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One Lord, One Faith, No Water Baptism!

Edgar Caia

In Ephesians 4:4,5 we read, There is one body and one Spiritjust as you were called to one hope when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism. The one baptism here is definitely not water baptism. Since Ephesians 4 talks about the unity of the body of Christ, water baptism cannot be the one baptism mentioned here. There is another kind of baptism in the New Testament that is superior to water baptism and thats the one baptism meant here. As a matter of fact, context-wise, the one baptism mentioned in Ephesians 4 and the baptism mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:13 should be one and the same. Since Ephesians 4 talks about one body, one Spirit, and one baptism, the baptism here is the ONE BAPTISM of believers by ONE SPIRIT into the ONE BODY. The Apostle Paul puts it, For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13). The context of both Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12 is the unity of the Body of Christ, and therefore, there cannot be another meaning of baptism in Ephesians 4:5 but the ONE BAPTISM that is done by the ONE SPIRIT to the believers in placing them into the ONE BODY. To read water baptism into the text of Ephesians 4:5 is hermeneutically out of line. Since there is only one baptism (the baptism done by the Spirit) as there is only one Lord and one faith within the one Body of Christ, it can be said that water baptism is no longer necessary for believers today and it has no spiritual significance whatsoever for us today. But why do many Christians adhere to water baptism? Simply because they see water baptism everywhere in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, and they think that since it is written all over the place it must be for us today. Not necessarily. One should look carefully into the Scripture regarding the purpose of water baptism and also understand its background. But before going to that, lets look at water baptism as it is believed and practiced today. RELIGIOUS GROUPS AND WATER BAPTISM Churches that practice water baptism do not agree as to the purpose of water baptism for today. The following is an example of the beliefs of different churches as to the purpose of water baptism: 1. Anglican Church Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html Lutheran Church [Baptism] works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. http://www.cph.org/t-topic-catechism-baptism.aspx Baptist Church A divine ordinance, a symbolic ritual, a mechanism for publicly declaring ones faith, and a sign of having already been saved, but not necessary for salvation. Methodist Church Faith is the necessary condition for justification; in baptism, that faith is professed. Thus, for the Methodist Church, water baptism is necessary for forgiveness and justification but contingent on personal faith in Christ. http://archives.umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=4&mid=992 Other Evangelicals including Trinitarian Pentecostals Water Baptism is an ordinance, a symbolic ritual used to witness to having accepted Christ as personal Savior. Oneness Pentecostal Water baptism is necessary for salvation. Presbyterian Church A sacrament, a symbolic ritual, and a seal of the adult believers present faith. It is an outward sign of an inward grace http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Westminster_Confession_of_Faith#CHAPTER_XXVIII._Of _Baptism. Quakers (Society of Friends) Water baptism is no longer necessary.

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Roman Catholic Church Water baptism is necessary for salvation. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c1a1.htm 10. Salvation Army Does not recognise any sacraments, such as baptism or communion, as essential. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/salvationarmy_1.sht ml From the above information we see that water baptism is believed and practiced with varying purposes in mind, from being necessary as a practice but not necessary for salvation to absolutely necessary most notably for salvation. There are also other purposes in between, such as, not necessary for salvation but absolutely necessary to experience Gods full spiritual blessings. But such views of water baptism are obviously man-made and not biblical, and even if Scriptures are cited, they are cited out of biblical and historical context of water baptism. Among Evangelicals, the reason that is commonly given regarding as to why water baptism is necessary for today is that water baptism is necessary for obedience to the Lords command. Some Evangelicals explain that water baptism is not necessary for salvation but necessary for obedience to the Lords command, a command most Evangelicals misunderstood. Other Evangelicals argue that water baptism is not necessary for salvation but it is necessary to publicly express ones faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But is this really the reason why New Testament believers performed water baptism? Well see that as we progress. Not only with regards to the purpose of water baptism that churches do not agree with each other, but they also disagree as to the mode of water baptism. Some groups doctrinally assert that water baptism is by sprinkling (The Westminster Confession of Faith). Others are insisting that water baptism is by immersion only (Baptists). Others still are saying that water baptism can be done by pouring, by sprinkling, and by submersion (Methodists, Presbyterian, etc). WATER BAPTISM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT Water baptism today is practiced in many churches basically on the belief that the New Testament sanctions it. It is true that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the Book of Acts are replete with passages about water baptism. But one must understand that those same books of the New Testament are also replete with passages regarding the Sabbath. Jesus even said that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) but to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17), and the observance of the Sabbath is included in the Law. In other words, not because we read about water baptism in the Gospels and the Book of Acts we must therefore conclude that it is meant for us today. As a matter of fact, if we take a closer look at the teaching of water baptism in the New Testament, well discover that the purpose of water baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, thus, necessary for salvation, which obviously proves that it is not meant for us today: Mark 1:4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Water baptism here is for the purpose of forgiving Israels sin. Mark 16:15,16 Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. It is quite clear here, without twisting the text, that water baptism is necessary for salvation.

