PART 8 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE
PART 8 The Spirituality Puzzle
What causes someone to become a child of God and have assurance of eternal life?
Salvation By Repentance And Belief?
What Is The Purpose Of Water Baptism?
We should be able to answer this on the basis of three things, which we have already found out about.
~ Water Baptism does not forgive sins.
~ Water Baptism does not result in the receiving of the indwelling Spirit.
~ There are over twenty spiritual realities that are provided for every believer at salvation through the Baptism (indwelling) of the Holy Spirit.
Some of these spiritual realities are that the Spirit:
● Baptizes (joins; unites) us into one body (the body of Christ, the church). 1 Corinthians 12:13
● Baptizes (an actual identification) us into spiritual union and communion with Christ. Galatians 3:27
● Baptizes us into an inward spiritual relation into Christ. Romans 6:3-4
● Baptizes us into Christ’s death (in them was understood a death to sin, corresponding to his actual death93 having become separated from its power). Romans 6:3-4
● Baptizes us into his resurrection, (in them was understood they were given new life by means of the quickening of the Spirit) so that they would be able to habitually walk in an entirely new way. This is otherwise known as retroactive positional truth, which links the time when we are saved to the time when Christ died on the cross and was raised from the dead. Romans 6:3-4
Now that we know what water baptism does not provide, let’s find out about what its purpose is.
Let’s begin by taking a look at some verses in the book of Matthew.
Suggested Reading: Matthew 28:1-20
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Jesus is risen from the dead and has subsequently appeared to two of his disciples, one of them who is Mary Magdalene. He instructed them to tell the 11 apostles to meet Him at a mountain in Galilee.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in (into) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
When Jesus arrives there and meets up with them, he directs them to go forth and teach (to make disciples by proclaiming the truth concerning94 himself) all nations. And whosoever believes in the truth proclaimed about who he is and what he has accomplished, they were to be baptized in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
This salvation message doesn’t argue that water baptism should follow repentance and belief, if it is possible that there is water nearby. But the question remains, just what does this baptism signify?
Please go to the book of Romans chapter 6.
Baptized Into Jesus Christ
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 were looked at earlier in this study as pertaining to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, where we concluded that there are over twenty spiritual realities which take place in a believer’s life following the receiving of the indwelling Spirit, two of which are mentioned here. These two can be looked at differently as an actual identification and symbolically depending on what baptism they are associated with. Let me further explain.
At salvation, by means of the Baptism of the Spirit a believer is baptized (an actual identification; of one’s inward spiritual relation) into Jesus Christ (into close union with a person, coming to belong to him, so as to be in a sense identified with him95) and along with this they are baptized into his death (in them was understood a death to sin, corresponding to his actual death96 having become separated from sin’s power) and likewise as he was raised from the dead by the glory (power) of the Father (in them was understood that they too were raised from the dead by the quickening of the Spirit), so that they will be able to (habitually) walk (live) in newness of life (in an entirely new way).
If or when a believer is able to be baptized in water, then immersion is symbolic or representative of him/her being baptized into Christ’s death (in them was understood a death to sin, corresponding to his actual death97 having become separated from its power) and likewise when they come up out of the water this is also symbolic of being baptized into Christ’s resurrection [as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory (power) of the Father (in them was understood that they too were raised from the dead by the quickening of the Spirit)], so that they will be able to (habitually) walk (live) in newness of life (in an entirely new way).
With that said, what might be communicated to the newly converted before they are baptized in water? This is speculative, but what is said might sound something like this.
Now that you have repented (changed your mind, acknowledged, and turned from) your sins and confessed belief in Jesus as to who he is and what he has accomplished, you have received the indwelling Spirit along with additional inward spiritual benefits or results. Two of these benefits will now be illustrated by water baptism. One of which is that when you are immersed in water you have been baptized (identified) into Christ’s death, of being dead to sin, and the other is you have been baptized (identified) into Christ’s resurrection, of being raised from the dead by the quickening of the Spirit so that you will be able to habitually walk (live) in newness of life (in an entirely new way).
Based on what we have found out, can we definitively answer the question in respect to this salvation message, is water baptism necessary in order for an unbeliever to be saved? The next chapter will address this.
Salvation By Repentance And Belief?
What About Those Verses That Clearly Seem To Indicate That Water Baptism Is Necessary In The Salvation Process?
There are three primary verses which we will look at in this regard. And remember, what scripture appears to be saying is not always what is being said. We will begin by going to the book of John chapter 3.
Except A Man Be Born Again
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 tells us specifically what is necessary for someone to enter into the kingdom of God, I believe that it is just as important as the verse that does, because 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 for the purpose of learning 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 in 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.
