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Question #1:

Dr. Luginbill,

I thank God for all that he is accomplishing through you and your ministry. I was hoping that you could help clarify for me a few things including:

1. How does one tell when "water baptism" or "Spirit baptism" is literally being referenced throughout the book of acts when Acts ch. 2, 8, and ch.10 are the only chapters that indicate water?

The phrase "baptized in the name of Jesus" is expressed in Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:48, Acts 19:5.

1. How should one know when "water baptism" is being used vs. "spirit baptism" in these verses?

2. Where "water baptism" is used in conjunction with the use of the phrase "baptized in the name of Jesus" why would the Apostles or Phillip use this expression with a water baptism? One could only assume that perhaps the Apostles assumed that the Great Commission includes water baptism. Any Clarity you can provide will be graciously appreciated.

Peace and Grace to you,

Response #1:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for your kind words.

To answer your questions:

1) If there's no water, one should be particularly wary about assuming water is meant; Matthew 28:19-20 is the key example of that. We know that Paul did water-baptize during the second missionary journey (because of his regrets about that expressed at 1Cor.1:14-17); but this seems to be the last instance correlated to Acts. Acts 19:5 says eis to onoma, "INTO the Name", so this is speaking of Spirit baptism (the rest of the exegesis of the passage supports that as well).

2) This verbal formal where it is employed (Acts 2:38; 10:48; epi and en respectively) is meant to ensure that those receiving it and watching it understand that the Messiah John proclaimed was/is in fact Jesus. As to Acts 8:16, while there was no doubt a water baptism on this occasion, the actual verse you ask about has eis to onoma; so that particular verse is speaking of these individuals having been baptized by the Spirit into union with Christ without at the same time having received the Spirit through indwelling (i.e., baptism with the Spirit). These are the two aspects of the baptism of the Spirit, and in the earliest days of the Church Age they were differentiated in order to affirm the authority of the apostles, whereas later on, i.e., by the time Paul wrote Romans 8:9, everyone was receiving the Spirit upon faith in Christ without the need for apostolic mediation (see the prior link).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Thank you for your prompt response. I have a second question concerning the Ethiopian Eunuch and his baptism (Acts 8:27-39). Why was there such an eagerness to be baptized in water if it is already understood that the Eunuch had already believed and thus unified with Christ?

I ask because there has consistently been an emphasis placed upon this example of water baptism to affirm not only its normal practice (water baptism), per Acts 2:38, but also to justify that is/was the true command of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). I suppose the same emphasis can be placed upon Acts 10:48 w/ Cornelius and his Household.

My great concern is how did the practice of water baptism become so common or important among the Apostles and their disciples if they understood that it was truly insignificant?

Thank you in advance.

Best Regards,

Response #2:

It's my pleasure – happy to help.

When you write, "how did the practice of water baptism become so common or important among the Apostles and their disciples if they understood that it was truly insignificant", I would have to quibble with the assumptions here on several points:

As to "They understood" – eventually they did. The apostolic period is the period of transition between that Age of Israel, governed by the Law characterized by ritual, and the Age of the Church, governed by grace and characterized by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were not rewritten like an open book on the day of Pentecost. They were empowered by the Spirit and the Spirit led them step by step into the truth just as our Lord had told them He would (e.g., Jn.14:26). But they too had a learning curve to climb just as everyone else did who grew up under the Law (and just as we do today after coming to faith in Christ).

So many things are different now than they were under the Law. No temple. No priests. Gentiles equal partners with Jews. Spiritual gifts which were not given in the past. Grace replacing the Law which has now been fulfilled. Most Christians today are not in a position to appreciate what a huge set of changes this shift of dispensations wrought. Our Lord prepared the apostles for this as much as they were able to accept at the time, but their full understanding would require the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and many personal experiences.

After all, years after the fact, the Holy Spirit had to give Peter, the leader of the eleven, specific instructions and prior knowledge and a thrice repeated vision in order to get him to minister to gentile Cornelius and his family – even though our Lord had prophesied the sequence of the expansion of the Church Himself (Acts 1:8; cf. Matt.28:19-20). And when Peter does give these gentiles the gospel and when they do receive the Spirit, his allowance of their water-baptism after the fact comes as a concession and an afterthought (and something he doesn't even feel necessary to mention when he relates these events in Jerusalem in the next chapter).

Why then would Peter allow water-baptism in that instance? Possibly because he did not yet fully understand the problems with continuing with that ritual which he himself had conducted often enough in the past (cf. Jn.4:2). But the reason why the Spirit did not prevent it on that and other early occasions was more likely because there was some point and some marginal utility in not making gentiles feel as though they were second-class believers for not having participated in John's baptism as all their Jewish counterparts had – in THAT generation. Now that all who saw John personally have long passed, so has that consideration. Later, Peter, who did well understand that water is meaningless in regards to salvation (that is implied in Acts 10-11 and clear enough at Acts 2:38, rightly translated and understood), also shows that he has completely moved beyond water-baptism and completely to the baptism of the Holy Spirit – as at 1st Peter 3:21 (Spirit baptism is the "baptism which now saves", not water, as Peter directly states there).

Paul baptized with water as well for the same reason, namely, to demonstrate to Jewish listeners (who were among the first to receive the gospel in his early missionary journeying) the connection between the Messiah and His herald – for all had heard of John's baptizing ministry. This solidarity with John's ministry was thus part of the gospel appeal for that generation of Jews, but never part of the gospel per se: Jews were already supposed to be believers; undergoing John's baptism represented the acceptance of his message about the coming Messiah and their ritual cleansing to be ready for His message. It was never meant for the gentiles (only for those who were sojourning with Israel, proselyte who were thus technically a part of Israel at this time for these purposes).

The water-baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch falls into this same category. Philip doesn't say anything about water-baptism, but he no doubt did mention John as the herald of the Messiah (that is in Isaiah too, after all: Is.40:3-5), and would have made it clear that Jesus was the One John heralded as the Messiah. So naturally any Jew or proselyte of that time would want to embrace both.

As gentiles began to be the major source of new converts, however, water-baptism – by the apostles – receded and disappeared. Peter has already been mentioned, and Paul tells the Corinthians that he regretted doing it. We find absolutely no recommendation of water-baptism in the epistles (let alone any command), and in fact the water-baptisms at Corinth are the last mentions of this practice in Acts – well before the end of the apostolic era (cf. 49 A.D.). So I would say that the truth is exactly the opposite. Rather than "becoming common and important", it started out as something natural to do (I wouldn't say important; I don't find any evidence for that beyond what I've written above), and became less common as time passed and as the apostles' understanding of the ramifications of the change to the dispensation of the Spirit grew – and this happened far more quickly than a casual reading of the book of Acts might suggest: there are no more water-baptism after 49 A.D., approximately 20 years before the apostolic era comes to an end (with the penning of the book or Revelation in ca. 68 A.D., and the death of John, the last apostle, shortly thereafter).

Now if you mean growing "common or important" after the apostolic era in the church-visible (and here we are on very shaky ground with few sources for about the first four centuries), that is an easy one to answer. Why? Because of religion. When Christianity became a religion which embraced more unbelievers than believers (with a large number of the believers being not at all interested in the truth), then of course false rituals and false practices grew in number and significance, becoming "common and important" because they were needful supports for Jezebel's operations. That is the history of Roman Catholicism, which is a (pseudo) return to the Law (in false forms and without its spiritual power), based upon a complete rejection of grace. Water-baptism is, for a religion, the perfect works-ritual.

The next installment of the Bible Basics series, BB 6B Ecclesiology, will have a great deal about all this, but it is still several months away from posting (now posted at the link). The main point I would want to leave you with is that the book of Acts is probably one of if not the most misunderstood – and misapplied – books in the Bible (see the link). Its purpose is to demonstrate the progression of the transition from Israel's Age to the Age of the Church and in the process we see the apostles in the same process of transition which the rest of the Church had to undergo.

Pentecost happened in an instant; coming to understand and fully grasp its significance and the ramifications of a new Age governed by the power of the Holy Spirit and what it all meant for "faith and practice" in the Church took some time. After all, acceptance of the gentiles as equal partners wasn't instantaneous, and that piece of the puzzle is one of the main reasons for the shift of dispensations: to fill up the entire Body of Christ.

There are a lot of aspects to this issue. Water-baptism is just one of them. But it does serve as a pretty good litmus test regarding who is interested in the truth and who is just playing at religion and relying on tradition. So while it is from my point of view a great disappointment that more in our lukewarm era of Laodicea are not interested in the truth, that is part of prophecy too.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:


I happened upon your website as I was doing some research about Scriptural baptism. While I'm not sure I agree with everything you've presented, I do believe that you are definitely on to something. In my own studies, I've drawn similar conclusions on many of the issues you discuss on your website. The New Testament emphasis on the Spiritual Baptism over water baptism is overlooked by a huge number of Christians.

Initially, I began my study as a result of an encounter with some members of the Church of Christ, who insisted that the "One Baptism" of Ephesians 4:5 is water baptism, and one must be water baptized in order to be saved. I'm sure you are very familiar with their doctrines.

As someone who has never had a great understanding of baptism, this doctrine has been extremely disturbing to me. In the past I generally studied other issues, thinking of water baptism as the New Covenant counterpart to Old Covenant circumcision (i.e. a symbol, not something that saves). However, after encountering these Baptismal Regeneration advocates, I've been looking closer at the subject.

Ultimately, I've been unable to find any kind of satisfactory answer thus far. It's all been extremely distressing, and I can't seem to get it out of my mind. I simply cannot believe that the God of the Bible would require someone to be immersed in water before He would forgive their sins. To be honest, just the idea is terrifying to me.