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected Gods purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John. The Pharisees rejected and so missed Gods purpose for them because they refused to be baptized by John. Thus, water baptism was necessary for becoming acceptable to God. Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Repentance and water baptism were necessary for the forgiveness of sins. This passage reflects the purpose of water baptism in Mark 1:4. Unfortunately, many Christians, in their effort to reconcile this passage with their teaching that water baptism is not necessary for the forgiveness of sins, go about this passage by saying that the word for should be understood as because of rather than for the purpose of. Therefore, they take Acts 2:38 to mean: Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ because of the forgiveness of your sins. Meaning, they have to be baptized because they have already been forgiven of their sins. But this tweak is unwarranted since it will appear that people must Repent because they have already been forgiven of their sins which is not only absurd but also unbiblical. 1 Peter 3:21 and this water (the water of the Great Flood) symbolizes baptism that now saves you alsonot the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Water baptism saves as far as this passage is concerned. Of course, Evangelicals who are pro-water baptism interpret those passages differently than the casual reading of those texts, and they have to; otherwise, those passages, if read at face value will clearly contradict their view that water baptism is not necessary for the forgiveness of sins and for salvation which was true for the Jewish nation at that time. But it is not their interpretation that matters. What matters is what is written in the text and what the Jewish understanding of water baptism back then was. Ask any Jew during the New Testament time and they will surely say that water baptism was necessary for the forgiveness of sins as burnt offerings and sin offerings were necessary for the forgiveness of their sins. Thus, even the Early Church Fathers understood water baptism as salvific. One of the problems with our understanding today is that we reject the notion that water baptism was salvific even for the Jews back then and so we tweak and twist the baptism passages that do not line up with our understanding of water baptism. By doing so, we are accommodating our understanding of water baptism today to the purpose of water baptism back then which simply is wrong. A CEREMONIAL WASHING One thing that pro-water baptism missed in their understanding of water baptism is that water baptism is part of the ceremonial washings of the Jews, which they had to perform (1) for their ceremonial cleansing, and for (2) accepting a proselyte Gentile into the Jewish faith. If a Christian wishes to understand water baptism in the New Testament, these two Jewish purposes of water baptism must be borne in mind. Otherwise, any attempt by any Evangelicals to understand water baptism without considering these Jewish context of water baptism, will only lead them to read different notions into passages like Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. In John 3:25 we read, An argument developed between some of Johns disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. This ceremonial washing, in context is no less than water baptism (John 3:22-26). A ceremonial washing was a ritual practiced by the Jews for their ceremonial cleansing which theyve learned from the Law of Moses.

Thus, the nature of water baptism is ceremonial and has no spiritual significance whatsoever and, therefore, not important in the Christian faith. Jews have different types of ceremonial washings. In chapter 6 and verse 2 of the Epistle to the Hebrews (an epistle to the Christian Jews) we read about instructions about baptisms (plural). A ceremonial washing, which is called tevilah in Rabbinical Judaism, was required from a Jew, for example, in the case where there is a bodily discharge (Lev. 15:13). The unclean person must bathe himself in a mikveh (a constructed ritual bath connected to fresh water). A ceremonial washing or water baptism is also performed upon non-Jews who want to convert to Judaism. Requirements for conversion to Judaism are as follows: The Amoraim who produced the Talmud set out three requirements for a conversion to Judaism (Keritot 8b), which must be witnessed and affirmed by a beth din: 1. Circumcision (Brit milah or hatafat dam brit) for men 2. Immersion (tevilah) in a ritual bath (mikveh) for both men and women 3. Offering a certain sacrifice (korban) in the Temple (the Beit Hamikdash) this requirement is deferred while the Temple does not exist until such time as it may be rebuilt. The consensus of halakhic authorities also requires a convert to understand and accept the duties of the halakha, classical Jewish religious law. This is not stated explicitly in the Talmud, but was inferred by subsequent commentators. After confirming that all these requirements have been met, the beth din issues a Certificate of Conversion (Shtar Giur), certifying that the person is now a Jew. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ger_tzedek#Terminology) This backdrop of water baptism shows that it is simply a Jewish ritual or ceremony and has no spiritual significance at all in the Body of Christ today, particularly among churches that are predominantly Gentile (non-Jew) believers. The question is why is it that the Gospels are replete with examples of water baptism? JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS CHRIST It must be understood that the earliest disciples of Jesus Christ were all Jews. In fact, the history recorded in the Gospels revolves around the Jewish faith and community, and so the practice of water baptism is expected all throughout the Gospel narratives. Even the church, in its earliest stage, was a Jewish church, meaning, it was composed mainly of Jewish believers. Before the inception of the Jewish church, water baptism was already being required by God from the people of Israel and their Jewish brothers scattered all around the then-known world, perhaps including righteous Gentiles or God-fearing Gentiles (i.e., Gentile converts to Judaism). The message of repentance and water baptism for the forgiveness of sins was preached by John the Baptist to these people as a preparation for the coming Kingdom. Jesus himself was baptized not for the purpose of instituting water baptism in the church as some claim he did through his submission to this Jewish ritual. Rather, he submitted to this ritual in order to fulfill all righteousness. Gods call for the Jewish nation to be baptized was a call to national repentance and righteousness and therefore every Jew and all people converted to Judaism had to undergo the baptism of repentance. And so Jesus, for the purpose of fulfilling Gods righteous requirement for all Jews, submitted to this call. Later on, however, Paul explained to us that Israels repentance includes believing in Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 19:4), which Israel as a nation had rejected. John the Baptists ministry obviously was not in competition with Jesus ministry. As a matter of fact, their ministries were linked together. Thus, the baptism that John

performed was the same baptism that Jesus (or at least his disciples) performed, that is, the purpose of both baptisms was for the Jews to be ritually cleansed from their sin. While it seems that in Acts 19:1-5 Johns baptism was invalid, its not really the case. A possible reading of that passage gives us this reading of verses 4-5: (Paul was speaking,) Johns baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. On hearing this, they (the hearers of John) were baptized intothe name of the Lord Jesus. Two reasons for this reading: (1) John did affirm the baptism that Jesus and his disciples performed (John 3:27-36) and vice-versa (Luke 7:2930), and so rebaptism was unnecessary, and (2) Johns baptism, as Paul explained in this passage was a baptism of repentance, telling the Jewish people to believe in Jesus. Thus, to be baptized by John is to believe in Jesus and, therefore, no need to be rebaptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. But even if they were rebaptized (which is very unlikely), they were baptized because they were obviously Jews. Johns baptism and Jesus baptism are one and the same; theyre both looking at one direction, that is, the repentance of the nation of Israel on which the coming Kingdom is predicated of which King was the Lord Jesus Christ. The baptism that the Cousins and their respective disciples performed was not meant for Gentile Christians; it was meant exclusively for the Jewish people (probably including Gentile converts to Judaism). They were called to repent and turn to God by accepting Jesus as the Messiah in order to prepare them for the coming of the literal Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15). Thus, it was not meant for the Gentile Christians of today. NO SUCH THING AS CHRISTIAN BAPTISM Some might say, Well, granting that the water baptism that John and Jesus performed was not for Christians today, isnt it that there is such thing as Christian (water) baptism which the apostles performed? Christian Baptism is explained in different ways by different churches (see the section Religious Groups and Water Baptism above). For those who view Christian Baptism like the Baptists, Christian Baptism is viewed as merely a mechanism for public declaration of ones faith and is not necessary for salvation. But this view of water baptism is not found in Scripture; it is a man made concept of water baptism taken from the theology of Ulrich Zwingli. The Bible neither teaches that water baptism is merely a mechanism for public declaration of faith, nor a sign that a person has already been saved. Others view Christian Baptism as necessary for salvation. While this is the Scriptural view of water baptism, it is no longer applicable to any group of people under this Dispensation of Grace as far as God is concerned. In short, water baptism being salvific was only applied to the Jews in the previous dispensations, but since Israel has now, for the meantime, been set aside and that Gods dealing with them as a nation has temporarily ceased and that God has now grafted the Gentiles in into his Divine program, water baptism being salvific is no longer applicable to anyone or to any group of people. With that, water baptism ceases as well. Water baptism is not for Gentiles to become members or becoming parts of the Body of Christ through faith in Jesus Christ. Water baptism, when applied to the Gentiles, was salvific only for those Gentiles becoming converts to Judaism in the old ways of Gods dealing with mankind (i.e., previous dispensations). But now in light of Gods revelation of his grace to the Apostle Paul, a person is now saved and becomes a member of the Body of Christ apart from any works (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9). Thus, a person does not need to be baptized in water to be saved and be converted to Christianity. Christian Baptism is neither a biblical term nor a biblical concept. If there is any baptism that is meant for a Christian, it is the one baptism mentioned in Ephesians 4:5, which is done by the Holy Spirit in placing a believer into the Body of Christ. Christian Baptism, as it is understood today, is a misunderstanding of the baptism that was done by the Jewish Christians to the new believers in the New Testament. But that is not a baptism sanctioned

