False teachings on the subject of baptism that are promoted in the name of Man-made religion has been used by the devil to create unnecessary divisions in the family of God.
As we will see, there are several different types of baptisms recorded in Scripture. What all forms of baptisms found in Scripture have in common is that in each case, the one being baptized is i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g him/herself with some o-n-e or some t-h-i-n-g at the time. An understanding of the principle of identification is essential if one is to learn what the Bible has to say about baptism. What the different forms of baptism do NOT have in common, is the different some o-n-e-s or the some t-h-i-n-g-s with which the one being baptized is identifying with at the time.
How important is baptism?
"He who has believed and has been b-a-p-t-i-z-e-d shall be saved; he who has disbelieved shall be condemned (Mark 16: 16 NASB)."
That sounds plain enough, but which one of the many types of baptisms is being spoken of in Mark 16: 16?
No where in Scripture do we find one being baptized by oneself, so is the Mark 16: 16 baptism the one in which God is the baptizer and divine power is in view, or is it one of the other types that are performed by clergy and/or fellow believers?
If it is one the types that is performed by Man, that would make the believer dependent on the actions of other people in order to be saved. The perceived need to engage in water baptisms in order to be saved amounts to blasphemy. It is blasphemy as it is an attack on the integrity of the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ that He accomplished on the cross, and an attack on the integrity of the Person and the Work of God the Holy Spirit that He accomplished at the moment of salvation.
Water baptisms performed by Man (clergy or fellow believers) is NOT the baptism being spoken of in Mark 16: 16.
In light of the different types of baptisms recorded in Scripture, it is important to identify the type of baptism being spoken of in Mark 16:16, Who it is that is doing the baptizing, and when it takes place.
Promoters of Man-made religion would have us believe that the baptism being spoken of in Mark 16: 16 is the various water baptism rituals that the different religious groups and denominations offer, promote, and in many cases, require. When the water baptisms take place in infancy, it sets the stage for a false sense of dependency on the many additional religious practices they promote in order to receive and retain salvation. In truth, nothing takes place in the spiritual life of one who is spiritually dead. One is spiritually dead until he/she receives a regenerated spirit (Titus 3: 5) at the moment of salvation when he/she is born again.
The primary difference between the type of baptism spoken of in Mark 16: 16 and many of the other types of baptisms recorded in Scripture, is that the baptizer in Mark 16:16 is God,whereas the baptizer in many of the others were/are human beings that are a part of a fallen race. As Eccl. 3: 14 NASB put it, "I know that everything that God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it..."
Taking the place and/or the functions of God that He has not delegated to any human being in any capacity is what most "religious" rituals and practices are all about. Followers of such religious practices develop a sense of dependency on Man-made religion. This not only denies God the glory, but leads the deceived believers away from the truth. In this the devil is well-pleased. Taking the place and/or a function that God has not delegated to Man is one of the characteristics of an anti-Christ.
While overlooking what actually is the Mark 16: 16 form of baptism, religions equate and/or promote water baptisms in its place or as a required additive in order to either obtain or retain salvation (eternal life).
As we will see in this study, the water baptisms recorded in Scripture did serve a purpose during the dispensation (period of time) of the hypostatic union, and later in the dispensation of the Church Age. However, water baptisms have got nothing to do with obtaining or retaining eternal life. To further cloud the issue, the human authors and originators of Man-made religion disagree as to when and how these water baptisms are to the administered, by whom, and/or for what purpose they serve.
Some say that water baptisms should take place during infancy. Others say it should not take place until the soul is mature enough to have made a conscious confession of faith. Most require water baptism for denominational membership. Some immerse, some sprinkle. Some do not offer water baptisms at all.
Q.: So with all these different and conflicting religious teachings, what does the Bible actually have to say on the subject of baptism?
A.: The short answer is that it depends on which one of the several different types of baptisms that is being referred to in Scripture. In this study, we will examine the different types of baptisms (plural) that are recorded in Scripture and what each one accomplished.