I'm searching for the answer to this issue, but it's all very confusing and perplexing. My only goal is to find the truth, but the truth seems so hard to discern. I'm in complete turmoil inside, wondering if maybe I'm just avoiding the truth because I don't like it. I can't stop wondering if maybe I'm angering God. Maybe I'm not even saved because I didn't submit to water baptism "for the remission of sins".

It not only is illogical that water baptism is required for salvation, but it also seems to directly violate a TON of Scripture. Still, just the looming possiblity that it might be true scares me to death.

It's been driving me crazy....I even dream about baptism at night sometimes. It's really wearing me out mentally, and I feel like I'm frozen in fear inside. I apologize for the rambling, but I really don't know what to do at this point. I believe that every Bible question has an solid Biblical answer somewhere, and that those who seek will find, but I sure am having a hard time finding it.

On another subject, a person I know who also believes that the "One Baptism" of Scripture is Spiritual, not water published a rather odd "translation" of Acts 10:47-48. I do not know a whole lot about the Greek language, but based on what I do know, I'm very doubtful about it's accuracy. Essentially, he claims that Acts 10:47-48 was mistranslated by those who assumed the presence of water baptism. His "translation" supposedly is the original meaning of the verse. I've attached a screenshot of his translation and explanation.

One of my main concerns about his rendering is his modification of the word "commanded". Based on what I observe in an interlinear, his translation seems to alter the plain meaning of the text. However, I could be wrong. I'm no Greek expert. I'd be interested to hear your opinion on it.

Once again, I apologize for the long email. I would truly appreciate any advice or input you might have.

Thank you,

Response #3:

Good to make your acquaintance. When you say you are "someone who has never had a great understanding of baptism", let me assure you that you share this deficiency with 99+% of the church-visible of Laodicea. Water-baptism was John's baptism of repentance meant for the people of Israel to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah; it was never meant for unbelievers or new believers – all of Israel was "supposed" to be following the Lord, so those of His generation only needed to repent to be ready for Him.

I have written reams about this (don't know what you bumped into on the site), and so will give you some links below. Let me just say here that the nub of the problem of water-baptism in the church-visible is essentially two-headed: 1) reliance on tradition ('water-baptism is good/necessary because we've always done it that way"), and 2) misunderstanding the book of Acts.

In terms of the first problem, whenever a group of believers institutionalizes themselves into a denomination, all search for the truth (such as you are engaging in) generally stops. At that point, things other than the truth become the glue that holds the "church" together, and ritualized practices are high on that list. Water-baptism is ideal in this regard for groups who use it because a) it is little understood; b) is a "work" which may easily be invested with magical properties; and c) because of its nature, it is a perfect sort of thing to make those who haven't done it feel guilty and afraid, and those who have done it feel self-righteous and legalistically attached to their group as a result.

In terms of the second problem, the book of Acts is not a doctrinal book but a historical book. It explains what happened, not what should be done today. There are no apostles today; there is no gift of tongues today; there is no "all things in common" today; and no one should cast lots to decide on church leadership – just a few examples. Acts chronicles the critical period of the transition between the Age of Israel and the Age of the Church. This shift from Law to Grace, from the Jewish-Jerusalem-temple focused dispensation of God's truth to the gentile churches around the world operating under the power of the Spirit and without a ritual focal point, was a massive one, especially for those who'd grown up under the Law. Moreover, our Lord had told the apostles that they would be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This is as much a cultural progression as it is a geographical one: from core Judaism, to outlying Judaism, proselytes / partially Judaic (represented by the Samaritans), and only then to the gentiles at large worldwide. So taking examples of what may have actually happened in the early days of the transition as standard practice is an obvious mistake. A big one. One wonders why so many have and continue to make it. That has something to do with the evil one, no doubt.

In terms of your screen shot, its not entirely clear what the author is saying, but I can assure you that the way these verses are translated in all the major versions is correct. Peter does allow water-baptism on this occasion. But he is (obviously) still in the process of learning himself as well. After all, just prior to this he had to be prodded by the Spirit with a three-fold vision, a direct verbal command, the verification by third parties that the Spirit had contacted them about him personally, and then also had to see with his own eyes the Spirit descend on some gentiles without apostolic mediation (the laying on of hands), to accept that the gentiles were being included in the Church. And even so he was not completely over the learning curve at this point (cf. Gal.2:11-14). So this is a unique event that happens in the book of Acts, gentiles, who are seen by this Jewish apostle as being included by the Lord when he and others would have excluded them, absent dramatic divine intervention, at that time being "allowed" the water so as not to be second-class in the Church: nearly everyone else alive at that point had experienced John's baptism, so these gentiles are allowed it too.

There will be much more on the above when BB 6B: Ecclesiology finally comes out (now posted at the link). Until then, here are those links:

The transitional nature of the book of Acts

Baptism: Water and Spirit IX

Baptism: Water and Spirit VIII

Baptism: Water and Spirit VII

John's Water-Baptism versus the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Water baptism not needed for salvation.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #4:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your detailed response and comments, I sincerely appreciate it. I have read several of the articles you sent, and I will continue to go through the others. I've been taking my time on each one, reading through them multiple times and taking notes. The more I study, I'm beginning to see things fall into place. It's a huge paradigm shift, and some parts take quite some time to get my mind around. However, I feel as though I'm on the right track. What you present in your articles not only seems like a very logical explanation of baptism, but also (and most importantly) a Scripturally sound one.

Regarding the Acts 10:47-48 "translation", the main contention of the author is that supposedly whenever a physical ritual baptism is referred to in Scripture, baptizo is in the active voice, and when it is spiritual it is passive. However, this idea seems not only to ignore grammatical nuances, but also requires texts like Acts 10:47-48 to be manipulated to fit that concept. I didn't really feel right about the whole notion when I first heard of it, but I wanted to double check with someone who understands Greek better than myself.

Again, thank you for your response and for the additional resources.

God bless,

Response #4:

You're most welcome.

The verb baptizo in Acts 10:47-48 is actually in the passive voice in both places. The preposition used is also key in this question: en means "in" (verbal formula used in water-baptism), whereas eis means "into" (Spirit baptism "into" the Person of Christ); in this passage we have en. So there is water in Acts 10:47-48, but that is to be explained by the transitional nature of this period. The apostles were not open books rewritten by the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They were empowered, but they had to learn and believe the truth just as we all do. And that takes time.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

We talked not too long ago about the subject of water baptism. Since then, I've continued to carefully study the issue. I'd like to thank you again for the many resources on your site concerning the topic. They have been (and continue to be) very helpful and encouraging.

Just the other day, I was reading an article written by an individual who claimed that the baptism of the Spirit is received through water baptism. In other words, he says that the One Baptism spoken of in Ephesians is a physical water ritual that activates the simultaneous spiritual baptism into Christ's body by the Holy Spirit. The basis of his argument was John 3:5 (water baptism + Spirit baptism). Needless to say, his is a stereotypical "water baptism for salvation" argument, and one that is obviously not supported by Scripture.

However, his article got me thinking. Both John the Baptist and Jesus himself contrasted baptizing "with water" versus "with the Holy Spirit". The Church of Christ (and other Baptismal Regeneration advocates) try to make both sides of the contrast equal, water baptism compared to yet another water baptism. I simply cannot see how this position makes any kind of sense. Not only does it read into the text based on a presupposition of what "true baptism" is, but it ignores the obvious implication that there is not even a drop of water involved in the baptism of the Spirit. They do the exact same thing with texts such as 1 Corinthians 12:13, etc. They seem to have "water on the brain" and read it into everything, even when it is quite clearly not present.

Since the only baptism that introduces one into Christ is the Baptism of the Spirit (there is only one way to salvation, after all), all references to any kind of "saving" baptism in the Scriptures absolutely must be Spiritual. Otherwise we would have more than the "one" baptism of the church (Ephesians 4:5). It all seems so very obvious that it makes me wonder how I never saw this before. Tradition is a strong thing, I suppose.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if the Baptism of the Spirit does not include any kind of physical water (undeniably true), then it is impossible for water baptism to save. I know you are most familiar with all of this, but it's just exiting to finally be able to see how neatly all of this fits together. There are most certainly some difficult texts to understand on the subject, but with the framework defined, I believe that they *can* be understood.

Ultimately, I suppose I'm just trying to find confirmation that I'm on the right track with all of this and that my interpretation and logic is not flawed.

Thank you and God bless,

Response #5:

Well reasoned, my friend!

Couldn't have done it better myself. I'll post this next time I do something on baptism.

You're good to go now on this subject, and ready to branch out to other areas of truth, I'm thinking. It's all important – and your most welcome at Ichthys.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I hope you are doing well and enjoying this labor day weekend. I know it hasn't been long since we spoke about baptism, but I've since thought of another question about the issue.

I just began my first semester in college last week. Unfortunately for me, the college I attend is managed by a Church of Christ organization, so you can probably imagine what kind of doctrinal ideas are spread around on campus. I'm definitely not here for the theology, just the academics. However, constantly being around those who hold such an extreme view on baptism (water baptism required for salvation), gets pretty rough after a while. Even though I am convinced they are incorrect, seeing such a large group of individuals maintain the same view makes me wonder if perhaps I could be in the wrong on the issue. I know it's a foolish thing to think (and certainly not logical), but I guess it's just part of my intrinsic human "herd mentality".

That said, I'm still continuing to study the subject so I can be fully confident in the truth. I know the answers are in Scripture, and can be found as long as one is willing to search for them. I can't imagine God leaving man inadequate or vague instructions, especially on such an issue that could potentially be so detrimental to true faith.

