029 – Multiple Baptisms

There are many baptisms mentioned in the Bible.

As I present the Biblical Plan of Salvation to my Evangelical friends, one of the common protests they raise is the issue of “multiple baptisms” appearing in the scriptures. I might reference Acts 2:38 in order to explain what happens in water baptism and my evangelical friend quickly responds with something like this…

“Well, water baptism might not be what Peter is talking about there in Acts. You know, there are several types of baptisms mentioned in the scriptures. This is probably a spiritual baptism, not water baptism.”

To add to the confusion, there is another problem affecting this debate. By the time Paul got around to writing Ephesians 4:4, he tells us “there is only one baptism.” So, is Acts 2:38 spiritual baptism or is it water baptism?

A Multitude of Baptisms

As we begin, let’s talk about these “multitude of baptisms” we see in the scriptures; then, let’s see if we can’t narrow all of this down to the one baptism Paul talks about in Ephesians. I have been told there are as many as 11 different types of baptisms mentioned in the Bible. More commonly, I hear from 7 or 9. Here’s my list. I’m up to ten.

1 – Baptism of or with Fire (These would be trials or even death.)
2 – New Testament Water Baptism
3 – Baptism for Jewish Conversion (This is called a Mikvah.)
4 – John’s Baptism
5 – Jesus or His Disciples Baptizing People
6 – Holy Spirit Baptism into Christ
7 – Baptism of the Holy Spirit (This is different from number 6.)
8 – Baptism into Moses
9 – Ceremonial washings of the Old Testament
10 – Baptism for the Dead (That’s an interesting topic!)

There may be more. If you can think of any, please let me know.

Well, we are probably only concerned with a couple of these. We are only looking for baptisms which apply to the New Testament era and they must be associated with the conversion experience Jesus calls, “Born Again,” in John.

John 3:5
“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

This seems to narrow it down to either a spiritual baptism or water baptism.

We know that water baptism was commanded by Jesus in The Great Commission. That happens in…

Matthew 28:19-20
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

We know this Matthew 28 passage is about water baptism because the disciples are told it is something they were to perform on people who had decided to respond to the Gospel message. They were to baptize new disciples.

We are also familiar with spiritual baptism. Look at:

1 Corinthians 12:13
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” We can not get into the body of Christ unless the Spirit baptizes us into the one body!

So, there appear to be two different baptisms we acknowledge when we have this debate. One is a physical baptism and one is a spiritual baptism. This seems to me to be the two competing understandings of what Pauls’s one baptism might be. Water or Spirit. The other baptisms we see throughout the Bible don’t seem to have anything to do with connecting us to Christ or adding us to the church.

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028 – Baptism is an Outward Sign of an Inward Grace

Baptism is not an outward sign of an inward grace.

Well hello there. If you are just joining us, we are in the middle of a special series addressing the myriad of objections to water baptism. We began by way back in Podcast 012, “The Proponents,” where we discussed a bird’s eye view of the main issues. Next, we spent several Podcasts discussing nine scriptures commonly presented as proof texts by the anti-baptism side. Currently, we are going through the other common objections offered as arguments to prove baptism is not necessary for salvation. In this installment, we address that familiar phrase from the evangelical world,”Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace.”

Baptism is an Outward Sign of and Inward Grace.

They explain it like this: “Baptism is done to a believer to demonstrate that God has already performed His saving grace in the believer’s life. In baptism, the believer is merely responding to that grace which has already saved them.”

Since these believers think they are already saved, water baptism becomes a symbol, or a ritual to confirm publicly what has already transpired, the forgiveness of sin. Remember, the evangelical world teaches, baptism has nothing to do with salvation.

Since baptism is just an outward sign of an inward grace, it’s not critical and there is no urgency. Accordingly, it’s common for congregations to schedule special baptism services a couple of times a year, at which time, new converts are given the opportunity to obey this Biblical command. I think urgency is important and I’ll tell you why in a moment. In the meantime, let’s test the claim that baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace.

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027 – The Thief on the Cross

The Thief on the Cross did not go to Heaven.
Christ and the Good Thief – Titan – Circa 1566

What about the thief on the cross? This is probably my favorite of all objections. Let’s take a look at this fellow.

Luke 23:40-43
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

In this objection to water baptism for the remission of sins, people point to the Thief on the Cross and claim, “The thief on the cross was not baptized and he went to Heaven!

A Quick Side Study

When you see the answer to this objection, you will probably say, “Oh, yeah… I forgot about that.” There is a fairly obvious problem with this claim. But, before we get there, let’s have a little fun and get our minds whirling just a little bit. Then I will tell you why the using The Thief on the Cross is not a good example for rejecting baptism as integral to the salvation process.