One must keep in mind that the one and only Biblical requirement to obtain (John 3: 16) and to retain (Romans 8: 1) salvation (eternal life) is to make a one time decision to believe in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. When anything comes along that requires one to do (or have done) anything more in order to be saved, the bells and whistles in one's edified soul structure should go off and give warning of an incoming missile/arrow (Eph. 6: 16) that was launched by the forces of evil (Eph. 6: 12). The intended target of this type of missile is the foundation of one's soul structure. This foundation was laid the moment of salvation. It is on this foundation (a confession of faith) that each individual soul structure is built (1Cor. 3: 11), and on which the universal Church that God designed will stand (Matt. 16: 18).
The foundation (1Cor. 3: 10/Math. 7: 24)of one's soul structure is one's complete faith (trust and confidence) in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. By complete, I mean that there is no need to add anything to it (Eccl. 3: 14) to retain the benefit(s) that one has already received. If one has complete faith that something (salvation) has been accomplished, he/she will see no need to do (or have done) anything else.
If the devil's missile can put a crack of doubt in one's foundation, the entire soul structure can be compromised allowing all kinds of false teachings and practices to flood the basement and/or topple the structure (Matt. 7: 27).
The Mark 16:16 type of baptism does not involve water. The Mark 16: 16 type of baptism is the exclusive work of God the Holy Spirit. It is what Eph. 4: 30 refers to as the sealing of the born again believer. It takes place at the moment of salvation. It is for the purpose of permanently i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g the individual as a child of God. Becoming a child of God has got nothing to do with one's chronological or biological age. One is born physically at birth. One is born again (John 3: 5, 7) at the moment of salvation. It is then and there that the believer is baptized (sealed/marked for identification- Eph. 4: 30) by God the Holy Spirit.
The believing (on the part of Man) and the baptizing (by God) is a two-sided process that takes place at the moment of salvation. This is why Mark 16:16 says that it by one believing and being baptized that one is saved.
The intangible moment of salvation is like a two-sided coin. This "coin" has a human side and a divine side. There is human activity (believing) and there is divine activity (baptizing) in view. God does not force anyone to believe, and no man can do what only God can do.
Each side is distinct from the other, but the coin (the saving of the soul) would not be complete if both sides were not included. The human side of the "coin" is established by the soul exercising his/her free will in choosing to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. On the other side of the "coin", we have the divine response (baptizing/sealing work) of God the Holy Spirit.
The moment of salvation for each and every believer is the point in time here on Earth when he/she exercised his/her free will and made a decision to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
At that very moment, several major things take place in the soul structure of the individual soul. Among these major things are the reception of eternal life (John 3: 16); the regeneration of what was a spiritually dead spirit (Titus 3: 5); the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 3: 16); the beginning of one's fellowship with God (2Cor. 13: 14); and the Mar 16: 16 baptizing (sealing" (Eph. 4: 30) of the saved soul by God the Holy Spirit.
This Eph. 4: 30 sealing (baptism) means to be marked for i-d-e-n-t-i-f-i-c-a-t-i-o-n. In this case, the saved soul is marked for i-d-e-n-t-i-f-i-c-a-t-i-o-n as a child of God. As we noted earlier, and will reiterate throughout the course of this study, Biblical baptisms are all about the one being baptized identifying him/herself with someone or something else.
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Blending is a common error that evangelists and pastor teachers make and that the devil will use to promote confusion.
A common example of blending is when the issue of post (after) salvation discipleship is made to be appear to be a requirement for salvation. We hear of evangelist calling for souls to born again and surrendering (turning over ) every area of one's daily life to Christ) as if these actions were a single event.
Being born again IS a one-time, single event, with the same permanent (Romans 8: 1) results (John 3: 16). But discipleship (surrendering our will and making Jesus Christ the "lord" of every area one's daily life) is an on-going and life-long developing process. Some born again believers will identify, engage, and advance in the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. Many will begin, but will later abandon it. The salvation of a born again believer remains intact (Romans 8: 1), but the (1 Cor. 3) rewards and (Rev. 2/Rev 3) privileges that he/she could have received if he/she chose the road of discipleship are forfeited for all of eternity. Those who think that the grace of God is a license to sin and that they have nothing to lose have been greatly deceived. One does not serve God in order to be rewarded, but God has made it known that He intends to reward in Heaven those who live for Him in the here and now. One can live for what pleases oneself, and one can live for what pleases God. But what one can not often do, is both at the same time. True discipleship is going to cost you something.
