PART 10 CHURCH TEACHINGS
PART 10 CHURCH TEACHINGS
TO LEARN ABOUT TEACHINGS THAT PREVENT A PERSON FROM RECEIVING THE INDWELLING SPIRIT
DOCTRINES OF DESTRUCTION
A. WATER BAPTISM WILL CAUSE ME TO BECOME A CHILD OF GOD
When I was a little baby, I was sprinkled with water by a leader of a particular faith. At least that’s what my parents told me when I was old enough to understand that this had taken place. As for what it actually meant, I didn’t find out until I started to learn about the specifics of this faith through teachings that I was asked to attend when I was a young boy. What I found out was very informative.
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.
I didn’t understand that one of the pre-requisites for becoming a child of God was repentance, which involved an admittance of being a sinner and a change of mind as to not wanting to continue in it. As a baby, I had no ability to make this declaration. So, it was determined that someone else could stand in for me in this regard, and that was my parents. Along with this, I would be sprinkled with water, which allegedly forgave all of my sins. And as this was taking place, those in attendance would pray to God the Father that He would send the Holy Spirit upon the water.
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.
Having been baptized with water in the presence of the Holy Spirit, a baby was allowed to enter into the Kingdom of God. This causes us to conclude that this infant had actually become a child of God. At water baptism, what else had happened was that he/she also received holiness, righteousness, inheritance, and brotherhood with Christ.
While I was taught these truths as a young boy, I can honestly say that I didn’t understand them but believed that they were so. Scripture seemed to clearly substantiate these claims. I continued to learn a lot more about my faith and eventually became an altar boy. I tried to follow the tenets of this faith as best as I could.
When I entered my mid-twenties, after having made some good and bad decisions along the way, I began to recognize some disturbing thoughts. I had since left this church. I sensed a void in my life. Something or someone was missing. of this faith as best I could.
If I was a child of God, why wasn’t I able to address these mental occupations with sin? If I was a child of God, where was this God of whom I was told I was His child? Were those Scriptures that were used which talked about repentance, water baptism, the forgiveness of sins, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit misinterpreted? Did I really become a child of God as a baby? Did I actually receive the Holy Spirit?
So, I decided to go on a quest to see if God truly existed, and if He did, was there a way for me to get to know Him in a personal way? And if I found Him or rather if He found me, how would this encounter impact my life?
What I would like to do next is have us take a closer look at the salvation message of repentance, water baptism, and the Holy Spirit in order to determine whether Scripture supports the ideas that someone can repent for someone else along with the conjecture that water baptism forgives sins.
If it is found that these conditions are refuted by comparing Scripture with Scripture, then might there be a different salvation message than the one prescribed here?
Can the head of a household repent and believe for the salvation of their family or relatives?
One of the requirements for a baby becoming a child of God was that they must repent (acknowledge their sin; confess a desire to turn from their sin). Because they are unable to repent for themselves, is it true that their parents are able to repent for them?
There is a lot to consider here. Let’s begin by looking at the scriptural basis for one of the other ingredients of salvation, which they say is water (albeit water baptism).
Water Baptism – An Ingredient of Salvation?
Let’s begin by going to the book of John.
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.
They would say that this verse is pretty straightforward. Unless a person is born of water (water baptism) and of the Spirit, he/she cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Now, let’s take a look at another section of verses from the book of 1 Peter, which appear to support the view that water baptism is one of the two keys to getting through the heavenly door.
1 Peter 3:20-21
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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:
They would claim that as Noah and his family were saved by the water of the flood, that water would be a type to prefigure the baptism that now saves us today, which they believe is water baptism. The final verse they will use to support their view about water baptism is found in the book of Acts.
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.
This verse says to repent (a confession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them122) and be baptized (in water). When a baby is sprinkled with water, it’s obvious that he/she can’t confess their sins, so according to them, repentance is established for him/her from the faith of their parents, which is otherwise known as household salvation that we’ll look at next.
Based on the interpretation of the verses used to support the idea that water baptism is one of the ingredients of salvation, I would respond by saying that these Scriptures clearly seem to be saying such. But in order to confirm this, let’s take a look at some of the other Scriptures.
