Foundational Doctrines of Christ 3

The Doctrine of Baptisms 

by Pastor John Hamel

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Live Table of Contents


Chapter 1:  John's Water Baptism unto Repentance

Chapter 2:  Jesus' Water Baptism unto Repentance

Chapter 3:  Jesus Christ's Baptism of Suffering

Chapter 4:  Israel Was Baptized in the Cloud, the Fire & the Red Sea

Chapter 5:  The Believer's Baptism into the Body of Christ

Chapter 5:  Baptism into Christ's Body Results in Four Things

Chapter 6:  The Born Again Christian's Baptism into Water

Chapter 7:  The Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Three of the Seven Baptisms Are Exclusively for Believers





"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2)


We have now come to lesson three in our Foundational Doctrines of Christ series.  In this lesson we will study "The Doctrine of Baptisms."  


There is some confusion as to whether or not water baptism saves one's soul.  


In some places in Scripture it appears that water baptism is necessary for one to be saved.  


In other places it is clear that water baptism is not necessary to the saving of one's soul. For example, Jesus said to the thief on the cross who received His Lordship that day, "Verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)  That man was not water baptized, yet Jesus said he would be in Paradise with Him. 


The confusion concerning water baptism is easily cleared up when one realizes that there are actually seven baptisms mentioned in the Bible, not just one.  When one wrongly believes there is only one baptism referred to in the Bible, it can tend towards tremendous confusion.


Notice in our opening text verse that the Apostle Paul made reference to "the doctrine of baptisms" (plural).  Paul makes it perfectly clear that there is more than one baptism.  


What are the plural "baptisms" to which Paul refers here?  Once one understands what they are, the door will close to the confusion of "Does water baptism save or does it not save?"  


First, we must consider the definition of the Greek word for "baptism."  The Greek word is "baptizo."  It means "to overwhelm, to bury, to dip or immerse regardless of the element used."  


The element of water is not always necessary for a baptism.  


For example, a letter can be immersed or baptized into an envelope.  An individual can be overwhelmed by, immersed or baptized in suffering or even joy.  So we must not limit ourselves as to our understanding of the word "baptism."  


As we will see from the Word of God, baptism does not always and only refer to water baptism.  


It is vitally important that the student of God's Word always understand the context in which "baptism" is being used when they come across the word in their study.  


It is vital that the reader understand which of the seven baptisms is being referred to as they are reading the Scriptures.


I will list the seven baptisms of Scripture below with ample Scriptural evidence so that the reader may look up the verses as is convenient. 



Chapter 1:  John's Water Baptism unto Repentance


John the Baptist baptized individuals in water unto repentance for sin. 


"In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. ...Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." (Matthew 3:1-6) 


When an individual submitted to John's water baptism, they did so to indicate they were repenting for a lifestyle of sin. (Matthew 3:1-6; Mark 1:1-5; Luke 3:2-4; 7:29-30; John 1:31-33; 3:23-26; 10:40; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:3)


Jesus submitted to John's baptism, but not to repent for a lifestyle of sin, of course.  Jesus was sinless.  Jesus said He submitted to John's baptism to set an example to all other human beings of the importance of obeying God and fulfilling His plan and purpose for their lives. (Matthew 3:13-17)


Today Believers no longer submit to John's water baptism unto repentance. We will see why.


Chapter 2:  Jesus' Water Baptism unto Repentance


Jesus oversaw His disciples as they baptized those who came to Him for salvation. 


"Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself did not baptize, but only His disciples), He left Judea and departed again for Galilee." (John 4:1-3)


"After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized." (John 3:22)  


Jesus' baptism was also one where individuals were repenting for a lifestyle of sin. 


The Old Covenant and the New Covenant overlapped during the time of both John the Baptist's and Jesus' Ministries.  The Old was passing away and the New was coming of age.  During that period Jesus oversaw His disciples baptizing individuals for the same reasons John baptized individuals - repentance for sin. 


