Some words and imagery stick in people’s minds more than others. Two of these words are blood and water. These two words trigger specific images in the mind and often specific memories. Maybe these two images can now stick together for everyone who considers Christ and what He has given to each and every person. The numerous references to water and blood together is amazing from one end of the Bible to the other.
The water and the blood of Jesus testify that Jesus is the Christ. First John 5:6–8 reports,
This is He who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
How did Jesus come by water and blood? Those familiar with the Bible instantly think of specific associations. In this case, this passage from 1 John is speaking of Jesus coming by the water of baptism and Jesus coming in blood — Christ’s death. There is an inseparable connection made between these two elements.
The spiritual implications of blood and water are very important to God. Why are these so important? The water is important in its resemblance to cleansing, and because of the significance of blood in God’s plan of atonement that is the appeasement between God and man who is guilty and separated from God by his sins (Rom 3:23; 5:10–11; 6:23; Isa 59:1).
Why is blood so important to God? Does this have something to do with how Abel’s blood cried out to God (Gen 4:10–11)? The Bible reveals that the life of flesh is in the blood (Lev 17:11–14; Deut 12:23). There is spiritual life in the blood too. Note more about blood in God’s command to Noah. Genesis 9:4–6 reports,
But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”
Man is made in God’s image and the life of man is in His blood. This is why man’s blood is so important.
Why Blood Purifies
According to the Law of Moses, “almost all things were purified with blood,” since “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9:22). God established His covenant with Israel by the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices on the altar of the temple and the people (Exod 24:5–8). Hebrews 9:18–20 tells how Moses used both blood and water when he sprinkled. Israel dedicated God’s covenants with blood. Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission [forgiveness] of sins.” Christ’s blood established the everlasting covenant (Heb 13:20).
In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrifices was for the atonement between God and man (Exod 30:10). There is a lot of blood in the Old Testament. The temple area had to be stained with blood. Blood was poured out on the altar, and sprinkled in the temple (Exod 29). With every sacrifice, blood was sprinkled before the Temple and poured out on the sides of the altar (Lev 1; cf. Exod 23:18). Israel offered 100 bulls, 200 rams, and 400 lambs for the dedication of the second temple (Ezra 6:17). Solomon sacrificed 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep in dedicating the temple (1 King 8:63). In consecrating the temple, Moses placed blood on the right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe of Aaron and his sons (Lev 8). Their priestly garments were sprinkled with blood too. Everything was sprinkled with blood! This is all a great example to present Christ. Furthermore, Hebrew 9:11–14 reveals,
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The Blood of Christ
The importance of blood does not stop here. The blood of the Passover lamb saved the firstborn of Israel and saved Israel from slavery. God instructed Israel to put the blood on the doorposts (Exod 12:13ff). Christ’s blood is described as “the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without spot or blemish” (1 Pet 1:19). Jesus is the better sacrifice than any those in the Law of Moses (Heb 9:23). First Corinthians 5:7–8 affirms,
For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Do believers have the blood of Christ — the Passover — on the doorposts of their souls? Romans 5:9 declares, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” No believer should profane the blood of Christ with a life that is not completely dedicated to Him.
Blood and Water
How can someone be saved by the blood of Christ? What came from the side of Jesus in His death? Water and blood were together from the beginning to the end of Christ’s death. Jesus’s sweat became great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). John 19:34 depicts, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” The blood and the water were shed in Christ’s death. Romans 6:3–4 confirms,
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
No wonder the Hebrews writer states, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:22). What are Christian hearts sprinkled with? It can only be Christ’s blood (Heb 10:19). Christians are not sprinkled by water but with the blood (1 Pet 1:2). Why would our hearts be sprinkled? That is where God put His laws as in the Old Testament where the Ark kept the law (Heb 10:16). See how the water and the blood are together to cleanse!
