One Baptism? Yes, Only 1 (Ephesians 4:5)

By the Late P. Norman Carlson

(Finally! You can read the supplement here, with many thanks to Cecil Spivey for his help!)

(Edited from Booklet form, by Benjamin Webb)


The main part of this study was completed in April of 1990. Since that time, some people have expressed the opinion that a study on the one baptism of Eph.4:5 is "unimportant". We want to list briefly why we insist that it is not only important, but critically so.

1. First of all, we are told in Psalms 138:2, "…thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name". The material in this study contains dozens of passages from the Bible, the book that God has placed above His Own Holy Name.

2. In this connection, we are informed in Matthew 5:18 that every "jot" and "tittle" of God's word is vitally important. This, of course, refers to the very smallest, yet important, part of the sacred book.

3. The third reason connects naturally with the two above. Much of so-called Christianity (possibly the greater part) teaches salvation by water baptism; and few there are indeed in the other churches and denominations who can explain (from scripture) why this is just not true for today. In 2 Thessalonians 1:8, God informs us that the Lord Jesus will be "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ".

Paul, in several places, calls this gospel "my gospel" (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8); he also calls it "our gospel", in three other locations (2 Cor. 4:3; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2 Thess. 2:14). This is the gospel of the grace of God, which God gave to Paul by revelation. Paul's gospel is not the message of salvation for the kingdom of Christ on earth (Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38), which includes water baptism. So when we realize that hundreds of millions of people have gone astray because of a wrong teaching on the subject of water baptism, well can we see how important is a study like this one.

4. Then, too, this study is important because it includes other essential doctrines from God's word:

  1. The above stresses the importance of teaching Paul's gospel.
  2. This study shows the scriptural teaching of being followers of Paul, as he followed Christ.
  3. This study shows in a very limited way why tongues and gifts of healing are not for today.
  4. This study helps the reader learn to "rightly divide", as God has commanded.
  5. A brief study on the scriptural basis for, and the blessing of, the assurance of salvation is also given.
  6. And lastly, we have a brief section on how to become a Christian, and have the hope of eternal life with Christ.

Thus, we believe we have shown why the reading of this study is vitally important for all believers in Christ.

It is freely admitted by this writer that water baptism, in teaching and practice, is indeed found in many places within the pages of Holy Writ. We do ask, however, that each reader will carefully consider the following massive accumulative evidence from this same Bible, which shows that it has no place in God's program for today.

Water baptism in scripture was practiced as long as God was still working through or with Israel. But God is not dealing directly with Israel today; even though He still cares for them, as for us, providentially behind the scenes. And while, admittedly, Gentiles were also baptized, as shown in the scripture record, nevertheless this happened while God was still keeping His eye and heart open toward a repentant Israel as a nation. This repentance never came; yea, has still not come!

Instead, as God the Father was rejected by Israel at the preaching of the prophets, so also God, the Son, on earth was rejected by Israel. Then, God the Holy Spirit was again rejected by this same people, shown particularly in the stoning of Stephen. Yet God, until the last chapter of Acts, continued to deal with them; but Israel held fast to their decision of rejection. Thus, while today Israel is not cast away permanently (Romans 11:1,2), still they were blinded (Rom.11:7-25), they fell (Rom.11:12), and were cast away for a time (Rom.11:15).

The apostle Paul received his initial revelation at the time he believed on Christ, on his way to Damascus (Acts 9). However, he received additional revelations and truths as he went on through life (Acts 26:16).

In 1 Corinthians 1:17, he reveals that his commission did not include water baptism, "For Christ sent me not to baptize…". Yes, he had baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanus, because God had not completed His dealings with Israel - more on this, later. As evidence that God was still "holding out" in His efforts to reach the favored nation, see 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14; especially 1Cor.14:21. There, quoting from Isaiah 28:11-12, Paul - by inspiration of the Spirit of God - says:

In the law it is written, "With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the LORD."

Signs, tongues, gifts of healing, and other miracles were still in evidence, because "the Jews require a sign…" (1Cor.1:22). By the time Paul wrote Ephesians, however, these outwardly evidential miracles had passed from the scene, along with water baptism. Since 1 Cor. 12:13 states that we are all baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, this baptism is now the only one that is relevant, according to Eph.4:4-6 -

4: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5: One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

We will therefore list a number of reasons (41, to be exact) why water baptism is not for today, as far as God's program is concerned. We make little or no claim to originality for some of these points, but have tried to learn from faithful, able men, who searched for the truth regardless of the cost. And it does cost to be faithful to God's word; but it's well worth it, a million times over! Also we have added the results of some research and study of our own. Hopefully, the reading of this study will whet the appetite of some who ordinarily would never read a more lengthy work. Perhaps they will desire to pursue more complete works on the subject, after completing this shorter one.

Doubtless, some of the points listed in this study can be argued by the reader, depending upon his particular point of view. However, we believe that other points are incontrovertible, and the sum total case does indeed show the mind of God on the subject, in light of II Tim.2: 15 - "rightly dividing the word of truth". To say simply, "But my church teaches this or that", is certainly not an answer that will cause the reader to actually learn the scripture teaching on this matter.

We realize that this study will not make the author popular in most Christian circles; but then, popularity is not the goal of this study. Our goal and prayer is to get believers back to an impartial, honest, thorough study on the subject - whether or not they agree with the author's conclusions. We most assuredly do not claim perfection in this writing, except of course the perfection of the scriptures used throughout.

We will now list 41 different sections that explain why we believe water baptism is not in God's program for today:

Section 1

Many say that we should follow Christ in water baptism. To this, we would answer that it is not possible, neither is it God's intention, that we should follow Christ completely as He walked on earth. In Galatians 4:4, we are told that God's Son was "made under the law". Then, in Romans 15:8, scripture states that "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers". His earthly ministry, then, by interpretation, was mainly for Israel. We are aware that by application, all scripture is for our use, according to 2Tim.3:16. Then again, in 2Cor.5:16, we are given notice that, "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more". God gave to Paul the revelation that we are not under the law, but under grace - Ro.6:14, 15. We do not follow the "lowly Nazarene" today. We are to follow Paul, as he followed Christ (1Cor.11:1). That is, we are to follow Paul as he followed the risen, ascended Christ in heaven, at the Father's right hand. We do not need to go under water as part of our obedience for today.

Also, even though Christ's disciples baptized, yet He Himself did not (John 4:2). Then, too, no one today could ever be baptized for the same reason the Lord Jesus was baptized in water. John 1:31 tells us, "but that he should be made manifest to Israel", therefore was John the Baptist "come baptizing with water". Thus, we believe that water baptism is shown here as the sign of, or connected with, the Davidic Covenant. Water is clearly connected with Israel, here. But, since when are we now being made manifest to Israel?

Then, in Matthew 3:15, upon His baptism by John, Jesus said, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness". Thus, He was fulfilling part of His job as "a minister of the circumcision" (Ro.15:8).

Here is another question which must be answered: If we are to follow the Lord in water baptism, why not also follow Him in keeping the law of Moses; in circumcision as a religious ritual; and in crucifixion? This last one would certainly weed out most of us. Because He was crucified, we don't have to be. For the believer, His death was our death. So today, we could also accurately say that because He was baptized, we don't need to be.

