Is the Water Baptism of a Believer a Testimony, and a Witness to the World?
“IF YE THEN BE RISEN WITH CHRIST, SEEK THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE, WHERE CHRIST SITTETH ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. SET YOUR AFFECTION ON THINGS ABOVE, NOT ON THINGS ON THE EARTH. FOR YE ARE DEAD, AND YOUR LIFE IS HID WITH CHRIST IN GOD. WHEN CHRIST, WHO IS OUR LIFE, SHALL APPEAR, THEN SHALL YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY. MORTIFY THEREFORE YOUR MEMBERS WHICH ARE UPON THE EARTH; FORNICATION, UNCLEANNESS, INORDINATE AFFECTION, EVIL CONCUPISCENCE, AND COVETOUSNESS, WHICH IS IDOLATRY.” Colossians 3:1-5.
The believer is to witness to the world that he is NO LONGER dead IN sin but that he is dead TO sin. Quite frequently a believer permits another believer to put him in water, or to put water on him, being persuaded by the baptizer that this should be done as a witness to the world. That water ceremony may satisfy the baptizer, but there is NO PROOF whatever that the baptized person will walk in newness of life. Neither is there one verse of Scripture to support his witness to the world theory. That water ceremony, that baptism, will not help the believer, in any way, to walk in newness of life. Neither does that water ceremony convince any sinner that a Divine transformation has taken place in the baptized person’s life.
Now pay attention, in Luke 3 we see John preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In Luke 3:21-22 we read that Jesus was baptized with water. Surely it wasn't for the forgiveness of sins, as John was preaching, for we read in the first portion of 2 Cor. 5:21, "Him who knew no sin." Jesus, while on earth, was God in the flesh who NEVER sinned. He needed neither to repent (turn) from sin, nor to be forgiven of any sin.
Also, some have said that Matthew 3:15 implies that through water baptism Jesus was being identified with mankind. However, that was accomplished in Bethlehem. We read in Luke 2:41-52 that Jesus at age 12, under the Law of the Passover Feast, was at Jerusalem in His Father's House, listening and talking to the teachers. Wouldn't Jesus have had enough understanding at 12 years old to have been baptized, IF baptism was for a public testimony of His faith?
But Jesus Himself gave the reason He was being baptized in Matthew 3:15, when He told John the Baptist to "Permit it to be so now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." So, in accordance with The Law given to Moses, Jesus was thirty years old at the time He was baptized, as we read in Luke 3:23, "And when He began His ministry Jesus Himself was about 30 years of age."
The Scriptures teach us that at His,(Jesus'), baptism we see Him coming as High Priest TO the Kingdom of Priests: the Nation of Israel, "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6). "But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, They shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast" (Isaiah 61:6). In the New Testament we read in the writings of the Apostle Peter, who in his own words was "an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the Pilgrims of the Dispersion" (1 Peter 1:1), "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles" (1 Peter 2:9, and 1 Peter 2:12).
PAY ATTENTION, when priests were ordained, The Law prescribed certain rituals to be followed, including the ritual of washing them with water, or baptism (Exodus 29:4). That ceremonial washing was performed at the baptism of Christ.
The following Scripture verses from Numbers 4 require all those who perform the service or the work in the tabernacle to be 30 years old: Numbers 4:3, Numbers 4:23, Numbers 4:30, Numbers 4:35, Numbers 4:39, Numbers 4:43, and Numbers 4:47. Hebrews 3-10, and Psalm 110:4 tell how God the Father designated His own Son the Perfect High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Jesus also had a second Baptism which He spoke of in Mark 10:38-39, "But Jesus said to them, You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said to Him, We are able. So Jesus said to them, You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized".
The Lord Jesus Christ was approximately 33 years of age when according to 2 Cor. 5:21, "He who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (Hebrews 9:10-15, Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:10-13). By His own death upon the Cross for mankind's sins, Christ was identified with death and died in our place, was buried in our place, and arose from the dead (Hebrews 9:11-12) to offer His OWN blood in God's Tabernacle in Heaven as a propitiation or satisfaction to God, and sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12). You or I could never follow our LORD in this Baptism.
What you have to realize is that the traditions of man have us following old covenant commands to the Nation of Israel while ignoring commands from the RISEN Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:17, "For Christ did NOT send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of no effect." Under the old covenant, the laws of Baptisms were established in Exodus 29:4 when Aaron was washed or baptized with water (Leviticus 8:6; Leviticus 16:4, Leviticus 16:30; Leviticus 22:6-7).