Accessing Christ’s Blood through the Water
God through Ananias told the “chief of sinners,” the apostle Paul, to rise and be baptized and wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). Was he washed in the blood or the water? Paul was was immersed in water. Since the apostle John revealed that Jesus “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev 1:5; 7:14). Water and blood are shown to be essential together again. Matthew 26:28 teaches that Christ’s blood is “for the forgiveness of sins” while Acts 2:38 uses the exact same phrase and teaches that baptism is “for the forgiveness of sins.” Believers can only access the blood of Christ in water baptism that is in Jesus’s name (Acts 10:43, 47–48). Baptism and grace unite in the blood of Christ. Ephesians 1:7 affirms, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
Communion and Forgiveness in Christ’s Blood
The apostolic doctrine also proclaimed the Lord’s death in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:26). First Corinthians 10:16 asks, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” God established a covenant with His people by the blood, so this is His agreement and contract for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus declared in Mark 14:24, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” Paul reported in 1 Corinthians 11:25, “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” When one is baptized that person contacts the blood of Jesus for Christ’s covenant of forgiveness, then that person is added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:41, 47).
The Church Bought with Blood
What does Jesus’s blood have to with His church? Christ’s temple was also purified with blood. Christ’s Church was bought by His blood (Acts 20:28; Rev 5:9). The monetary value of the whole world is not a fraction of the cost of the church of Christ. The church is that important to Christ, and it must be that important to every Christian or such believers profane the blood of Jesus Christ. Christ’s church is the only church that He bought (Eph 4:4). He did not buy a denominated and divided church. He bought no church of man and certainly no denomination. Of what church should the believer want to be a part? Those members of Christ’s body are the most costly possession of God. Christ’s church is His everlasting kingdom.
Christ Cleansing His Church with Water and Blood
Just as water and blood came from Jesus side, so Christ cleanses His church by water and His blood. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25–27). “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). There is no contradiction here. Christ’s blood is so powerful that nothing compares to this cleaning agent in the waters of baptism. Only the church of Christ can overcome enemies with the blood and the word of Christ (Rev 12:11).
Counting the Cost
Believers must remember the cost that Christ paid for His church. “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool’” (Isa 1:18). “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isa 53:5). Blood and water came from the side of Jesus! When someone thinks of the water and the blood, the believer must know that is where people are saved and when people are added to the church. Those who believe must not go another day condemned and lost. Jesus professed in John 3:5, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
I guess I am not wording it correctly. I believe a spiritually dead person can no more give himself spiritual life than a physically dead person can give himself physical life; that requires a supernatural act on the part of God. The sinner gets into the family of God in precisely the same way that he gets into his human family: by that supernatural act, God Himself (through His Holy Spirit) sovereignly takes him out of the kingdom of Satan and places him in His spiritual kingdom at the pint of baptism. I just believe the process starts when the seed is planted.
When the Lord appeared to the hardened persecutor Saul as he was on the way to Damascus, he immediately became obedient to God’s will and born from above when his sins were washed away in the blood of Christ at the point of baptism. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Ps. 110:3).
I probably should have not used the word conception, but done so to make a point that birth is a process. We are born from above from seed – the word of God. My point was, that the Gospel is the seed and reception of it is the beginning of Spiritual life.
Repentance and being baptized are acts of faith, correct? We are dead prior to baptism, correct? Thus, we have dead men “performing acts of faith” when the dead can’t do anything. It would seem to me that God would have to change their hearts FIRST, before they could repent and be baptized, seeing dead men cant do living things.
I think I can understand PK, but not your thoughts.
“I think, all too often, baptism is playing center stage, while Jesus is somewhere behind the curtain. I think the ‘what ifs’ are legitimate concerns.”
This may be true among progressives among the churches of Christ, but I have not found it true of all my preacher friends through throughout the south. Teaching Jesus’ life and especially is sacrifice is essential as Paul did. As we know that the Gospel that he preached was the death, burial, and resurrection.
“contact the blood by repenting”
I evidently disagree with you as seen above.
“When was the last time you heard a church of Christ preacher preach about imputed righteousness or about justification by faith?”
As a Christian preacher of Christ’s Church, I just did a month ago. I used Gal. 3 for an expository lesson. I’ve heard it preached on.