Section 2

The student of God's word will recognize that many symbols and types of the Old Testament looked forward to Christ, as fulfilling them (see Hebrews 8:1-2, 5; Hebrews 9:7-14, 23, 24). The lesser looked forward to the greater; the shadow to the substance; to the One Who fulfilled the types and the law of Moses. But those who claim that water baptism is "a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ" go backwards from the perfect, to the type. Why go back, though, when we have the fulness of truth in Christ? We are clearly warned in scripture not to go back under the law. See the books of Galatians and Hebrews. And, as we shall see later in this study, water baptism is clearly and definitely connected with the Old Testament law (far more than most Christians realize).

But perhaps some would remind us that "the Lord's Supper" also uses symbols (the bread and wine). Our answer to this is that Paul received the truth of this "remembrance" for today (1 Corinthians 11:24-25), and scripture teaches that we are to follow Paul (again, more on this at a later time). By contrast, though, water baptism is not a "remembrance". Paul did not command water baptism, and he declared emphatically that it was not in his commission, in 1Cor.1:17 -

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Section 3

Many Christians consider the gospel of John to be the most precious and useful of the four gospels. But we would remind these Christians that in this gospel, there is no command by Christ for His apostles to baptize with water. Rather, it only records John's baptism (John 1:25-33).

Section 4

In Colossians 2:10, we are clearly told that we are "complete in Him" - i.e., complete in Christ. What can possibly be added by sprinkling, pouring, or immersing, to one who is already crucified, buried, and raised with Christ; glorified with Him; "accepted in the Beloved"; and seated with Christ Himself in the Heavenlies? And all these present blessings or situations are only part of our position in and with Christ the Lord! Christ's first baptism, as well as His first circumcision, were by the action of human hands. His second circumcision (His death, according to Col.2:11-13), and His second baptism (also His death, according to Luke 12:50), were without hands. As our circumcision today, spiritually speaking, is without hands (Col.2:11), so also is our baptism without hands, "through the faith of the operation of God" (Col.2:12).

Section 5

The water baptism issue has divided Christians, perhaps more than any other doctrine throughout church history. The waters of baptism, according to each group's particular view, have replaced the blood of Christ as the basis for church membership, and even for fellowship. The latter truly makes us one body. The former divides and causes confusion, of which God is not the author (1Cor.14:33).

The author of this study writer well remembers one incident, decades past, in a particular church, whose denomination believed in water baptism by immersion. So, of course, this writer was not allowed to join the group. In the course of time, church problems arose, as they do in all groups. We all see things somewhat differently. Also, we all still have the old nature. However, in this particular case of church destroying division, this writer was not the problem; as the pastor well knew. One day, the pastor spoke to us concerning the situation. He said, in effect, that it was so sad that the trouble makers in the church could still be members, just because they were in doctrinal agreement concerning water baptism. Even though this author was not part of the problem, it was still ironic that he could not be a member of the church, simply because he did not believe in water baptism for today. He has always remembered, with appreciation, the pastor's honesty in saying these words. In retrospect, however, one wishes the pastor would have carried his honesty a step further, by seeing that the unity is in Christ and His blood, and not in church doctrine. The pastor should have studied the scriptures, and discovered the blessed truth of the one baptism - the one without water.

Christians today, after 2000 years, still are not agreed on the purpose of baptism, its method, or whom it is for. Instead, they have endlessly quarreled and fought over the matter. Many try to force baptismal regeneration. Others try to make Mark 16:16 say something it does not say. They change, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved", to "He that believeth and is saved should be baptized". Is this honest? God has commanded us to rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim.2:15), but this approach forces the word to mean something that it really doesn't say.

In the Old Testament, God gave clear and specific instructions as to what and how He wanted things done. Consider the sacrifices, the feasts, and the tabernacle. If God had wanted water baptism to be practiced today, would He not have made clear His instructions in Paul's epistles? Confusion, though, has come upon those who do not preach and follow Paul's gospel (Ro.2:16; Ro.16:25; 2Tim.2:8). Does this not remind us of the confusion of languages and scattering of people at the tower of Babel, because of rebellion?

Section 6

We now come to some passages which, doubtless, many a reader has had in mind ever since beginning to read this study. We speak of the "so-called Great Commission". Some will say it really is the "Great Commission", and not just so-called. But the Bible does not use this term. So, we can safely say it is "so-called".

Many Christians, though, believe these are God's marching orders for the church today. However, a bit of reflection on (and research into) God's word will show that most believers do not have a clear basis for their present thinking in regard to this commission. Many, including a lot of Christian pastors, just speak generally of the "Great Commission". Some folks do not know where it is found in scripture, or the number of places it is found; rather, they simply believe it means we should still baptize in water today. So, let's look into the matter a bit.

The first passage we will consider, which is usually avoided by most Protestant believers, is found in John 20:21-23 -

21: Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22: And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

While it is true that many Protestants today will claim part of the above
"Commission" ("as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you", in verse 21b), they leave out the Lord's words that follow ("Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained", in verse 23). Thus, they do indeed divide the holy scriptures, but not rightly (compare 2 Timothy 2:15). And, of course, the Roman Catholic Church seeks support from this passage, in order to show the supremacy of that church. (by the way, water baptism is not even hinted at here, in this passage).

But what is our answer here? Well, verse 19 of this 20
th chapter states that Jesus "stood in the midst" of the disciples, where they were "assembled for fear of the Jews". So, the Lord did NOT give this commission to the church today. Instead, He gave it to His disciples here, in John chapter 20, just as He did in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

1 Peter 1:11b also mentions "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow". When Peter wrote these words, the Lord's sufferings were over, and His glorious kingdom was ready to be ushered in. In fact, Peter explicitly states in Acts 2:16-20, "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel". The tribulation, and the kingdom, were about to come into their place in the eternal program. But Israel resisted, and rejected God the Holy Spirit, here in Acts chapter 2. And, gloriously, God in grace delayed the hand of judgment, and the voice of wrath. He saved Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul), and gave to him the revelation of the mystery, and the gospel of the grace of God (see Eph.3:1-9).

Thus, in John chapter 20, God was giving the disciples, with Peter as head, authority in the coming kingdom. They did, and in a future day they will again, have authority to remit and retain sins.

Nor is the "Great Commission" of Luke 24:46-49 commonly used today, as this passage has no mention of water baptism, either. It only mentions the preaching of "repentance and remission of sins…among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem". This, the apostles began to do. There is no scriptural record that they ever got beyond the land of Palestine. In fact, most of them apparently stayed at Jerusalem. Always remember Acts 8:1, along with Acts 1:8. The apostles' commission, then, was interrupted by the revelation of the mystery, and the gospel of the grace of God, as God gave it to Paul. This is also called "the preaching of the cross" (1Cor.1:18; see verses 17-23), and we fail to see this message in any of the "Great Commissions".

To continue, let's now consider one of the better known accounts of the "Great Commission" that the Lord gave to His apostles, as recorded in Mt.28:18-20 -

18: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Amen.

But, we ask: Was the above commandment given directly for us to follow today? We may sound dogmatic to the reader, but the answer is a definite and emphatic "no"! Can we prove this? Yes, we can. Let's examine the above passage in more detail:

First of all, in Mt.28:20, please notice that the Lord instructed His apostles to teach all nations "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you". Remember, the Lord was speaking to His disciples here. Even though the Bible is most assuredly God's word, and is full of applications for all of us, it is important to note that not every instruction He gave can be taken literally today. Remember, this was Christ on earth, speaking as a "minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Ro.15:8). So, here in Matthew's account of the "Great Commission", the Lord spoke as One Who was "made under the law" (Gal.4:4).

