of believers in Jerusalem, Acts 9:19-31, (note the believers in Jerusalem accepted him after evaluation and he was not baptized again or was he a mature believer before acceptance of him by the Damascus or Jerusalem believers).
A Personal Testimony
The testimony from an individual submitting themselves to water baptism illustrates humbleness, which occurred. It is showing they had accepted responsibility of their personal need of Jesus Christ for salvation and personal faith in His finished work of the cross, (which had occurred first). They are showing to the local church (assembly of believers) their desire for membership with them and that salvation has occurred. Also by the assembly performing the water baptism the local church is showing or illustrates the believer's unity of belief with the group.
The Work of God and the Holy Spirit
Water baptism illustrates the seal of God the Holy Spirit and the performance of His work putting the believer into Christ Jesus. The Father sent us the son, Christ Jesus, the Son accomplishes the work of transformation, the Holy Spirit seals the believer. The Holy Spirit baptizes (immersing) us by God putting His presence in believer as His seal making the believer one as John 17 describes, (not in the physical sense as we know physical oneness but spiritually in salvation or redemption which makes us one with Christ Jesus in the operation of the power of God, Colossians 2:12, John 1:12 ). (Illustration: all individual believers are given the one Holy Spirit at the moment of personal salvation and believers have their own personal existence. All individual believers have Jesus Christ living in them yet He is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven and yet we are one with Him. Believers are one with each other yet each are individual There is only one baptism but all-inclusive with the term includes the one water baptism before the church representing the one union which the Holy Spirit does by His presence, baptizing (immersing) us into Jesus Christ.)
Circumcision, Babies and Water Baptism
Water baptism does not take the place of circumcision, which was required for infants and adults coming into the community of Israel under their covenant given for their obedience in the Promises Dispensation.
Water baptism was applied to adults only who were or became believers and there is no Biblical or historical proof that children were ever baptized in the first century and there is no record in the Scriptures. For those who hold to children being baptized before their ability to be saved, presume it and are making a presupposition not on Biblical evidence or history.
Infant baptism is a teaching of false hope and is very dangerous because individuals need to take responsibility for being lost on their way to Hell and not rely on a false hope or an easy belief by believing their baptism saved them instead of faith in the work of Christ Jesus. Going to church, church membership, water baptism, taking communion, is not salvation, they only have been substituted by many for salvation.
Men have taken these substitutes over repentance and instead of turning to Jesus Christ for salvation as the only way they practice or accept the substitute. Infant's water baptism takes away personnel responsibility of chose and personal responsibility for their personnel sinfulness of the flesh and sin.
The Word of God, the Bible, makes it plain that water baptism is not for nonbelievers or babies, but only for those who have accepted Jesus Christ. Water Baptism never seems to be optional but practiced right after salvation in the first century's believing community, (Membership with local believer is not optional as some try to teach but we are to be accountable and helpful to other believers, 1 Corinthians 12.).
Age of Accountability - answerable, cognitively responsible, liable
One has to have the ability to believe and understand that he is a sinner before they can be saved. Never can a person perform water baptism on another person to give them salvation or give them a special place with God. Such a belief just does not come from the Bible. Membership in the first century to the local Church was connected by water baptism after an individual's belief and faith for salvation occurred Acts 2:41-47.
Two Ordinances for Local Church Practice
(Ordinance - decree, order, rule, regulation, law, edict)
There are two ordinances, which should be practice in the local church in today's dispensation, water baptism and communion. Baptism as stated above is for identification with Christ Jesus in one's personal proclamation of salvation and identification for member in the local church (union with believers).
Communion is a memorial service of the work and truth of Jesus' body and blood given for salvation. Communion is for all believers when they get together for worship, the eating the bread and drinking the cup is an act of worship to Christ Jesus and both water baptism and communion have strong Scriptural proof for there practice. (I believe marriage ceremonies and funeral ceremonies should be performed in the local church but there is not as strong of an attainable defense in scripture for the absolute practices and making them ordinances for the local church, however, if a local church includes them as a ordinances they have not sinned. There are other regulation of gray areas a local church makes and follow which are not sinful, these regulation fall under Christian liberty.)
When taking communion the word of God does not say how often, it just says as often as you do practice it, do it right. When taking communion believer are celebrating the memory of Jesus Christ for them and they should be using unleavened bread and drinking unfermented wine which symbolizes the meaning of the actual body and blood of Christ. The bread and wine is to be unleavened and unfermented because it is what was used when instituted and practiced in scripture. It represents Jesus Christ incarnation and glorification as God, who was without sin in His life and it represents His blood which had no defect or sin and was sufficient for the prefect sacrifice needed to meet the payment requirement for God's justice. Leaven bread and fermentation of wine should not be used because both represent a corruption of the elements, instead the elements should represents Christ Jesus' purity without sin and prefect sacrifice.