Blending all of the Work of God the Holy Spirit that takes place at the moment of salvation into one concoction is what, in part, gets in the way of understanding exactly what the purpose of each separate element serves and/or accomplishes. Case in point is the Mark 16: 16 baptism of God the Holy Spirit manifested in the sealing (Eph. 4: 30) of the soul.
Failing to acknowledge the Eph.4: 30 sealing as the type of baptism being spoken of in Mark 16: 16 is what opens the door to many of the false teachings concerning baptism that have evolved in the name of religion.
Interesting to note that Paul, who God used to establish what become many of the earliest local assemblies throughout the ancient world, did NOT consider water baptisms to be a part of the work that God called him to do (1Cor. 1: 17).
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness in speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void (1Cor. 1: 17 NASB)."
At the same time, he was not opposed to water baptisms when they were performed for the right reasons and with the understanding that such baptisms were not for the purpose of either obtaining, improving, or retaining salvation.
Paul did baptize some believers (1Cor. 1: 16) in water after they had been born again, i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g them with the Church of God.
Being a "church member," going to "Church," and/or engaging in "religious" activity does not mean that one has been saved (Matt. 7: 21). One can engage or be put through all the water baptisms rituals that are out there and still not have received the type of baptism being spoken of in Mark 16: 16.
"Not everyone who to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of Heaven but he does the will of My Father who is in Heaven will enter. Many (of the religious crowd) will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matt. 7: 21-23 NASB italics mine)."
If this prophecy had been given now a days, the argument might be, "Did we not go to Church, take part in all of the rituals, financially support the organization, do at least some good deeds? But the "I never knew you, depart from Me" response to anyone whose name was not written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev. 20: 12) will be the same! Religious rituals that are void of deity (John 15: 5) are null and void in the spiritual realm, even though they are among the things that are held in high esteem by Man (Luke 16: 15). God knows "of" every soul that He created, but He does know a soul as being a child of God until he/she is born again.
If you have not been born again, then you are not saved, have not received the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism, and are not in the book spoken of in Rev. 20: 12, 15, no matter what else you may have done or had done for you while here on Earth.
"And if anyone's name is not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB)."
If you have been born again, you are saved and have received the type of baptism spoken of in Mark 16:16. and have had your name written down in the Rev. 20: 12,15 book of life. The One who performed this baptism was God the Holy Spirit when He sealed (Eph. 4: 30) you at the moment of salvation. Your name can never be erased from the Book of Life as it was written with the very blood of Christ.
That being said, born again believers should have no reservations about wanting to be identified with the Church by participating in a water baptism ceremony, p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g he/she understand the purpose for it, and that it has got nothing to do with salvation.
Neither the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism nor an Acts 2: 41 water baptism identifies the soul being baptized with any specific "division" of the Christian Community. From God's viewpoint, there is only one Church, consisting of the collective body of every soul that has been born again. His Church can be found within and among the many of the divisions that consider themselves to be a part of the Christian Community at large. There are some "divisions" that are deeply involved with the apostasy spoken of in 1 Tim. 4: 1. Without a doubt in my mind, if the Rapture (1Thes 4: 17) takes place during worship services, there will be many religious souls left behind in the pews and behind the pulpits because they were never born again.
Such divisions (1Cor. 3-5) were taking place as of the beginning of the Church Age and have continued to divide the Christian Community throughout the course of the Church Age. People speak of being "born" or "baptized" as a Roman Catholic, Protestant, or other another division of the Christian Community. The truth is that we are born spiritually dead, and in need (John 3: 5, 7) of the Titus 3: 5 regeneration and the type pf baptism spoken of in in Mark 16: 16. Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and all other "isms" out there are concepts and labels that Man-made religion has produced. Changing one's "religion" can put the born again believer to the Luke 14: 26 test.