Plus, Matt.23:1-3 records the Lord's commandment for His disciples to "observe and do" all of the commandments of the scribes and Pharisees, because they sat "in Moses' seat" (verse 2). But does this mean that we should do the same today, as well? Of course not! By revelation of God, our apostle Paul taught that we are not under the law, but under grace, in Romans 6:14 -

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

And again, Paul states that if we are led of the Spirit, we are not under the law, in Gal.5:18 -

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Yet anyone who claims that the "Great Commission" is binding on us today will find himself fully under the law, and not under grace. The sincere reader is encouraged to carefully read Paul's epistle to the Galatians, in order to rightly divide the word of truth, rather than twisting and explaining away God's word. We would like to know of anyone today who actually obeys the Lord's commandment of Mt.5:42 -

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Yet the apostles were to teach "all nations" to observe the above commandment, since it was included among "all things whatsoever" the Lord had commanded His disciples to observe (Mt.28:20).

The Lord also instructed His followers to sell everything they had, in Luke 12:33 -

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

But again, we would like to know of anyone today who truly follows the Lord's above commandment?

This list could go on and on, but these suffice to illustrate the point. What is the answer, then, to the very obvious and clear cut problem of following the Lord's commandments? Simply that the "Great Commission" on Mt.28:18-20 was given to the disciples. It was, and it remains, the kingdom commission, as many able men of God have discovered over the years. So, while Mt. 28:18-20 actually does refer to water baptism (in contrast to the passages in Luke 24:46-49 and John 20:21-23), it is still not a command for our obedience today.

How troubling it has been for this writer to hear some groups teach that Luke 12:33, as well as Mt.28:18-20, contain Christ's "last words" or "last commands" for the church today! It has indeed been troubling, because God inspired men to write 23 books of the Bible AFTER the "Great Commission" was given. And these 23 books of the Bible, particularly Paul's epistles for the body of Christ today, all contain Christ's commands.

This brings us to Mark's account of the "Great Commission", which is found in Mk. 16:15-18 -

15: And he said unto them, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18: They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

Here, it should be noted that some Christian groups try to be sincere, by claiming to obey the above account of the "Great Commission" in its entirety. This really doesn't work, though, because they must wrongly divide God's word in order to do so.

But most groups today will try to follow verse 15, and change verse 16 to mean something it really doesn't say (i.e., "he that believeth and is saved should be baptized). Most groups also just skip verses 17 and 18, as if they were never there. But these verses are there! All of them!

Other Christian groups, who actually claim to follow verses 15 through 17 literally, still have a real problem with the first portion of verse 18, which states, "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them".

What is God's answer to this confusion? Again, it is the fact that we should be "rightly dividing the word of truth", according to 2Tim.2:15. One who does not obey this command will most assuredly end up being an ashamed workman, both now, and before Christ's Bema judgment seat. This whole passage in Mark, including water baptism, was given to the 11 disciples (Mark 16:14), and applied only to the kingdom of Heaven, which was to be (and some day will be) set up on earth. The mystery, which concerned the body of Christ (for today), had not yet been revealed. However, many Christians and denominations, as well as most pastors, will continue as before, picking out the parts of the commission that fit their own purposes. By doing so, they must twist (or ignore) the remaining portions of the "Great Commission". This is sin, and you can be sure it is not of God!

Section 7

In this connection, some also teach that the above so-called "Great Commission" baptism is the true "Christian baptism", as compared to the baptism of John the Baptist (which, they say, was not "Christian" baptism). But if this be true, there is no evidence in scripture that the disciples of Christ (the 11) ever received this "Christian baptism" at all, because there is no indication in the book of Acts that they were ever baptized with water.

And now, before we leave this particular section, we wish to mention the "Commission" in the Bible that is actually for today, and fits today. It is found in 11 Cor. 5:14-21 -

14: For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16: Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18: And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19: To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20: Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

In the above "Commission", we find that all believers today are "ambassadors for Christ" (verse 20), with the "ministry of reconciliation" (verse 18), as well as the "word of reconciliation" (verse 21). This message is entirely of grace, and water is not even implied anywhere in the passage.

Section 8

When reading the book of Acts, why do so many pastors (as well as people in the pews) focus solely upon the passages concerning water baptism, as if they were directly addressed to us today, while completely ignoring the miraculous events that surround these passages? Of course, some groups actually try to claim both the miracles and the baptism; and we can admire the sincerity of such, if they have never studied (or been taught otherwise). However, their efforts only end in confusion, since they are not "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2Tim.2:15).

There are, then, three possible choices, concerning the miracles that are always mentioned with water baptism, in the book of Acts:

1. Take the entire book of Acts, including the miracles that normally accompanied water baptism, as if such events are still normative today.

2. Pick and choose which practices apply to the church today (such as water baptism), while ignoring the miracles that always accompanied this practice.

3. Practice "rightly dividing the word of truth" (11 Tim. 2:15).

And indeed, this third method of "rightly dividing" allows the practice of water baptism to remain where it should, in the context of God's dealings with Israel. We follow Paul today, and he was not sent to baptize, according to 1 Cor.1:17 -

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Very soon after Paul wrote the above passage, the practice of water baptism disappeared from view altogether, along with the miracles that accompanied it. We do not claim that miracles ceased to exist completely, as far as God's every day providential care is concerned. Nor do we claim that miracles ceased to exist concerning His dealings with mankind in salvation. We do, however, deny that water baptism is still accompanied with outwardly evidential public signs and miracles, as it was in every case recorded during the book of Acts.

So now, in this section, we will give a detailed listing of the 10 places where water baptism is mentioned in the book of Acts, and their inseparable relationship to the miraculous events which surround them. In 5 or 6 of the 10 cases, something miraculous occurred at the same time (or almost at the same time) as the water baptism. In 7 out of the 10 cases, when the water baptism is performed, miraculous occurrences are recorded either in the same verse, or in the preceding or following verse. In the remaining 3 occasions, one miracle occurred 2 verses away; another miracle occurred 3 verses away; and one occurred 7 verses away.

#1. Acts 2:38-41 -

38: Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39: For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
40: And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation."
41: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Right after Peter's above message was recorded (just two verses after the above souls were baptized), Luke states that many wonders and signs were done by the apostles, in Acts 2:43 -

And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

The question, though, is whether the above "wonders and signs" occurred when the water baptism was performed, or whether they occurred over a period of time. In either case, though, it is clear that wonders and signs (i.e., miracles) accompanied the baptism of Acts 2:38.

#2. Acts 8:12-13 -

12: But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13: Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

And again, the above "miracles and signs" occurred around the same time as the water baptism (but not necessarily on the same occasion); as well as 5 verses earlier, in Acts 8:7 -

For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

#3. Acts 8:38-40 -

38: 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.
39: 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.
40: But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

In this passage, it is clear that the miracle of Philip's being "caught away" occurred at the same time as the water baptism, immediately after "they were come up out of the water" (verse 39).

#4. Acts 9:17-18 -

17: And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."
18: And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Again, in verse 18 above, the miracle of Paul's restored sight occurred just prior to his baptism in water.