by the Lord Jesus Christ for the Gentile church. As a matter of fact, there is no water baptism sanctioned by the Lord Jesus for the Gentile believers. Since water baptism was understood by the Jews, including the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist, as a ritual required for the forgiveness of sins and salvation for the Jews, how can the Lord sanction water baptism among Gentile believers who are clearly forgiven and saved through faith in him without the necessity of any work, let alone, rituals? Water baptism, then, was not commanded to be performed to the already believers in the Dispensation of Grace within the Body of Christ. When the Lord Jesus gave the mandate to the Twelve in Matthew 28:19,20 to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, the Lord Jesus Christ was not mandating the Gentile church with this command. Rather, he was giving this command to a group of Jewish disciples. That goes the same with Mark 16:15,16. The question now is is the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19,20 and of Mark 16:15-18 not the marching order for the Body of Christ today? Yes, the so-called Great Commission is not the marching order for the Body of Christ today. If it is the marching order for the church today, the implication is a bit disconcerting to me. Think about the following: 1. If this commission is for the church in general, then all of us, not only the ministers must do the baptizing. And so, if one is not baptizing, then he is disobeying this command. I often hear Christian leaders say that those who do not get baptized are disobeying the Lords command. This is bad and I think pro-baptism preachers should straighten up their hermeneutics since the command is not to get baptized but clearly to go and baptize. If the command is to go and baptize, then each member of the church should be required to do the baptizing as each one is being required to get baptized! Clearly, the church is disobeying this command if this command is meant for every Christian. Charles Stanley even said that if one refuses to obey Jesus command it is simply willful disobedience, rebellion, and sin against God. What he didnt realize is that Jesus command was Go and make disciplesbaptizing them Jesus command was to go and baptize. Therefore, if theres any command of the Lord Jesus that is being disobeyed by Christians today, its not the command to get baptized, but the command to go and do the baptizing. Besides, it would seem that Paul disobeyed this command because he contradicted it by saying that the Lord did not send him to baptize (1 Corinthians 1:17). 2. If the so-called Great Commission is the marching order for the Body of Christ today, we have to teach our church members to do EVERYTHING I (Jesus) have commanded you and that includes Matthew 23:1-3; John 13:14-15 since these are obviously commanded by the Lord Jesus. 3. Also, we will be requiring water baptism not as a public confession of faith but for salvation (he who believes and is baptized will be saved). As a matter of fact, this so-called Great Commission is taken by some Evangelical bible teachers quite differently from the traditional understanding of these commands: Dr. James M. Gray: This is the Kingdom Commission, as another express it, not the Christian Commission Its accomplishment has been interrupted, but will be taken up before the Lord comes to deliver Israel (Christian Workers Commentary, p. 313) Dr. Wm. L. Pettingill: Marks Gospel, like Matthews and Lukes, is primarily a Kingdom book, and I am satisfied that none of them contains the Churchs marching ordersnot even the so-called Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20 (Bible Questions Answered, p. 100)

Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein: This is the Kingdom Commission. A time is coming when this great commission here will be carried out by a remnant of Jewish disciples (Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, p. 323) J. N. Darby: The accomplishment of the commission here in Matthew has been interrupted we find no accomplishment of it for the present it has, in fact, given place to heavenly commission and the church of God. (Collected Writings, p. 327) This only demonstrates that Bible teachers are not unanimous in interpreting the so-called Great Commission passages the way it is traditionally interpreted. Matthew 28:19,20 and Mark 16:15-18 were understood traditionally as the Lords commands to the church in general as represented by the Eleven Jewish disciples. But the Jewish disciples were hardly the representatives of the Gentile Church. If the whole New Testament is studied carefully, one will see that there was a Gentile Church and Jewish Church at the early stage of the Body of Christ. The Jewish disciples never thought of reaching out to the Gentiles for [they] are well aware that it is against [their] law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him (Acts 10:28). As a matter of fact, it was the men from Cyprus and Cyrene (i.e., Jews who were brought up in these lands), [who] went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. (Acts 11:20), but the Jews (from Jerusalem) who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, [told] the message only to Jews (Acts 11:19) because thats how they understood the Great Commission of Matthew 28 and Mark 16. Thus, the Twelve (minus Judas) disciples