Why don't you perform water baptism in your church?

Posted: Wed. Apr, 13 2016

The short answer

Because once the Holy Spirit got into the act of baptism, He put all the water fellas out of a job.

But don’t worry; I’ll explain.

The explanation does not rely on Church history or what other churches and denominations are doing … but is based only on what the Bible has to say.
 

Two kinds of New Testament baptizing

Now the central figure when it comes to water baptism in the New Testament is a man named John the Baptist.

So let’s begin by hearing from John the Baptist the moment He laid on eyes on Jesus:

JOH 1:29-34
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 "This is He on behalf of whom I said, ' After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.' 31 "I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water." 32 John testified saying, " I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 "I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' 34 "I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God."

 

Take careful note of what John the Baptist says here.

He mentions two kinds of baptizing.

John the Baptist was sent to “baptize in water”.

Jesus is the One who “baptizes in the Holy Spirit”.

So here we have two kinds of baptism.

Keep this in the forefront. When it comes to baptism and everyday people, there are two kinds in the New Testament: water and Spirit.

 

The church is different from Israel

Now, the next thing we need to keep in mind is that the church is different from Israel.

One major difference is the unique ministry of the  Holy Spirit to the church.  It’s a ministry that was never provided to Israel. 

When the Holy Spirit starts this new ministry to the church, we find in the New Testament that a new program, a new administration, a new dispensation, is revealed to the saints. 

And the chosen vessel to set forth the previously hidden truth about this new program was the Apostle Paul.

GAL 2:7-8
7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been  to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his  apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles),

Make no mistake:   with the arrival of Paul and his apostleship to the Gentiles, a new administration had dawned, along with a new set of revelation concerning Christ and His body, the church.

EPH 3:1-10
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles —  2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; 3  that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4  By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7  of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.  

You can also find this in ROM 16:25-27 and GAL 1:6-12.

Now if you don’t accept this concept of dispensations you will find yourself in great difficulty about many many things that are in the Bible.

You will be looking for bulls to sacrifice when you sin, and stones to throw at rebellious teenagers.

We are members of the Body of Christ, not the nation of Israel.

So while the whole Bible is for us, the teaching directly addressed to us is to be found in Paul’s epistles.

Ok, so now we see that the church is different from Israel.   God has instituted a new program for the church that is contained in the writings of the Apostle Paul.

So with that, let’s return to our subject of baptism.

Recall that the New Testament presents two kinds of baptism for the everyday people: water baptism, and Spirit baptism.

 

What was the purpose behind water baptism?

What does the New Testament tell us about water baptism?  Why was it practiced? 

The New Testament identifies two reasons.

First, water baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to the people of Israel.

And second, water baptism was done to manifest Christ to Israel.

Notice that both reasons have to do with Israel. Not the church. Israel.

So water baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to the people of Israel.

MAR 1:4-5
4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

ACT 13:23-24
" From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, 24 after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

But all the water in the world cannot really take  away one sin.  Through the revelation given to Paul, we Christians understand that our sins have been forgiven on the merits of the blood of Christ.  

EPH 1:7-8
7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us
.

Second, water baptism was done to manifest Christ to Israel.

JOH 1:29-31
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 "This is He on behalf of whom I said, ' After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.' 31 "I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water."

John was sent to baptize the people of Israel with water in order to reveal their Messiah and King, Jesus Christ.

So the New Testament tells us that water baptism had two purposes.  Both purposes were for the nation of Israel, and neither purpose remains in effect for us today. 
 

Shadow and substance

Now, the gospel passages that describe the purpose of water baptism  also tell us something else. They tell us  that water baptism was a temporary ritual that would be replaced by something greater:  Spirit baptism.  The shadow would be eclipsed by the substance!

This point is made again and again in the New Testament when water baptism is discussed.

MAT 3:11
11 "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

MAR 1:7-8
7 And he [John]  was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

LUK 3:16
  John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

JOH 1:33-34
33 "I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' 34 "

In the beginning of the book of Acts, Jesus Himself tells the disciples the same thing:

ACT 1:4-5
4  Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me;  5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

So water baptism had two purposes. Both were connected to the nation of Israel.  We are not part of the nation of Israel. We are members of the body of Christ, the church. 

 

Baptism for the church

So what do the instructions to the church, found in Paul’s letters, say about baptism?

Paul never once commands us to be baptized with water.   Paul never commands any leaders to baptize.  

If water baptism were a required ordinance for the church, you would expect Paul to explain that in his letters. 

Again, there is not one command or exhortation in Paul’s letters to be baptized with water.

What’s more, Paul also tells us that there is only one baptism for the church.

EPH 4:4-6
4 There is  one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

For the body of Christ, the church, there is ONE baptism.

 

The one baptism for the Church is Spirit baptism

But is this one baptism for the church water baptism or Spirit baptism?

John baptized with water, but Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit!

And Paul, God’s chosen vessel to reveal the program for the church, does tell us that all of us have been baptized by the Spirit!

1CO 12:12-13
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

What’s more, at the beginning of this first letter to the Corinthians, Paul also makes this statement about his ministry:

1CO 1:13-17
13  Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

Paul  thanked God that he baptized almost no one.

And then he said that Christ did not send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel.

Paul could never have said these things  if he were under the command issued by Jesus to the eleven:

MAT 28:19
19 " Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Paul understood that the ordinance of water baptism had been superseded by the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God. Paul realized that he had a different commission from the earlier one issued by Christ to the eleven.

Once it became understood that the ordinance of water baptism was fulfilled in Christ, and the Holy Spirit was now baptizing believers into the body of Christ, the practice of water baptism was ended.

The Holy Spirit had put the human water baptizers out of a job!

 

Identified with and placed into Christ by the Spirit

The term baptism itself does not even refer to water.  It means to be identified with and placed into.

We see this in Romans 6.

ROM 6:1-7
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2  May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized [identified with and placed] into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.

This is not water baptism. Water does not have the power to place us into Christ.  God does that.  The Holy Spirit does that.

This is Spirit baptism!

We were placed in, and identified with, the death of Christ.

Nowhere in Scripture is it ever said that water baptism had the effect of uniting the believer with Christ in the likeness of His death.

This is Spirit baptism, done not by the preacher, but by the Holy Spirit.

The one baptism of EPH 4:5 is the spiritual baptism of 1CO 12:13.  It is performed by the Holy Spirit at the moment we first believe in Christ. It is performed without water. 

GAL 3:26-27
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

The Holy Spirit performs an amazing work for us the moment we believe in Christ. He takes us out of Adam and places us into Christ, thereby identifying us with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. And He makes us members of the body of Christ.

This is completely the work of God. Man has no role. In fact, it would be dishonoring to the Lord to try to add any importance to the actions of a man.  That would take away from the glory of the finished work of Christ. And it would be inconsistent with grace.

We are all baptized by the same Spirit.

There is one body.  One Spirit.  One Lord. One faith.

And one baptism:  the baptism of the Spirit.

 

Until the next time, we’re all ….

In His grip,

Pastor John

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