#5. Acts 10:45-48 -

45: And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46: For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47: "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
48: And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Therefore, since Paul also states that "the Jews require a sign" (1Cor.1:22), the above miracle of tongues was clearly given as a sign to those of "the circumcision" (i.e., the Jews), in verse 45.

#6. Acts 16:14-18 -

14: And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
15: And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there." And she constrained us.
16: And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation."
18: And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, "I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out the same hour.

In this passage, the miracle of verse 18 occurred 3 verses and "many days" after the water baptism was performed. However, the baptism and miracle are still mentioned together (in contrast to baptism today, which is not associated with miracles).

#7. Acts 16:25-33 -

25: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26: And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
27: And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28: But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here."
29: Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30: And brought them out, and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31: And they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
32: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Here, the miracle of the prison doors being opened (verse 26) occurred just prior to the baptism in verse 33. So again, even though the two events are separated by 7 verses, they still occurred together, on the same night.

#8. Acts 18:8-9 -

8: And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
9: Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

In the above passage, immediately following the baptism of verse 18, the Lord spoke to Paul by a miraculous vision. So, once again, miracles were still occurring at that time, as long as water baptism was in effect.

#9. Acts 19:1-6 -

1: And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2: He said unto them, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" And they said unto him, "We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost."
3: And he said unto them, "Unto what then were ye baptized?" And they said, "Unto John's baptism."
4: Then said Paul, "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5: When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
6: And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Paying close attention to the quotation marks in the above passage (taken directly from Bullinger's Companion Bible), the reader will notice that verse 5 is enclosed in the same parentheses that begin in verse 4. This means that the words, "they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus", are still part of Paul's statement to these disciples. So, verse 5 is referring to the Jews who heard John the Baptist, when he preached the baptism of repentance. Those are the believers Paul was referring to in verse 5, who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus during the Four Gospels.

Thus, it is this writer's view that verse 5 doesn't refer to the disciples' baptism at all, but to John's "baptism of repentance", in verse 4. (However, even if the above passage does refer to the disciples' baptism, verse 6 still records the fact that once they were baptized, they spake with tongues, and prophesied, as soon as Paul laid his hands on them. And again, these events would have all happened at approximately the same time).

#10. Acts 22:12-18 -

12: And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
13: Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, 'Brother Saul, receive thy sight.' And the same hour I looked up upon him.
14: And he said, 'The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
15: For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
16: And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'
17: And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
18: And saw him saying unto me, 'Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.'

In the above passage, Paul is describing the events surrounding his baptism, which occurred in Acts chapter 9 (see #4). In verse 16 above, Paul recounts the fact that he was baptized; and in the very next verse, Paul states that he saw the Lord while he was in a trance. So, in addition to the fact that Paul's sight was miraculously restored just two verses prior to his baptism in water (again, compare #4), the above passage also records yet another miracle - the fact that Paul received instructions directly from the resurrected Lord, when he was come again to Jerusalem. These instructions concerned God's special dispensing, or message, to Paul.

Thus, by reading the above passages, the reader is able to see the connection between miracles and water baptism, before God's program with Israel passed from the scene. We have therefore proven that in the book of Acts, the passages that refer to water baptism also mention the miracles that normally accompanied it. Likewise, we should always prove all other things, as well, as Paul states in 1 Thess.5:21 -

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Section 9

We now come to a more thorough consideration of the basic passage concerning Paul's view of water baptism, which is found I 1 Cor. 1:11-18 -

11: For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12: Now this I say, that every one of you saith, "I am of Paul"; and "I of Apollos"; and "I of Cephas"; and "I of Christ".
13: Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
14: I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15: Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
16: And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
17: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The key to understanding why we are not to baptize today is found in verse 17 above, in which Paul states, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel". Please note the contrast of the thoughts on each side of the "but": Since Christ sent Paul not to baptize, "but" to preach the gospel, then "the gospel" must not contain water baptism.

In order to better explain the point we are trying to put across here, we will compare Paul's statement in Romans 6:23 -

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Certainly all readers will agree that in the above passage, the word "but" forms the center of the greatest contrast in the universe for all eternity, which is the difference between heaven and hell. Likewise, consider again the word "but", in 1 Cor.1:17 -

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

No one can honestly deny the fact that John the Baptist's commission specifically included water baptism (Matthew chapter 3; Mark 1:4-10; Luke 3:16; Luke 7:29-30; John 1:26). Likewise, Christ's disciples were also sent to baptize with water, as part of God's salvation plan under the kingdom program (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Therefore, in 1 Cor. 1:17, Paul uses the word "but" to show that his commission, in preaching the gospel of the grace of God (see Acts 20:24), did not include water baptism. His was not the gospel (i.e., "good news") of the kingdom. As we mentioned in the beginning of this study, Paul had baptized a very few in Corinth; and he thanked God that he only baptized a few, lest anyone should say that he had baptized in his own name. Never in this writer's life has he heard of a minister who thanked God he baptized very few. Instead, there are those who glory in the number of baptisms they have performed.

"But", some will say to us, "Paul's declared reason was because he did not want to be accused of baptizing in his own name". And yes, this is surely true. However, in 1 Cor.11:20-22, we are also informed that this same church abused the use of the communion table. Yet Paul never thanked God that so few took part in communion, as he did concerning the few whom he had baptized. Thus, we believe that the entire passage of 1 Cor. 1:11-18 shows that water baptism was no longer important (indeed, it would soon pass away entirely, to be replaced with the "one" baptism of Ephesians 4:5). In any case, would Paul (whom we are to follow, according to 1 Cor.4:16; 11:1; and Phil.3:17) have thanked God that so few were saved, or that so few were obedient? He certainly thanked God that he baptized so few.

But again, some readers will also quickly remind us that Paul most assuredly recorded a few of the water baptisms he performed, right here in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. And, of course, we totally agree. However, Paul performed these baptisms in his earlier ministry, when he also performed miracles; spoke in tongues; took a Jewish Nazarite vow (Acts 21: 23-36); and circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:1-3). Every one of these events occurred in his early ministry. However, in his later years, and in his later epistles (those written after Acts chapter 28), all these signs and miracles were gone, along with water baptism.

Section 10

And this brings us, naturally, to the next point: IF water baptism was in vogue for this present age of the fully completed revelation of the body of Christ, which Bible writer would teach it; and where will it be found within the Divine record? If water baptism was still necessary today, one would think that Paul, of all the Bible writers, would teach it somewhere in his epistles. After all, he proclaims other doctrines which were given to him, by revelation from the glorified Lord in heaven.

However, we should let this simple fact sink home into our thinking: Not once did Paul ever command water baptism, in any of his epistles!

Yet many will say, "Christ commanded it, and that's enough for me". But as we have shown previously, we are not to follow Christ on earth (see Section 6 above). Instead, as Paul states in II Cor. 5:16-21, "…henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more". The reader is encouraged to read that passage for himself, and mull over God's truth in it.

So, we are to follow Paul today, as he followed Christ. There is a vast and blessed difference between trying to follow an earthly Jesus today, and following Paul as he followed Christ.

But, someone may ask, is it really scriptural to follow Paul, instead of imitating Christ?