were not the representative of the Gentile church and, therefore, Matthew 28:19,20 and Mark 16:15-18 are not the marching orders for the church today which is predominantly Gentiles. BAPTISM ALL OVER THE PLACE One of the reasons why proponents of the practice of water baptism have difficulty abdicating the practice is because water baptism is all over the place of the New Testament the Gospels and the Book of Acts. So what do we do then with these Scripture passages on water baptism? Not because we read something in the New Testament it must be taken as something for us to practice or do as well. One should realize that there are also some practices in the New Testament that Evangelical Christians do not practice these days and we are not bothered about them. Some examples are women covering their head in worship (1 Cor. 11:6-16), foot-washing (John 13:14,15; 1 Tim. 5:10), and women not being allowed to speak in church (1 Cor. 14:34). But why do we not practice these practices today? We do not practice them today because these are culturally related practices and that they dont have any universal spiritual significance. We dont mind today if our women in church would wear even very short hairs. We are not bothered (although some men are) even if our women talk in church today. We dont call it disobedience to the Word of God if we dont practice those things and yet when it comes to water baptism we often here Christians saying that if a believer doesnt get baptized in water he/she is disobeying the Word of God. Why the inconsistency? A JEWISH ORIENTATION The practice of water baptism for ceremonial cleansing and for accepting a Gentile convert is part of Jewish orientation which Jews believe to be what the Law of Moses teaches them. That is, water baptism was their normal response when ceremonial cleansing was necessary and when a convert to Judaism is to be accepted in the community. Similarly, we confess our sins to God whenever we commit one and we ask unbelievers to accept

Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior if they want to become Christians. That is our orientation as Evangelical Christians and we believe them to be what the Word of God teaches us. A Jew will always resort to ceremonial washing whenever he feels it necessary just like a Christian will resort to confessing his sin to God whenever he knows it is necessary. Because of this Jewish orientation their natural response to anyone who would come to their faith is to baptize him with water. Now, the disciples of the Lord Jesus in their early stage did not know about Christianity as we know it today. They did not even call themselves as Jewish Christians as we call them today. What they knew back then was that they were followers of the Way which, for them, was a new sect of the Jewish faith. An entry in Wikipedia reads, For example, Robert Goldenberg asserts that it is increasingly accepted among scholars that at the end of the 1st century CE there were not yet two separate religions called Judaism and Christianity(Wikipedia). Daniel Boyarin also writes, for at least the first three centuries of their common lives, Judaism in all of its forms and Christianity in all of its forms were part of one complex religious family, twins in a womb, contending with each other for identity and precedence, but sharing with each other the same spiritual food, as well. (Wikipedia) The early Jewish Christian believers did not know about Christianity. What they knew back their time was that they belong to the Jewish faith with new things coming into place. This is the reason why the Way, led by James the Just, Peter, and John, were still zealous for the Law (e.g., Acts 21:20) even when Paul was already proclaiming justification by faith alone (see Pauls Epistle to the Galatians) among the Gentiles and Hellenized Jews. These Judaizers (Christian Jews) were so zealous for the Law of Moses that they required Gentile Christians to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1) and avoided eating with them as well (Gal. 2:11-14). In other words, while these Jews were already true believers of the Lord Jesus, they still hold on to their Jewish orientation. Our mistake is to think that because they became believers of the Lord, they would straightaway forsake their Jewish background. But that is not really the case. Albert Barnes wrote, It is very evident that at Jerusalem the special rites of the Jews were observed for a long time by those who became Christian converts. They would not at once cease to observe them, and thus needlessly shock the prejudices of their countrymen (Commentary on Galatians [2:11]). While Paul was already preaching salvation by grace through faith in some parts of the Gentile world, the Christian Jews in Jerusalem were still observing the Mosaic rituals. Because of this Jewish orientation, water baptism, circumcision, Sabbath observance and others were practiced for a long time in Jewish Christianity. Even Paul himself was a Jew and thereby naturally baptized some, but later, perhaps because of the Lords new revelations to him, never baptized anyone anymore (1 Cor. 1:14-17). Unfortunately, the practices of water baptism, circumcision, and other Jewish practices have been attempted to be carried out to the Gentile churches by some Judaizers (Christian Jews) to the dismay of Paul himself. This is in fact the reason why the Epistles of Galatians was written by Paul. Judaizers have infiltrated the pulpit of these Gentile (including Hellenized Jews) churches in Galatia and they were now adopting the Judaizers beliefs and practices (see Gal. 5:2). Unfortunately, in the process of time, Christians that belong to the Gentile churches, particularly those in the province of Asia, whom Paul taught, forsook their Paulinian teachings. When he wrote to Timothy, he said, What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to youguard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. (2 Tim 1:13-15). He told Timothy to guard what he learned from Paul since everyone in the province of Asia did not guard what was entrusted to them and has deserted him and what they learned from him. That means those churches have