“A spiritually dead man cannot please God; he cannot do anything to help himself, because he produces dead works.”
You’re either saying that good hearted people are doing good things but they are not baptized, but it seems as though they should be saved, or you’re saying those not baptized are doing good things but not in Christ so those works are dead. I think you’re saying the first. I would simply point out as I think you agree that it is sins that separate us from God and not our works that save us. These doing good and claim are Christ do not follow the words of Christ in the simple elementary things concerning salvation specifically baptism are either five things: dumb, insane, simply evil in rejecting Christ’s words, lazy in reading, or sinning in being willingly ignorant of Christ’s words. I’ll assume the last and teach on baptism since it is most attacked and lied about point of salvation. There are some false teachings about Christ and belief and confession in Him, and there are many confused about sins so that they do not truly repent, but baptism is rejected the most. I believe providentially so that we know those who claim Christ are lying.
“You’re probably wondering why I said this…well, the reason is, because we have dead man, who is at enmity with God somehow pleasing God in his dead unregenerate state, seeing we say he is made alive at baptism. I believe we are missing something…not sure what it is, but it would seem to me that before man can perform obedient acts of faith that please God, that his heart must first be changed.”
Amen, hearts must be changed. Those living in sin that rejecting to submit to Christ, repent, are nothing to gain in baptism but a washing off of dirt.
“I believe Spiritual life starts at conception as it did when Peter preached in Acts 2 and their hearts were changed prior to being baptized, and then birth takes place at baptism.”
I like your thought here. It is deep. Showing that baptism is birth, then when was conception? We’ll need Scripture for that because we could assume that conception is by the seed of Abraham. If we believe life exists before birth in the physical, then why not the spiritual? The problem with this idea is that our new birth is not conceived in a spiritual womb, but our birth is made from the spiritual tomb in baptism. By our death to sin, we are buried in baptism to rise into the new life. The resurrection into the new life is the new birth. That is when we are born again. There is no conception that I can find in Scripture.
“When the men in Acts 2 heard the gospel – then and there, God planted the seed via the preaching of the Gospel by Peter. Just as Physical life begins with a planted seed, so does Spiritual life. We are missing the big picture and many are thinking that the water baptism was the basis of their new birth, when the new birth really started from the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23.)”
The basis of the new birth is the Gospel, the word with the three most basic components are the death, burial, and resurrection that we must obey (1 Cor. 15:1-4, Rom. 6:3-7, Col. 2:11-13). This is the word that by which we are reborn. Our heart in love and faith are clearly shown at one specific event in obeying the death, burial, and resurrection.
“Dead men void of living faith, can not please God. When we state we are made alive at baptism, we have dead men pleasing God, which he can not!”
Those not baptized are dead men and they are not pleasing God. Forget all the charitable works that those of other religions do, they are separate from Christ. I think you would agree with that. How are those not evil who do good and claim Christ, but do not obey Him and His words on such as simple as the Gospel, salvation, and baptism? These will be judged for this (John 12:28). They neglect these simple things. Why are these not evil for not changing their hearts and being baptized? If these dead men, have really changed, why then do they not obey the words of Christ? What are they so ignorant? Why are they not washed by Christ in baptism? I’m not going to justify or save those who have not been immersed. I’ll assume their willingly ignorant and I’ll teach them what the Scriptures.
Please, forgive my assumption of oneness Pentecostalism.
I’m familiar with Wineskins and Zoe, but didn’t know that they went that far. You say that “They are Emergent friendly and very deeply influenced by the ecumenical modern mysticism they call ‘Spiritual Formation’ which is a plague on the church in my opinon.” What is this?
Thanks for the discussion. God bless.
Scott, I understand where you guys are coming from, but I also understand the doubt. I have seen first hand a preacher in the church of Christ deliver a sermon not related to sin, nor the gospel…but at the end inviting the lost to respond in baptism. I posted a bit on my blog, hoping that some of you guys would see my doubts too and offer some input.