But what about the idea that a baby’s parents’ faith would provide repentance for them, does it?
What verses are used to support this perspective?
Let’s begin by going to the book of Acts, chapter 11.
Suggested Reading: Acts 11:1-18
The Apostle Peter has left the house of a Gentile named Cornelius and was on his way back to Jerusalem. When he returned to the Jerusalem church, he was met by Jewish Christians who were upset with him because he went into the house of a Gentile and ate food, which was forbidden for any Jew to engage in under the tenets of the Mosaic Law. Then Peter tried to answer them by explaining the unusual circumstances that took place before he arrived at this place.
He said that he saw a vision, and immediately after it ended, three men from Caesarea arrived where he was residing who conveyed to him to come to the house of Cornelius, the confirmation of such being given to Peter by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he recounted that when he entered Cornelius’ house, he was told by him that an angel had appeared to him and said to send men to Joppa for a man called Simon (Peter), being himself, which Cornelius proceeded to do.
14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
And then the angel made this astounding statement. “This man Peter, when he comes to your house, will tell (announce) to you these words (all the doctrine of salvation123) whereby you and all your house will be saved.” One could conclude from this, and many churches have, that when Cornelius got saved, he repented for his kinsmen, and they got saved. The question remains. Can someone repent for someone else and bring about their salvation?
Let’s find out and go back to the original story from Acts 10.
Suggested Reading: Acts 10:1-48
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
What this tells us is that Peter told Cornelius and his kinsmen (of the same kin, related by blood) clearly what they needed to do to be saved, and that was to believe in Jesus. And as he was speaking, the Holy Ghost fell on (indwelt) all them which heard and subsequently believed the word (the gospel; the salvation message). What I wanted you to notice was that for anyone in the house to receive the indwelling Spirit, they had to personally believe in Christ. If there were children, they had to be able to comprehend (some would call this having reached the age of accountability) what was said, and if they did, then they likewise would have to repent and believe for themselves. No one else could repent and believe for them.
Let’s take a look at another section of Scriptures from the book of Acts that are used to support the idea by some churches that if the father of a household gets saved, his whole house (family) would be saved.
Suggested Reading Acts 16:16-34
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
This story begins right after a woman named Lydia received the Word (the gospel) spoken to her by the Apostle Paul and was baptized in water. Apparently, Paul and Silas decided that they needed to go to prayer. A place for this, which they had attended earlier, was designated by a river. While they were on their way, a certain damsel (a slave girl) possessed with a spirit (an evil spirit) of divination (who told people what would happen in the future124) followed them around for many days.
Paul, sensing that she was demon-possessed, commanded the demon, who was residing in her, to come out, which he did. Her masters, who made money off of the spirit’s soothsaying, saw that their money-making scheme was now over. So, they proceeded to stir up the city, making accusations against Paul and Silas, who were then apprehended and cast into prison.
While in jail, Paul and Silas decided to sing psalms as prayers to God when all of a sudden, an earthquake occurred, causing the prison doors to open. The keeper of the prison, who was awoken, saw the doors open. He thought that everyone had escaped and took out his sword to kill himself. But Paul cried out and said to him, “Do yourself no harm, for we’re all still here.”
It’s interesting what happened next. The keeper went to their cell with an illuminating item and asked them what he must do to be saved. This tells me that he must have received some knowledge beforehand about Paul and Silas in that they were Christians.
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
It appears that both of them, at the same time, said, “Believe in Jesus, and you shall be saved, and your house (your family).” Here we go again. Some churches would teach that what this is saying is that if the father or head of the household gets saved, they can repent and believe for their entire family. Is this what this really means? The phrase and thy house means your household will be saved if [they also] believe.125 The idea is that each person in the house must hear the gospel and decide for themselves as to whether they should repent and believe is supported by the next verse.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
And not only did both of them speak to the jailor initially but after which also to all that were in his house, which could have included slaves and children. Again, if there were children, then they would have to be able to hear the message and understand it in order to respond to it. What we have learned is that so-called "household salvation" has no basis in the Word of God - that is, that the decision of the head of the household brings salvation to the members of the household,126 is not true. Furthermore, what this also tells us is that just because a child is brought up in a Christian home, where both parents are saved, this doesn’t mean that their child or children are saved. Salvation is a decision that each person makes individually.