In observing members of the Church of Christ, I've found that one of the key aspects of their view lies in literally ignoring the oft-repeated statement in Matthew 3:11. Generally, they either make the claim that "Spirit baptism" was only for a select few in a few rare instances (completely false), or that John really meant that Spirit baptism would be an "add on" to the continuation of water baptism. In my opinion, neither of these views can be supported by the Scriptures. Plus, they both require some serious interpretive gymnastics to hop around the plain statement of both John and Christ Himself. It's clear that John was speaking of water *versus* the Spirit, not water *plus* the Spirit.

They do the same thing with Ephesians 4:5, claiming that while there is only "one baptism" (water in their view), the baptism of the Spirit is the result of water baptism. The big problem with that is 1 + 1 = 2, which is one baptism too many, according to Paul.

With all of this said, that brings me to my main question:


1). In Titus 3:5-6, we are told that God saved us by the "washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit". To me, this passage is one of the strongest arguments for Spirit baptism only in the church. However, the opponents to this view claim that the "washing of regeneration" is separate from the "renewal of the Holy Spirit". In other words, we are saved by water baptism *and* the renewal of the Holy Spirit (Cue John 3:5).

Is there any kind of grammatical indication in the Greek text that supports the phrase "washing of regeneration" being joined to the "renewal of the Holy Spirit"? Essentially, is there anything textually that would counter the idea that Paul is referring to both water baptism (the washing) and the Spirit's baptism (renewal)?

Obviously, Paul is speaking of the baptism of the Spirit in this text ("whom He poured out upon us through Jesus Christ"). This is Christ's promised baptism administered through the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11). If everything in this passage is referring to the Spirit's work, this is hands-down, 100% proof that water baptism accomplishes nothing in regards to salvation, which is probably why some are so insistent to split the passage up.


Over the last year or so, I've really thought about learning Biblical Greek so I can study "straight from the source", versus reading an English translation. Currently I have a small understanding of some of the basics of the language, but not enough to do much with it practically. The college I attend does offer both Biblical Hebrew and Greek courses, so I'm considering the possibility of enrolling in those in the future.

Your friend and brother in the Truth,

Response #6:

This is rather a scary group in my experience (it has a lot of "flavors", but they are all odd); is your college/group amillennial too?

As to your question on Titus, "of the Holy Spirit" clearly (in my view) governs everything that precedes. That is made clear in verse six where the Spirit is said to be "poured out" – so the washing / liquid metaphor continues from front to back. Also, there is nothing else in context to explain what "washing of regeneration" might mean here except to understand that it has to do with the Holy Spirit. In other words, one would have to import another meaning – and have grounds for doing so; but this phrase occurs nowhere else in scripture, while elsewhere where we do find "regeneration" or new / above birth it always has to do with faith and the Spirit but not water-baptism (of course). Jesus doesn't say anything to Nicodemus about water-baptism.

So this is very clear to me and the Greek does help to make it clear – for those who know Greek and pay attention to the nuances.

As to learning Greek, does your college offer regular ancient Greek? If so, that is much to be preferred for two reasons: 1) NT Greek is ancient Greek (the "Koine" distinction is greatly overdone), so that by learning Greek rather than "NT Greek" you are actually learning things in a context rather than with a dangerously small sample of the language; 2) NT Greek instruction is never very good and always designed to focus on the theology of the group teaching it rather than on the nuts and bolts of the language. But if that's all you can get, it's better than nothing.

Finally, as I advised you before, while this is an important issue, it's not really even in the "top ten" when it comes to learning what you need to learn for spiritual growth. So again I would advise of adopting a plan of reading through the studies at Ichthys. I know that if you do so this will pay dividends for this issue that greatly concerns you . . . . and for all other things too.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Okay I’m reading I just wondered why did Paul rebaptise several almost like they didn’t do it right in the first place?

Response #7:

If you're referring to Acts 19:1-7, this is Paul mediating the Holy Spirit to these believers who had believed before the gift of the Spirit became universal at faith in Christ (a short transitional time meant to establish the authority of the apostles); this then is similar to what we find at Acts 8:14-17 where believers had not yet received the indwelling of the Spirit (later, all have it through simple faith in Christ; e.g., Rom.8:9). So this is Spirit baptism, not water-baptism.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello Bob,

I just heard from a member of the bible group who said that the lockdown prevented him from
being baptised and so I said the following:

If you believe now that Jesus is the son of God (and is God as part of the trinity) that He came to earth in the flesh, died for your sins, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.. If you believe all these things then you have already been baptised! You have already had the one baptism that matters and that is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which all believers receive at the point of faith!

Water baptism or John's Baptism was a sign representing something greater to come. Just as communion at the last supper was a sign of partaking in Christ's body and blood through salvation by grace through faith. (Now we have communion as remembrance of what Jesus has done for us).

When I got a believer's baptism I thought it was necessary but I now realise that water baptism is after all just water and at best is just a symbol of what happens through the Holy Spirit. Remember that John was baptising people BEFORE Jesus' death and resurrection and ascension and that AFTER the apostles were baptised by the Holy Spirit (most famously at Pentecost)

It doesn't hurt to be baptised by water but at best it is just a symbol of something that you have already experienced. What you have already experienced is BETTER than water baptism. When people were baptised by John they looked forward to the Holy Spirit. Remember that the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus after water baptism and God the father was there too. A symbol of the trinity combined together.

Jesus did not need baptism as he had no sins to wash away but it was a sign of obedience to God and to identify himself with sinful mankind that is why He said "suffer it to be done". John knew He was too great to be baptised and said that Jesus should baptise John.

Remember the laver at the Mosaic temple? The ritual washing of hands and feet was a symbol. No one can wash sin away with water, again they were looking forward to a day when people can be washed clean for all time through Jesus' atonement. They are all "types and shadows". The old covenant gave way to the new, "the better" covenant.

It took me a long time to understand this.. I was already baptised before I had a water baptism at the Nazarene church. It is a shame that most churches and congregations insist on water baptism still today but at best it is just a symbol of the spirit baptism we receive at faith. It is always about the spirit. I have learned that things of the flesh (water baptism) have given way to things of the spirit (Holy Spirit baptism). It is just as whenever Jesus speaks for example of "seeds planted in the ground" He isn't talking about real seeds (things of the flesh) but seeds of the truth. It is a physical symbol of a spiritual reality.

Ephesians 4:5 says there is only one baptism. Mature Christians would not say that this one baptism was one of water, they will acknowledge that it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that this is referring to.

Why else would Paul say..

1 Cor 1:17
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Later on Paul realised this spiritual truth but it took him a bit of time to understand these things. When I was first told that I had already been baptised before my water baptism, it confused me but now I understand.

Like I said you can still have a water baptism but at best it is just a mere outwards sign and symbol of something that you have already experienced by the Holy Spirit. There is a danger however if you trust in the water baptism more than Jesus and the Holy Spirit. No outward ritual can replace the work of God.

Like I said before though that it took me a long time to realise this and when I was first told all this after my water baptism, I felt upset so I hope this doesn't upset you.

Feel safe to know that you have already had the baptism that counts.

More on this here..https://ichthys.com/mail-water baptism.htm

I am just running this by you Bob to check that I have explained this correctly?

Many thanks.

Hope you are well.

In Jesus and the one baptism,

Response #8:

This is a very well reasoned and complete letter – and I don't disagree with any of the analysis or the points.

I can't speak to the advisability of sending it because I don't know the person in question. We always have to listen to the Spirit in deciding what to share and with whom and how much. I will say a prayer that for this individual to be receptive to the truth you've written here. If there is willingness, this would be very helpful.

You're video is working now – good job!

Keeping you and your family in my daily prayers.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Thanks Bob,

I'll admit that I didn't consider the response and it may go down like a lead balloon but I did feel lead to comment.. Although I did a sort of awkward backpedal after what I sent you to basically say "it's up to you and won't do any harm" but then I realised that maybe it can do harm depending on how you see it, what importance you put on it etc..

I agree with what you wrote in another post that once you "get it done" then you move on from that point and later (when you study more and deeply) you realise that it wasn't necessary.

I think of my sprinkling baptism as a child and later confirmation. I wasn't a believer by any stretch of the imagination then so that water baptism at birth and later confirmation were both empty rituals (I still didn't understand what was going on when I was being confirmed!)

It was the nonsensical and hollow rituals of Catholicism that partly pushed me away from the idea of God all together. I assumed that Catholicism was God's religion and that a rejection of Catholicism was a rejection of God. It didn't help to see people go to Mass every week and behave badly once they had stepped back out on the pavement again. I found the worldliness of Catholicism alongside the superstition and the mysticism very baffling. It was like playing the mystic once a week and then being indistinguishable from the world for the rest of the time.

Going back to baptism. One of the last times I went to my local Catholic Church (the one I grew up in) was my cousin's baby's baptism. Something that alarmed me: the priest said he was about to do an "invocation" over the water. Invocation is a word used in witchcraft and it is basically a "summoning spell". So Catholic priests talk like wizards. He claimed to draw the Holy Spirit down into the baptismal waters. So I now know that it is a ritual very similar to transubstantiation when the priest claims to draw Jesus down and put Him inside a wafer which is then eaten!

What is especially odd about this and very spiritually dangerous is that it puts the "power" in the priest's hands rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also an external act done to a person whether they have faith or not and so it isn't about the faith of the person baptised but it becomes almost about the faith of the person doing the baptism, as though they can impart something to you by magical means.