The only thing that one is born into is spiritual death that is passed along to each generation since the Fall of Man. If and when one is born again, he/she receives the Mark 16: 16 baptism that identifies him/her as a child of God. In the course of one's post salvation spiritual life, the born again believer can take part in a water baptism ceremony that identifies him/her with the universal Church that God established for the Church Age. From God's viewpoint, one is not Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, etc.. One is either a spiritually alive born again believer, or one is not.
The universal Church that God established consists of all the local assemblies and ministries that take part in the Great Commission and engage in the type of worship that He desires and ordained for the Church Age. One's choice (or the need to change) one's choice of division, denomination, local assembly or ministry will not change the integrity of the salvation of a born again believer, but will greatly impact the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life. Many such divisions, denominations, local assemblies and ministries will come and go, but as long as there is one born again believer here on Earth, the Church that God designed will remain.
The bottom line for choosing where one is to receive his/her spiritual edification and/or corporate worship should be the quantity of accurate Bible Doctrine that comes from the pulpit for the development of one's post salvation spiritual life, and the attention of details applied for the Celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion), as these priorities are what God looks for when it comes to the type of worship that He desires (John 4: 23, 24) to receive here in the Church Age. Such choices do not change the integrity of one's salvation, but will greatly impact the quality of the one's post salvation spiritual life. The teaching of the Word of God to those who have already been born again is the "inside" mission that God gave to His Church, whereas the preaching of the Gospel Message is the "outside" mission that God gave to His Church (Matt. 28: 19, 29). It is by the presenting of the Gospel Message that provides unbelievers with the opportunity to believe and be saved (Mark 16: 16). It is through the teaching of the Word of God that believers are given the opportunity to grow in His knowledge and become disciples and ambassadors for Christ.
Interacting with a local assembly/ministry that is a part of the universal Church that God established is necessary if one is to identify and participate in the post salvation spiritual life, but this has got nothing to do with obtaining and/or retaining the eternal life that he/she has already received.
Most of the Church is already in Heaven awaiting the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 13-17 ), with only a few generations here on Earth at a time. The part of the Church that is here on Earth is made up of all the born again believers who are still in their mortal bodies. The Church gathers (here on earth) together in groups scattered across the face of the planet. Traditionally, they attend physically, but in the day and age of technology that can also gather together and attend via the many means of remote communication. To the extent that any one denomination, pulpit, local assembly/ministry or individual believer is functionally a part of the Church that God designed is revealed by the fruit that it/he/she produces. This fruit are saved, and then edified souls that have identified and are executing the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
The Church Age, and the Church that God designed for it, began after the ascension (Luke 24: 50/Acts 1:9) of the Lord Jesus Christ. There have been many alternative "churches" that have been established in the name of religion. Many of these alternative churches have a very different agenda from the primary agenda (The Great Commission) that the Lord gave to His Church. Such alternative churches can be identified by the fruit that they do not produce.
Some of these alternate churches have taken upon themselves (and delegated to their clergy) some of the roles and functions that God did NOT give to the Church that He designed. Taking on the place and/or function of God is one of the characteristics of the antichrists (plural). Such antichrists have been around since the very beginning (1John 2: 18) of the Church Age, with one taking stage before the Second Advent takes place.
In keeping with the example set by the early Church leaders (Ac ts 2: 41), the purpose of water baptism rituals is for the already-saved born again believer to identify themselves with the Church here on Earth that God designed. This ritual does NOT make the one baptized any more saved, as no one can be any more or any less saved that he/she became at the moment of salvation.
Never the less, by identifying himself with the Church-at-large that God designed, and interacting with a local assembly or ministry that is a part of that Church, the born again believer takes his/her first step in identifying the post salvation spiritual life. One's local assembly or ministry from which one receives his/her spiritual edification (2Pet. 3: 18/Eph. 4: 12-14) and where he/she engages in corporate worship (Heb. 10: 25) may or may not change for several different reasons throughout the course of one's post salvation spiritual life.