Here are the comments I would like you guys to address > My concerns are much like Stephens. I think, all too often , baptism is playing center stage, while Jesus is somewhere behind the curtain. I think the “what ifs” are legitimate concerns. Heck, we cant even preach the gospel on airplanes, without telling someone that “once we land and find some water, you will contact the blood then and there; and after you are saved, you contact the blood by repenting.”
I have to be careful how I say these things, because I don’t wont to water down baptism to a level that many denominations have, but I think we need to preach more about Jesus and His work. When was the last time you heard a church of Christ preacher preach about imputed righteousness or about justification by faith?
A spiritually dead man cannot please God; he cannot do anything to help himself, because he produces dead works. Not only is the HEART wicked, but the MIND is against God. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7, 8).
The carnal or lost man is at enmity with God. He is an enemy of God.
Jeremiah 13:23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
You’re probably wondering why I said this…well, the reason is, because we have dead man, who is at enmity with God somehow pleasing God in his dead unregenerate state, seeing we say he is made alive at baptism.
I believe we are missing something…not sure what it is, but it would seem to me that before man can perform obedient acts of faith that please God, that his heart must first be changed.
I believe Spiritual life starts at conception as it did when Peter preached in Acts 2 and their hearts were changed prior to being baptized, and then birth takes place at baptism.
“A new heart, a new spirit…I will take out your stony heart…and I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes.” (Heb.8:10; Ezek.36:26-27)
In Acts 2, Peter preached and they were pricked in their hearts, having faith in Jesus at that point. I see that as conception and something only God can do, for the Gospel is the power unto salvation.
1 Peter 1:23: for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
When the men in Acts 2 heard the gospel – then and there, God planted the seed via the preaching of the Gospel by Peter. Just as Physical life begins with a planted seed, so does Spiritual life. We are missing the big picture and many are thinking that the water baptism was the basis of their new birth, when the new birth really started from the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23.)
Dead men void of living faith, can not please God. When we state we are made alive at baptism, we have dead men pleasing God, which he can not ! I think we have failed to see the big picture, or we have become so focused upon baptism, that we have failed to understand that God must change our stony heart, before we could ever turn to him in repentance and baptism. I see Spiritual life starting when the seed is planted, and birth at baptism.
Corey and Scott, excellent rejoinders from both of you!
I sincerely appreciate both of you taking the time to discuss this. I was afraid I’d be seen as a troublemaker, but I really needed to discuss these things.
Scott, I am not from Oneness Pentecostalism, though I am somewhat familiar with their denial of Jesus being equal to the Father. I was just very curious why Luke mentions baptisms as being done in the name of Jesus alone.
Corey, again I appreciate your heart for answering these lengthy questions. And your clarifications seem reasonable. I hink I am perhaps asking too many why’s and how’s, but I see many people that I have confidence in by their life and their profession of faith that do not believe baptism is for remission of sins, but do hold it in high esteem. I think there are many people who are Christians who don’t understand baptism as well as they should, but are saved nonetheless by faith and their subsequent obedience in baptism.
Scott, I am glad to see you take on the argument concerning whether there are apostles today or not. I was associating with some house church folk who made it clear they knew of and believed there were apostles in the church today. I challenged that based partly on Peter’s stated qualifications for Judas’ replacement: namely, that they had seen the Lord, witnessed the miracles, His death and had seen Him after His resurrection. While that may have technically applied to as many as 500 whom the bible says Jesus appeared to, those folk are long dead and no one living today meets those qualifications.
I am impressed with your example of the Roman believers not having the visible gifts of the Spirit. The thought had not entered my mind, but I think your point is valid. Also, the idea that we do not need the gifts today struck me as odd, but I think you are correct since God has certainly revealed enough of Himself to us through Christ in the Word for us to know what to do and how we should live.
