A couple of days ago I saw a video of a local church celebrating water baptisms, and when I saw it, I was alarmed by the way they performed the baptisms; two people plunging the baptized person in a seesaw fashion, while they plunged him backwards to submerge him in water they pulled his feet out of the water, all in a matter of seconds, and then pulled him to the shore dragging him over the surface; In the end, under the slogan ‘more love and less religion’, he intended to establish that it does not matter how it is done, as long as it is done.
This way of proceeding, among others, shows us that many believers, among them, ministers, do not have a true scriptural foundation of the doctrines of the Gospel, in this case, of water baptism. The Gospel is not innovation or tolerance so long as people approach the churches; the Gospel is the way that God has established in his teachings so that believers walk by it according to what is established.
How heretical doctrine is being raised up among us in these last days, and it seems to me that the great majority do not see the doctrinal dangers of these apostate acts.
Although on other occasions I have written about the doctrinal value of water baptism, on this occasion I want to establish teaching but from the foundation of baptism as part of the process of salvation of the person.
Water baptism, although ecclesiastically speaking it enjoys a sacramental and even liturgical value, water baptism is a spiritual act, and was established by Jesus as a requirement to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, as a requirement to walk in newness of life; this teaching is clearly stated in Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus:
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.John 3:5
As such, as a requirement for newness of life, water baptism is a demand of understanding; people who are baptized in Christ Jesus understand that the process of baptism is the decision to abandon the past way of living in idolatry, to walk in newness of life, and to attain Salvation; this is explained by the apostle Peter in his first epistle:
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:1 Peter 3:21
Thus, water baptism is not in any way a ritual process to be part of a church, or to fulfill the demands of the church around the creed of the church, the doctrine of the Gospel establishes in the Doctrine of Baptisms that when the person is immersed in water, simultaneously the person is being introduced spiritually into the dead body of Jesus. This is clearly explained by the apostle Paul, when he writes to the community of Faith in Rome, and tells them:
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.Romans 6:4
Water baptism in Christ Jesus is the spiritual act of being ‘immersed’ in the dead body of Jesus, so that in the same way as He rose from the dead, so we, through faith, emerge from the waters as new creatures according to the life of Jesus.
Just as Jesus was declared the Son of God with Potency through the resurrection from the dead, so it is through water baptism in Christ Jesus that a person is declared a child of God with Potency.
and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:Romans 1:4
That Jesus rose from the dead, there is no doubt, is the foundation of the newness of life and water baptism, the apostle Paul writes in his first epistle to the Corinthian community of faith:
and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.1 Corinthians 15:17
Thus, water baptism in Christ Jesus establishes in its act the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as the foundation of newness of life through Faith in his Name.
And it is not that water baptism is a symbolic act, for if it were, the life of Faith in Christ Jesus would lack the Power of God for transformation and for Salvation; the apostle Paul writes by the Spirit of God, and declares that the exceeding greatness of the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is the same that operates in those who live in newness of life:
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,Ephesians 1:17-20
Baptism is a true spiritual act, although in the reality of the act it is one or two ministers who immerse the person in water, in a simultaneous act, it is the Holy Spirit who immerses the baptized person in the dead body of Jesus, so that through faith in his Name he is also born through the Spirit to a new life.
This is also explained by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the community of Faith in Rome, and he declares to them:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?Romans 6:3
Water baptism is necessary for the new life in Christ Jesus, it is in its realization that only the baptized person has the opportunity to be born to a new life, otherwise, he is still living in the condition of the old man under Adam’s sin; the apostle Paul explains it in the following words:
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:Romans 6:5-8
This is not symbolism, otherwise Jesus would never have emphatically stated to Nicodemus the requirement to be born of water and the Spirit.
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…. 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.John 3:3-5
Water baptism is necessary for new life in Christ Jesus, for it is in its act that the Holy Spirit simultaneously immerses the person in the dead body of Jesus; if there is no baptism there is no newness of life. So important is this act that in the Scriptures the Holy Spirit left evidence of its necessity. We have two cases that present us with this evidence.
The first evidence of its necessity is the case of the water baptism of Cornelius and his family, in Acts 10, the apostle Peter determined to baptize Cornelius and his household after they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit:
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.Acts 10:47-48
Why the need to baptize them in water when they had already been baptized with the Holy Spirit? Is baptism in water more important than baptism in the Holy Spirit?
If water baptism were not necessary for newness of life and salvation, the apostle Peter would have ignored it, but his decision to baptize them even though they had already been baptized with the Holy Spirit follows the doctrinal foundation established by Jesus that if you are not born of water you cannot enter the Kingdom, that is, you cannot walk in a new life.
In this evidence the doctrinal foundation of water baptism is clear and conclusive, for it is not that we should understand it as a requirement to publicly mark the beginning of the Christian life; it is that as men and women of faith in Jesus Christ, and who walk under his Lordship, we are able to establish with truth the doctrine of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The other evidence for the necessity of water baptism is the case of several disciples residing in Ephesus whom the apostle Paul baptized again.
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.Acts 19:1-5
If water baptism consisted only of the act of immersing the person in water, the apostle Paul would have validated John’s baptism, because in terms of execution, it was similar to the baptism established by Jesus; however, the evidence presented in this account makes several points clear, first, baptism does not consist only in the act of immersing the person in water; Second, baptism must be done by jointly invoking the name of Jesus, for if we have understood that baptism consists in the person being introduced into the dead body of Jesus, how can we pretend that this is so if we do not invoke the name of Jesus in the act?
And now we have the complete teaching. Baptism is necessary to enter into newness of life and Salvation, the doctrinal condition was established by Jesus himself in the presence of Nicodemus.
Baptism is not a symbolism, since we have all understood that the life of faith in Jesus Christ is not a life of religion, but a spiritual life; so with this we also understand that its execution does not consist only in introducing the person in water, since it is not a religious ritual.
Water baptism requires the invocation of the name of Jesus to validate in Truth the doctrinal foundation that we are buried in his death by baptism, only then will we be able to bring many people to newness of life.
Someone may ask, regarding the baptismal invocation, why does Matthew 28:19 tell us that we must invoke the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? We have not understood that Matthew 28:19 is not the baptismal invocation, because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not names; Matthew 28:19 is giving us the plenipotentiary authority, that as children of God and co-heirs together with Jesus Christ, we enjoy before all the forces of darkness to establish in the name of Jesus the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness.
In other words, Matthew 28:19 is telling us that we are sent and authorized by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that is the plenipotentiary authority, to establish newness of life on earth in the name of Jesus. We must not lose sight of what the Word itself establishes concerning the name of Jesus.
8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;Philippians 2:8-10
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.1 Corinthians 4:1
As we see, it is not only a matter of leading people to believe or confess Jesus, it is necessary to establish the Truth of the doctrine of the Gospel, because otherwise we could be exposing ourselves, as in the case of the parable of the Sower, to throw seed (The Word) by the roadside, among rocky areas or among thorns.
All biblical quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Version.
Pastor Pedro Montoya