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Introduction    Baptism* is the pledging, affirming, or acceptance by some person into a particular body of believers of a certain sect through some ritual or rite.  Thus, baptism is a rite practiced by Christians** whereby a person agrees to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ by being totally immersed in water and (usually) joins the local church whose Pastor is doing the baptizing.  According to Christianity there are at least three major types of baptism, each with its own particular meaning:


  • John's water baptism unto repentance
  • baptism of the Holy Ghost by Jesus Christ   
  • baptism by water after salvation
  • There are meanings of baptism other than those pertaining to a religious observance, but they   are irrelevant to this account and thus will not be considered here. 


Baptism unto Repentance    God sent John to baptize the Israelite people with water to prepare their hearts to believe in the Messiah to come, i.e., Jesus Christ.  This baptism unto repentance was a public confirmation of these people's heart condition that they were willing to receive the truth of God's Word from God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.  If their obedience to this baptism was truly a desire to receive God's truth, then doubtless these people were later saved as they came to hear and understand the gospel from Christ Himself or from one of His disciples.


Thus, even though they had been baptized unto the repentance of their sins, yet they still could only come to be saved by trusting in Jesus as their Blessed Redeemer.  This act was a purely symbolic action which demonstrated the willingness to receive spiritual truth from God, and, since God Himself had commanded that this baptism be observed, we should strongly believe that God gave these people an increased measure of faith to believe in Christ.  Still, it should be emphasized that this baptism unto repentance did not confer salvation to the recipient. That water baptism did not confer salvation to the one being baptized is evident by what John the Baptist says


And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.  John 1:33


Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  John 14:6


As we can see clearly, it is Jesus, and only Jesus, who imparts the Holy Spirit to a repentant sinner. Again, we read (referring to Jesus) that


But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  John 1:12


At Pentecost, Peter preached and three thousand souls were saved.  Let's look at the scripture


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.  Acts 2:38


This scripture does not say that water baptism is a prerequisite for salvation, for it is Jesus who does  the baptizing of the Holy Ghost as we have already established above.  Along the same line of reasoning, consider the Great Commission:


Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy GhostMatthew 28:19


Again, the commission to the Apostles is a commandment concerning water baptism, and this is precisely what takes place publicly as the first act of obedience after salvation takes place.  At no time, and under no circumstance, has the power to confer salvation to a soul been given to man - only Jesus can save a soul and no one else.  Therefore, Matthew 28:19 is clearly referring to water baptism and not to salvation.  It is implicit in this scripture that the baptizing to take place should follow the salvation of souls. 


One Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism     By the definition that a Christian is a person who has placed his/her total trust and faith in Jesus as the only means of salvation, the following scripture defines Christianity a little more specifically:


There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  Ephesians 4:4-6


Referring specifically to baptism, this scripture clearly identifies the one baptism as that Holy Ghost baptism which Jesus imparts unto a repentant sinner.  Moreover, this scripture also clearly shows that there is no such thing as a partial salvation [which some denominations teach but for which there is no scriptural basis].  This last point is also addressed in Hebrews 6:4-6.  Clearly, then, salvation is a spiritual event wrought by Jesus Christ, whereas water baptism has served and serves the purposes noted above.  Here is one account of baptism in the Christian church:




* Strong's Concordance  defines baptism as consisting of being whelmed, i.e., completely immersed in. This definition does not allow any other interpretation, such as sprinkling.

** The definition of a Christian is that of a person who is wholly and completely dependent on Jesus Christ alone as his/her personal Savior, without any other condition, especially that of works. (Ephesians 2:8)



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