The other thing that came to mind as I read your reply was that Philip was apparently not an apostle or the Samaritans would not have needed Peter and the others to show up in order for them to receive the baptism of the Spirit in visible form. Why then would Philip have been chosen to approach and convert the Ethiopian eunuch if this spiritual baptism was required for salvation? Obviously this could not have happened since the scripture just previous to this incident proves Philip couldn’t bestow those gifts. That alone is bewildering to me since Philip WAS able to heal the sick and more. So, the Ethiopian went on to his country, where history tells us he started evangelizing his own nation. And he obviously wasn’t taught, nor did he witness, the outpouring of the Spirit. But, we know he was saved!
Excellent discussion and I thank both of you gentlemen for your time and efforts. If the churches of Christ had more men like you I’d probably have no worries about whether I was in the right church or not! I assume you both are considered very conservative by the likes of our liberal brother Al Maxey? I was sympathetic to his views for a while, but I was dismayed when he started associating himself with he likes of The ZOE Group/New Wineskins. They are Emergent friendly and very deeply influenced by the ecumenical modern mysticism they call “Spiritual Formation” which is a plague on the church in my opinon. Al had said not even a year ago that he didn’t agree with them on this, but has since changed his mind, apparently.
Well, may God bless and increase the harvest of your faithful work in Christ.
I appreciate your perspective. It seems that you are coming from the oneness Pentecostal denomination and that you left it, but you have done your best to keep every Scriptural truth that was established there. This is commendable. I love the fact that you do not really on anyone else’s spin on Scripture, but you turn to it as a base in authority for your beliefs. From this point, we can always discuss.
Corey addressed everything accurately, but I will go even further thnka to his effort. I’d like to use more Scriptural references. I appreciate Corey’s help. He has saved me some time and I hope that he continues to comment as he does.
The founding of the Church on Pentecost presents the bare minimum standard for baptism requirements. You may have read this from me before. Acts 2:38 presents (1) immersion [in water] (2) in Jesus’ name (3) into the forgiveness of sins. You don’t have to understand the blood as I presented above, but it is a good approach. I also like the approach that the Gospel saves (1 Pet. 1:22-25, 1 Cor. 15:1-4, Rom. 1:16) and baptism is a critical part and point in which one rises into the new life (Col. 2:11-13, Rom. 6:3-7). Understanding these things does not appear in the Acts 2. I’ve seen this abused too, but strangely by those who I came to find out were not very sound anyways.
“Technicalities” rather specifics do matter to me. I do not see any specific of God’s commands [in defining examples and inferences] as small and I only see few in the Scriptures anyway. Water for baptism and immersion are such. I believe that we must observe all things commanded (Matt. 28:20) and try to keep all our works complete and perfect before Christ (Rev. 3:2).
Lastly, the laying on of hands does still occur today in the Church, but very few times and not as much as it should. We still do it in the since of authority like in the instance of Timothy having hands laid on him for spiritual gifts from Paul (2 Tim. 1:6) and another for authority from elders (1 Tim. 4:14). The Spirit from the Apostles laying on hands in Acts 8 and 19 were to give the gifts of the Spirit, which is very apparent. Specifically, these were given by Apostles for which we have no one qualified to be an Apostle today (Acts 1). Acts 8:18, “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,” Today, we do not need miracles [done through the hands of men] to prove revelation to be from God (John 20:31, Mark 16:20, Heb. 2:3-4, and so on). It is hard to look past 1 Cor 13 telling that spiritual knowledge would be completed and that those things done “in part” would cease. Jesus also came to seal up visions (Dan. 9:26).
Since, we do not have Apostles, can we not have the Spirit and thus are we condemned? God forbid such a belief! Remember that only a select few would have the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:46-49, Acts 1:5, 8, 11:15-16). Now add to this that there is only one baptism for all Christians, which is water baptism in the name of the Lord (Eph. 4:5, 5:26, Acts 10:47-48), then it is clear that Holy Spirit baptism was only for a select few and it is not essential.