succumbed to the influence of the Jewish Christians. Perhaps not only them, but many of the churches that Paul taught during his time also succumbed to the influence of the Christian Jews. This explains why (1) many of the Church Fathers believed that salvation is by faith and works, (2) believed that water baptism was necessary for salvation, (3) the Roman Catholic Church along with its splinter church, the Greek Orthodox Church (being both the oldest churches in Christendom), still believe that water baptism is necessary for salvation and that salvation is by faith and works, and (4) the church lost one very important Pauline teaching for centuries, that is, justification by faith alone, which was recovered only 500 years ago during the Reformation of the 16th century by Martin Luther, the German priest who experienced the new birth upon realizing from the Scripture that the righteous shall live by faith. These four facts were brought about by the influence of the Christian Jews and a departure from Pauline teachings. Christians today should not adhere to the teachings of the Jerusalem Christians (Jerusalem Church) when it comes to salvation (James 2:24; 1 Peter 3:21) and practices like circumcision, water baptism, Sabbath observance, etc. After all, its not James, Peter, and John (pillars of Jerusalem church) who were appointed as heralds and apostles and teachers of the true faith to the Gentiles, but Paul (1 Tim. 2:7; Gal. 2:7). And because Paul is the teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles, we, Gentile Christians, should learn and practice more of his teachings along with the teachings of the Jewish Apostles that coincide with Pauls teachings. Admittedly, Paul, during his early years in the faith and in the ministry submitted also to the authority of the Jerusalem Church (Acst 15 & 16). But as the Lords revelation to him progresses, his apostleship to the Gentiles became more established that hes able to say later, As for those (i.e., Peter, James, and John) who seemed to be importantwhatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearancethose men added nothing to my message (Gal. 2:5). Paul was simply demonstrating his authority which is of the same level with the pillars of the Jerusalem church. This authority was also recognized by the leaders of Jerusalem church: On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. (2:7) Paul was the founder of the Gentile Christian community and the teacher of the true faith to them (2 Tim. 2:7). Now if Paul said that he was not sent to baptize (1 Cor. 1:17), then we are to follow him and not those who were sent to baptize (Matt. 28:19,20). The problem arises when we take the command for the Jewish Christians as ours when such command was not meant for us (Gentile Christians). And in doing this, Evangelicals have to reconcile passages like Acts 2:38 with their belief that water baptism is not necessary for the forgiveness of sins by reading something foreign into such passages. But why did those Jewish Christians baptize even the Gentile Christians (e.g., Cornelius & family in Acts 10) who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? They baptized them not because it was a Christian practice that was meant for all time. Again, those Jewish believers didnt know about Christianity back then. Rather, they baptized those Gentiles who came to believe in the Lord because that was their orientation as Jews. They would naturally baptize any Gentile who would want to become a follower of God because Jewish Christians, as already mentioned, did not cease to practice their Jewish practices for a long time. In other words, the water baptism that we read in the Book of Acts were performed basically out of Jewish inclination to do it and as part of the Jewish mandate in Matthew 28:19,20. Thus, there is nothing spiritually and doctrinally significant in those water baptisms found in the Book of Acts where Gentiles are involved, because water baptism is not meant for the Gentile Church. Thats why Paul could even say that he was thankful that he did not baptize any of the Corinthians aside from those he mentioned. BAPTISM IN PAULS LETTER

What about those passages in Pauls letter which seem to teach water baptism? First of all, in Scripture the word baptism does not always refer to water baptism. There are wet baptisms and dry baptisms in the Scripture although the terms themselves are not used. Wet baptisms simply refer to water baptism and other ceremonial washings (Heb. 6:2) and dry baptisms simply refer to baptisms other than water baptism. The following are examples of dry baptism: Jesus said. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? (Mark 10:38) But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11) But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! (Luke 12:50) For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one bodywhether Jews or Greeks, slave or freeand we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13) They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (1 Corinthians 10:2) In the same manner, the baptism passages in Pauls letters are better understood as dry baptisms. Romans 6:3 is better understood as dry baptism; otherwise, if the baptism here is understood as water baptism, the implications will be contrary to the biblical belief that new life in Christ begins with true faith in Christ. For example, in Romans 6:3 it says we were baptized into Christs death in order just as Christ was raised from the dead we too may live a new life. If water baptism is meant here then we need to be water baptized in order (!) to live a new life. But this is simply wrong as far as the Bible and the experience of true Christians are concerned, because true Christians know that even if they dont undergo water baptism they already have new life in Christ. Water baptism does not add anything to the fullness we have in Christ (Col. 2:10). And I still have to hear a testimony from somebody who after coming out of the water (in water baptism) experienced new life as a result, and I mean true change of life as a result of water baptism. As far as I know, the only thing that a person experiences when going down to the water is getting wet, aside from that, nothing else. New life is experienced before water baptism, which Romans 6:3-4 will contradict if it is interpreted as teaching water baptism. Therefore, the baptism in Romans 6:3 is not water baptism but it refers to our union with Christ. The phrase baptized into Christ simply means we were placed into Christ or simply united with Christ and this union takes place when we truly believe in Christ. Commenting on Romans 6:3-7 Chuck Swindoll writes, To understand what this is all about, we have to set aside the concept of water baptism and understand that this is a reference to dry baptism. Some baptisms in the New Testament arewet and some of them are dry. This one is in the latter category. The word baptizo primarily has to do with identification. It was a term that was used in the first century for dipping a light-colored garment into a dye that was, lets say, scarlet. Once the fabric was dipped into the scarlet dye, it would be changed in its identity from its original color to scarlet. The act of dipping it, resulting in changing its identity, was called baptizo. It is the Greek term from which we get our English word baptism. Christ died for us on the cross. He was raised from the dead for us at the tomb. When we believed in the Saviors death and resurrection, we were dipped into the same scene. Our identity was changed. We didnt feel it, we didnt see it, we didnt hear it, but it occurred nevertheless. When we came to Christ, we were placed into Him (Grace Awakening, pp. 119-120)

Another passage in Pauls letters that seem to sanction water baptism is Colossians 2:11,12 which reads, In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. Earlier in verse 8 of Colossians 2, Paul warned the Colossian Christians about being captivated by hallowed philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world. Then he stated a very important truth concerning the spiritual standing of every Christian: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ Each Christian is complete in Christ. All of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ have been given fullness in him and so we dont need those human traditions to complete our relationship with Christ. Then he said, In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ Physical circumcision is nothing because in Christ we have been given fullness and that includes a new kind of circumcision, that is, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ Circumcision is a Jewish tradition that is no longer applicable to Christianity and it goes the same with water baptism. In verse 12 Paul said, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. The baptism mentioned here is similar to the baptism mentioned in Romans 6:3 and not water baptism. The circumcision done to us is a spiritual circumcision. Similarly, the baptism that is meant here is a spiritual baptism, namely, our union with Christ through faith. We are united with Christ in his death and resurrection through our faith in him. We died to ourselves and to sin and raised to a new life by believing in Jesus Christ and not by being water baptized. Thats why Paul said, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God Since our raising up with him is through faith, therefore the burying (or death) cannot be water baptism, because that would be pretty inconsistent if it is. Instead, through faith in Christ we were UNITED with him in his death (and burial) and through the same faith we were raised with him to a new life. Faith alone through Christ alone makes our spiritual standing before God absolutely complete in Christ and thats actually what Paul is saying in the book of Colossians. In Galatians 3:26-29 we read, You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise. If water baptism is meant in verse 27, then it is by undergoing water baptism that we are clothed with Christ. But no Evangelical will say that is correct. Instead, most (if not all) Evangelicals will agree that no one is clothed with Christ by means of water baptism. Believers are clothed with Christ by their union with him, and we receive all the spiritual blessings in Christ by being IN Christ not by water baptism. As a matter of fact, Paul used the phrases faith IN Christ (v.26) and baptized into Christ (v.27) interchangeably or with the same meaning here. Notice carefully how he used these phrases: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. As if Paul was saying, You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, because all of you who [have faith in Christ or better yet, united with Christ] have clothed yourselves with Christ, the Son of God, and so you are all sons of God by faith in him. Thus, the phrase, baptized into Christ in verse 27 means to be united with Christ (by faith in Christ) and not being baptized in water. THE CHURCH FATHERS AND WATER BAPTISM