When I found out (before I became a believer) that the priest who baptised me as a baby, then went wild and left the priesthood under a local scandal, I even worried that it meant that my baptism may not carry anymore!

Even when I had my believer's baptism a few years ago now, I remember being hopeful that I would get the pastor (there were three there) who was more experienced and devout because that would make for a better and more satisfactory experience. I even had a very sinful thought right after this water baptism (still not sure if this was a satanic attack) and this made me doubt whether the baptism I had mere seconds before was legitimate. I was expecting a great flash of light and a holy feeling but this didn't happen. Instead I got very wet and had a disturbing intrusive thought that I had to battle to do away with.

A person can really be paralysed with fear over this. It brought out a huge neurosis in me rather than a feeling of peace!

Water baptism seems to be about church membership more than anything else. It's true that people have yet to provide concrete biblical evidence for it other than saying "it's a sign of obedience" or "Jesus did it" or "we've always done it and most people have done it so it must be right".

I realise the view that it is no longer necessary is not a commonly held one. It seems as though water baptisms are either empty rituals for non-believers or something that a huge amount of importance is put upon that takes people in the wrong direction (i.e. backwards). I can see why you relate it to going backwards to animal sacrifices. The baptism of the Holy Spirit has made perfect what was before only a mere shadow that looked forward to this wonderful spiritual reality we now have within us.

I was looking at John Piper's defence of it and he used those verses of 1 Peter 3:20-21 as justification of water baptism. He ends his article with

"Here’s my bottom-line answer to the question: faith precedes baptism. That’s why I’m a Baptist. Faith precedes baptism and is operative in baptism. So we are justified at the very first act of genuine saving faith in Christ, and then baptism follows, and preferably would follow soon, as an outward expression of that inward reality."

Baptism doesn't "follow soon" after saving faith but surely it immediately accompanies it. It's not about waiting around for your appointment to be confirmed at the local baptist church and that there is a nerve wracking waiting experience before you can get into the water "to be saved".

It's sad because I have had that anxiety. I have thought "I believe so now I have to have a proper believer's baptism". I felt as though I was holding my breath until I had one!

Don't you think that this kind of thinking threatens faith? True faith based on the truth? It immediately become a works gospel then again, right from the get go. It would be very easy for the church a person is baptised in to say "great you have ticked that box. Now here is a list of some other church things you have to do."

It can easily become oppressive and indeed for a time it became that way for me. The thing is that most Protestants perpetuate this pressure and you are in a very, very small minority.

I know that you probably don't want to go on the record books as "The pastor teacher who is against water baptism". The whole thing has become so messy though hasn't it.

When I sent that message to the person in the bible group, it's not surprising that I back pedalled a bit for fear of seeming too extreme and outlandish but at the same time it is very important to know what the bible clearly teaches about everything. I see now how water baptism has become such a headache.

To summarise-

It seems to lead into three directions
1) an empty ritual for a non-believer
2) a ritual that imports too much emphasis in the wrong place and direction as well as a membership to a particular denomination who may teach further false doctrine based around "works"
3) a ritual made by a new and genuine believer in error through pressure and guilt by most of the church visible. The act is then moved away from once the believer reads for themselves and starts to mature and trusts in the one baptism they had at faith.

I am hoping that it will be the latter direction that my brother in Christ will now take.

In Jesus,

Response #9:

If you can actually make sense of what Piper is saying in this quote, "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" He's totally wrong about the 1st Peter 3:20ff. quote which has nothing to do with water and everything to do with the Spirit (see the link; never had anything reported to me from Piper that was correct, by the way).

I think you've done a creditable job laying out the problems – and they are numerous. It is, as you say, quite a "mess". I also have to say that any believer who is growing in grace and turning away from legalism will naturally feel revulsion at even seeing one those dunking ceremonies – the same sort of feeling I get whenever I have to go into an RC church (for whatever reason) and see all those idols.

Anything that puts works over grace is detrimental to faith, so I'll never have anything more to do with it myself. As to "I know that you probably don't want to go on the record books as "The pastor teacher who is against water baptism" ", all I can say is that I'm afraid those eggs have already been scrambled into a fine omelet. Here are some of the more recent links:

Baptism: Water and Spirit IX

Baptism: Water and Spirit VIII

Baptism: Water and Spirit VII

Baptism: Water and Spirit VI

Baptism: Water and Spirit V

I appreciate you following in the Lord's footsteps of GRACE, my friend! The path may be difficult at times – but it definitely is leading UPWARD.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

I was reading on a forum where a person was criticizing your views on water baptism. I post the link below where you can read the full discussion but don't feel obligated to read it.


Here is a large section of what he said in his initial response. .

a) We will all agree that there is a continuity between the OT and the NT and that there is discontinuity between the OT and the NT. Of course, the disagreements come when trying to specify what is continuous and what is discontinuous. grin The historic Reformed denominations and churches all agree and insist that the Bible is a covenantal book, a record and unveiling of God’s covenant dealings with man. And, the historic Reformed and confessional churches all agree upon the continuity and oneness of the ‘Covenant of Grace’.

b) The administration of this one Covenant of Grace differs between the OT and the NT, most clearly because the OT administration was typological and thus pointed to the future and fuller fulfillment of that which it expressed in its types and shadows; i.e., the coming of the Messiah and the final establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth; the New Earth.

c) This Covenant of Grace was first established with Adam and more fully established and explained with Abraham, unfolded in the Mosaic and Davidic covenants, attains its highest fruition in the new covenant. The new covenant is the administration of grace that brings to fulfillment the promise given to Abraham: ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’ (Gen 22:18). It is the blessing of Abraham that comes upon the Gentiles through Christ (Gal 3:14). Abraham is the father of all believers, and they are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise (Rom 4:16-18; Gal 3:7-9). The promises fulfilled in Christ were given to Abraham with covenantal confirmation. So it is proper and necessary to say that the new covenant is the fulfillment and unfolding of the Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gal 3:15-17). The same unity and continuity are intimated when the covenant people of God are likened to one olive tree with several branches, all of which grow from one root and stock, and form one organism (Rom 11:16-24).

The covenant made with Abraham was signified and sealed by circumcision administered by divine command (Gen 17:9-14). That circumcision is the sign of the covenant in its deepest spiritual significance is demonstrated by the fact that it is called the covenant (Gen 17:10; cf. Acts 7:8). And therefore identified as taken (cf. Gen 17:11) with the covenant in the highest reaches of its meaning (cf. Gen 17:7; Ex 19:5,6; Deut 7:6; 14:2; 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 4:11; Col 2:11,12).

The new covenant sign has been changed from circumcision to baptism (Col 2:10-12) to reflect the fulfillment of all that the OT administration of the covenant pointed to and promised. Water baptism is thus indispensible as some of the Puritans referred to the sacraments, as ‘visible sermons’. Baptism’s significance and fullness of meaning cannot be dispensed with for it is the sign of the Covenant of Grace which is to last until the end of the age (cp. Matt 28:20).

d) God not only brings men and women into union with Christ as the embodiment of covenant grace at the zenith of its realization, He not only gives exceeding great and precious promises that are yea and amen in Christ, but He seals this union and confirms these promises by an ordinance that portrays to our senses the certainty of His grace. Depreciation of baptism insults the wisdom and grace of God and, more particularly, His faithfulness. He confirms to us the bond of union with Himself by adding the seal of baptism, to the end that we may be more firmly established in the faith of His covenant of grace.

e) The person who refuses baptism and declines the reproach of Christ, which it entails, cannot be received as a member of Christ’s body. And the organization which discards baptism and thereby evinces its rejection of the authority and Lordship of Christ cannot be accounted a branch of the true Christian Church.

How would you address what this person wrote point by point? The reason I ask is for the strengthening of my own faith and to increase my ability to defend the truth. The fact that this person is suggesting that water baptism is a "must" is unbiblical. You know that of course I agree with your stance on this.

Your brother in Christ

Response #10:

Good to hear from you. As to your comments:

a) Jesus said, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt.26:28): so the blood of Christ, His death wherein He paid for our sins, is the "new covenant"; as such it fulfills the old one (Rom.10:4). So there is no "discontinuity" but rather fulfillment and replacement. Going back to the old is thus a grave affront to the new (that is what the book of Hebrews is mostly about). The RC church is all about re-adopting the old and recasting it – and thus necessarily abandoning grace (cf. Gal.5:4); old line denominations, hyper-Calvinistic ones in particular, do the same things, only to a lesser extent. They have been around a long time but have learned nothing since the passing of their founders. Indeed, they have only made things worse by putting false doctrine on a pedestal, considering it equal to the Bible, and arguing "theology" on the basis of their creeds rather than on the basis of what scripture actually says. So they can use the word "grace" but for them it is some sort of magic pixie-dust; they fail to understand that it is God's favor based upon the blood of Christ. If they understood that, they might be moved to give up their legalistic anti-grace rituals and etc.

b) This is a perfect example of the problems with this approach. If correspondent means that people were saved in the Old Testament the same way as in the New Testament by trusting in God's Substitute – promised then but revealed now – that would be true. But this language is nearly impenetrable. What non-specialist believer could hear this and benefit from it? It reminds me of Matthew 23:13: "For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in" (NKJV).

