Updated: Feb 8, 2022
Water Baptism’s Purpose
Water baptism is NOT for salvation but because of salvation, a picture of salvation and the newly saved persons identity with the Jesus Christ in conversion. Baptism is not for the purpose of “the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet 3:21). Justification (to be declared righteous forever) is received by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ apart from good works (Eph 2:8-9; Mk 1:15) and religious rituals, including those ordained by God (Gal 2:16), such as believer’s baptism (Rom 6:1-7) and the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:24-25), and all who’ve been justified are eternally secure (Jn 5:24; 10:27-30).
All the apostles rejected baptismal regeneration. Paul the Apostle made it very clear that his ministry was not about baptism but about preaching the gospel (1 Cor. 1:14-17), “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (v. 17).
Menno Simons also rejected this damnable heresy: “We are not regenerated because of baptism, as may be perceived in the infants who have been baptized; but we are baptized because we are regenerated by faith in God's word, as regeneration is not the result of baptism, but baptism the result of regeneration. This cannot well be controverted by any man, by force of the Scriptures.” (Complete Works, 1871, p. 201, read also p. 215).
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boost.” (Eph 2:8-9). The only requirement for water baptism is salvation and true conversion comes only through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at one instantaneous moment in time, not gradually (Ac 8:36-37; 2:38-41; 2 Cor 6:2). We see this exemplified in the account of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Ac 8:36-39.
Those who believe or teach a false gospel, such as one which includes baptism as a requirement or component of salvation will be eternally damned (Gal 1:8-9), and all heretics and false brethren must be rejected (Ti 3:10; Gal 2:4-5; 1 Tim 6:3-5).
Water Baptism’s Meaning
Baptism identifies the believer with his Saviour Jesus Christ and depicts salvation—died and buried with Christ and raised to newness of life with Him (Rom 6:1-6; Col 2:12-13). It’s called a “figure” [symbol] in 1 Pet 3:21. It’s a picture and public testimony of spiritual realities and identification with Christ. One who is baptized is “planted together in the likeness of [Christ’s] death” and “shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom 6:5), so baptism pictures the gospel of Christ—the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior and the death of the believer’s old life (which is crucified and dead, Rom 6:5-11; Gal 2:20; 5:24) and his resurrection to new life in Christ.
Water Baptism’s Mode
There’s only one mode found in Gods Word and only one that accurately and truly portrays the gospel/salvation: immersion. Regardless of the twisting and stretching of Scripture, there is still just one mode. We can’t call a dog a horse.
Here are the reasons why we know baptism is only immersion:
1. The word baptism transliterated from baptizo means “to dip; to submerge; to immerse” (Strong’s; Webster’s 1828) and defined by Thayer as to “properly, to dip repeatedly, to immerge, submerge.” This is the word used when the rich man entreats Lazarus to “dip the tip of his finger in water” and used twice in Jn 12:36 by Christ, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop.” The inspired penmen have used no other word, beside this and its derivatives, to convey the idea of immersion; nor have they ever used this word in any other sense. Even the German word for baptism is enough evidence: “deipen” or “enducken” or “dunken” which literally mean “dipping into the water” and “dipping in the water.” (Plautdietsch Lexicon).
2. “Baptizo” is the Greek word for dipping/immersion whereas rantizo for sprinkle and cheo for pouring. The last two words are never used in Scripture in regards to the church ordinance. Immersion/dipping is the examples of all baptisms in the NT.
3. All water baptisms in the Bible required “much water” (Jn 3:23) and required the participant to go “into the water” (Ac 8:38) and “come up out of the water” (Ac 8:38-39; Matt 3:16). Neither pouring or sprinkling requires “much water” nor require going "into the water" or "out of the water.”
4. The Lord Jesus was baptized by immersion (Mk 1:9-11; Matt 3:13-17) and so was the Eunuch (Ac 8:35-36), and John the Baptist always baptized by immersion (Jn 3:23).
5. Immersion is the only mode that accurately and truly portrays the picture or “figure” (I Pet. 3:21) of the gospel and thus salvation (Rom 6:3-6; Col 2:12). Both pouring and sprinkling modes corrupt the proper symbolism of the ordinance.
It is essential to understand some baptismal texts do not refer to water baptism but to something else. E.g. baptism of Israelites “unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor 10:2); baptism Christ had to endure of suffering and death (Lk 12:50; Mk 10:38); “baptism of John … of repentance” (Mk 1:4; Ac 19:3-4); believers baptism by Holy Spirit “into Jesus Christ” (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27) & thus “into his death” (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) which occurs at conversion (Rom 6); baptism by fire (Matt 3:10-11) not a blessing for the saved but a warning of judgment for the unsaved, an eternal immersion into the lake of fire (Matt 3:11-12); and water baptism for saved believers (Ac 8:30-39).
What does “One Baptism” Mean?
What does God’s Word mean, “There is . . . one baptism” (Eph 4:4-5)?
Firstly, it doesn’t mean only one water baptism, like many Mennonites interpret it, so those who get immersed after being poured are allegedly eternally damned and must therefore be blotted out of the church book and then persecuted, exposing how unscriptural and dark their entire way of thinking is. That is actually a damnable works-gospel (2 Pet 2:1; Gal 1:8-9). As already clearly noted, neither pouring or sprinkling are water baptism, so those who have undergone such have never been Biblically baptized.
Secondly, the explanation is simple yet carries profound consequences: baptism of any kind occurs only once and is never repeated. In that sense then, there is only “one baptism.” Scripture knows only one baptism. All born again believers drink of one Spirit; they are all made partakers of one and the same Spirit. The seven baptisms mentioned above all occur only once, if applicable, in one persons life.
Thirdly, this passage in Ephesians is referring to true Biblical church unity (4:1-16), which is based upon truly saved people, who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit (it occurred at salvation) and then after followed with water baptism.