However one's "membership" in the universal Church at large that God designed began at the moment of salvation when one automatically received the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism, and will stay intact throughout all of eternity.
To further confirm that the purpose of all types of baptisms is for the purpose of identification of one kind or another, we will close this study by taking note of some of the other types of baptism recorded in Scripture and the purpose that they serve/served. The first thing that you might take note of is that in many of the other forms of baptism, the baptizer was/is a human being, whereas in the case of the Mark form of baptism, the Baptizer is God.
The followers of John the Baptist were baptized by John in water after they identified with the John's message of repentance and preparation for the coming Messiah. Biblical repentance simply means to change one's mind and course or direction. As far as salvation is concerned, the mind changes from being one that is inherently hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and the things of God, to one that is open receptive to the Gospel Message. As far as discipleship is concerned, the mind changes from what human viewpoint (including Man-made religion) promotes to what divine viewpoint promotes,as taught in the Word God.
Fallen Man comes into this world with a dead spirit towards God and the things of God. Fallen Man comes into this world with a fallen sin nature that is hostile (Romans 8:7) towards God and the things of God. Upon being born again, the dead spirit is regenerated (Titus 3: 5) by God the Holy Spirit. Never the less, the fallen nature in Man that is hostile towards God and the things of God, remains with us and will remain with us until the day we leave these mortal bodies behind (Romans 7) when we depart this Earth.
Paul spoke of his (and our) ongoing battle with the sin nature nearly 30 years after he was born again and towards the end of his post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. Neither the Mark 6: 16 baptism nor the Acts 9: 41 baptism eliminates the presence and the potential influence that the sin nature uses to war against the indwelling Spirit of God for control of our soul structure. Just as one must (John 3: 5, 7) choose to make a one time decision to believe in the Gospel Message in order to be saved, one must make daily choices to submit to the teaching and the leading of God the Holy Spirit if one is to identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
When one truly repents, he/she will both confess (1John 1:9) and forsake (John 8: 11) his/her known sin. In may take a lifetime of discipleship before one becomes aware of the extent of what God considers sin and evil, and that being guilty of any one sin (James 2: 10) places all of us in the same stinking, sinking, boat of sin.
John baptized his follower in water after they confessed their sin, and were directed towards the (Mark 6: 16) baptism by God that they would later receive at the moment of salvation (Matt. 3: 11).
"As for me (John the Baptist speaking), I baptize you with water for (in recognition of your) repentance, but He who is coming after Me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals (an act of a slave/servant in that day); He will baptize you with (by) the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3: 11 NASB).
John clearly made a distinction between the type of baptism that he was performing, and his (and our) need to receive the Mark 6: 16 type of baptism that takes place at the moment of salvation. It is interesting to note that there is no record of John the Baptist ever being baptized in water, yet it is clear that he believed in both the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In doing so, like every born again believer, he received the Mark 6:16 type of baptism and was/is saved.
See the Doctrine of Repentance for the role that repentance plays in the plan of God. See the Doctrine of Confession for the role that confession and the need to forsake (John 8: 11) one's post (after)salvation sin plays in the plan of God.
The Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by John in water after He (the Lord Jesus Christ) was publicly identified by John (John 1: 34, 36) as the Lamb of God. John, the son of Elizabeth was born before the incarnation (taking on bodily form) of the Lord Jesus Christ (). When John spoke (John 1: 30) of the Lord Jesus Christ as having existed before him (John), he (John) was making reference to the eternal nature and deity of the Son of God. It was at the First advent that the eternal God the Son, took on human form and the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
At His water baptism the Lord Jesus Christ identified Himself with the work of fulfilling all righteousness (Matt. 3: 15) that would reach its pinnacle while nailed to the cross. The descending of the Spirit of God in the form of a dove took place after (John 1: 16) being baptized in water by John, symbolizing the approval of God the Father (Matt. 3: 17) who announced, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. The water baptism of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ served the purpose of Him being publicly identified as the Lamb of God, whose sacrificial death would atone for the world's sin (1John 2: 2). The water baptism of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus also served the purpose of our Lord identifying Himself with the atoning work that He came to accomplish on the cross. The announcement made by God the Father (Matt. 3: 17) confirmed His approval of both the Person (as the Lamb of God) and the atoning Work that the Lord Jesus Christ would accomplish on the cross.