Later under the New Covenant, as we will see, the practice of water baptism had a complete change of purpose. However, that purpose never has been and never will be to bring about the saving work of grace. Water never has and never will save anyone. The Blood of Jesus alone can save an individual from the penalty and the punishment of their sin.  


Jesus made something very clear to Nicodemus when He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (John 3:3)  


Jesus did not say, "Except a man be water baptized he cannot see the Kingdom of God."  


Jesus literally meant there must be a transformation from God, by acceptance of Christ, in order for an individual to gain access to and understand the Kingdom of Heaven and all of its realities. 


This supernatural transformation occurs only at the New Birth and not at water baptism.  


Today, water baptism is a symbol of what occurs at the New Birth, as we will see in number five.


Chapter 3:  Jesus Christ's Baptism of Suffering


Jesus Christ was baptized in suffering for the sin of all humanity. 


Prior to His betrayal, illegal arrest and execution, Jesus said to His disciples, "But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straitened till it be accomplished." (Luke 12:50)


Here Jesus refers to fulfilling the many prophecies of His needing to be immersed, or baptized, in suffering in order to save fallen humanity


The very first prophecy of the Bible refers to Christ's coming immersion in suffering and His struggles with Satan on behalf of humanity. (Genesis 3:15)  


Whole chapters of the Bible are devoted to Christ being immersed in suffering for humanity. (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Exodus 12, etc.)  


Multiple individual passages speak of Christ being immersed in suffering. (Isaiah 50:4-7; 52:14; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 13:6-7)  


Every sacrifice and offering, beginning with Abel, through Moses and all the Prophets, ending with Jesus' own death on the cross, spoke of His being immersed, or baptized, in suffering in order to redeem fallen humanity and to be restored to His former Glory. (Luke 24:25-37; Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 3:18)


Chapter 4:  Israel Was Baptized in the Cloud, the Fire & the Red Sea


The Bible speaks of Israel's baptism in the cloud by day, the fire by night and through the parting of the Red Sea as they supernaturally crossed over.  


"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;" (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)


These baptisms refer to when the Israelites were completely overwhelmed by and immersed in the Divine Presence of the Most High God as they traveled through the wilderness. 


By day Israel was protected and guided by a great cloud of God's Glory. It protected them from the scorching sun.  When the cloud moved, Israel was to move along with it.  By night they were protected by Almighty God's Holy fire. Should the Holy fire move, they were to move along with it.


"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people." (Exodus 13:21-22)


When Israel was backed up against the Red Sea, God divided the waters making the way for them to safely pass through on dry ground. The waters piled up in great frozen walls to the left and to the right of the traveling, multimillion-person entourage as they passed through, literally immersed in a sea that did not touch them.


"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went in to the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left." (Exodus 14:21-22)



Chapter 5:  The Believer's Baptism into the Body of Christ 


Baptism into Jesus Christ and into His Body is the only one of the seven baptisms that saves a human being from the eternal penalty and punishment of their sin.


"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)   


At the time of the New Birth, or when one is Born Again, they are baptized or immersed into the Body of Christ.  This is not a reference to water baptism.  


Remember, the Greek word for baptism means "to overwhelm, to bury, to dip or immerse regardless of the element used."  


The Apostle Paul made it perfectly clear to the Corinthians and the Galatians that the "element" the Christian is immersed into at the time of the New Birth is Christ's Body, not water. 


"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27)  


Earlier we used the illustration of a letter being immersed or baptized into an envelope.  In the same way, a Believer is immersed or baptized into the Body of Christ the moment they are Born Again. 


One is baptized into the Body of Christ, not through immersion in water, but by accepting the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for one's sin.  


When one confesses with the mouth and believes with the heart that God rose Jesus from the dead, they are saved from the penalty and punishment of their sin and baptized, or enveloped, into Christ's Body. 


"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." (Romans 10:9-10)


As with Jesus and the penitent criminal hanging on the cross beside Him, the Apostle Paul made no reference to water baptism as being necessary for the forgiveness of sin and the salvation of the individual.  


So it is clear according to the Holy Scriptures.  Baptism into the Body of Christ, not baptism in water, is the only one of the seven baptisms that saves a lost human being.