Here are some essential truths to know about the indwelling of the Spirit, which is essential. The Church in Rome did not have these spiritual gifts (Rom. 1:11), and still they had the indwelling of the Spirit and they were still saved (Rom. 8:9, 24). That is the key point. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are wholly separate since the Christians of Rome had the Spirit and not the gifts. The High Priest Caiaphas spoke by inspiration, but plotted to put Jesus to death and tried Christ (John 11:45-53). Also, Judas Iscariot did miracles and betrayed the Lord (Matt. 10:1-12). Peter acted with partiality though he healed the sick, prophesied, and wrote two epistles of Scripture (Acts 3:6-8, Gal. 2:11-14). The Corinthians had the spiritual gifts, but they were still carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-2). Holy Spirit baptism and gifts are certainly not signs of character or faith, so Cornelius’ receiving the Holy Spirit in gifts does not bother me a bit.
I hope Scott doesn’t mind me trying to answer a few of PK’s questions.
Why don’t we emphasize the laying on of hands since that is as scriptural as baptism?
The laying on of the apostles hands imparted the miraculous spiritual gifts that were necessary in the infancy of the church. Remember that these individuals had no written word to go to. The laying on of hands serves no purpose today since we can’t impart the miraculous gifts, nor do we need to now – we can pick up a Bible and read all the apostles taught by inspiration.
The Ephesians lack of knowledge of the Holy Spirit proved that they had been administered an invalid baptism (John’s baptism) after the baptism of the Great Commission was given.
I get irritated by the emphasis on someone having to be completely knowledgeable about the part baptism plays in salvation
I understand where you’re coming from (really I do), but consider this – what if we were about to partake of the Lord’s Supper and I said, “we’re going to have a little snack because Jesus once ate and drank these same things”. Is that acceptable? Certainly you wouldn’t say so. We need to know the purpose of the Lord’s Supper – that it is a memorial of Jesus who died for us. The information is there for us, so there is no reason to not understand why we partake of it. The same goes for baptism – the information is there for us regarding what baptism does, so we need to know it.
I think the reason many of us sometimes wish we could just say, “well, let’s not get hung up on the specifics of baptism” is because there are so many people being baptized in incorrect modes for improper reasons. We want to be accepting of others, but if we truly care about them, we’ll want to make sure they have submitted to the Lord on His terms.
Lastly, if I may ask, why is it that every person in Acts was baptized in the name of Jesus alone? Only Matthew mentions the triune baptism.
This misunderstanding comes largely from the erroneous view that there is some “word formula” to be uttered at baptism. “In the name of” simply means “by the authority of”. Being baptized “in the name of” Jesus is simply by His authority. Could we do something by the authority of Jesus that violates the authority of the Father or of the Spirit? Certainly not. The authority for our baptism comes from all 3 members of the Godhead and we should know that, but there is no special set of words to be uttered at the time of one’s immersion.
I hope this is of some help. God bless.
I appreciate your consideration of my thoughts.
I do have a problem with he idea that baptism is dependent, not upon the believing convert, but upon another man and time and place. I have seen far too many baptisms postponed for any number of reasons (baptistery broken, water not flowing, swimming pool not available, not enough water to immerse, etc) as well as willfully put off until a “better time” with the tacit approval of those teaching. To me it appears to be very much like circumcision in that it is dependent on another person and the act was required but did nothing in and of itself.
If everyone who is saved does not experience the outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit (tongues or some other sign) then where is any evidence of someone being sealed by the Spirit? That is why I see baptism as the sign or seal of the Spirit. One is visible, one is not. But,I agree, baptism isn’t the sign of the gifts of the Spirit.
I am still perplexed by two scriptures:
The Samaritans believed and were baptized by Philip and yet the Apostles felt it was absolutely necessary to lay hands on these people so that the Holy Spirit would fall on them. Scripture says “they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Then, Paul finds those disciples in Ephesus and doesn’t ask “Were you baptized after you believed?” He asks “Did you receive the Holy Spirit WHEN YOU BELIEVED?” The fact they had not received the Holy Spirit is why Paul re-baptized AND laid hands on them. Why don’t we emphasize the laying on of hands since that is as scriptural as baptism?