Again, our response is that no teaching is more true to the book! In regard to soul winning, Paul makes the following statement, in II Cor. 4:16 -

Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Likewise, Paul also tells believers to follow him, in 1 Cor. 11:1 -

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

And again, in regard to preaching Christ's message, Paul records the following fact in 1 Thess. 1:6 -

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

In the above passage, it should come as no surprise that Paul mentions "us" (i.e., Silvanus, Timothy, and himself, according to verse 1), before he mentions "the Lord", because we who follow Paul are indeed following the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, through Paul. Even though he calls himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), and "less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8), God still commands us to follow Paul today. To follow anyone else is sin, and not God's will.

Paul also states that he, Silvanus, and Timothy made themselves ensamples for us to follow, in II Thess. 3:7-9 -

7: For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
8: Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
9: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

And indeed, the teaching that we are to follow Paul becomes even stronger in one of Paul's later epistles, which he wrote to the Philippians. In that epistle, he begins the thought by telling believers that they are to forget those things which are behind, and press toward "the mark", in Phil. 3:13-15 -

13: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15: Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Then, just two verses later, Paul again instructs believers to follow him, in Phil. 3:17 -

17: Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

Here, Greek students will recognize that the word "mark" means "observe intently". So, not only is it important to follow Paul; it is also important to observe those who claim to follow him. Alas, alas! How many, instead, try to follow the "lowly Nazarene", in His earthly life? Or, how many others try to follow the 12 apostles in their ministry to the circumcision?

Later, in Philippians chapter 4, Paul zeroes in on the fact that believers are to follow him, and gives a special promise of peace to those who obey this teaching, in Phil. 4:9 -

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Oh, the heartache and confusion of those who claim that every promise in the book is theirs! They begin by claiming promises which were given to Israel alone, and end up reaping only disappointment, frustration, and delusion. Yet these same people will continue to completely ignore the above promise from "the God of peace" (Who promises to be with those who imitate Paul), even though this promise is given directly for our use and blessing today.

Dear reader, please listen to God's word, and don't permit Satan to rob you of truth, joy, and blessing! As we follow Christ by following Paul, we find that water baptism is no longer necessary today. Instead, we have the glorious Spiritual baptism into Christ, according to 1 Cor. 12:13 -

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

And the above baptism, which is the only one in effect today, is the one baptism of Eph. 4:4-5 -

4: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5: One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

And finally, the Spirit baptism of 1 Cor. 12:13 occurs the moment we believe, at which time we are buried with Christ in baptism, as Paul also explains in Col. 2:10-12 -

10: And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Section 11

We will now make a brief comment regarding a passage which is often used to support a belief in water baptism by immersion, which is Romans 6:3-6 -

3: Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4: 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.
5: For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

In addition to being used in support of complete immersion in water, the above passage is also used to teach that water baptism is only a "symbol" of our death, burial, and resurrection in (and with) Christ. The "symbolism" teaching, though, is not true; even though it is true that we are dead, buried, and resurrected in Christ. Indeed, if the above passage was only symbolic, the person being baptized would drown, because we are most assuredly placed into Christ; but we are never taken out of Him! Again, the reader is encouraged to think deeply here, and consider well this point.

Section 12, Part A

And now, we will make a statement which may anger some readers, and challenge the open-minded reader who may disagree to search this out for himself: Water baptism was originally an Old Testament ordinance, which the ascended Christ has ended, rather than begun.

As initial evidence for the above statement, we point to the Pharisees' question that was posed to John the Baptist, in John 1:25 -

And they asked him, and said unto him, "Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?"

In the above passage, the Pharisees did not ask John what he was doing, which they would have done if he was implementing water baptism as a new practice. Rather, they asked him why he was baptizing, because they already knew what he was doing.

Baptisms, then, were sprinklings and washings, that were begun well back in Old Testament times. The author of the book of Hebrews definitely proves this, when he refers to the "divers washings" and "carnal ordinances" that were in effect under the law of Moses, in Hebrews 9:8-10 -

8: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10: Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

In the above passage, it is especially important to note the "meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances" of verse 10, because they were imposed only "until the time of reformation".

If the reader has a Strong's Concordance, we would encourage him to look up the word "washings" in Hebrews 9:10, at which point he will be referred to #909 in the Greek dictionary (which is in the back of the Concordance). This Greek word for "washings" is "baptismos", and this same Greek word is also translated as "baptisms", in Heb. 6:2 -

Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Again, the reader is encouraged to look up the word "baptisms" in the above passage, at which point he will again be referred to #909 in the Greek dictionary. Consequently, we can clearly see that the Old Testament "washings" of Heb. 9:10 were actually baptisms, because the word "baptisms" is a transliteration of the Greek word "baptismos".

Thus, we can see how God gives us light and truth, if we are willing to learn. Is the reader willing to believe the Bible, or will he claim to have his "own church"? Again, we would encourage the reader to show some of these truths to others in his church. In doing so, rest assured that you will not be popular; nor will you be well spoken of; but God's joy and blessing will be present in your life.

Section 12, Part B

In addition, the practice of one person completely immersing (or baptizing) another person in water was simply not practiced in the entire Bible. Instead, sprinklings and washings were God's way. The reader has perhaps wondered (as this writer did, in decades past) why God did not clarify the mode of baptism in the Gospels and Acts? The answer is simply that the people at that time already knew the mode, since it originally began way back in Exodus.

Complete immersion, then, never originated in the Bible. Instead, complete immersion came from the Talmud, which is a Jewish addition (considered by Christians to be uninspired) to the Old Testament scriptures.

We would therefore challenge the reader to check the scriptures for himself, and see if he can find even a single baptism performed by complete immersion, even in the New Testament scriptures.

Of course, some readers may claim that the Greek word "baptizo" (which can be transliterated into English as "baptize") means to immerse, because the word is also translated as "wash", in Luke 11:38 -

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

However, must we believe that Christ was expected to completely immerse before eating dinner? Of course not. Rather, He would immerse only His hands. Therefore, even the Greek word "baptizo" (Strong's #907), which is properly translated as "wash" in the above passage, does not imply complete immersion.

Plus, the Greek word "baptizo" is again translated as "wash" in Mark 7:1-5 -

1: Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
2: And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
3: For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
4: And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
5: Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, "Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?"

In verses 2 and 5 above, it is clear that the washing here applies only to the hands, and not to the whole body. So in verse 4, when Luke states that "except they wash, they eat not", the Greek word "baptizo" does not mean a complete immersion of the entire body, but only a washing of the hands.

Moreover, the priests in the Old Testament were also washed (or baptized) when they were inducted into office, according to passages such as Exodus 29:1-4 -

1: And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest's office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,
2: And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.
3: And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams.
4: And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.

Verse 4 above states that Aaron and his sons were to be washed with water, and verse 1 explains that this was necessary in order to hallow them, so that they could minister unto the Lord in the priest's office.

The Lord also repeats these instructions to wash Aaron and his sons with water, in Exodus 40:12 -

And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.

There can therefore be no doubt that the Old Testament priests had to submit to a water baptism, before they could be allowed to minister unto the Lord. Ultimately, though, this would apply to the entire nation of Israel, whom God had chosen to be a kingdom of priests, according to Exodus 19:3-6 -

3: And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
4: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
5: Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
6: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."

Likewise, the Levites (i.e., the priests) were cleansed by sprinkling the water of purifying upon them, according to Numbers 8:5-7 -

5: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
6: "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.
7: And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.