Baptism into Christ's Body Results in Four Things


First: Unity. It is very clear in the Bible that individuals not only become unified with Christ at the New Birth, they become unified with one another.  Christians are immersed into one another when they are immersed into Christ.


"For as the Body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one Body, being many, are one Body: So also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the Body is not one member but many ... but God hath tempered the Body together." (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 24)


The word "tempered" used by Paul here means "to co-mingle, to mix and to blend together."  Paul is saying that Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Hindus, Muslims and any other individuals from any of the world's religions all become one when they come to Christ.  God our Heavenly Father expects us to behave in such a manner that shows the world His children are unified in love.


"By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)


Second: Individuality. Although believers in Christ have become New Creations, they are still individuals, not robots. Christ's Body is like the human body in that it is one Body but it has many members. Take away one of the human body's members and the whole body has to work harder to compensate for the loss. Individuality is vital. 


God expects each of His children to pray to find out what role they are to play in His Body.  All believers are required to find their individual place in Christ and to function there.  There is a very specific place for each individual member of Christ's Body.


"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the Body, as it hath pleased Him." (1 Corinthians 12:18)


There are many gifts, talents, anointings, administrations and operations in the Body all being coordinated by the leadership of the Holy Spirit as we walk in love toward one another. God expects His children to maintain their individuality, while at the same time growing maturely in His Word collectively.


"No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for imposters. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole Truth and tell it in love - like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, Who is the Source of everything we do.  He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love." (Ephesians 4:16 Message)


Third: Submission. God our Father expects all who have been baptized into Christ's Body to submit to Him, when it is easy, popular and profitable and when it is difficult and unpopular.


"Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him." (Hebrews 2:8)


God expects His children to submit to His appointed Ministry Leaders.


"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17)


Christians who never bother to obey God and hook up with a New Testament Pastor will never grow strong in Christ. It is not possible to prosper the way God desires one to prosper by being fiercely independent and rebellious in this area.  


It is impossible to become perfected in Christ without submitting to proper New Testament spiritual leadership.


"And He gave some Apostles and some Prophet; and some Evangelists; and some, Pastors and Teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-12)


God expects His children to submit to one another in love.


"Yea, likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)


When Christians serve one another with a spirit of humility, God promises to personally exalt them.  When one refuses to do so, there will be no exaltation. This is why the Bible says, "The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools." (Proverbs 3:35) 


Christians must remain humble, not retaliating even when another Christian does them wrong. If the offending party refuses to repent for their error and change, God will bring judgment. There is, after all, a judgment side to Holy God. (Romans 11:22; Hebrews 12:1-11)


God is not only our Loving Benevolent Father, but He is also our Just Judge and Lawgiver. Be smart. Be cool. Walk in love. God will exalt you.


God expects His children to submit to rulers of society when they are not requiring disobedience to Him.


"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same." (Romans 13:1-3)


Even when civil authorities do not know Jesus personally, God still ordains them to positions of authority. God's children are required to obey civil authorities and the laws of man, as long as they are not requiring His children to disobey His higher authority. 


The Apostle Paul made it perfectly clear that to disobey even unsaved civil authorities is to disobey Almighty God. (Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17)


Fourth: Involvement.  It is obvious that one cannot be unified with others, express their individual gifts, submit to God, the Pastor and one another if one does not come together with others in Church on a regular basis. This is particularly clear in the Amplified Bible.


"And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the Day approaching. For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]." (Hebrews 10:24-26)


I have encountered many disobedient, professing Christians who claim to be part of "the mystical body." They believe Church involvement is an option. They seem to think Christianity is a democracy and not a Theocracy.  The Body of Christ is God-ruled, not man-ruled.  Jesus is the Head of His Body. One must submit to Him through Church involvement in order to live long and strong. 


The first log to roll away from the fire is the first log to cool off.  The first banana to leave the bunch is the first banana to be peeled.  


Do not be that banana!



Chapter 6:  The Born Again Christian's Baptism in Water


When an individual is Born Again through acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then and only then are they qualified to be baptized in water as we shall see.   