Simply put, I do not truly understand what baptism does, effectively, but the fact that it is commanded is enough. I get irritated by the emphasis on someone having to be completely knowledgeable about the part baptism plays in salvation. None of us really know the when, how, or wherefore of it. There is just too much leaning on human understanding that gets into legalism: Did they get completely wet? Was the minister or Christian who performed the baptism really qualified? Were they saved before, during or after they got wet? What if their eyebrow or big toe didn’t go under? and so on.
I say, let’s just baptize people who confess they believe and want to live a new life in Jesus and not worry about the technicalities. Lastly, if I may ask, why is it that every person in Acts was baptized in the name of Jesus alone? Only Matthew mentions the triune baptism.
Thanks for your time!
I can relate to where you are coming from. First thanks for reading. I appreciate you constructive comments.
There are clearly things that are required for salvation. As you mentioned, baptism is not worth anything without faith and confession of faith in Jesus as Lord and God, and baptism is not worth anything without repentance that is death to our sins. Maybe I’m wrong but it seems that you stand back from baptism as though it a work of man. As we see above, baptism is the point of the cleansing of Christ not us and the completion of death to our sins. Unlike faith, confession, and repentance, we do not do baptize of ourselves and we’d be fools to boast of any spiritual accomplishment especially baptism in Jesus’ name. It is the perfect act of submission and test of sincerity. Without Jesus’ blood, we cannot be saved and it is abundantly clear that we contact the blood of Christ in His immersion [not the immersion of John Acts 19:1-6]. This is why Scripture says, “Baptism does now save you”. I have to disagree about your understanding of baptism being a seal or a sign. The Holy Spirit is our seal of salvation (2 Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13, 4:30).
The receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10 was clearly the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45) for spiritual gifts, and something that not all received since according to Acts 11:15, this baptism had only occurred once before in Acts 2. This does not dismiss the fact that the Gentiles did receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit before water baptism, and the question is now, “Were they then saved before baptism since they had the Holy Spirit?” Now, we have dilemma, which is more critical and essential to salvation: baptism in Jesus’ name or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? This is the only occurrence one receiving the Holy Spirit before repentance, baptism, or even mention of faith.
I must conclude that the seal of Spirit was not yet until baptism upon Cornelius and his house. This is why. 10:43, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” 10:48, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” This was clearly a special circumstance necessary to convince Peter and the Church that Gentiles could be included.
You thoughts here are very close to what I have been pondering the last few months. I was not raised church of Christ so I have had some issues with baptism and the church’s focus on it to the apparent exclusion of the primary first steps, belief in the cross, the resurrection of Christ, and repentance with godly sorrow.
In Romans 4, Paul makes a strong case that Abraham was justified by faith before he was circumcised. And that circumsion was the sign, or seal, of the Abramic covenant. In Romans 10 Paul again makes a point that “whoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. And in verse 9-10 he emphasizes “confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10 NASB)
I have often felt, after coming to believe that baptism is a non-optional ordinance, that the example of Philip and the Ethipian eunuch was the best open and shut case for baptism being required. And yet, the Bible tells us again and again we are saved by faith and not works. I am pretty convinced that baptism washs away our old, dead, and forgiven sins; not the means by which our hearts are made pure. It is the “circumcison done without hands” that is the result of faith in the blood of Christ and this is when our hearts are sprinkled and regenerated. Show me one baptism that is done “without hands”! Or prove that a person cannot have the Spirit before they are baptized (think Cornelius and friends).
So, while I believe baptism is a necessary rite or ordinance, it is not what makes us a new creature. Only the Spirit can regenerate our hearts, but baptism is the seal or sign of the new covenant. All the male Jews were circumcised, but not one of them were made righteous by it. Yet it was required. That is what I believe baptism is all about. And the churches of Christ make far too much of it regarding how we are justified, I believe. I don’t think there is a single scriptural reference to being justified by baptism. Yet, I would have a real problem, and do, with any who would say baptism is not required. Maybe I’m being nit-picking here, but I think we need to focus more on getting people convicted they are sinners doomed to eternal death before we start talking them into jumping on the idea of baptism. Like John the Baptist said (sorta) “let’s see some sincere proof of repentance before I baptize you”!