Several verses later, after Moses had sprinkled the water of purifying upon the Levites, the Bible states that they were indeed purified, in verse 21 -

And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.

Thus, according to Heb. 9:10, the Levites (the priests) were "baptismos" (washed, or baptized; see Strong's #909), in order to be purified.

In addition, the book of John again shows that this purification is water baptism, in John chapter 3. Here, the disciples of John the Baptist had a question about purifying; and they actually referred to this purification as baptism, in John 3:25-26 -

25: Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
26: And they came unto John, and said unto him, "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him."

So, by comparing scripture with scripture, we can see that the above purification is the same as the purification of Numbers chapter 8, in which Moses sprinkled the water of purification upon the priests. Thus, we know that this purification (i.e., baptism) took place by sprinkling, instead of full immersion. Likewise, we can also see that it originated back in the early days of the Law, rather than in the New Testament.

My, what truth we can learn, and what questions can be answered, when we compare scripture with scripture!

Section 13

In a future day, Isaiah reveals that the nation of Israel shall be named Priests of the LORD, in Isaiah 61:6 -

But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

Likewise, the apostle Peter - while writing to the Jewish strangers who were scattered abroad (1 Pet. 1:1) - stated that these believers were also a holy priesthood, in 1 Pet. 2:5-9 -

5: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6: Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded."
7: Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8: And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Plus, Isaiah also stated that God's "servant" (i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ Himself) would "sprinkle" many nations, in Isaiah 52:13-15 -

13: Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14: As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
15: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

And again, we can compare the above sprinkling of Isaiah 52:15 with the fact that God will some day "sprinkle clean water" upon Israel, according to Ezekiel 36:24-27 -

24: For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27: And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

In addition, when Israel finally does become a kingdom of priests, these priests will actually reign upon the earth, according to Rev. 5:10 -

And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Therefore, by comparing the above passages, we can see God's plan for a future day. When Israel finally does become a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 61:6; 1 Peter 2:5-9), the LORD will sprinkle clean water upon that nation (Ezekiel 36:24-27). At that time, the LORD will sprinkle many nations (Isaiah 52:15); and these priests will reign upon the earth itself (Rev. 5:10; compare Rev. 1:6).

So, in conclusion, we would also like to connect this section with the subject of John the Baptist. Since John's ministry (like the ministry of the 12 disciples) was mainly regarding the kingdom which was to be established, this meant that water baptism was still in order for believers, at that time. Israel was required to be baptized, or washed with water, in order to become a kingdom of priests. Plus, under the so-called "Great Commission", believing Gentiles were also required to be baptized, as well (again, see Matt. 28:19-20); because they, too, would be included as part of the Messianic kingdom. Thus, water baptism is without question identified with Israel, and with God's worldwide program concerning that nation.

Section 14

Water baptism (i.e., "divers washings") is called a carnal ordinance, in Hebrews 9:10 -

Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

However, Paul (the apostle of the Gentiles) states that Christ has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances, in Colossians 2:14 -

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Plus, in the same chapter, Paul states that believers - who are dead with Christ - are not subject to ordinances, in Colossians 2:20-22 -

20: Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
21: (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
22: Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Therefore, since we are no longer subject to ordinances, this would include the carnal ordinance of water baptism, as well.

Section 15

Many Christians believe that water baptism is "an outward testimony of an inward work". The scriptures, though, fail to support this belief. There is not one passage of scripture in which anyone was ever baptized as an outward testimony. Thus, water baptism is indeed a testimony; however, it is a bad testimony, rather than a good one. Since Paul explicitly declared that his commission did not include water baptism (1 Corinthians 1:17; see Section 9); and he also states that there is only one baptism for today (Ephesians 4:5; see the introduction to this study), it is not a good testimony to continue the practice today.

Section 16

Paul lists the seven "spirituals" necessary to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, in Ephesians 4:3-6 -

3: Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5: One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

As we have mentioned before, the above "one baptism" of Eph. 4:5 is the baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ, that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 12:13 -

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

So, for those who believe in the Biblical significance of numbers, seven is the number of spiritual perfection, or completeness (hundreds of pages could be written on the importance of this number in the Bible). And since Ephesians 4:3-6 is referring to Spiritual baptism into the body of Christ, this means that the if water baptism is added into the other "spirituals", the whole heavenly chain would be broken.

Section 17

Given below are several additional baptismal passages; and not one of them even mentions water. Therefore, just like 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 4:5, the following passages also refer to the believer's baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ:

1. Romans 6:3-5 -

3: Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4: 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.
5: For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

2. Galatians 3:27-29 -

27: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29: And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

3. Colossians 2:10-12 -

10: And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Many believers, though, have inadvertently made the above passages refer to water baptism, when that is just not the case. Does it make Spiritual sense to claim that Paul would have been inspired by God to write of water baptism, when he clearly stated in 1 Cor. 1:17 that Christ had sent him not to baptize? Of course it doesn't. Thus, it is better to simply leave the above passages in their proper context, where God has placed them! By doing so, we can see that these passages speak of a Spiritual baptism into Christ. By being baptized into His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:10-12), we are actually baptized into the body of Christ (Gal. 3:27-29; compare 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:5).

Section 18

In connection with Section 17 above, only Paul specifically mentions the Holy Spirit's work of baptizing believers into the body of Christ. This truth of the one baptism is unique to the Pauline revelation, and the inquiring reader is encouraged to check this out for himself. After diligently searching the scriptures, he will find that none of the other Bible writers mention the one baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ.

Section 19

Since we are now baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13), and this is the only baptism for today (Eph. 4:5), those who practice an additional baptism (with water) must void the word of God. They do this by adding water to the above passages that Paul wrote concerning Spirit baptism, thereby negating these passages.

Section 20

If passages such as Rom. 6:3-5 (i.e., "…so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death…") and Col. 2:12 ("Buried with him in baptism…") referred to water baptism, they would be saying too much, because they would then teach salvation by baptism (which, indeed, is taught anyway by certain churches). But if this was true, we would again have a contradiction, because Paul also states that salvation is by grace through faith, and not of works, as in Eph. 2:8-9 -

8: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

So today, in this dispensation of grace, it cannot be denied that water baptism is currently a work of men. Consequently, we must simply believe the word of God. Salvation, according to Eph. 2:8-9 above, is by faith alone, and we should completely leave out the work of water baptism. Today, we are not under the law, but under grace, as Paul also states in Romans 6:14 -

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Section 21

As we have mentioned before, some people teach that every time the word "baptize" or "baptism" is mentioned in the Bible, it always refers to water. But of course, most people who read this study will realize that this is simply not so. For example, John the Baptist stated that the Lord would baptize the Israelites "with the Holy Ghost, and with fire", in Matt. 3:11 -

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Surely, though, John was not referring to water in the above passage. In addition, the Lord Jesus Christ also spoke of His impending death as a baptism, in Luke 12:50 -

But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!

And again, it should be clear that the Lord was not referring to water baptism in the above passage, because He had already been baptized in water several years earlier, according to Luke 3:21-22 -

21: Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
22: And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased."

Section 22

If water baptism is for all believers today, certainly the council at Jerusalem would have mentioned it among the "necessary things" for the Gentiles, in Acts 15:28-29 -

28: For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29: That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Therefore, by its absence from the above passage, water baptism stands out as no longer being "necessary".