Many say they want to be baptized in water because Jesus was baptized in water. Sounds noble enough, but the water baptism that the Lord Jesus Christ received at the hands of John, and the water baptism that already born again believers may participate in serve two very different purposes. No one (other than the Lord Jesus Christ) could ever qualify and be identified as the Lamb of God. No one,other than that of the Lord Jesus Christ, could perform the Work that He identified Himself with for the atonement of sin. The water baptism that already born again believers receive identifies then with the Church. According to divine timing and the plan of God, the Church that God designed for the Church Age did not come into existence until after the Ascension (Acts 1: 11) of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Early believers were baptized in water by the apostles, church leaders, and in some cases, fellow believers. This type of baptism took place AFTER one had already been saved and had already received the Mark 6: 16 type of baptism that is the work and function of God and takes place at the moment of salvation. The purpose of this type of these water baptism provided the means through which the already born again believer identified themselves with the Church here on Earth. One's interaction with the Church is for the purpose of edification and corporate worship. Like water baptisms, edification and corporate worship are post (after) salvation activities.
The Acts 2: 41 water baptism that an already born again believer may receive at the hands of a clergyman or fellow believer is not the same thing and does not accomplish the same thing as the type of baptism that takes place at the moment of salvation.
Water baptisms that take place before one is born again serve no Biblical purpose and are among the many products and practices of Man-made religion. This position can generate ungodly fear when the death of an infant or child is at hand. As in the case of David's child that was taken by God before reaching the age/stage of moral accountability, Scripture (2 Sam. 12: 23) teach that such souls go to Heaven.
It is my interpretation of (2 Sam. 12: 23) that if and when such circumstances are beyond the control or the ability of the soul involved, God judges the soul on the basis of the information that he/she did receive, beginning with the concept of eternity that God places in every soul that He creates (Eccl. 3: 11). At the same time, as of the Church Age, once a soul has reached the age or stage of moral accountability and has been afforded the opportunity to be presented with the Gospel Message, his/her chosen response to listen or not to listen, and to believe or not to believe it, is what determines where he/she will spend all of eternity (John 3: 18). Case closed.
The (Acts 9: 18) baptism of Paul has raised some questions. If Paul, was saved and received the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism when he encountered the risen Lord while on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), then what type of baptism was in view that took place a few days later in Damascus, and for what purpose did the Acts 9: 18) baptism serve? With what or Whom Paul identifying himself? Let's take a look.
The most popular explanation is that Paul received the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism when he was born again on the road before arriving in Damascus. If this in the case, it is the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism, the Baptizer is God, identifying (sealing) Paul as a child of God.
Being temporarily blinded, Paul was taken to Damascus where he spent the next few days in prayer. Being a Pharisee of the Jewish faith, being found engaged in prayer would not be unusual, and does not in itself, confirm nor does it dispute that Paul had or had not been yet born again. Many religious souls recite prayers in and outside of the centers of worship, but does not, in itself, mean that they have been born again. Nicodemus, a Pharisee at the time, is the classic example of one who was a very religious individual, but needed to understand the necessity of being born again. (See John 3).
The Acts 9 account goes on to say that in the City of Damascus, there was a believer named Ananias who God sent to lay his (Ananias') hands on Paul. However, the stated purpose for this laying on of hands was for Paul to regain his natural sight (Act 9: 12). God was clearly performing a healing miracle through Ananias. This was not an unusual event, as many miraculous healing from God took place through such men as Peter and Paul. If the laying of hands by Ananias was for the purpose of healing Paul, was the baptism that Paul received the work of Ananias for the purpose of identifying Paul with the developing Church, or was it the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism that is the sealing Work of God at the moment of salvation? Scripture only informs us that Paul was then baptized, but does not specify by Whom/whom.