c) Having said in a) that there is discontinuity and in b) that there is continuity, we now find out in c) that there is progressive "incontinuity" where the relationship is impossible to understand even in terms of the descriptions of covenant theologies nor are the putative differences between these "options" discernible, practically speaking. But the statement that "the new covenant sign has been changed from circumcision to baptism" is demonstrably false. Correspondent quotes Colossians 2:10-12, but that passage is unarguably speaking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: the "circumcision" in that passage is "without hands", that is, it is spiritual, but correspondent wants it to be physical so that the baptism may also be a mere ritual (water rather than Spirit – but that is clearly at odds with a simple reading of the passage). Clearly, only the Holy Spirit can enter us into union with Jesus Christ – and that is what the passage is addressing. Just as the Judaizers intimated in the context wanted the Colossians to go back to the Law and literal circumcision (something Paul had to fight against his whole life), so these people want believers to go back to a water ritual which was meant for Israel alone as a sign that the Law was coming to an end with the arrival of the Messiah:

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Matthew 3:11 NKJV

Clear enough: Christ's baptism is of the Holy Spirit. Correspondents then appeals to the Puritans (?!) and also Matthew 28:20, but that passage too is speaking of Spirit baptism (as only the Spirit could place someone INTO Christ and the Trinity – and that is what the Greek says [link]).

d) "He seals this union and confirms these promises by an ordinance that portrays to our senses the certainty of His grace": It would be hard to concoct a more legalistic statement. This is an assertion which is not supported by any scripture, moreover. Using this logic, why not demand physical circumcision as well? That is also physical and sensorially perceptible – but the baptism of the Spirit is NOT perceivable by physical means. And that is a large part of the point. Also, whenever I have seen or heard of a water-baptism, I've always seen human beings conducting it. I've never seen an epiphany of God involved. Is correspondent saying that those who conduct the water ritual are God? Or do they have special God-like powers? Never read that in the Bible. Please explain!

e) "the reproach of Christ": this exact phrase occurs only at Hebrews 11:26 (cf. Heb.13:12-13 below) and is referring to Moses preferring to follow Jesus rather than the easy way of staying in Egypt and having a nice life; the parallel here it seems to me would be those Christians who follow truth "outside of the gate" and who are thus willing to be reproached – as correspondent is reproaching us – for refusing to do things the "safe old way" when it is clearly wrong from a biblical point of view.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Hebrews 13:12-13 NKJV

The context here is Paul encouraging Jewish believers in Jerusalem to stop compromising and to STOP engaging in ritual which has now been fulfilled. But correspondent is doing exactly the opposite, refusing to stop standing up for the continuation of a ritual which exposes Christ to reproach: the only water-baptism is John's baptism and that baptism proclaims a Messiah on the point of coming – but now that Jesus HAS come and HAS died for us and HAS been resurrected, engaging in a ritual that says we're still looking for the Messiah is reproachful in the extreme. I'm happy to bear the reproach of those who are exposing Christ to reproach.

As to "cannot be received as a member of Christ’s body": This is the most invidious of all the lies here. So if you are not water-baptized, you cannot be saved. So says correspondent. Speaking for the Lord – or for himself? Here is what I read in scripture:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!"
Acts 16:31

Correspondent's view and approach vis-à-vis water-baptism is thus no different than that of the Judaizers vis-à-vis circumcision:

Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Acts 15:1 NKJV

But in fact WE know that if a person adds works to salvation, there is no salvation at all, because salvation has to be by grace through faith alone.

(8) For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this did not come from you – it is God's gift. (9) Nor did it come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Water-baptism is a relic of the Law; it was a transitional ritual that pointed to the Messiah but which has now been superseded by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Water-baptism is going backward, and dangerously so. Water-baptism is embracing the Law, and abandoning grace.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Galatians 5:4 NKJV

For more please see "what is a biblical covenant?"

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Well said!

I had some other questions. How would you interpret Titus 3:5, which in my version says- "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." Its sounds confusing because its worded kind of weird.

Yes, I was curious to see what these people thought on this random forum, one which I have never heard of before, and was surprised at all the pride, arrogant, and condemning behavior I read with my eyes. Its disgusting to see that kind of stuff.

He then goes on to add in response to the person he is conversing with-

Lastly, one of the major presuppositional flaws is that you are CONTRASTING water baptism and [S]spirit baptism, which Scripture nowhere encourages. To the contrary, they are two different things, both of which exist. The former is to be administered by man and the latter is given by God. It is not "either/or" but rather "both/and".

And yet the Word says, "I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. He seemed to ignore that verse, one which you wisely mentioned above.

I shall say no more other than to once again impress upon you severity of your view. Am I, or anyone else for that matter, to seriously believe that the Church has been totally ignorant on this matter of baptism and has taught millions false doctrine... UNTIL you and a perhaps a few others came along with the truth? Do you seriously believe that Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, Tertullian, Owen, Edwards, Nettleton, Swinnock, Goodwin, Brown, McCheyne, Ursinus, Hodge, Warfield, Shedd, Kersten, Bavinck, Strong, Gill, Fuller, Hoeksema, Berkhof, Lenski, Hendriksen and countless others, all theological giants representing their respective and varied denominations totally failed to grasp the significance and perpetuity of water baptism? How could this be? And, of a much lesser significance is my own study on the subject in English and the original languages of Scripture and of Church history. But nonetheless, what I came to understand is in full accord with 2000 years of scholarship.

Now he puts his faith and trust in men and tradition, as opposed to Scripture alone. He mentions it again here below.

Yes, some of those texts are making contrasts but NONE are contrasting water baptism AGAINST the baptism or coming of the Holy Spirit. I am baffled how you can think they do?? As stated in the quote above, BOTH water baptism and [S]spirit baptism are biblical truths. This is yet another example of how you are forcing a preconceived idea upon Scripture in order to justify your view. Must I ask but another time... How is it that no one in 2000 years has embraced what you and a handful of others are espousing? Has the entirety of Christendom been in the dark and taught error because they lacked your insight into interpreting Scripture? Aside from all the brilliant and godly men which God Himself raised up in the Church during those 2000 years, I can think of one of my former profs who had memorized the entire NT in Greek and could recite many parts of in reverse if asked. He was more than acquainted with its contents and the doctrines therein. It is inconceivable to me that he somehow totally missed the truth about water baptism which you and Luginbill seem to have miraculously discovered.

And then he says this.

As I mentioned before, these texts have no relevance to your proposition. In fact, some prove otherwise, e.g,. 1Pet 3:1.

The comparison Peter is using is crystal clear and has been for 2000 years of Church history as recorded in its confessions and catechisms. WATER is referred to in Peter's reference to Noah and compared to the WATER of baptism. This 'water' of water baptism Peter says is not to be seen/understood as some ceremonial external washing but internal. Water baptism has a spiritual significance to it, which you and Luginbill and perhaps a handful of others have totally missed.

1 Peter 3:20-21 (ASV) "that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: (21) which also after a true likeness doth now save you, [even] baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;"

As for the rest, it is all superfluous. I don't mean to be trite, but you have missed the whole point as to why the Church for 2000+ years has continued to administer water baptism. And this brings me to my last point; a point which I have raised many times before and which you have selectively chosen to ignore. Again, how is it that all the brilliant men which God has raised up in the Church throughout history, to whom the Holy Spirit was given and by Whom the truth is known, failed to know the truth about water baptism, but you some 2000 years later have discovered it? It is the Church, which is the church of the living God, [and is] the pillar and ground of the truth, not any individual apart from the Church. This is NOT to say that the visible Church in its pronouncements is infallible (contra. Romanism, Orthodox). But it is the institution ordained by God wherein the Holy Spirit reveals truth, teaches it, preaches it, and preserves it by guarding it against heresy. You apparently have little or no appreciation for this biblical truth. For, you unabashedly stand against its teaching in regard to water baptism. Most take the exact opposite approach. Having come to a preliminary view concerning some subject, they consult the Church and its teaching on the subject and compare them. They submit to the secondary authority of the Church and recognize that its teachers have been mightily gifted of God in the Scriptures. And should their view be contrary to what the Church has held, they seriously question the verity of their conclusion and seek to understand where they went wrong. Even the Apostle Paul submitted himself to the council of the Church, after having been instructed by Christ himself. This is known as "humility"

All the above is incorrect of course, but you and I both know that. How would you address all this?

Something else I wanted to ask you Mr. Luginbill. Communion is something we are to continue doing. I have to do it on my own because I'm not in a church. But what if a person who is a genuine believer doesn't take it for the rest of their life? Does that determine or say something about them, since it would be disobeying a command taught in Scripture as something we are to continue doing? Some may say that breaking one command is to break all the commands of Scripture, how would you approach this issue?

Thank you for taking the time to sort through all this, your answers are most helpful.

Your brother in Christ

Response #11:

In Titus 3:5, the Holy Spirit is said to be the Agent of the washing, which means the forgiveness of our sins, a prerequisite for being born again. Here's my expanded translation:

(5) Not on account of [any] works which we had done in [so-called] righteousness did He save us, but [He saved us] through the washing [away of our sins which leads to our] rebirth and [to our] new beginning from the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5

So what this means is that the Holy Spirit produces our rebirth / birth from above, cleansing us from our sins (on the basis of Christ's death for them), and gives us a "new start" as a result.

"How would you address all this?" By considering the source . . . and ignoring it/him completely. I'm not an apologist. Once I've pointed out error to those who come to this ministry and ask questions, if it turns out that they really had an agenda and not a question (common enough), I don't often continue the dialogue, not once it's clear that the person is not really interested in the truth. That's a waste of time. Once the point has been made, just because the opposite party ignores the point and reasserts his falsehoods, well, that is no concern of mine.

One small note: as you rightly imply, basing a supposed need for water-baptism upon church history is laughable. That is because of course there has never been agreement on any aspect of that false ritual, not the age to do it, not the manner in which to do it, not for whom to do it, or when to do it, or even – most importantly – what it means and what it accomplishes. Appealing to "tradition", therefore, ought to lead in my view to a need to reconsider doing it at all.

