Water baptism sounds like a pretty straightforward event. However, there are plenty of things that cause distractions.
Some people think of water baptism as infant baptism, while other people insist that a person has to be at an age of understanding. Some people believe in sprinkling, while others say you must be immersed. Some people believe that you aren’t saved until you are baptized, while others maintain that baptism is just a declaration stating that you have been saved.
The Bible makes it clear that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. It was the shedding of His blood that made it possible for our sins to be forgiven:
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Rom. 5:9 ESV).
Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ritual defilement. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our hearts from deeds that lead to death so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, so that all who are invited can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. (Heb. 9:13-15 NLT).
But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved…for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:8-10, 13 TNIV).
So, if it took a blood sacrifice from the only perfect man (Jesus) to save us, then how can water be considered for salvation? Some of the confusion comes from John the Baptist when he said, “I baptize you with water for repentance” (Matt. 3:11). Then, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). However, the way that these phrases should be interpreted from the Greek are “because of repentance” and “because of the forgiveness of sins.” In other words, the scripture is not telling us that if we are baptized in water, then we will receive forgiveness. It is telling us that we should get baptized in water because we have been forgiven!
If people were getting baptized in water because they had repented of their sins, and were therefore forgiven, then infant baptism is ruled out. I don’t know of any infants that can understand what sin is, and their need for forgiveness, so, being baptized after repentance and forgiveness is not possible for an infant.
What seems like an uncontroversial, straightforward topic actually runs much deeper. I have attempted to “scratch the surface” enough to support my position that we all have four baptisms available to us:
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.
- Water Baptism
- The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
- The Baptism of Fire
Number 1 on this list always happens first. Numbers 2 and 3 can happen in any order. Number 4 always happens last, and is only for the unrepentant, unconverted, and unforgiven.
Please voice your thoughts and opinions here.