If it was God who was doing the baptizing, then it would be the Mark 16: 16/Eph. 4: 19 type of baptism that is in view. IF Paul was already born again and saved on the road to Damascus, then the baptizer was Ananias, then it would be the water baptism that believers may receive when they identify with the Church or a local assembly of the Church (Acts 2: 41). Only God and person involved (in this case Paul) knows for sure when it was that he/she first believed.
Paul's fellowship with the believers in Damascus, following his encounter with Ananias strongly supports the position that Paul was born again, saved, and baptized by God on the road to Damascus, and that he was baptized in water by Ananias identifying Paul with the developing Church here on Earth. Prior to his personal conversion, Paul believed that it was his spiritual calling and duty to destroy the Church. His "dark" past made the apostles in Jerusalem suspicious of Paul and feared that his true motivation was to infiltrate and destroy the Church. Paul would later clash with Peter and many of these apostles over spiritual issues and the course of action that the developing Church should take. At the end of day, it was Paul who God used to establish many of the earliest local assemblies of the Church and was the human author of inspired writings that would become New Testament Scripture.
There is one other type of baptism that Acts 9: 18 could be referencing. As you recall, when the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by John, the Lord Jesus Christ was publicly identified by John as being the Lamb of God, and identified Himself with the atoning work of righteousness that He would accomplish on the cross. It could be reasonable argued that the Acts 9: 18 baptism of Paul was when Paul was identified by Ananias as being the "chosen instrument (Acts 9: 15 NASB), " and identified himself with the work of bearing the Lord's name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel (Acts 9:14 NASB)."
Biblical baptisms are always about identification of the person baptized with something or Someone else.
The Mark 6: 16 type of baptism is the Work of God and takes place at the moment of salvation, whenever and wherever that is when the individual soul first believes in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Acts 2:41 water baptism takes place if/when an already born again believer chooses to identify him/self with the Church of God. The Acts 9: 40 type of baptism was clearly a part of the post salvation spiritual life , but the post salvation spiritual life is NOT for the purpose of either obtaining, nor is for the purpose of retaining salvation. The post salvation spiritual life is about how an already-saved born again believer brings glory to God here on Earth.
Paul encountered a group of disciples in ancient Ephesus who had been baptized (identified with) with what they referred to as "John's (the Baptist's) baptism, but had never even heard whether or not there is a Holy Spirit (Acts 19: 2). Paul clarified that the baptism of John was about repentance, and how, as John taught, that they were to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who was to come. The passage says that after this group heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The passage itself does NOT state who the baptizer was, only that the group was baptized.
Again, if it was the Mark 16: 16 baptism associated with salvation, the Baptizer was God with the group as individuals being sealed (Eph. 4: 20) and indwelt (1Cor. 3: 16) by God the Holy Spirit. If it was Paul doing the baptizing, it would be the (Acts 2: 41) water type of baptism that was in view, with this group now being identified with the Church.
When Paul laid his hands on this group of disciples, they experienced a filling of the Spirit resulting in this group speaking in tongues and prophesying (Acts 19: 6). The permanent indwelling (1Cor. 3: 16) of the Spirit takes place at the moment of salvation. The filling of Spirit takes place when a born again believer chooses to submit to the teaching and leadership of God the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Spirit manifests itself in different ways in the post salvation spiritual lives of believers. See the Doctrine of the Filling of the Spirit for more information.
I propose that in this case, God the Holy Spirit manifested Himself in the overt way He did (speaking in tongues/prophesying) to confirm for this particular group, through experience, the teaching they just received from Paul concerning the Person of God the Holy Spirit.
The baptism spoken of in the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20) is clearly speaking of the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism.
"Go therefore and make disciples (disciples = students and appliers of the Word of God) of all the nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (How is the Church to do this?) by teaching them to observe all (all = the Gospel Message/Bible Doctrine) that I commanded you...(Matt. 28: 19, 20 NASB italics mine)."