Section 23

Christ Himself did not (indeed, could not) baptize with water, because He fulfilled types and shadows, rather than bringing them.

Section 24

We now come to an interesting passage, which is 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 -

1: Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2: And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

In this passage, Paul states that when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they were baptized "unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea". We should note, however, that the Israelites were not baptized just because they got wet. This is certain, because the Egyptians obviously got wet, too, when they chased after the Israelites and drowned! But who would claim that the Egyptians were baptized? Yet the Israelites were all baptized unto Moses, even though they walked across the Red Sea on dry land, according to Exodus 14:21-29 -

21: And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22: And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
23: And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24: And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
25: And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
26: And the LORD said unto Moses, "Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen."
27: And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
28: And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
29: But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

The waters, then, poured down on the Egyptians, thus adding to their judgment by God (compare Psalms 77:15-20), even though the Israelites were the ones who were baptized. What a day of redemption and joy for Israel! But alas, what a day of terror, sorrow, disaster, and death for the Egyptians, who fought and opposed God!

Section 25

Why should any believer desire to be placed under a material substance (water)? The fact is, our call is upward, and we are seated in heavenly places in Christ, according to passages such as Ephesians 1:3 -

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Thus, we are to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, as Paul states in Philippians 3:13-15 -

13: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15: Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Section 26

Six times in the Bible, Holy Ghost baptism - performed by the Lord Jesus Christ - is given more importance than John's water baptism (although we are aware that this point proves nothing by itself; it does have some weight, when considered along with the other evidence presented in this study):

John the Baptist contrasted his water baptism with the Lord's then-future Holy Ghost baptism, in Matt. 3:11 -

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

The importance of this Holy Ghost baptism over John's baptism is also recorded in Mark 1:6-8; Luke 3:16; and John 1:26-27. In addition, after the Lord's resurrection, this baptism was imminent, as recorded in Acts 1:4-5 -

4: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, "which," saith he, "ye have heard of me.
5: "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."

And finally, Peter also indicated that this Holy Ghost baptism took precedence over John's baptism, according to his statement in Acts 11:16 -

Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, "John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost."

In the above passages, then, Holy Ghost baptism is emphasized in comparison with water baptism. Certainly, then, this does not give water the importance and urgency that many groups attach to it, but rather minimizes it by comparison.

Section 27

It is believed by many that John the Baptist somehow immersed hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of believers from "Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan" (Mattt.3:5). But a bit of mathematics would show the physical impossibility of such an undertaking. Rather, these believers were sprinkled, as is evident from other scriptures We have previously explained this in greater detail, in Section 12, Part A.

Also, if the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8:38-39 was baptized by immersion, then so was Philip, since the was the one who baptized the eunuch (the record states in verse 38 that "they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him").

Then again, many immersionists try to show that the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by immersion, by pointing to Matt. 3:16 -

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

However, in the above passage, the Greek word for "out of" is "apo", and this preposition means "away from the limit or edge". So again, no immersion can be shown here. Again, only baptism by sprinkling can be shown.

Section 28

It cannot be denied that reading water into such passages as Romans 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; and Col. 2:12 bleeds off the deep spiritual truth taught therein. This is especially true in certain religious circles, who claim that these passages teach salvation by water baptism. Water, then, blurs and blinds the clarity of vision that should be applied to spiritual growth.

Section 29

Paul clearly mentions that the care of all the churches came upon him daily, in II Cor. 11:28 -

Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

Thus, if water baptism was important in Paul's later ministry, why didn't he command and teach it at that time? Instead, even during his early ministry, Paul declared that he had not been sent to baptize (1 Cor. 1:17).

Section 30

One more little point concerning Matt. 3:13-15 -

13: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14: But John forbad him, saying, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?"
15: And Jesus answering said unto him, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Then he suffered him.

In this passage, Christ said of His water baptism, "Suffer (or permit) it to be so now" (emphasis added by the editor). Doesn't this indicate the possibility that, while water baptism was appropriate and necessary then, it would not be done or permitted at a later period?

Section 31

The truth of the doctrine of eternal security has been such a blessing of peace to millions, when rightly taught. We do not define it as "Since I'm saved, I can do as I want". But we do realize the scriptures teach that God will keep (and bring to heaven) all who have placed their faith and trust in Christ, and in His shed blood. While this brief study is not the place for a prolonged study of this joyous and rich truth, we still mention a few scriptures briefly. The first chapter of Ephesians is a gold mine on the subject. In verse 3 we are shown that we are blessed "with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ". In verse 4, we see that we were chosen "in him before the foundation of the world". Verse 5 states that we are predestinated by Jesus Christ to Himself. In verse 6, we are made "accepted in the beloved". God sees us in Christ as He sees His Own Son. If we can be lost and go to hell, then Christ Himself will go to hell forever with us, also. In Eph.1:7, we see that "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace". In verse 11, we are again predestined. And in verses 13 and 14, we find that upon believing we "were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise". This sealing is the earnest, or down payment, or guarantee of heaven.

Then, in Romans chapter 8, we find that we were foreknown, and predestined, called, justified, and glorified. The future is already known in God's mind, according to Romans 8:29-34 -

29: For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30: Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31: What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

But why did we go into the subject of eternal security in this section? It is because one well known Protestant denomination, which believes in infant baptism for salvation, also believes that nearly all who claim to be thus saved and fall away will lose their salvation; so they must come to the Lord again in faith, as they grow older. And, or course, we heartily agree that those who truly "believe" and accept Christ as Savior are indeed real Christians. But when we find, from God's word, that eternal security is indeed blessedly true; yet this group teaches that most Christians become lost after claiming to be saved in infant baptism; what do we have? This proves that people are simply not saved by water baptism, as they claim.

So, when we see from God's rightly divided word (II Tim. 2:15) that the water is entirely gone today, then confusion disappears, and our real baptism into Christ and His body comes to the forefront.

Section 32

We believe that, generally speaking, the more water baptism is exalted, the more Paul is neglected, along with the revelations he received. On the other hand, the more Paul is followed as he followed Christ, the more the water fades from view.

Section 33

Many of those who practice water baptism today point to the early church fathers, who were also strong on water baptism. And indeed, they were. However, these leaders were often more concerned with law and works than with God's revelation of grace, and the mystery that Paul received. Even in Paul's lifetime, he grieved that "all they which are in Asia" were turned from him (2 Tim. 1:15). A more thorough study will reveal that those in Asia had departed from Paul's God given message. So, we see that the early fathers and leaders are not necessarily dependable.

Section 34

We now consider another passage over which many have stumbled, which is 1 Peter 3:20-21 -

20: Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21: The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

First of all, the above passage has much in common with the baptism unto Moses, in 1 Cor. 10:2. In both cases, the unbelievers were either sprinkled or immersed in the wrath of God, but were still lost. Those who were saved were totally dry. By saying this, though, we do not mean to suggest that those who are baptized in water are lost. If they have believed in and received Christ, they are saved; but not because of water baptism.

But, some will say, doesn't verse 21 above speak of water baptism? Our answer here is that we don't believe so. The types, symbols, or figures all pointed to Christ and His work, instead of pointing to other types. Christ is the antitype. If the above passage is referring to water, then we have a picture of a picture, rather than a picture of reality.