On communion, remembering the Lord more often than less often is clearly better – just as long as it's done the right way (cf. 1Cor.11:23-34). If a person is not engaging in this one ritual valid today, one of remembrance of Jesus Christ, who He is and what He is done for us, the obvious question is "why not?" I don't think it speaks well of the person's walk with the Lord. We don't need to "go to church" to take communion. In fact, since most churches don't really get it right and are mostly legalistic and ritualistic about it, it's probably better to do it on your own than to "go to church" just for that purpose. There's no "special grace" to be had from taking communion in a group or at a church. The important part is what goes on in your own heart – when you remember Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has done for you. And the closer you are walking with Him, the better it will be. I think the Lord gave us this ritual for the benefit of the lukewarm – so that they would at least have occasion to remember Him once in a while. For those of us who are thinking about Him all the time, it's still wonderful, but missing it isn't the same issue for us as for those who barely ever think of Him at all. Here are a few links in case you haven't bumped into them:

The communion ceremony outside of church

Communion and the Spiritual Death of Christ

The Last Super (in BB 4A)

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Just a few thoughts and questions I wanted to share with you on the topic of water baptism. I've been thinking about it for the past few days and bumped into this passage in 1 Corinthians.12:13.

I was reading through a very long and intense discussion you had with a supporter of water baptism, and one of his statements he made in his last email to you aroused zeal in me. I refer to a statement from question 14 and post the link and the quote below. If I may ask, did he ever change his mind, and have you heard from him since? If you care not to say that's fine.


"I don't know I exactly expected when I began this conversation. But I have one lasting impression from it, if I may share it. If someone were to ask me either "what must I do to become a Christian?" or "what place does baptism have in being saved?," I would take them to a series of verses (not that many, really) and let them read the Bible. What they could read with their own eyes would tell them what they need to know. I believe that's the way it should be -- straightforward, uncomplicated -- what is says is what it means.

However, in contrast to that, I have found you to be willing and eager to take most or all of those same passages and have to give me complicated and detailed, sometimes even lengthy answers as to why each of those passages doesn't actually mean what it says. I sincerely hope that someday you'll realize what I have just said is true."

I just have to comment on this, and I want to see what you think Mr. Luginbill.

"What they could read with their own eyes would tell them what they need to know."

What about the passage I just mentioned? And he doesn't take into account that water baptism is hardly even mentioned or even given after the book of Acts. And the passages that are referenced from Acts speak of the Holy Spirit's baptism.

The person above speaks of simplicity and reading what passages of Scripture say. I would refer said person to 1 Corinthians 12:13 because I don't see water baptism referred to at all in this verse.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NASB)

Paul is describing how a believer has entered the family of God, and He notes that it was by the baptism of the Holy Spirit that such entrance was accomplished, for it is the Spirit who acts as a witness, a pledge, and a seal for the believer. Nowhere is water baptism attributed to have any of these powers in Scripture. Paul then goes to say "and we were made to drink of one Spirit." He is basically describing how salvation occurs, or what took place and had to occur for a believer to enter into God's family. If water baptism was needed and was so crucial in this process, why does Paul not mention it at all? If it had the power to save, Paul would have only been giving a half truth of the salvation process in this verse because he failed to include another critical step. But he didn't include it (water baptism) because it is not part of the salvation process at all. If being dunked in water had some special power to save and bring an individual into the body of Christ, Paul would have had NO CHOICE but to include water baptism in his description. Paul basically told the Corinthians how they have entered into the family of God, and there is no mention of water baptism in this verse. Therefore, if water baptism was a crucial step in the process, i.e. it had some magical spiritual power, then why isn't it mentioned here? If something spiritual occurred from a physical baptism, then Paul most certainly would not have left it out. But as it is, everything that needed to be spiritually accomplished in the believer after acceptance of the gospel was worked out by the Holy Spirit alone.

The final part of verse thirteen speaks of the believer receiving the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ after having drank of Him by accepting the Lord Jesus as Savior, for He has said, "whoever drinks of the water that I shall give Him shall never thirst." And we know that Jesus described Himself as the water of life.

Now to shift gears a little bit here, some people ask the question, "why do we continue communion and not baptism?" Well, because our Lord commanded us to, and never did He demand water baptism at all as far as salvation goes. The gospel we have been given is very clearly presented in John 3:16, where no water baptism is commanded. Just belief in the person and work of Jesus Christ is all that is required.

Now I did have a bit of concern regarding communion, and you probably remember me asking you about this. We know that its not necessary for salvation, but what if a believer who lives for the Lord as they should refuses to do it? I think I remember you saying it could say something about whats on their heart, but does this imply that they are an unbeliever? Because some may say "well, you say we have free will, but then you say that genuine saving faith results in obedience. But we do have free will, so this would imply that a person who doesn't take communion is still saved, but they are simply being disobedient to a degree. Am I correct in stating all of this?

I bring the above topic up because people say that "works" and "baptism" should not be compared, and I state their reasoning below. There are of course those who do not believe baptism to be needed for salvation, but they assert that doing it is an act of obedience and therefore a, or even, "the sign" that someone has been born again because they demonstrate obedience to the Lord's command as Abraham did by obeying the Lord to sacrifice his son Issac. They would say, "faith working through works," or active faith.

In their thinking, being baptized and taking communion are not the kind of works that cannot save, but are acts of obedience which demonstrate that a person's faith is genuine. They would say that works can be a way to express and confirm faith in Christ, so therefore, they are not to be compared to the "works" referred to in Ephesians 2:9.

Abraham is someone they would use as an example. If he had not done the work of attempting out of faith to offer up his son Isaac, could we say that he believed at all? Based upon what James tells us, the answer would be no, and that is because he demonstrated his faith through obedience. Of course an obedient life is also an indicator of salvation, and all those who hold fast to their faith in Jesus Christ will have something to show for their time on earth as you say.

What I am trying to ask Mr. Luginbill is, "how would you answer the complaints of baptism supporters who use the above as a way to prove that baptism would not be a work equivalent to or in the same category as those which are spoken of in Ephesians 2:9? And what about communion?

Now to be clear, I know the answer, and of course I hold to the same truth that you do. But how would you untangle this kind of an issue? I just struggle to put it all together in mind which is why asking someone like yourself helps a great deal. I do recall you saying in that same discussion referenced above that there are a lot more reasons why water baptism is not needed for salvation other then the fact that it is because it is a work. Would the best answer simply be as I have put it above in my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 that baptism is nowhere commanded as necessary for salvation to begin with? Because that would mean that whether water baptism is a work or not is a mute point and doesn't really matter at this stage. Simply put based on Scripture, its just something our Lord never asked or commanded us to do, and that is why the whole "works" argument would probably be a secondary issue. The main and primary issue is, "does the Bible support it?" From what you and I have seen, it clearly does not, knowing of course that baptism by itself is not wrong in any way, just that it is unbiblical to state that it has some special power in it to save.

I hope all that I have said makes sense, and I hope I'm not confusing in any way.

Your brother in Christ,

Response #12:

Excellent work, my friend! Excellent points and well-argued.

The main thing I would want to emphasize here is that the truth is not in the hands of those who dispute with you. That is to say, just because someone does not want to accept the truth of what you are telling them does not mean either that you are wrong or that you are approaching things in the wrong way; what it means is that they are unwilling to accept the truth. That is THEIR problem, not yours. As you know, I am not gifted in apologetics. I teach the Word of God to those who are genuinely interested in learning it. Sometimes people challenge the teaching, and I do feel that it is my duty to defend it (1Pet.3:15), right up to the point where they prove unequivocally that they have stopped up their ears so completely that they have no intention of ever letting any truth get through. At that point, I leave them to the Lord. You are clearly correct, you see that from the Bible, so stand on that first and foremost.

As to communion, you are correct that it is a command from our Lord – a command to do so "in remembrance of Me". So I am careful to never let the purpose be disconnected from the rite. The purpose of communion is not obedience; the purpose is remembering what the Lord did for us, remembering His sacrifice on our behalf, remembering how we owe Him absolutely everything, remembering that while food and drink keep these bodies alive, His body and blood have rescued us from the lake of fire:

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ "
Matthew 4:3-4 NKJV

I don't take communion "in church"; most churches don't understand the most basic things about this ceremony of remembering what our Lord did for us. But I do remember Him as He told us, "when you eat and drink" (1Cor.11:24-6; see the link). As to not taking communion, I've never come across a true, positive believer who was opposed to taking communion – on their own if not in group environment where the group doesn't understand the ceremony or its true significance. So I think that is a pointless argument and no valid comparison to baptism.

As you point out, while our Lord told us to engage in communion – in order to remember Him – there is no such command for water-baptism. So how can it be disobedient not to be water-baptized, since there is never a command to do it anywhere in the Bible? You will find that such people imagine our Lord's instructions to the disciples at Matthew 28:19 to have something to do with water, so that will be their "proof text"; in fact of course no water is mentioned, water cannot place a person "INTO" Christ and the Father and the Spirit (only the baptism of the Spirit can do that, and that, of course, is what is being referred to here), and we know from all of the other evidence in the gospels, Acts and the epistles that water-baptism is John's baptism but that the baptism for the Church Age is that of the Spirit:

"I baptize you with water (i.e., physically) for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Matthew 3:11 NIV

(4) And gathering them together [Jesus] commanded [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father (i.e., the Holy Spirit) "which you heard about from Me. (5) For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Spirit not many days from now".
Acts 1:4-5

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth".
Acts 1:8

(1) When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3) Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4 NKJV

So I would reject this works / not works argument as a red-herring. We participate in communion because it is good and proper and very helpful to remember the Lord and to regularly re-orient ourselves to the fact that He is much more important to us than our daily food and drink. And it is our heart-remembrance that is the "communion" with Him – not whatever we may do with any "elements". We reject water-baptism because it is a ritual meant for Israel anticipating the Messiah, but now that the Messiah has come it sends the wrong message entirely to engage in it (since He has already come and died for our sins). And we continue the former and reject the latter on the same basis that we do all things in Jesus Christ: in faith:

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
John 6:28-29 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Thank you for the very fast reply Mr. Luginbill!

