"B A P T I S M"
BAPTISM: means To Place Into, or On; For The Purpose Of Identification
It is a surprise to many people, including Christians, to learn that the word "BAPTISM" does not mean to immerse into water! Of course there is a "water baptism" in the Bible, but the word "BAPTISM" does not mean to place into water. "Water Baptism" is only one (1) of twelve (12) different baptisms spoken of in the Scriptures. Years of tradition have taught most people to think of "water" every time they read the word "baptism" in their Bible. This has caused great confusion.
Just a simple examination of the usage of the term "BAPTISM" in the Bible will teach us NOT to think of water as part of the meaning of the word, but to substitute the meaning "PLACE INTO" or "PLACE ON." The context in each case will determine what it is that someone or something is being placed into.
We do not have the space to look into all twelve (12) different usages of the term, but we will look at five (5) of them. There are three (3) "BAPTISMS" found in just one verse, Matthew 3:11, which says:
"I INDEED BAPTIZE YOU WITH WATER UNTO REPENTANCE: BUT HE THAT COMETH AFTER ME IS MIGHTIER THAN I, WHOSE SHOES I AM NOT WORTH TO BEAR: HE SHALL BAPTIZE YOU WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WITH FIRE."
(John Baptized with water)
John the Baptist placed people into water or, as some may prefer it said, John placed water on people. Either way John's Baptism was a "water baptism." Its purpose was to identify the believing remnant of Israel with their Messiah - Jesus Christ. (By the way, the reason Jesus Christ was water baptized was for the same reason, only in reverse.) According to John 1:31, Jesus Christ was identified to Israel, and Israel to Him, through water baptism. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ who announced to Israel His coming and prepared them to be received by their King through the cleansing of water baptism. This is why John announced that one greater--with a greater baptism--was coming.
"BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT"
The greater person John was speaking of was the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the testimony of John, when Christ came He would have a greater baptism. John baptized with water, but Jesus Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit. This was a reference to the Day of Pentecost which took place after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ back into heaven - see Acts 1:5-8 and Acts 2:1-5. From heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ "Poured Out" or placed His Spirit on that believing remnant of Israel, just as John promised and as was predicted in Joel 2:28-32.
"BAPTISM WITH FIRE"
John not only introduced and identified the believing remnant of Israel to Jesus Christ, he also warned unrepenting and unbelieving Israel that Jesus Christ would have two (2) baptisms when he came. Believing Israel would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, which is the imparting of Life. Unbelieving Israel would be baptized with fire. This "baptism of fire" is the judgement of the fires of hell, according to Matthew 3:12. This will take place when Jesus Christ shall place unbelievers into the fires of hell. Thank the Lord, Jesus Christ has saved us who believe from that baptism!
Already in this one verse we have seen three (3) different types of BAPTISM; baptism with water, baptism with the Holy Spirit, and even baptism with fire. Notice only one involved water!
Let this be a lesson to you. Do not think of "water" every time you read the word "baptism." Let the Bible tell you what the baptism is into. Then be sure to believe what the Bible says and not what some men will say the Bible means.
"BAPTISM INTO DEATH"
For the fourth (4th) baptism, see Mark 10:38,39,45. In this passage a baptism yet laid ahead for the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the future for James and John as well.
When our Lord spoke of a baptism that he was facing, he was speaking of his death on the Cross. He was placed on the cross for the purpose of having our sins placed on him. And, by identifying Himself with our sins, He paid for them in His death. Jesus Christ was baptized into our death. This is also spoken of in Luke 12:50 and again in I Peter 3:21. It is called:
"THE BAPTISM THAT NOW SAVES"!
In the case of James and John this baptism speaks of their martyr's death. Jesus Christ prophesied and history has recorded that both James and John were placed into death preaching the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. They died for the sake of others - so that others may hear the gospel and be saved. This is the baptism that Paul was speaking about in I Corinthians 15:29.
"BAPTISM INTO CHRIST"
The fifth (5th) and final BAPTISM we shall look at is a baptism which is taught exclusively by the Apostle Paul in his epistles. It is the fact that the Apostle Paul mentions water baptism only one time in all of his epistles. This one time is found in I Corinthians 1:13-17. As water baptism continued into the New Gentile age, it brought confusion and division (just as it is doing in the churches today). Paul's solution was simple: stop water baptizing! But how could he decide to stop? Didn't Jesus Christ command him to baptize? No! After Paul thanked God and he didn't baptize more than he did, he states in verse 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."
Paul was the Apostle of a new age of God's grace. His message and ministry to the Gentiles was distinctly different from the message and ministry of the Twelve Apostles to Israel. Water baptism belonged to the message God had for the nation of Israel. However, there is a baptism taught by the Apostle that is for this age. Be careful to notice it is not water baptism. Paul writes in I Corinthians 12:13.
"FOR BY ONE SPIRIT ARE 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."
The baptism that the Apostle Paul taught was a baptism into Christ. This baptism is the placing of the Believer (today) into the Body of Christ. It is important for you to realize that in I Corinthians 12:13 (just quoted), the baptizer is not a minister but God the Holy Spirit. From this verse, we can also see that the Holy Spirit does not place the believer into water but into Christ! Here again, we need to remember to believe what the Bible say, and not what men say the Bible means.