As stated earlier water Baptism is the first act of obedience after salvation and should be desired after a true conversion takes place to show obedience to Christ and becoming a member in the local church. It is an open confession to the world through the local church that one is identifying with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection and service through the local church. There is only one water baptism, which believers are responsible for and it is in relationship to the local church after belief Ephesians 4:5. There was no voting on membership in the first century church, believers were added to membership of the local community after their baptism without any mention of vote on their membership.
The Mode for Baptism
The Water Baptism that is taught in the Scriptures is by immersion and it is not for salvation but identification. Water Baptism is the duty of every child of God, which shows they are identifying with Jesus Christ. The mode of baptism is immersion into water and is practiced in relationship to the local church and performed by a representative of Jesus Christ. There is no other form of Water Baptism taught in the Scriptures than immersion. The word baptism in the Greek means to dip under (and water was the element used).
1. Mark 1:9-10, "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:"a. There is no time lapse. The coming out is as John brought Jesus Christ up out of the water.
b. This verse does not say after His sprinkling but coming up out of the water. The Holy Spirit was leaving no doubt as to the mode of baptism. The word baptism in Greek means, "to dip"!
2. John 3:23, "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized."
a. Why much water? It is simple. To dip (baptize) you need much water.
3. Act 8:38,39, "and he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing."
a. Scripture shows both the pastor and the candidate going into the water to perform the baptism and note it says then Philip baptized him.
b. The pastor is the representation of Jesus Christ in the church today, performing the visible act of baptism on the believer.
4. Romans 6:3-5, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." Just as my whole body is washed externally with water, so have I been wholly cleansed from the uncleanness of my soul and all my sins (past, present and future) cleansed by the blood and Spirit of Christ, and made a victor over death."
a. The symbolism of immersion representing burial is striking, and if baptism is at all to be compared with prophetic symbolism, the parallelism of the act of the believer and event symbolized is important.
b. The likeness that symbolizes death needs to be done in a way keeping with the meaning of the word baptism – "dipped". The coming up out of the water is to symbolize the likeness of His resurrection even though our resurrection has not taken place yet. Both identifies us with an event, the water baptism represents the Holy Spirit putting us into Jesus Christ, water baptism also represents our resurrection when Christ returns.
c. The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 used by reform denominations (which have changed today) and other sprinkling churches that no longer immerse believers have erred from what they have held in years gone by. In their catechism it says, "Question 71, what is baptism? Answer, It is the immersing of a believer in water (Romans 6:3,4,5; Colossians 2:10-12; Galatians 3:27) as a sign unto Him (1 Peter 3:21) that he has union with Christ in His atoning death and powerful resurrection (Romans 6:2,4), thus having the remission of sins and the washing of regeneration (Mark 1:4) -- and so is to walk and live as a new creature (Colossians. 3:1-5)." Also in, "Question 72. How does holy baptism remind you that Christ’s sacrificial death and mighty resurrection avail for you? Answer, In this way: Christ has instituted this immersing and washing in water to signify His promise that, as certainly as I go down beneath the water and come up again, I am one with Him (Romans 6:4) as He was overwhelmed by suffering and death (Luke 12:50), then rose victoriously to life (Romans 6:8-11); and that by this union, just as my whole body is washed externally with water, so have I been wholly cleansed from the uncleanness of my soul and all my sins cleansed by the blood and Spirit of Christ, and made a victor over death."
Some have taught baptism is not for today who are mid-Acts believers but Paul who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the exact truths of God never said baptism is not for this dispensation. Paul was the Apostle of this Mystery Dispensation and he was given the full revelation of the household rule of operation. Those who hold to no water baptism argue from what is call the argument of silence on the subject - stating a lack of water baptism being mention more in his writings are grounds for no water baptism. There are scriptures in Paul's latter epistles in which he did mention water baptism in the context of the local church which even though he did not say water but it was inclusive it the word baptism and context of the local church.
Also, the writings in Scripture by the Apostle Paul does teach water baptism was not being practiced for this dispensation and it is for membership in the local church after salvation as we have already shown. If fact Paul writes on the topic of baptism many times in the context of the local church believers and the Holy Spirit. The following scriptures references, Romans 6, 1 Corinthians chapters 1, 10, 12, 15, and Galatians 3, Ephesians 4, Colossians 2, Hebrews 6 (if you consider Paul wrote Hebrews) all show God's teaching through the Apostle Paul.
Those who want to argue water baptism is not for today, reject the passages of Ephesians 4 and Colossians 2 as not speaking or containing the oneness spoken earlier in this chapter which include the teaching on the topic of water baptism and the presence of Spirit which baptism into Christ Jesus is implied. These passages do contain the thought of water baptism for identification and is for membership with Christ Jesus' Body of believers (the church today).