I'm wondering in regards to the Ethiopian Eunuch, why does he ask Philip to baptize him? I'm just curious.

I do agree with what you say about Matthew 28:19. But wasn't it the case that the apostles were supposed to baptize as a sign of their apostolic authority in addition to the laying on of hands? Why was it that Paul and so many others baptized throughout Acts? I mean, I know that you stated that Peter and some of the others were behind the learning curve, but it seems that for a time baptism did have some purpose and meaning. John Baptized with water as a way of preparing the people for Christ to come on the scene. But what about after Christ left as in the examples that Acts records? I was always under the impression that the apostles and others were still supposed to baptize for a short period for a reason.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that since Paul states, " were you baptized in the name of Paul", in 1 Corinthians 1:13, then doesn't that suggest that baptism did have some meaning and/or purpose for a time as in the book of Acts? It does seem to refer to water baptism because it says the following-

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 1:14-17 (ESV)

How come verse 13 makes it sound like baptism has some special power to it? Paul states, "was Paul crucified for you?" We know that for salvation to occur a price had to be paid, and Christ paid for it through His crucifixion on the cross. Paul then states, " Were you baptized into the name of Paul" making it sound like baptism had the power to bring about salvation. He literally stated it right after the part where he mentions crucifixion. And when he says baptism, it sounds like, based on the context of the verses I posted above, Paul is talking about water baptism because he mentions water baptizing those few people. I think you understand what I'm getting at here.

How would you interpret 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 in light of all I have just said? I'm having difficulty with these verses. Why does Paul bring up water baptism in this passage if it was supposed to be obsolete and of no saving power?

Your brother,

Response #13:

It's my pleasure.

First, if you haven't already done so, please have a look at BB 6B: Ecclesiology (link); these questions are all addressed at one place or another therein, and they are explained in the frame of the important context of the apostolic age being an era of transition – ordained as such by God. We can't expect for things to move from a nation state consisting largely one race and in one place based on the Law to a dispersed group of believers of all races and in many places based on grace without changes. Indeed, the entire way in which God now "dispenses" His truth is different: no more priesthood or Levites or even prophets; but now we all have the Holy Spirit and the entire Bible.

Of course the New Testament took some time to write and it took some time for the Church to disperse and grow and for there to arise qualified individuals around the Mediterranean world capable of teaching the truth. The temporary, special gifts are an indication of that, plugging the gap, so to speak, between no NT and a complete NT, and between no qualified teachers and a sufficient number of them. The apostles are in charge of this transition, and they had a learning curve to climb as well, and they clearly weren't doing things at the end of the period in the very same way that they were doing them in the beginning.

As to "the Ethiopian Eunuch, why does he ask Philip to baptize him?": The answer to this question is directly related to the above. There had to be a bridge between the Age of Israel and the Age of the Church, and the continuation of John's water-baptism for a brief time was sometimes a part of that bridge. For us, these things are ancient history (literally), but for this man and for many others they were recent events. And when this request was made, most believers then alive had indeed been baptized by John and/or his disciples – including Philip himself. So it was certainly natural for this man to want to be a part of the group he now belonged to spiritually in every possible way. The larger question is why Philip allowed it. The simple answer is that it probably never occurred to him not to – it would be some time before even the apostles were led to realize all the implications and ramifications of what had happened (and how problematic it would be to continue water-baptism, the sign of the COMING Messiah, ever afterwards); on this occasion the Holy Spirit allowed it and had it recorded for us in the Bible . . . precisely because this is part of the bridge from one way of dispensing the truth (in Israel) to the new way. Explaining and documenting this transition is the Spirit's main purpose in giving us the book of Acts.

As to "wasn't it the case that the apostles were supposed to baptize as a sign of their apostolic authority in addition to the laying on of hands?": Indeed – but water wasn't necessary for this (and was not always a part of this mediation, e.g., Acts 8:17; 19:5-6).

As to "Why was it that Paul and so many others baptized throughout Acts?": In fact, the baptizing in Greece during Paul's "second missionary journey" – before he had written any of his epistles – are the last recorded instances of water-baptism in the Bible (ca. 49 A.D.). And Paul expresses regret for this later in terms of his water-baptizing at Corinth. So for the bulk of even the 35 year apostolic period (33 to ca. 68 A.D.), there is no water-baptizing recorded. It's easy to get the opposite impression because Acts is "front loaded" both in terms of coverage (relatively more chapters covering relatively less time), and because all of the water-baptisms occur therein.

Finally, I might note, that apart from the water-baptism in Paul's first arrival in Greece, most of the others are given to Jews or Samaritans ("half-Jews" one could say) or proselytes – and even the ones which are not given to such groups/individuals exclusively, are given to mixed groups of Jews and gentiles associated with a Jewish synagogue – that is what I mean by transition.

As to "How come verse 13 makes it sound like baptism has some special power to it?": Quite to the contrary, this is Paul saying that there is nothing special about the water. It's the "into the Person" baptism of the Holy Spirit that counts. Just because Paul water-baptized them does not mean that they were "baptized INTO him" – and of course the "into" part is supernatural and quite apart from the water. That is his point. All "into" baptisms are by means of the Holy Spirit "into Christ" (union with Him); so when he says "I baptized" (without using the word "into"), he is not speaking of Spirit baptism but water-baptism. The latter is what he regrets.

As to "Why does Paul bring up water baptism in this passage": As with most of what we find in 1st Corinthians, Paul is correcting doctrinal error. Here the error is to assign status (and create division) on the basis of who is doing the water-baptizing – and it would have been better not to have done this at all, Paul says, rather than have this result. But, clearly, the Corinthians were also (and much more importantly) baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ when they believed. The apostles often conflated the water ritual with the spiritual reality in the early going because they were placing their hands on the new believers to give them the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17); sometimes this was not necessary (Acts 10:44ff.); sometimes it was (Acts 19:3-6). Do you find it a little confusing? So did the Corinthians, and that is why Paul stopped the unnecessary and often confused baptizing with water (along, apparently with the rest of the apostles), so as to make the issue of Spirit baptism more clear.

I'm sure if he had it to do over, Paul would have said something like . . . "no, I'm not going to baptize you with water, just because you new believers from the Jewish synagogue want to be a part of what John did in heralding the Messiah; I understand that, but it might be confusing to you; what I am going to do is place my hands on you so that you will receive the Spirit; you've already been 'baptized INTO Christ by the Spirit'; now you will be baptized with the Spirit; later on, when there are no apostles around, that will happen automatically when a person believes" . . .

But of course, there are no do-overs in life, and no doubt no one was ready yet for the theology lesson in quotes above. Once things progressed, everyone did receive the Spirit at salvation without apostolic mediation (cf. Rom.8:9). But by telling us all these things, the Spirit shows us how things developed – according to the plan of God – to move from the Age of Israel to the Age of the Church; Acts, a historical book, shows us all the ups and downs, and in the epistles we see both too because of the need to correct mis-impressions and bad behavior.

As I say, BB 6B (link) puts these things in a broader context and will be helpful in understanding this and related issues.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Mr. Luginbill,

I am working my way down through the basics right now and haven't gotten to Ecclesiology yet, but I'm on my way.

What you said makes sense, and I agree with all of it. I knew that the 1 Corinthians passage wasn't actually supporting water baptism, but I didn't know how to interpret it, that's all. And of course we know that just because something appears to read a certain way does not actually make it so. Things aren't always what they appear, and I knew that was the case here. But then again, the passage doesn't even appear to support water baptism at all now that I read more carefully, and that is because as you say the passage doesn't support water baptism.

So I may sound a bit contradictory when I give my presentation below, especially since I was confused by the passage I brought up to you, but I don't understand how baptism supporters can say that the Bible is clear, simple, and uncomplicated that we should be baptised, especially in light of the fact that most of the NT does not support their belief. For those who don't believe baptism to be essential for salvation, but who still think it to be a symbolic act we do out of obedience, i.e. baptists, etc, your answer on the fact that it was just a transitional ritual would be the sufficient answer I would give. As I showed you in my first email, if someone were to ask me about baptism in regards to salvation on the other hand, I would try to make it as clear, simple, and uncomplicated as possible. Only three verses, not many! It would go something like this-

1. John 3:16 shows us what we have to do to get saved-No water baptism mentioned.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)

2. 1 Corinthians 12:13 shows us what our Lord has to do (or does) to bring us into His family This is the process. No water baptism mentioned.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 (ESV)

And for those who are still not convinced there is only one baptism, we have the passage below which couldn't be any clearer.

3. Ephesians 4:4-6 shows us how many baptisms there are. No second water baptism mentioned.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV)

Thank you for helping me out with all this Mr. Luginbill. I greatly appreciate it.

In His Name

Response #14:

That is an excellent approach!

Keeping it simple – when simple is sufficient – is always a superior way to go. I can tell you from much experience that if you give a contrary person ten reasons why your position is correct – and one of them is weak – he/she will completely ignore the other nine and pound away at the weak #10 as if defeating that one (or at least casting doubt upon it) completely undermines your position. That's ridiculous, of course, but much of rhetoric is – emotional rather than rational.