Water baptism was not understood during the time of the Church Fathers (teachers of the faith and theologians of the church from the Apostolic Period to the 6th Century) as it is understood by most Evangelicals today. The Evangelicals understanding that water baptism is not salvific and cannot wash away sins was foreign to the understanding of the early Church Fathers. As a matter of fact, until the 1500s, water baptism was understood as necessary for salvation and can wash away sins. The Evangelicals understanding of water baptism today only came about during the 1500s through the theology of Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli. But history shows that the Church Fathers believed that water baptism was necessary for the spiritual birth and for the remission of sins. Philip Schaff writes: This ordinance [Baptism] was regarded in the ancient church as the sacrament of the new birth or regeneration, and as the solemn rite of initiation into the Christian Church, admitting to all her benefits and committing to all her obligations Its effect consists in the forgiveness of sins and the communication of the Holy Spirit. Justin [Martyr] calls baptism the water-bath for the forgiveness of sins and regeneration, and the bath of conversion and the knowledge of God. It is often called also illumination, spiritual circumcision, anointing, sealing, gift of grace, symbol of redemption, death of sins, etc. Tertullian describes its effect thus: When the soul comes to faith, and becomes transformed through regeneration by water and power from above, it discovers, after the veil of the old corruption is taken away, its whole light. It is received into the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; and the soul, which unites itself to the Holy Spirit, is followed by the body. .From John 3:5 and Mark 16:16, Tertullian and other fathers argued the necessity of baptism to salvation [emphasis added] The effect of baptismwas thought to extend only to sins committed before receiving it. Hence the frequent postponement of the sacrament, which Tertullian very earnestly recommends. (History of the Christian Church, volume 2, page 253ff) Justyn Martyr himself wrote, Whoever is convinced and believes that what they are taught and told by us is the truth, and professes to be able to live accordingly, is instructed to pray and to beseech God in fasting for the remission of their former sins, [emphasis added] while we pray and fast with them. Then they are led by us to a place where there is water; and there they are reborn in the same kind of rebirth in which we ourselves were reborn: [emphasis added] In the name of God, the Lord and Father of all, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they receive the washing with water. For Christ said, Unless you be reborn, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. The reason for doing this, we have learned from the Apostles. (The First Apology 61) For more or less 1500 years, the church believed that water baptism was necessary for salvation. As a matter of fact, even Martin Luther himself in the 1500s, during the Reformation, did not break from the traditional belief that water baptism was necessary and that it was necessary for salvation. For so long a time water baptism was believed to be salvific until the 16th century when Ulrich Zwingli rejected the idea of the sacrament. In his early writings on baptism, he noted that baptism was an example of such a pledge. He challenged Catholics by accusing them of superstition when they ascribed the water of baptism a certain power to wash away sin. (Wikipedia) The Evangelical view of water baptism today originated from the theology of Zwingli and not from the Bible. Unfortunately, if insisted today that water baptism is necessary for salvation, Evangelicals will say that it is an unbiblical view of water baptism. That is because they were taught that the Evangelical view is the biblical view when in fact it is not. Most Evangelicals today dont realize that their view of water baptism is merely an offshoot of Zwinglian theology on water baptism and not actually the biblical view (i.e., original and Jewish apostolic view).

CONCLUSION The practice of water baptism is no longer necessary for the Body of Christ for we are not sent to baptize (1 Cor. 1:17) as Gentile believers and as believers under the Dispensation of grace. But while water baptism is no longer necessary, it is not wrong to employ it as a means of receiving new members to a particular local church. Water baptism in itself is not sinful as it is not sinful to use modern musical instruments and multi-media projector in church worship services today. Water baptism, like multi-media projector and modern musical instruments, has no spiritual significance whatsoever. Water baptism only becomes wrong and unbiblical when we say that it is: (1) a requirement for salvation and forgiveness of sins, (2) necessary for obedience to the Lords command, (3) necessary because it initiates a person into the Body of Christ, (4) necessary to receive all Gods full blessings, and (5) necessary to publicly declare ones faith in the Lord and a sign of ones salvation. The one baptism that is recognized by the Word of God as very important is the one baptism mentioned in Ephesians 4:5, and as I have already shown above, it is the one baptism done by the one Spirit to all believers in placing them into the one Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).