Instead of saying no water baptism is mentioned in Paul's passages (Colossians 2), one could say Paul revealed a new aspect of the truth for the Body church. Today our water baptism identifies us with Christ to the Local church and the baptism done without hands at salvation are inclusive together in the term but not broken out. Paul is showing salvation is not by men's works or religious practice. He does not say here water baptism in done away with. He is saying our salvation is secured when the Holy Spirit is given by God as our seal and by the Spirit coming into the believer they were immersed into Christ Jesus without any human effort, (the local church is not the subject). Just as circumcision is not done away with for identification of the Nation of Israel to be part of the promise given them, (Genesis 9:7-14, but it is not for salvation. He could be showing that water baptism or circumcision is not to be elevated to be equal to salvation. He does show in Colossians 2 that the presents of the Holy Spirit made us complete without water baptism but it does not say it is not to be practice for membership in the local church. This passage shows how John 17 becomes a reality for an individual in under the New Covenant.
This bring us then to the next scripture of Ephesians 4:4 and if water baptism is relating to the assembly of believers membership, we should be united in truth as the church because the Holy Spirit is not to be divided and even though the word water is not in the text it is implied because of the context. No were in scripture is it said water baptism is done away with or the eternal practice of circumcision is not to be practiced for the reason given, scripture only clarifies it is not for personal salvation.
In Ephesians 4:1-6 believer of old did believe this passage was speaking about the one water baptism of the local church because the of the context of the verse, where 'one baptism' is found in relationship to verses 11-32 for the local church. We find taught in the context the functional gifts given by God for the local church and find God wanting the members of the local church to reach maturity and unity. For believer to try to explain this 'one baptism' and equating it with the Holy Spirit's baptism only does not seem accurate with the context.
When it says to keep the unity of the Spirit and then mentions it again in the same context does not make sense unless you are trying to do away with water baptism and down grading the importance of believers to be part of a local church, (The universal church teaching downgrading responsibility of membership to the local church.). There is one body, and one Spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. In the word baptism, water seems to be implied or relating to the local church in keeping with the context of the whole chapter. Salvation is not the subject of this chapter but the membership's maturity and how it is achieved.
Ephesians 4:3-4"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." The Holy Spirit baptism in already integral to mentioning one Spirit and would not have to be mentioned twice in the verse. Also if the one baptism was relating to the Spirit's baptism it would have been mentioned right alone with the word's on Spirit earlier in the verse. And what has already been mentioned about the context and the relationship to the whole chapter show water baptism is the one baptism referring to the local church and unity.
One body - The Dispensational distinction of the Church call His Body.
One Spirit - The Holy Spirit which is God's seal on believers who by His presents has baptized us into Christ Jesus. He speaks for us with words which cannot be expressed and convicts us, speaking not of Himself but what the Father and Son says, and brings confirmation and comfort to believers.
One hope- There is only provision given possible for salvation Christ Jesus and His promises given because of Him.
One Lord - One confession in making Jesus Christ Lord. No salvation in any other name.
One faith - Taking responsibility of one inability repenting and resting, trusting, and believing in what God has said.
One baptism- Water Identification with Jesus Christ's work of redemption and that salvation has occurred before the body of believers for membership.
One God and Farther - The trinity - Farther, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father sent the Son - the Son worked the redemption and is mediator and the Holy Spirit seals by His presence being the catalysis between the workings after salvation.
Another passage we need to re-examine is 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." This passage also believers of old believed it was referring to water baptism and spirit was the spirit of the local church and not referring to the Holy Spirit alone. Because the context of the verse again is referring to the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to the local church members and the context is exhorting believes to have unity in the local church by using their personal gift for the work. Also in this passage water baptism could be inherit in the expression of baptized, especially sense Chapter one of Corinthians is speaking without doubt about water baptism and the baptizing of believers.
In 1 Corinthians chapter one, Paul does not say baptism is done away with but to keep the unity of the believers, Paul did baptize believers. Paul was not called to be a pastor of the local church but his work was that of an Apostle to start churches by seeing people saved. He again expresses that salvation is not by baptism by him saying, Christ has not sent him to baptize but to preach the gospel for salvation, (note the word water is not in front of the word baptize even though it is implied - so just because the word water do not always appear in the text does not mean it is not implied). He makes it clear here water baptism is not needed for salvation but also he makes it clear it has not been done away with, so you need to go back to the reason why it was give and that is for identification with Christ Jesus and membership with believers.
Baptism or communion is never mention in the book of revelations during the transition to the Dispensation of the kingdom. Do we know water baptism and communion will be practiced during the tribulation and will it be practiced in the Dispensation of the Kingdom on earth? I can only give a presupposition that it will be because it relates to identification with Christ Jesus and His calling out an assembly (or church) of that future time. Also it was instituted with the coming of the Messiah and instituted for practice ever since and never receded as a practice for identification relating to the New Covenant. It is not a dispensation but relates to a covenant. It seemed to be instituted as long as a local assembly is being saver making it a universal principle until the salvation of individual is complete, then it will not be needed any more. The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times there will be no need anymore because sin and Satan is done away and only the redeemed will be there in heaven.
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World Wide Outreach
By: Theodore D Pestor/ President/Pastor BTH