Based on what we have just learned, a person cannot become a child of God unless they personally repent and believe in Jesus. So, this repentance aspect of the salvation teaching involving repentance, water baptism, and the Holy Spirit has been found to be incorrect. Just like a detective, we need to take a look at each piece of the salvation puzzle. The next aspect of the salvation message we’ll attempt to answer is with respect to the following question.
Does water baptism forgive sins?
Some believe that one of the reasons why water baptism is a necessary part of salvation is because it forgives sins. Obviously, if it does, it would most certainly be something that must take place in order to complete the salvation process. So, does it forgive sins? Let’s take a look at Scripture and find out.
We’ll begin in the book of Acts.
Suggested Reading: Acts 2:1-47
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
These verses were declared by the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost (the day of Shavout) when Jews came from all over the region to celebrate the fiftieth day following seven complete weeks commemorating the completion of the grain harvest. Peter and the other disciples received the indwelling Spirit on this day and spoke to them in their native tongues concerning Jesus Christ, whom they crucified and slain, and who is both Lord (the supreme Governor of all things and all persons127) and Christ (the Messiah; God’s chosen One). Their response was, what shall we do?
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.
Peter responded that they needed to repent and be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ, and their sins would be forgiven. This appears to be straightforward; repent, be baptized in water, and your sins will be forgiven. Sometimes, what seems to be obvious really isn’t. Why? Because to better understand whether this was what was really being said or not, we need to put on a different pair of glasses. What kind of glasses, you ask? A pair of Greek glasses. Huh!
You might be thinking this must be about Koine Greek, the language in which most of the New Testament manuscripts were written. Yes, this is what I’m referring to. In this case, this involves what is known as an Aorist Participle. What is an Aorist Participle?
A participle is known as a verbal adjective and denotes the purpose as to why someone is doing something or why something is being done. What is meant by the Aorist tense? The Aorist tense tells us about what kind of action is being expressed by the verb. In this case, the Aorist tense denotes action as occurring at a point in time. In a verse, if we can identify these two words together, i.e., as what is known as an Aorist Participle (a verbal adjective), then what this tells us is that the action of the minor verb precedes the action of the main verb or verbs in the verse of Scripture. This will bring about an awareness of something happening before something else took place that we weren’t able to tell from the English translation.
Something else to watch out for when analyzing verses is prepositions. They can have different meanings. And one more thing to be aware of is the relationship between the subject of a sentence and the related verb or clause. If the subject is singular, then the verb or clause that is identified with it should be singular. Likewise, if the subject is plural, then the verb or clause associated with it should be plural. This will help us determine what goes with what or what causes what. I know that this is a lot to consider, but sometimes we have to dig deeper to find an answer. Well, with that said, we need to take another look at 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.
Peter told the unbelieving Jews on the day of Pentecost to Repent, and be baptized. The word repent means a confession of [sins,] a hearty purpose to turn from them.128 Repent and what? Some say and be baptized. These are the words that follow in this verse.
Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
However, what words should have followed were not needed to be restated here because it was already declared in the previous verse, which was to believe in the one who is both Lord and Christ (the Messiah). So, it’s understood that what was being said was, repent and believe in the one who is both Lord and Christ.
And then he said, be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. The words be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins means be baptized (in water) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (for the forgiveness) of sins. How do we begin to address this wording?