After which, Jesus told him what was needed to enter this kingdom, and that being that a person must be born of water and of the Spirit. It’s interesting that when Nicodemus heard what was needed 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 one of the ingredients for salvation is 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 non-Jews 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 law98. As relating to his Jewish faith, water baptism was not something that 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 1 Peter 1.
Being Born Again … Of Incorruptible, By The Word Of God…The Gospel
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 is conveying what the supernatural event of them becoming born-again has given them i.e. opportunities to obey the truth, to purify themselves, and love the brethren99. 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; the declaration of the instrument of the word, the gospel (the salvation message), and if someone believes in this, they will receive the incorruptible seed, the seed of the Holy Spirit.
And what is the gospel (the salvation message) according to the only one we have looked at so far?
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ to the unbeliever, the message of which is that God sent his Son Jesus, who is one of the members of the trinity, the other two being God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, being born of a virgin, having never committed one sin, died on a cross, paid the penalty for sin in order to satisfy the justice of God, forgave these sins putting them away forever never bringing them up again, rose again after three days never to die again, his sacrifice being accepted by God the Father, and ascended into heaven to be seated at His right hand. Prior to, but understood to be aligned with it, the unbeliever would be asked to repent (a confession of sins; a hearty purpose to turn from them100).
So, we can now reintroduce John 3:5 again and rewrite it accordingly to what we have just found out.
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.
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 this verse as: Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water (the gospel) and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. So, what does this tell us about the word “water”? 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.
We can conclude that an unbeliever becomes born-again and enters the kingdom of God by hearing and responding to the gospel (the salvation message) of Repentance and Belief, and because of such they will receive the indwelling Spirit.
What follows is another verse that when looked at in face value appears to confirm that water baptism is essential in the salvation process.
Believes And Is Baptized Shall Be Saved
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
It is unmistakable that this verse says, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. What this says is pretty clear that is unless someone repents and believes along with being baptized in water, 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 this is? Verses 9-20 in the book of Mark chapter 16 are not contained in the two oldest manuscripts, namely, the Sinaitic and the Vatican. These are called the Uncial manuscripts. What is an uncial manuscript?
An uncial manuscript is one written in uncial script. All of the oldest Greek manuscripts were written in this 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 that water baptism is necessary in the salvation process.
We have one more section of verses to look at in determining whether water baptism is necessary in the salvation process.
Baptism Doth Also Now Save Us
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 Bithnyia. 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 consequences102. Furthermore, they were encouraged to be prepared to give a verbal defense to those who desired an explanation for what they believe and why they believe it.
Then he goes on to tell them that it would be better for them to suffer for well doing than for evil doing as our Lord did, the just for the unjust. And what he told them next reveals something that is 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, who were now residing in a place in hell called Tartarus. Do we know anything more about these spirits?
We are 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 meaning they left their place in heaven aligning themselves with the devil and came to earth where they allegedly had intercourse with women in 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 of 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, and in connection with this 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, their three sons and wives, responded. 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 of water baptism being mandated for salvation in a different gospel is taken from. Are you ready for another lesson in the 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 subject, direct object, indirect object, etc.
The case of the noun “water” is called the genitive case, which is a case of possession. Greek scholars say that it replaced another case in the Greek called the dative case, the case of the indirect object, which case can help to identify the use of a noun in a verse depending on whether it is 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.
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.
Of Location: Noah and his family were saved from the water; they escaped from the water of the flood into the safely of the boat103.
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 by the ark (used to preserve treasure). Which one were they saved by? 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” means a thing resembling another, its counterpart, 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 like figure, one is water and the other is the ark. And that each of them refers to the baptism that now save us.
What does the type of each of them prefigure?
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 saves us is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
With what we have learned from looking at these three different scripture sections, we can ask and answer the following questions.
Is water baptism necessary for salvation?
If someone is not baptized in water does this mean they are not saved?
I know that we have looked at the salvation message of Repentance and Belief over a considerable number of chapters, but this is what it takes if we really want to learn about it. There is one more thing that we need to look at in respect to this gospel, and that is godly works. Why do we need to look at this?
Some would say that evidence of Godly works is evidence of fellowship or rather evidence of salvation, and therefore is necessary in the salvation process. Is this true? Is there something else that evidences a believer’s relationship with Christ? Well, there is? However, this is something that the believer chooses to be dependent upon and therefore the evidence of such is uncertain? Do you know what this is? Please turn the page and find out.
94Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 18 December 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
99Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
102The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
103UBS New Testament.
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