Let’s take Jesus at his word, after all, Jesus always tells the truth. He told Thief on the Cross that whatever was going to happen, it would happen that very day. It would not happen sometime later. Jesus told the penitent criminal, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” How do we conclude from Jesus own testimony as to when this would occur? That very day. Do we believe Jesus? Of course.

Where did He tell the thief he would meet him? “Paradise.” Did Jesus say he would meet him in Heaven? No. He said He would meet him in “Paradise.” Well isn’t Paradise and Heaven the same place?

Listen to this, then you decide. Something interesting happens three days later, after Jesus resurrection when Mary, filled with joy, goes to embrace him.

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026 – Paul Minimizes Baptism

Paul does not minimize baptism.
The scales of faith.

There are two sides in the argument as to whether baptism is necessary for salvation. One side claims it is necessary, the other side claims it is not. The latter points to a passage in 1 Corinthians as a proof text for their position. They say, “Baptism can’t be important because Paul minimizes it”

Here’s their proof text.

1 Corinthians 1:13-17
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

The argument here is, “Paul minimizes baptism.” He says, “He was not sent to baptize,” so it must not be all that important.

Finally, here’s a scripture which actually mentions water baptism, but, this scripture is still not about baptism. Let’s go back and put this into context. What is this scripture about?

Getting the Context

When we are studying out a topic, it is vital to make sure we have the right context. This typically means we need to go back just a little further in the text to see what might have been happening right before the writer makes a claim. Listen carefully to the actual context of Paul’s statements and the content of his heart. He is talking about a serious problem in the Corinthian church. People were beginning to follow a leader such as Apollos or Paul. If you had been baptized by one of these famous figures, that somehow made you more spiritual or special than if you had been baptized by a friend or neighbor.

This is the context:

1 Corinthians 1:10-13
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas’”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.”

When we put this into context, it’s easy to see the real issue Paul addresses when he makes his comments about baptism. Paul’s concern is for the divisions this arrogant practice was causing. He states he is happy he personally did not baptize anyone else since it would give them a reason to be boastful or proud! He is not minimizing the importance of baptism. He is scolding the Corinthian church.

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025 – Baptism is Like Circumcision?

Baptism is not like circumcision!
Baptism is NOT like circumcision!

Another common claim the evangelical community makes in rejecting the requirement of obedience for salvation is the assertion that baptism is like circumcision, it is a work of human effort.

Three Passages to Evaluate

Let’s carefully examine three passages of scripture commonly used to demonstrate that circumcision and baptism are related and both are works. The general argument may be summed up like this: “Old Testament circumcision is a foreshadowing of New Testament baptism. It is a symbol of one’s obedience to God’s commands but it is only a symbol. Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised and so are we the instant we put our faith in Christ. Baptism, like circumcision is simply a sign and symbol of our salvation.”

Here’s the first support passage. It is in Galatians. In it, we learn that circumcision has no value for the Christian because it is a work and that faith is the only thing which is important.

Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Let’s put everything in context. In Galatians, we are talking about physical circumcisions as practiced under the Old Covenant. Jews were required to obey that command and it was performed on infant males the eighth day after birth. When we erroneously compare baptism to circumcision, we get a glimpse of how the church might have begun the practice of infant baptism. When one equates Old Testament requirements with New Testament requirements some strange things can happen.

Paul tells us circumcision is of no value, it is worthless. There is only thing which is important: “faith expressing itself through love.”

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024 – Cold as Eis

The Greek word "Eis" cannot mean "because of" in Acts 2:38.

Acts 2:36-41
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The Complete Plan of Salvation

When we survey this scripture, we see the complete plan of salvation played out in glorious detail. It’s all here! These people hear the word, they accept it, they are cut to the heart and decide to change or repent, they make Jesus Lord by obeying the message and are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Why doesn’t the modern evangelical world just preach the plan of salvation like Peter preached it? When someone comes to the point in their lives where they realize their need for the savior and they humbly ask us, “What must I do?” Why don’t we tell them, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?” Instead, we ask them to say a prayer, invite Jesus into their heart or accept Christ as their personal savior.

What’s wrong with using Peter’s prescription? It’s baffling that such a Biblically sound and simple instruction is rarely mentioned in churches today. This salvation instruction, uttered by Peter two thousand years ago, has never changed. It is a promise for all generations and it is so clear, a child can understand it. It would take a Greek scholar to get things confused. And here is exactly what a greek scholar will tell you. They say; and I’m loosely quoting here…

The Greek Scholar

“When Peter uses the word “for” as in “for the forgiveness of your sins,” that word is the Greek word ‘ies.’ This Greek word, ‘eis’ may also be translated ‘because of’, or ‘since.’ Therefore Acts 2:38 could read, ‘Repent and be baptized everyone of you since your sins have been forgiven or because your sins have been forgiven.’” End quote.