What, then, is the answer? If Peter was not referring to water baptism in 1 Peter. 3:20-21, then what type of baptism was he actually referring to? Well, it is our belief that Peter was referring to the same baptism into death that Christ spoke of, in Luke 12:50 -

But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!

As we pointed out earlier (in Section 21), the Lord was certainly not referring to water baptism in the above passage, because He had already been baptized in water several years earlier (see Luke 3:21-22). Instead, He was referring to His then-future baptism into death. In fact, the Lord even told the sons of Zebedee (James and John) that they would also receive the baptism He was baptized with, in Matt. 20:20-23 -

20: Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
21: And he said unto her, "What wilt thou?" She saith unto him, "Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom."
22: But Jesus answered and said, "Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They say unto him, "We are able."
23: And he saith unto them, "Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."

Likewise, Mark also records the Lord's promise that James and John would receive this baptism, in Mark 10:38-40. All of these passages, then, speak of a baptism without water, which is the baptism of Christ into death. Thus, it is our belief that Peter was referring to this baptism in 1 Peter 3:20-21, since he also states that "the answer of a good conscience toward God" saved them "by the resurrection of Jesus Christ".

Section 35

Neither Christ, nor any of the apostles, ever commissioned anyone to baptize with water after Acts 28 (here, the skeptical reader is encouraged to check this out for himself).

Section 36

In claiming that water baptism is still in effect today, Gentiles are taking something that God gave to Israel. God never picked a Gentile priest; He never chose a Gentile apostle, or a Gentile prophet. Also, there is no scriptural record of any Gentile by whom God worked miracles; nor is there any record that a Gentile ever baptized with water.

Section 37

Some people speak of water baptism as a time of great blessing. However, we would like to know what blessing they are referring to? Doubtless, most adherents of the world's religions receive their own perceived "blessings" in practicing their own teachings. But this proves nothing, as far as God is concerned.

This writer, in his duties as a bus driver, once transported a group who was on their way to be baptized for the dead, according to their particular view of 1 Cor. 15:29 -

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

This particular group believed that by being baptized "by proxy", the dead were being given a "second chance" with God. However, while this writer does not claim to be an expert on the meaning of 1 Cor. 15:29, it is still clear that there is no second chance after death, according to passages such as Heb. 9:27 -

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

However, in spite of this fact, we well remember how this group quietly bowed in silence, as one of their group led in prayer, requesting God's guidance and blessing on their mission. Certainly, all who read this study will realize that such a prayer (like any prayer that is contrary to God's word) never travels above the ceiling. Nor is any "blessing" of lasting value ever attained by an action that is contrary to God's word, rightly divided.

Again, the reader is encouraged to think on these things.

Section 38

The following statement is taken from Pastor C. R. Stam's book, Baptism and the Bible.

Is there not a striking difference between Peter at Pentecost demanding repentance and baptism, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and Paul, later proclaiming Christ's righteousness for the remissions of sins (Rom. 3:26)?

Section 39

Now, for a comparison in the book of Numbers, concerning the two different ages given for priests to enter service in the tabernacle:

To begin with, the age for a priest is listed as 25 years, in Numbers 8:24 -

This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:

Yet the age for a priest is also listed as 30 years of age, in Numbers 4:1-4 -

1: And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2: "Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,
3: From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
4: This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:

The two different ages are given because 25 was the probationary age at which the priests entered service (later, God changed it to 20 years under David, according to 1 Chronicles 23:27-32). However, the priests were numbered at the age of 30 years of age.

But why do we include this in a study about water baptism? We do so, simply because the Lord Jesus Christ was a Prophet, Priest, and King. As a Priest, He was baptized by John the Baptist (by sprinkling, as we have shown earlier) at 30 years of age, according to Luke 3:23. The author of Hebrews tells us more of His Priesthood, in Heb. 5:5-10 -

5: So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, "Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee."
6: As he saith also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
7: Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
8: Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9: And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10: Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

So remember, the Lord Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (Rom. 15:8), and "made under the law" (Gal. 4:4). Why, though, did our Lord not have a probationary period? We cannot speak dogmatically here, but it is our belief that He did not need one, because He was sinless.

Section 40

Under the Old Covenant, the sacrifice was to be washed in water (Exodus 29:17; compare Lev. 1:9-13). Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ was also washed (baptized), since He was to become the sacrifice for all sin, as the author of Hebrews explains in Heb. 10:12 -

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

The reader is also encouraged to see passages such as Eph. 5:2; Heb. 7:27, and 9:26.

Section 41

As we come to the close of this study, we again remind the reader that today, there is only one baptism, as God states in Eph. 1:4-6 -

4: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5: One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Therefore, we know that this "one baptism" of Eph. 4:5 is the baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ, of 1 Cor. 12:13 -

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Other scriptures previously given from Paul's epistles also show the completeness of this baptism; and of our burial into Christ's death and resurrection. Thus, since there is only one baptism, water is no longer necessary today, as far as God is concerned.

Many, though, will still wonder what all of the fuss is about? They may say things such as, "Why don't you just keep your views to yourself, and leave other people alone?" Or, "Just let a sleeping dog lie; why stir up a hornet's nest?"

Even though we could give several answers to these questions, we will only give what may be the most important answer: This is a very serious issue indeed, because God's word is surpassingly all important. In fact, He has even magnified His word above His Own Name, according to Psalms 138:2 -

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Likewise, we are also given to know that every jot and tittle is very important, in passages such as Matt. 5:18 and Luke 16:17. Thus, we make no apologies, but again commend the reader to God and His book! Eph. 4:5 states that there is "one baptism"; and 1 Cor. 12:13 states that "by one Spirit" we are "all baptized into one body".

We don't expect any one to agree completely with everything we have stated in this study. However, some will still ignore all of the evidence that we have presented, because they already have a pre-conceived notion that water baptism is in order for today, regardless of scripture to the contrary. But someone who refuses any scriptural light, and who adopts the attitude of, "My mind is made up; don't confuse me with the facts", is permitting himself to be influenced by Satan, as witnessed by the following passages:

II Cor. 11:13-15 -

13: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14: And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15: Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

II Cor. 2:11 -

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

II Timothy 2:24-26 -

24: And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25: In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26: And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Thus, when God states in Eph.4:5 that there is one baptism, and we insist upon adding water to it, we end up with two baptisms. Are we not then falling into Satan's ancient trap, begun in Gen. 3:1 ("Yea, hath God said…")?

So, dear reader, please be honest, and at least consider (and study) these points with an open Bible in hand. As Psalms 119:130 states, "The entrance of thy words giveth light..". Let us beware, lest we find ourselves allied and aligned with the rebellious scribes and Pharisees of Christ's day, who were "Making the word of God of none effect" through their tradition (Mark 7:13).

And now, for the reader who has no assurance of the forgiveness of sins; or who has a false assurance that comes from trusting in his works, church, or water baptism for salvation; we offer the following Bible verses:

Acts 20:24 -

…to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Acts 20:21 -

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:23 -

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 6:23 -

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Peter 2:24 -

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…

1 Cor. 15:3-4 -

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Eph. 2:8-9 -

8: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Romans 4:24-5:1 -

24: But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25: Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
1: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Col. 2:6 -

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Eph. 1:13 -

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,


P. Norman Carlson
Berean Committee for an Open Bible
Tucson, AZ

(Finally! You can read Norman's supplement here!)