Yes, if there is only "one baptism", how could that NOT be the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Matthew 3:11 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Thanks that helped. I also have a concern/question specifically about baptism. Last year I was really building strong habits like reading Scripture and praying on a daily basis. It’s like all I wanted to do was move closer to God and do His will. Though I was convinced to get baptized and so I did. Right after I did it seemed alright but immediately afterwards I stumbled. It’s like all of my good habits left and I was being tempted like never before. I started to think baptism did me a disservice but that can’t be it, right? Now I’ve been having to regroup myself to get back to where I was which has taken some time. Anyway, what do you think about this? It was at a nondenominational church. I feel as if I made a mistake somewhere. Any thoughts?

Response #15:

Water-baptism was a ritual given to the Jewish nation to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. It's not a ritual which is appropriate for the Church Age (the Messiah has already come and we are not the divinely constituted nation of Israel). So it certainly can't do a Christian any good. However, if a Christian is relying on being water-baptized for anything, spirituality or blessing or, far worse, salvation (which some groups do), then it certainly will do more harm than good.

The baptism of the Church Age is the baptism of the Holy Spirit which everyone receives at the point of faith in Christ. Just as there is only "one Lord" and only "one faith", so there is only ONE legitimate baptism for the Church Age: the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Eph.4:5). Hebrews 13:1-4 reproaches the believers of the Jerusalem church for their backsliding into Jewish rituals when they should be separating themselves to be with Christ instead; ironically, this is just what water-baptizers are doing – since water-baptism is a Jewish rite (i.e., John's baptism meant to prepare the Jewish people for Christ's first advent).

This is a long and involved topic since so much of organized, religious church-visible "Christianity" (often in name only) has made so much of this obsolete ritual over the years. Here are two links which will start you with all that is written at Ichthys about this:  1) in the newly posted BB 6B "Water-baptism"; 2) see also "Baptism: Water and Spirit IX" which will lead to many other links (under Q/A #7).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hello Dr. Luiginbill,

I have included below the reference scripture verses as they relate to our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ with [ ] being used. in Matthew 3:13-17.

I would like to get your opinion on these bracketed comments as the reason why Matthew 3:15 says what it says;

Matthew 3:13-17.
13Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us[that is, before I enter into the Priesthood and the ministry] to fulfill all righteousness[See Lev 16:32-34].” Then he permitted Him. 16After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”


Leviticus 16:32-34
“ 32“So the priest[in this case Jesus Christ] who is anointed[See Luke 4:17-21] and ordained to serve as priest in his father’s place[God the Father] shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments, 33and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly[in this case, at Calvary]. 34“Now you shall have this as a permanent statute[the atonement Jesus made is permanent for all who continue to believe in the Gospel, and make it part of their lives], to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year[in Jesus’ case, once for all, See Hebrews 10:10” And just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so he [including Jesus who was obedient to His Father] did.

At this time - meaning the time that reached the age of 30 years so that He could enter the Priesthood.

"For in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" - meaning in simple terms, Jesus had to be obedient to the scriptures because they are His Words.

These are my thoughts, and I would ask your agreement or disagreement and why you agree or disagree.

Thanks again as always for your excellent help.

This is what I got out of these scriptures, I just want to know whether I am on the right track.

Blessings to you always,

Response #16:

While I wouldn't rule it out, I think this has broader implications. One thing that many Christians (and all hyper-Calvinists, it seems) fail to understand is that God is absolutely righteous. And for that reason Jesus had to die for all, even those who refuse the Gift, so that the offer of eternal life to all might be completely just in every way. That is what the pure, holy justice of God demanded.

Our Lord's baptism entailed a perfect person going down into the water wherein the sins of the multitude had been washed off, and is thus a wonderful picture of Jesus going down under into that fiery death on the cross to bear the sins of the world – our sins included.

Hope you and your wife are getting along well, my friend! I keep you and your grandchildren in my prayers daily.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Mr. Luginbill. I hope you are doing well. You and your ministry are in my prayers. I'm going back through the Satanic Rebellion right now as I plan to re-read everything multiple times.

I was reading through our email correspondence about water baptism and saw a part I quoted on that random forum (the highway discussion board) from the person who supported water baptism. As you probably remember he was going back and forth with another poster there. I quote his paragraph below. How would you respond to this person's incorrect interpretation of 1 Peter 3:20-21?

The comparison Peter is using is crystal clear and has been for 2000 years of Church history as recorded in its confessions and catechisms. WATER is referred to in Peter's reference to Noah and compared to the WATER of baptism. This 'water' of water baptism Peter says is not to be seen/understood as some ceremonial external washing but internal. Water baptism has a spiritual significance to it, which you and perhaps a handful of others have totally missed.

1 Peter 3:20-21 (ASV) "that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: (21) which also after a true likeness doth now save you, [even] baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;"

How would you address the above?

In His grace and power,

Response #17:

This is a difficult passage, but Peter deliberately says that the baptism he is talking about is not a washing – so it's definitely Spirit baptism, not water-baptism. I would point that out AND point out that John and Jesus both said that Spirit baptism is the key.

It's a common debate tactic to shift the ground to a place where you think you have a chance of making a point when the main arguments are going against you. I'm not interested in debating; I answer questions for people who actually have them (a good policy, in my view unless a person is involved in apologetics). Here is the main Ichthys link on this with translation.  And here is something I just wrote about this (not posted):

1 Peter 3:18-22: It's a difficult passage; the Spirit and the resurrection are the keys to understanding it; Peter is giving an "orientation" in between passages on suffering to show us that with the Spirit all good things will come, the resurrection and everything connected with it, just as was the case with our Lord, if only we are patient and make use of the Spirit's resources (which requires faith). Through the Spirit He was resurrected after suffering death for us (v.18); through the Spirit in resurrection He is glorified in heaven (v.22); through the Spirit He did the otherwise impossible of proclaiming victory to the spirits (v.19); these were imprisoned in conjunction with the deliverance of Noah and his family (v.20) – an important analogy in their baptism into the ark and salvation/deliverance with our baptism of the Spirit and salvation/deliverance which we obtain on account of Christ's resurrection (v.21). [This is essentially what the prior link above says as well; note: this passage will be also be covered in detail in Peter #35 scheduled to come out this year]

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Dr. Luginbill, I pray all is well.

I was wondering what the meaning of being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus meant at the time of Acts 8:16. I'm thinking that this is a time when the reception of the Holy Spirit by the Apostles laying of hands may have been in the early stage. But does this baptism that was referred to at Acts 8:16 a water baptism? If it is, I'm wondering:

1) How could the Baptism of John be performed without John The Baptist?

2) Why is it called being baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus without Jesus being present or performing the baptism?

3) Wouldn't the fact that the the Holy Spirit was not received at this baptism show that it was not a baptism into the Lord Jesus?

4) When was the John's Baptism of repentance changed into the baptism into Jesus?

Thanks as always

Response #18:

Hello Friend,

There is a great deal about this issue spread throughout the new BB 6B: Ecclesiology (at the link), not to mention many email postings at Ichthys (check subject index s.v., "baptism").

The Greek of Acts 8:16 says eis to onoma (as at Matt.28:19), so it is not water baptism but the baptism of the Spirit in entering a new believer into union with Christ. N.b., the apostles did also water-baptize these individuals at that time as mentioned at Acts 8:12-13, but that is NOT what Acts 8:16 says or is referring to as we know from the specifics of the Greek: baptized eis to onoma meaning "into the Person" of Christ. So here is the sequence: 1) they Samaritans were given the gospel and believed; 2) as He has done with all who have believed since Pentecost, the Spirit placed these new believers in union with Christ (as affirmed in this instance at Acts 8:16); 3) the apostles water-baptized them (Acts 8:12-13) – including them into the number of those who had received John's baptism (a temporary and transitional accommodation); 4) they later receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of Peter and the other apostles (Acts 8:17).

The baptism of the Spirit has two parts which after the early days are inseparable and come to all at salvation: 1) "with the Spirit" (we are indwelt) and 2) "by the Spirit" (He enters us into Christ).
In the very early days of the apostolic period, in order for the authority of the apostles to be established, the transmission of the Spirit's indwelling presence was accomplished by the laying on of their hands (this was what the Samaritans needed and got later), but by Acts chapter ten we find that this is no longer necessary: cf. Acts 10:44-46).

1) As to water baptism still being performed, well, that is what John's baptism is (and all water-baptism is John's baptism). Of course, the practice is no longer authorized and is completely misunderstood.

2) "into the Name" means "into the Person" referring to our oneness or union with Christ – it is NOT a verbal formula (also misunderstood generally at Matt.28:19).

3) As mentioned above, the initial splitting of the two aspects of the Spirit's baptism was in order to demonstrate and establish the apostles' authority. The Samaritans were the first non-Jewish group to get the gift of the Spirit, but in terms of their status they were "neither fish nor foul" or perhaps both at once, being within the Jewish ambit but not actually Jewish.

4) John's baptism with water was a baptism of repentance (e.g., Matt.3:11), designed to prepare the Jewish people spiritually for the coming of the Messiah (Lk.1:17). John testified that the Messiah would baptize not with water "but with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (e.g., Matt.3:11). We receive the important and true baptism when we believe in Jesus Christ (the fire comes later upon unbelievers when the Messiah returns). The first to receive the Spirit were the believers at Pentecost, but now everyone who is born from above, born again receives the Spirit indwelling him/her and is also placed in union with Christ at the point we believe in Him (much more about all this in BB 5: Pneumatology).

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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