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023 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 9

Baptism is not a work of man.
Is baptism like circumcision?

Galatians 2:16 is the last scripture presented at the end of the article from GotQuestions.Org and contains the fifth and final error in reasoning the Anti-Baptism position makes. This error comes when we try to create an association between the Old Testament Law and Baptism, or between circumcision and baptism.

Here is the main scripture used to present this case.

Galatians 2:16
“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

When an anti-baptism proponent uses this passage, they point out, It is by faith in Jesus Christ we are justified. We are not justified by the law. Baptism is a work or a ritual just like the law.”

Two Different Covenants

This passage is discussing justification under two completely different dispensations, The Old Testament and The New Testament. Commands of the Old Covenant are not longer in effect. They were nailed to the cross. The New Covenant has a different way of doing things and let’s not pretend there are no commands in the New Testament. There are numerous commands established by Jesus and the Apostles.

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022 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 8

Baptism is an act of faith, not a work.
Righteousness is by faith.

Well, we are on our eighth podcast and it will be a very short one, examining the scriptures presented in that article at GotQuestions.org. it’s Philippians 3:9, let’s read it.

Philippians 3:9
…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

The evangelical argument presents this scripture and says, “See, righteousness is achieved through faith, not baptism.”

No argument here. Righteousness is achieved through faith in Christ. That’s what this scripture says. Don’t add baptism on to it. Don’t build the straw man beat him up. Don’t say this scripture is about baptism.

While this scripture has nothing to do with baptism, it does talk about the old Jewish Law. Using this particular passage as an argument against baptism, we must employ the fifth and rarely used error of comparing baptism to circumcision or to the law. We must claim that baptism is some sort of ritual or sacrament when the New Testament is devoid of all such rituals and brings an end to all ceremonies. The New Testament is about relationship.

The evangelical argument tries to link baptism to Old Testament works in order to countermand the requirement of obedience. The Bible makes no comparisons between baptism and circumcision or baptism and the law. But there is a reason why this common mistake is made. The mistake of comparing baptism to the law is also often made by Evangelicals as they use the next scripture, Galatians 2:16.

Let’s look at that next.


  Dana Haynes
Listen Now – Podcast 021 – Anti-Baptism Scriputres – Part 7

021 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 7

Baptism is an act of faith. Don't call it a work because it is a command and it can't be both.
We are saved by grace through faith when we obey.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This passage teaches us quite a bit about the salvation experience. It teaches us that salvation is by grace. Nobody deserves to be saved. It teaches us that salvation is through faith. It teaches us that salvation is not from ourselves which would be super boastful! It teaches us that God made us and He made us with a purpose; to do good works, which we surmise should happen after we are saved. And finally, it inspires us with the fact that God is intimately connected to us because He has actually prepared things for us to do!

Once again, a scripture which has nothing to do with baptism is introduced to convince us that since baptism is not mentioned, it must not be important. To make this scripture work as an anti-baptism proof text, we must employ the “all/only” error and buy into the notion that baptism is a work.

Special Use Case

But this scripture also holds a special purpose in evangelicalism. It is the well-spring of three extremely popular phrases created to reinforce their position of “faith alone.”

The first popular phrase is, “We are saved by faith alone.” We have all heard this. The second phrase is, “We are saved by grace through faith plus nothing.” And, the third phrase is similar, “We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”

I have heard some of the greatest Bible expositors and preachers in our modern era confidently make these claims. They are frequently brought to bear when the topic of baptism is being discussed. All of these statements sound really good.

What I am about to say might surprise you… but just consider carefully what you hear. If I am wrong, please show me where I am wrong.

When we hear someone say, “We are saved by faith alone,” we really should think about this because… they are actually misquoting scripture.

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020 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 6

If baptism is a work then so is confession.
Why is confession not a human work?

Romans 10:9-10
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Wow! There is quite a bit in this amazing scripture but baptism is not here.

This scripture identifies two of the steps in the Biblical Plan of Salvation, confession and belief. Confession happens with the mouth and belief occurs in the heart.

The thing we must believe is that Jesus rose from the dead. We would not be able to do this if we did not believe in Jesus and we would not believe in Jesus if we had not been told about him by an evangelistic disciple. This means we heard the message and we accepted the message.

There is a process.

When we accept the message, it means we are agreeing with what someone has taught us about Jesus… specifically that he died for our sins and was risen by God to life again. We are taught that if we want to be free from our sins and enjoy eternity in heaven, we should put our faith and trust in the work Jesus did, on our behalf, at the Cross. We are taught that he paid the price for our sin and there is nothing we can do to earn or merit the free gift of eternal life. This is the Gospel.

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