Well, for one thing, if we were to take another look at the word repent, we can determine that in Greek, it’s described as a verb that is in the plural. This is important because in the clause for the remission of your sins, the preposition your is in the plural. You might say this word doesn’t appear in the English translation. That’s true, but it’s contained in Greek text called the Textus Receptus that draws from a group of ancient manuscripts129 from which we get the English translation in the King James Version of the Bible. And along with this, the words be baptized is a verb in Greek that is in the singular form. Therefore, the clause for the remission of your sins goes with the verb repent because it’s in the plural. Therefore, the wording of this verse should be rewritten as, Repent and believe in the one who is both Lord and Christ (Messiah) for the remission of your sins, and be baptized…
Just to add one more thought or clarification to this. The preposition for in the clause for the remission of your sins, which in Greek is transliterated (to change letters from one language to another) as eis can also mean on the basis of. So, again we could rewrite this verse as, Repent and believe in the one who is both Lord and Christ (Messiah) on the basis of the remission of your sins. In other words, what Peter was really saying to the unbelieving Jews was repent and believe in Christ on the basis of your sins having already been forgiven at the cross, and after which, be baptized in water. What this is conveying to us is that water baptism does not forgive sins.
Are there some other verses that will give us more insight as to whether water baptism forgives sins?
Let’s proceed onward to the book of Ephesians, chapter 1.
Suggested Reading: Ephesians 1:3-11
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
The Apostle Paul was writing to the Christians at Ephesus, telling them the many things God the Father has done for them. In particular, let’s focus on what was made known to them concerning these things in verses 6-7, which says that God has:
- By his grace, which He freely bestowed on them, made them accepted (saved) in the beloved (in the sphere of the Lord Jesus, His Person, and His work on the [cross]130).
- Provided for them in Christ redemption (to let go free; deliverance affected) through his blood (on receiving the price; the price paid to divine justice for our sin; the ransom money; through the death of Christ) from the retributive wrath of a holy God and the merited penalty of sin,117 and the forgiveness of sins (separation from all of the consequences of our transgressions; not to remember any longer a person’s sins; to carry away our sins so they might never again be seen118).
So, we can summarize that it was through Christ’s blood, His death on the cross, the price paid to divine justice for our sins, that the Ephesian believers were told they had received redemption from the retributive wrath of a holy God and the merited penalty of sin.133 And along with this that their sins were forgiven. This forgiveness refers to the sins whose debt was paid for on the cross and is different from the experiential forgiveness of sins provided at salvation by means of the Baptism (indwelling) of the Spirit. What is this all about? We’ll talk about the experiential forgiveness of sins in the next section found in the book of Acts.
This will also help us in determining whether water baptism forgives sins.
Are there any other verses that will help us determine whether water baptism forgives sins?
Let’s take a look at some more verses from the book of Acts.
Suggested Reading: Acts 3:1-4:31
Acts 3:1-2 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
A man, who was born crippled at birth, was placed at one of the nine gates of the temple at Jerusalem to beg for money. He was healed by the Holy Spirit, through the intermediary of the Apostle Peter. After the healing took place, he entered the temple with the apostles’ Peter and John. The people, who knew personally of this man’s physical disability, took notice of the miraculous healing and subsequently gathered together in the porch that was called Solomon’s. Peter, seizing the opportunity, spoke to them and said that it was through faith in the name of Jesus Christ that this man was made to walk.
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Then he said to them that they needed to Repent (to have a change of mind about themselves, their sin, and Jesus Christ134) and be converted (turn to God through this Christ … and believing on his name135) so that their sins may be blotted out (to cause you to have no guilt136). If they were to respond to Peter’s declaration, they would be able to experience the blessings of God such as peace, love, joy, and communion with himself137 that would come from His presence, which would signify the fruit or spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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.
These verses convey to us that when unbelievers repent and believe in Christ, their sins will be blotted out. So, what appears to bring about the forgiveness of sins is not repentance and water baptism but repentance and belief in Christ. The reality of such forgiveness on the cross would be applied in time when they received the Baptism (the indwelling) of the Holy Spirit. At which time, they would be identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, indicating that they are dead to sin, and because of such, their body would be seen as having ceased to be an instrument of it so that they should no longer be subject to its control.
The last group of Scriptures we’ll look at are also taken from the book of Acts.
