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If I am washed from my sins by the blood of Jesus why do I need water baptism?

Isn't faith and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit enough?

 

The Bible records just two baptisms with the Holy Spirit.

The first was at Pentecost.

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The second was at Caesarea.

Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

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?

That baptism with the Holy Spirit was not a normal occurrence is made clear when Peter explains it at Jerusalem. The singular event was meant to prove to the Jewish Christians that the gospel could now be preached to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles could be baptised into Christ.

Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning (ie at Pentecost).

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.

17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us (ie at Pentecost), who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

Two things become apparent here.

1.    Believing on the name of Jesus Christ was not normally accompanied by baptism with the Holy Spirit.

The gift of the Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of the apostles’ hands and after water baptism. This is the order preached to the Jews at Pentecost.

Acts 2:38 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.

The order is (1) Repent, (2) be Baptised (in water) and (3) receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

That the gift of the Holy Spirit was administered only by the laying on of the apostles’ hands is shown in the case of the Samaritans baptised by Philip.

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

2.    Cornelius’ household having been baptised with the Holy Spirit still had to be baptised in water.

Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Paul explains that by immersion in water a believer undergoes, in symbol, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Romans 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.

It is a public confession that we believe that the death, burial and resurrection of Christ did in fact happen and was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins.

By being totally immersed in water a believer has all past sins washed away and begins a new life.

  • Death - When we are baptised we go down into the water to wash away our sins and our past way of life. This is a symbolic death of our old selves.
  • Burial - When we are baptised we are for a few seconds completely covered by water. This is a symbol of the burial of the person we were.
  • Resurrection - When we arise out of the water we begin a new life to be lived by the commandments of Christ. This is symbolic of resurrection.

Below are some scriptures which show that baptism by immersion in water is necessary for ALL believers.

  1. Jesus was baptized.

Matthew 3:13 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?

  1. Jesus said it was necessary to fulfil all righteousness.

NIV Matthew 3:15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness." Then John consented.

  1. The disciples were commanded to baptise.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:

  1. Jesus didn’t say ‘he that just believes shall be saved’; he said:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...

  1. Jesus (via his disciples) baptised those that believed on him.

John 3:22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

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.

John 4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

It is unreasonable to suppose that Jesus would have had his disciples baptise believers if it is not necessary to be baptised.

  1. At Pentecost Peter didn’t say ‘repent and believe’. He said:

Acts 2:38 ... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...

Peter wouldn’t tell them to be baptised if it wasn’t necessary.

  1. They that received his word were all baptised, all 3000 of them.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

  1. Philip baptised the Samaritans.

Acts 8:12 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.

  1. The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip to baptise him. For the Eunuch to request baptism infers that during Philip’s preaching he had been told that it was necessary.

Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

  1. Philip didn’t say ‘It’s OK, you don’t have to be baptised in water, just believe and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and you are saved’ He said:

Acts 8:37... If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

  1. Philip baptised the eunuch. There is no mention of Holy Spirit gift here and we know that Philip could not give it.

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.

  1. Paul (Saul) had to be baptised.

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

  1. Cornelius was told to send for Peter who would tell him what he ought to do.

Acts 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

6 ... he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

  1. Cornelius was baptised.

Acts 10:47 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.

If you will forgive the repetition, because the point is important: Water baptism was necessary even though Cornelius had been baptised with the Holy Spirit. This indicates the importance of water baptism.

  1. Lydia was baptised

Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household...

  1. The Philippian gaoler was baptised.

Acts 16: 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.

Having been told that if he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, he would be saved, he still had to be baptised in water.

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.

  1. Crispus and the Corinthians who believed were baptised.

Acts 18:8 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.

  1. Disciples at Ephesus having been baptised by John the Baptist had to be re-baptised when Jesus was fully explained to them.

Acts 19:3 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.

  1. Paul speaks of the Corinthians being baptised - some of them by Paul himself – Paul would not have baptised any if it wasn’t necessary.

1Corinthians 1:13 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.

  1. Paul tells the Galatians that being baptised into Christ is to ‘put on’ Christ. The clear inference is that we cannot ‘put on’ Christ without baptism.

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you (ie all of them) as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

  1. Paul tells the Ephesians that there is:

Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

There is no evidence to suggest that this was anything other than water baptism.

  1. Paul speaks of the Colossians being buried with Christ in baptism.

Colossians 2:12 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.

  1. Peter speaks of baptism saving us.

1Peter 3:21 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:

  1. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of having our bodies washed with water.

Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Only the thief on the cross was promised an entrance into the kingdom without water baptism but we must remember that he was ‘dying with Christ’ not in symbol but for real. He had confessed that he was receiving a just reward for his sins from which we might infer repentance. His belief in Christ being the Messiah who would come into his Kingdom was remarkable when all Jesus’ disciples had forsaken him because they didn’t understand. [The coma before ‘today’ has been placed in the wrong place by the translators (there is no punctuation in the Greek) and the thief will not enter paradise until the resurrection.]

The principle is simple BELIEVE, REPENT and BE BAPTISED for the remission of your past sins. Baptism allows us to begin a new life in Christ.

Acts 2:38 ... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

After baptism we will still sin but once we are ‘in’ Christ, having ‘put on’ Christ by baptism, we can confess and ask for forgiveness and receive it.

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

1.    I am washed from my sins by the blood of Jesus

The blood of Jesus occurs in 3 places

Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for the remission of our sins, but we have no part in Christ unless we are baptised into him by immersion in water.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mark 16:15 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.

There is no indication that the baptism spoken of here is anything other than immersion in water.

This agrees with what Jesus says to Nicodemas.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Here again rebirth by water comes before rebirth by spirit.

The blood of Christ is also a metaphor for obeying his commandments.

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

If we refuse the commandment to be baptised in water, we haven’t even begun to live by the blood of Christ.

Because there are no apostles still alive today the Holy Spirit gifts are no longer available in the way that the New Testament describes.

There is no evidence that those who received the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the apostles’ hands could pass the gift on.

Philip’s baptism of the Samaritans illustrates that they could not.

Whence then do unbaptised believers get the Holy Spirit today?

The prime purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit was to bring the whole of Christ’s teaching to the apostles’ remembrance and to guide them into truth.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The Holy Spirit gifts were a sign from God that the gospel preached by the apostles was the truth.

There are many churches which profess to have members with the Holy Spirit today but it is evident that they do not all preach the same gospel.

Is God then the author of confusion?

Or should we not rather reasonably conclude that the claim is an unfortunate misunderstanding until proven otherwise?

I hope this helps.

Glenn Smith

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