As the Church does its part in the salvation process by proclaiming the Gospel Message to unbelievers. God in response to a confession of faith, seals (marks for identification) the soul that chooses to believe it. This sealing (baptism) is not the same as one as the water baptism that born again believers participate in (after they are already born again) when they identify with the Church. This water baptism/identification with the Church is NOT to retain the salvation they have already received at the moment of salvation. This connection is for their corporate worship that includes their spiritual edification as they engage in the post salvation spiritual life.
1Cor. 10: 2-4 speaks of the ancient Jews being "baptized into Moses in the cloud and into the sea." This baptism spoke of the Jews of that time identifying themselves with the teaching and the leadership of Moses. Just as their identifying with Moses resulted in their practical "deliverance" through the Red Sea, identifying with the Gospel Message is the means through which Church Age believers will be "delivered" to their eternal home with God.
1Cor 10: 2, 3, 4 NASB tells us that, "... all of the Jews were baptized, and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Yet, 1Cor. 10: 5 goes on to inform us that, "Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased...(1Cor. 10: 5 NASB)."
When Church Age believers receive the Mark 6: 16 type of baptism at the moment of salvation, they are forever sealed and pleasing to God in their capacity of a born again believer. Other than to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message, a born again believer has done nothing to please God. This pleasing of God is based one's trust and confidence in what the Lord Jesus Christ did for them while on the cross.
There are born again believers who will participate in a Acts 2: 41 water baptism who will fail to identify, engage, in or stick with the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. Such "back-sliding" born again believers do not lose their salvation (Romans 8: 1), but will receive divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) here on Earth and forfeit their (1Cor. 3: 14) rewards and their (Rev. 2/Rev. 3) privileges that they could have and would have received and enjoyed for all of eternity. A back-sliding believer is a soul that has been born again, but fails to keep moving forward in the post salvation spiritual life. There is no neutrality in the spiritual realm. A soul has either been saved and baptized Mark 16: 16, or he/she has not. Once born again, one is either moving forward in the realm of discipleship with the long term goal of ambassadorship, or he/she is back-sliding.
Such believers, in the capacity of a disciple/ambassador , are not well-pleasing to God, and as a result, will not hear the words, "Well done...(Matt. 25: 21, 23)" when they stand and give an account (Rom. 14: 12) of what they did with their post salvation spiritual life. This (Rom. 14: 12) accounting has got NOTHING to do with ours sin(s) losing one's salvation, but has everything to do with the production or lack of production of divine good and the receiving or losing of reward and privileges in Heaven.
In Luke 12: 50, the Lord Jesus Christ referred to His work on the cross as a type of baptism that He was to undergo.
"But I have a baptism that I have to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished (Luke 12: 50 NASB)."
Here He was making reference to the atoning Work that He came to accomplish while on the cross. This reinforced the same identification that He made with the same work of righteousness that He spoke of when He was baptized in water at the beginning of His public ministry.
In Eph. 4: 5,Paul was making reference to the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism when he spoke of there being "one" baptism because there is the "one" that takes place at the moment of salvation. This baptism of and on the cross took place three years after the Lord Jesus Christ identified with this work when He was baptized by John with water.
The Mark 16: 16 type of baptism does not involve a human baptizer. It is the work of God and not Man. At the same time, when Paul spoke of there being only "one baptism" for salvation (Mark 16: 16), he was NOT implying that there were not and are not other forms of baptisms that serve/served other purposes.
We have noted several of these other forms of baptism and the purpose that each one serves. Those who may have participated in (or have been put through) a water baptism ceremony, but never received the Mark 6: 16 type of baptism. The Mark 16: 16 baptism takes place the moment one is born again. One is born again by making a conscious decision to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. Every born again believer is saved and automatically receives the Mark 16: 16 type of baptism. Once born again his/her name is written the Book of Life. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be tossed into what the Bible calls the lake of fire, where he/she will remain for all of eternity (Rev. 20: 15).
This concludes our study of the Doctrine of Baptism.