After His resurrection, Jesus instructed the 11 disciples that, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And THESE SIGNS will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues…" (Mark 16:16-17). The Apostle Peter told the men of Israel in Acts 2:38, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Later Peter says that if the nation will repent and be converted, then Jesus will come back as the long promised Messiah for Israel (Acts 3:19-21). But they didn't, so the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ called another Apostle. The Apostle Paul
Before we go any further, if you haven’t already, please read Mark 16:14-18; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; and 1 Corinthians 12:28, now.
I want to stress that we have, in Mark 16:14-18, a message that has perhaps caused more unpleasant divisions and ungracious controversy among Christians than any other part of the Bible. Let’s quote again what Christ commanded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; 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.” (Mark 16:15-18).
Now, RIGHT HERE you have to ask yourself a very important question. Has any Christian the right to revise this command of Christ? And make it read, “he that believeth and is saved shall be baptized and NO signs shall follow?”
Certainly no one has God’s permission to do this. Neither has any Christian the right to abridge the command, leaving in Mark 16:16, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” and then forgetting or ignoring Mark 16:17-18, “these signs shall follow.”
Without explanation or apology, the Baptists, and the majority of evangelical preachers both revise and abridge this commission of Christ and teach “he that believed and is saved shall be baptized, as a witness to the world”, and, “NO signs.”
The Lutherans teach, “he that believeth and is baptized (by sprinkling) shall be saved, but “NO signs following.”
Then we have the disciples of Alexander Campbell (The "C of C" or Church of Christ denomination) who teach, “he that believeth and is baptized, by immersion shall be saved,” but “NO signs following.”
The C of C's and Lutherans do not revise the first part of the command. But the C of C's and the Lutherans differ most radically in obeying Mark 16:16.
The Lutherans teach that the infant son or daughter of Lutheran parents should be baptized. They teach that faith, without sprinkling, will not save; that sprinkling, without faith, will not save. The combination is required. But they agree that the infant cannot believe. Well in that case, if the parents BELIEVE for the infant why not let the parents be BAPTIZED for the infant? The Church of Christ denomination members contend that sprinkling is not being buried by baptism in obedience to Romans 6:4, and they teach that no person has, “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine delivered you” (Romans 6:17) unless that person is born of the water, by being buried under the water. (John 3:5). They stick to the order, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” This is called baptismal regeneration.
IF water baptism is a factor in the believer’s salvation, THEN the Grace message of Ephesians 2:8-9 is not true. For there, in those verses, salvation is NOT of yourselves. IF water baptism helps to save a person, THEN the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:14-17, thanked God that He helped to save a very few! And yet in the same Epistle (1 Corinthians 9:21-25) the same Paul became all things to all men that he might save some. Did Paul thank God he had helped only a few to witness by water? No, that's ridiculous!
Now the Pentecostals are at least a little more consistent than the Lutherans and the Disciples. The Pentecostals claim that, in their message and program, they proclaim the full gospel, that is, they neither revise nor abridge Mark 16:14-18, or 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, where the sign gifts are found. They teach faith, water salvation, Holy Spirit baptism, tongues, healing, poison-drinking, snake handling, raising-the-dead, casting out demons and all the miracles, even greater works than Christ performed. (John 14:12). But when they put this into practice, they miserably fail, and it is not for lack of faith or zeal or sincerity or trying.
Realize this, IF Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16 is our Gospel for this Age of Grace, THEN Titus 3:5-8 is not, and THAT is ridiculous! So, take the time to compare them. You see, it’s only as we study the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts in light of Ephesians 2:8-10, and Ephesians 3:1-11 can we know God’s salvation message and program for this parenthetical Age of Grace.
The RISEN Christ gave to the Apostle Paul The Mystery with the Gospel of Grace, RATHER than The Law as He did to Moses. God sent Paul to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-9) and did NOT send him to baptize (1 Corinthians 1:17). Instead, according to Ephesians 4:5, there is ONE baptism for today, 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by ONE Spirit we were all baptized into ONE Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into ONE Spirit." The Holy Spirit performs this Baptism, NOT an apostle, deacon, or pastor. And notice that it is not a baptism with water, but a baptism into The Church of the Mystery, The Church of the Dispensation of Grace, The Body of Christ.
In Ephesians 1:13 the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul declares that men are saved and sealed by hearing and BELIEVING the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation. Therefore, here, now, is declared unto you the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation: "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. BELIEVE today. The time is short.
So There You Have it!
Spread this message to everyone you know, far and wide.
Grace be to you and peace, from God: our Father, and The LORD Jesus Christ.
In The LORD Jesus Christ,
The Lion and Lamb Ministry
Pastor David Picos, D.D.
Minister and Ambassador for Christ in the Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20)