Suggested Reading: Acts 10:1-48
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
The Apostle Peter, being accompanied by fellow Jewish Christians, was in the house of a Gentile named Cornelius and his kinsmen proclaiming the salvation message of Christ. He told them that whosoever believed in the name of Christ would receive the remission of sins. As he spoke, the Holy Spirit fell (indwelt) those who believed the spoken word. After that, they were baptized in water.
So, to repeat what Peter said with clarification, here it is. Through his name (by virtue of who He is and what He hath done138) that whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission (forgiveness; not just to the guilt of sin merely, but also to its power, nature, and consequences139) of sins. When we think of the forgiveness of sins, we might ask why this was mentioned if Christ already forgave the sins of the whole world on the cross. Again, this refers to the forgiveness of sins applied to our lives at the Baptism (the indwelling) of the Holy Spirit, who not only identified us at salvation with Christ’s death, at which time He died to sin, and so did we but also with His resurrection.
Based on the study we have just undertaken, what should be the answer to the following questions?
Does water baptism forgive sins?
I believe the answer is no.
What forgives sins?
The forgiveness of sins for all mankind took place on the cross when Christ died and shed His blood. However, in time, the experiential forgiveness of sins takes place when an unbeliever repents of his/her sins and believes in Jesus Christ as to who He is and what He has accomplished. At which time the newly converted will receive the Baptism (the indwelling) of the Holy Spirit. This is when the believer is actually identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Being identified with Christ in His death signifies the end to the old life in sin. We’re no longer under its guilt, power, nature, and consequences. Being identified with Him in His resurrection signifies our newness of life.
What we’re left to determine is, if water baptism doesn’t forgive sins, and we’re told that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and of the Spirit, then what else could the word water refer to? Let’s find out.
Is water baptism necessary for an unbeliever to be saved?
There are three primary Scripture sections that we’ll consider. And please remember, what Scripture appears to be saying is not always what is being said. We’ll begin by going to the book of John, chapter 3.
What else can the word water mean?
Suggested Reading: John 3:2-5
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
While this is not one of the verses that will tell us specifically what is necessary for someone to enter into the Kingdom of God, I believe that it’s just as important as the verse that does. What this is telling us is that unless someone is born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God. With that said, what does it mean to be born again? Let’s begin by taking a look at the background of this verse.
Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, who was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews, which was comprised of the Scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees. His life was filled with good deeds and many ritualistic observances for salvation. Here, he is visiting Jesus at night to learn about His doctrines.
Nicodemus didn’t understand when Jesus mentioned to him that in order to see the Kingdom of God, a person must be born again. Nicodemus thought that Jesus was referring to being born a second time from his mother’s womb. His conclusion was centered on a natural understanding of what was said.
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.
Jesus told him what was needed to enter this kingdom, which was to be born of water and of the Spirit. It’s interesting that when Nicodemus heard what was required for someone to enter the Kingdom of God, he didn’t say, wait a minute, water baptism? He was told initially by Jesus that being born again was not of a natural occurrence, and yet, he is now being told that seemingly one of the ingredients for salvation was water baptism, which is something that takes place by natural means.
Why didn’t he react when he heard the word water? For Jewish people, baptism was the act by which Gentiles converted to Judaism, the final removal of Gentile impurity; by it, one turned one's back on life in paganism and sin, vowed to follow God's commandments, and became a new person with regard to Jewish law.140 As relating to his Jewish faith, water baptism was not something that would have seemed out of the ordinary.
With what was just conveyed, I will ask the same question which I asked earlier. What does it mean to be born again? Please go to the book of 1 Peter chapter 1.
1 Peter 1:22-25
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
The Apostle Peter conveyed what the supernatural event of becoming born again has given believers, i.e., opportunities to obey the truth, to purify themselves, and love the brethren.141 He reminded them that they were born again of incorruptible seed (of the seed of Holy Spirit) and by the word of God (by the instrument of the Word, the gospel; the salvation message). This tells us what two things are necessary for someone to enter the Kingdom of God. That is the declaration of the instrument of the Word, the gospel (the salvation message), and that if someone repents of their sins and believes in Jesus Christ, then they will receive the incorruptible seed, the seed of the Holy Spirit. With that said, we can deduce that the word water, or rather the words born of water are figurative of being born again.