This "Baptism I into Christ" is the baptism that identifies the Believer with the saving work of the Cross. Romans 6:3-5 teaches this baptism so clearly. The moment I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior, the Holy Spirit of God placed me into Christ's death (the cross where my sins were paid for) and into His burial (the payment is complete) and into Christ's resurrection (where I now have a new life in Christ). Since this "baptism" is the work of the Holy Spirit, some have properly termed this "Spiritual Baptism." Without a doubt it is this baptism that Paul teaches throughout his epistles as seen in Romans 6:3-5, I Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:5, and Colossians 2:10-13.
Our baptism into Christ is the basis for our forgiveness of sins. This is the real baptism that supersedes any ritual baptism previously taught. It is the reality of all that God has accomplished in my behalf through Jesus Christ!
To protect the truth of this baptism, God instructs us in Ephesians 4:1-6 to:
"KEEP (GUARD) THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT..."
We guard this unity by holding to, and defending His sevenfold unity:
"THERE IS ONE BODY, AND ONE SPIRIT, EVEN AS YE ARE CALLED IN ONE HOPE OF YOUR CALLING; ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD, AND FATHER OF ALL, WHO IS ABOVE ALL, AND THROUGH ALL, AND IN YOU ALL."
According to this verse, there is only one (1) baptism today for the Believer which we are to hold and guard. This baptism is not water baptism. It is the BAPTISM BY THE SPIRIT INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST. It is the work of the Holy Spirit Himself which has created a spiritual unity all of the Believers today, in Christ. Anyone who is still water baptizing is causing confusion and division by practicing a baptism which we have not been told to continue doing in the church epistles; and by believing in at least two baptisms for today, when the Scriptures tell us to keep the unity of the Spirit by holding to His one baptism.
Putting it all together, this is what we see. John the Baptist offered the nation of Israel forgiveness of their sins through water baptism. Those of the nation who received the baptism with the Holy Kingdom and will be raised to go into the Kingdom which was promised to them and was being proclaimed by Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry. But the baptism of fire did not come as John said it would. The judgement of the baptism of fire has been postponed along with the offer of the Kingdom promised to Israel. In the meantime, God has raised up the Apostle Paul with a message of grace which goes out today to both the rejecting Jew and to Gentiles concerning an equal opportunity they have been given (through Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection) to be saved, justified, and forgiven. Upon believing this message, God the Holy Spirit is baptizing these Believers into the Body of Christ. And "IN CHRIST" we have life, and hope, and an inheritance.
Israel was offered life, and hope, and inheritance according to the promises of God in the Old Testament. But we who are saved today were never promised these things. Yet they have been given to us by GRACE.
If I have been made part of the Body of Christ through the baptism by the Spirit at the moment I believed the gospel; and if it were yet possible that I could lose my salvation and end up in hell, then part of the Body of Christ would be in hell.
This is not possible. I am secure in Christ because God the Holy Spirit put me there. I did not put myself there. Therefore I cannot take myself out. And since it is the Holy Spirit who also seals me in Christ, I am His forever!
II Timothy 2:11-13 teaches exactly this:
"IT IS A FAITHFUL SAYING: FOR IF WE BE DEAD WITH HIM, WE SHALL ALSO LIVE WITH HIM"
This is the guarantee we have from the Scriptures based upon Believers baptism by the Spirit into Christ's death, burial, resurrection. The verses continue:
"IF WE SUFFER, WE SHALL ALSO REIGN WITH HIM: IF WE DENY HIM, HE ALSO WILL DENY US:"
This verse promises us a reward of reigning with Jesus Christ if we are faithful to suffer for Him now. The second half of the verse warns that if we choose not to faithfully suffer for Jesus Christ in this life, then He will deny us the reward of a reigning position with Him in heaven. It does not mean He will deny us heaven because the previous verse has already guaranteed that "WE SHALL LIVE WITH HIM," and the following verse explains why:
"IF WE BELIEVE NOT, YET HE ABIDETH FAITHFUL: HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF."
If in our lifetime we depart from the faith--become unfaithful--even to the point of denying that we believe in Jesus Christ, the verse says, "YET HE (CHRIST) ABIDETH FAITHFUL." We may be unfaithful to Him, but He will remain faithful to us and keep His word by giving us eternal life anyway. The verse explains why He would do this: "HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF." The believer is part of the Body of Christ and therefore cannot end up in hell. Jesus Christ will not allow it.
Does this security in Jesus Christ teach that we can now go out and live in sin? No, actually the Scriptures teach the opposite. This security in Jesus Christ will teach us not to live in sin. If you will keep reading all of Romans chapters 6,7, and 8, you will find out our baptism into Jesus Christ has freed us from the power of sin, so that we are no longer a slave to sin. No longer must sin reign in our lives. When sin raises it's ugly head, and we give in to it's temptation, we are forgiven for Christ's sake. But at the same time, the power to put away sin, and to go on living for the Lord, comes through KNOWING you are set free in Christ Jesus. Do as Romans 6:11 instructs - RECKON YOURSELF DEAD TO SIN AND ALIVE UNTO GOD!
If you learn anything at all from this book, let it be this: you are hopeless and helpless in yourself to be good enough or to do anything that could please God enough to give you eternal life. However, because of what Jesus Christ has done for you on the Cross, God in his grace is free to receive you when your faith rests in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. By trusting only in the blood of Jesus Christ for your Salvation, God is free to give you eternal life, declaring you righteous because he see you "IN CHRIST." (Philippians 3:9)
"AND BE FOUND IN HIM (CHRIST) NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH IS OF THE LAW, BUT THAT WHICH IS THROUGH THE FAITH OF CHRIST, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS OF GOD BY FAITH."