Is there another verse that might tell us what the word water might represent?
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth
Based on this verse, the two ingredients for salvation are the Spirit and belief of the truth. With that said, we can surmise that water is representative or figurative for the belief of the truth. This begs the question. What is the belief of the truth?
Ephesians 1:12-13 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
The belief of the truth is trusting in Christ, after hearing the truth about Him as to who He is and what He has accomplished, and then believing in Him at which time the indwelling Spirit would be received.
Based on what we have learned from our study in John 3 and 1 Peter 1 on what it means to be born again and what allows an unbeliever to enter into the Kingdom of God, we could rewrite John 3:5 as Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water (of the gospel) and of the Spirit (of the indwelling Spirit), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. So, what does this tell us about the word water?
This tells us that the word water is not to be taken literally to mean water baptism, but figuratively or symbolically of the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation.
Some would argue that there are other verses that support the conjecture that the word water or water baptism is essential in the salvation process. Let’s take a look at them and determine if this is indeed the case.
What about those other verses that appear to confirm that water baptism is essential in the salvation process?
Do they actually confirm this?
Let’s begin by going to the book of Mark.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
It’s no mistake that this verse says, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. The statement is pretty clear that unless someone repents and believes, along with being baptized in water that they can’t be saved. However, there is one main issue with this verse, as there is with some of the other verses in this chapter. Do you know what that is? Verses 9-20 in the book of Mark, chapter 16, are not contained in the two oldest manuscripts, namely, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus. These are called the Uncial manuscripts. What is an Uncial manuscript?
An Uncial manuscript is one written in Uncial script. This means that all of the oldest Greek manuscripts were written in a particular way. In what way? Uncial script means that the Greek text had no lower-case letters, no punctuation, and no spaces between the words. Try reading the text below to get a feel for what reading an Uncial manuscript is like.
Therefore, because verses 9 through 20 were not contained in the oldest manuscripts, they cannot be used to substantiate the conjecture that water baptism is necessary for the salvation process.
We have one more section of verses to look at in determining whether water baptism is necessary for the salvation process. Please turn in your Bible to the book of 1 Peter.
Suggested Reading: 1 Peter 3:15-22
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
The Apostle Peter was writing this letter to the Christian Jews and Gentiles, who were living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. While they were undergoing trials and persecutions, he instructed them to turn everything over to Christ in their hearts (thoughts) by maintaining a daily attitude of faith that obeys God's Word in spite of consequences.143 Furthermore, they were encouraged to be prepared to give a verbal defense to those who desired an explanation for what they believed and why they believed it.
Then he goes on to tell them that it would be better to suffer for well-doing than for evil doing as our Lord did. In other words, the just for the unjust. And what he told them next revealed something that was somewhat of a mystery, which occurred following Christ’s death on the cross.
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20a Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing,…
These verses tell us that Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison following His death on the cross. What a surprising statement. Just who are these spirits, where is this prison, and what did He say to them? All we know is that He made some kind of an announcement to them. To who? Most commentators believe that these are fallen angels, those who had human bodies and who were now residing in a place in hell called Tartarus. Do we know anything more about these spirits?
We’re told that they were disobedient to God. Many commentators believe these are the same angels referred to in Jude 6-7, who left their first estate. This means they left their place in heaven, aligning themselves with the Devil, and came to earth where they allegedly had intercourse with women (Genesis 6:1-4). This time period was known as the anti-diluvian period, or the time before the flood, which was characterized continually in the soul of its inhabitants by evil purposes and schemes to such depravity that they had no interest in God whatsoever. Genesis 6:5
So, God made Himself known to a man named Noah, who found grace in His sight and was commissioned to build an ark. In connection with this, he had the responsibility to warn the people of an impending flood so that they could be saved from it if they heeded the pronouncement of this message. God allowed Noah to proclaim this message of deliverance for one hundred and twenty years until the time when the building of the ark was complete, and the impending judgment was imminent. Unfortunately, only Noah, his wife, and their three sons and wives responded to it. They entered the ark along with two of every living creature.
20b …wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
The wording at the end of this verse, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water, is where the beginning of the idea is taken of water baptism being mandated for salvation. Are you ready for another lesson in Koine Greek? Without knowing a little bit about what is called the case of a noun, we wouldn’t be able to better understand the use of the words by water. The case of a noun is used to express its relationship to the other parts of the verse, i.e., the nominative case - the subject, the genitive case - of possession, the dative case – the indirect object, and the accusative case – the direct object.
The case of the noun water is in what is called the genitive case, which is a case of possession. Greek scholars say that it replaced another case in Greek called the dative case, the case of the indirect object. This case can help to identify the use of a noun in a verse depending on whether it’s referred to as either the dative of instrument or the dative of location. Another way of saying this is, the words by water can be used either as an intermediate agent or an agent of location. So, here is how this verse could be written depending on which agent is used.
Agent of Instrument: Noah and his family were saved by means of the water since it was the water of the flood which carried the ark to safety.
Agent of Location: Noah and his family were saved from the water; they escaped from the water of the flood into the [safety] of the boat.144
Do you see the difference? One view says that Noah and his family were saved by water, while the other view says that Noah and his family were saved from the water by the ark (used to preserve treasure). Which one is correct? Hopefully, the next verse will help us sort this out.
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:
The words like figure mean a thing resembling another. Its counterpart is something in the Messianic times, which answers to the type prefiguring it in the Old Testament. We have learned that there are two things pertaining to the same figure. One is water. The other is the ark. Each of them refers to the baptism that doth also now save us.
What does the type of each of them prefigure (suggest that something will happen in the future)?
Many believe that water prefigures water baptism, and the ark prefigures the Holy Spirit. Those who believe in the salvation message of repentance and belief would say that the baptism that now saves us is the Baptism (the indwelling) of the Holy Spirit.
Now, we can summarize what we have learned in this study as to whether the initial gospel message of repentance, water baptism, and the Holy Spirit can save someone.
So, here is what we have found out.
- Repentance for sins can only be made by someone who is able to repent for themselves.
- Water baptism does not forgive sins.
- The forgiveness of sins took place on the cross for every member of the human race.
- At salvation, when the Holy Spirit is received, the believer is identified with Christ at His death, burial, and resurrection. His/her sins that were forgiven at the cross are applied in time, indicating that as a new creature in Christ, he/she is dead to sin.
- Being born-again and entering the Kingdom of God has to do with being born of water (of the gospel of repentance and belief) and of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
- The genuine gospel message is repentance of sin to God the Father and belief in His Son Jesus Christ as to who He is and what He has done, which causes the indwelling Spirit to be received.
The gospel message of repentance, water baptism, and the Holy Spirit denies any baby who is sprinkled in water from receiving the indwelling Spirit thus depriving him/her of having the opportunity to be able to be guided, influenced, or impacted with His presence when he/she reaches the age of accountability. No matter what church you are attending or choose to attend, make sure that you listen carefully as to what constitutes the salvation message. If you hear something other than the gospel of repentance and belief, then you are probably in a place of religion, where self-effort will be the focus, human acclaim will be promoted, and the hoped-for destined place of heaven will be proclaimed, but unattainable.
The next Doctrine of Destruction that we’ll take a look at exalts the leader as being someone who will self-proclaim as being sent from God as the pre-eminent mediator for mankind. They will make claims of deity (having a divine nature) and will demand absolute devotion. It’s hard to believe that someone could be drawn into their web of deceit. But unfortunately, there are very convincing religious salesman out there who can use the Word of God to serve them and all of their carnal desires.
New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto - Harbor Church, Block Island
Sunday & Thursday Worship - Domingo & Jueves 7:00PM
124UBS New Testament.
125The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
126The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
129What is the Critical Text? ˂https://www.gotquestions.org/critical-text.html>
130Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament.
131Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon.
132The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament 1989, 12 December 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
133Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon.
134The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
136UBS New Testament.
141Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
143The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
144UBS New Testament.