"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit;" (Matthew 28:19)


For the Christian, water baptism is an outward expression of something that has already occurred inwardly - specifically the New Birth.  


"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." (Romans 6:4-5)


The Born Again Christian is identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ when submitting to water baptism by total immersion.  


This is an outward expression of an inward experience.  


The Christian goes down into a watery grave, identifying with Christ's death and burial for them.  The Christian comes up out of a watery grave, identifying with Christ's raising for them unto newness of life. 


Keep in mind, baptism means "to overwhelm, to bury, to dip or to immerse."  To "sprinkle baptize," whether it be an adult or a baby, is improper and unbiblical.     


Sprinkle baptizing babies in particular is not Scriptural for two reasons.  First, baptism means to immerse, not to sprinkle.  Christ was not sprinkled in death and suffering for us.  Christ was wholly immersed in death and suffering for us. He was overwhelmed by suffering. 


Second, babies do not yet possess the mental capacity to understand what water baptism symbolizes.  Therefore, according to the Bible, it is impractical and improper to baptize them. 


Dedicating an infant to the Lord is one thing. That was done throughout the Old Testament.  However, sprinkle baptizing was never performed in Scripture and it is not something the Christian should ever perform.  There is nothing for the Lord to honor in it.  


Again, water baptism does not save.  It is simply a symbol, or a figure, of that which does save - acceptance of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Listen to what the Apostle Peter has to say about water baptism. 


"...when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:20-21)  


Many have been confused by this verse.  It appears to be saying, "Water baptism doth also now save us."  However, upon closer examination, it is clear that water baptism does not save.  


It was not the water that saved Noah's family.  It was the ark that saved them from drowning in the water.  So, too, water baptism does not save the soul, but faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ - that which water baptism symbolizes - saves the soul. 


"And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him I say whether they be things in Earth or things in Heaven." (Colossians 1:20)  


Jesus' Blood, not water, has power to save.  


A mere symbol, or figure, has no power to save.  Only that which it symbolizes has power to save.  


Because he realized that some might trust in water baptism to save them, Peter makes it very clear that baptism does not save one from the filth or the moral depravity of the flesh.  He makes it very clear that only a good conscience towards God, because one has been made clean by faith in the resurrection of Jesus, results in salvation.  


Peter uses Noah and his family as an illustration to make the following point.


Even as the waters of the flood could not have saved Noah and his family had they not made use of an ark, so, too, the water of baptism cannot save the soul of anyone who does not make use of faith in the Blood of Jesus.  


Faith in the Blood of Jesus is to the Christian what the ark was to Noah and his family.


The Apostle Paul himself was fully saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and only later water baptized as a symbol, or a figure, of his New Birth experience. (Acts 9:11, 17-18)  


Paul makes it perfectly clear in his Epistles that the sinner is justified by faith in the Blood of Jesus, and faith in the Blood of Jesus alone, not by water baptism.


"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Romans 3:25)


"In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7)


There are multiple examples of Christians being water baptized in the Scripture.  Not one of them indicates in any way that salvation occurs at that time.  In the Bible, water baptism occurs only after salvation has been accomplished by Christ's Blood. 


(Matthew 18:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; 8:12-16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17; 1 Peter 3:21)



Chapter 7:  The Baptism with the Holy Spirit


There is an additional baptism that occurs only once one has been Born Again and therefore baptized into the Body of Christ.  This experience is called the Baptism with the Holy Ghost.  It is often referred to as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit


John the Baptist said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after  me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:" (Matthew 3:11)


This baptism is a baptizing with empowerment for service unto God.  This is why Jesus told His disciples, "You shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you." (Acts 1:8)  


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience that can only come after the New Birth, because the Holy Spirit will not go where the Blood of Jesus has not cleansed. 


(Matthew 3:11, 14; 20:22-23; Mark 1:8; 10:38-39; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 8:14-17; 10:44-48; 11:16; 19:2-3)


Only after Cornelius' household received the word of salvation, were Born Again and baptized with the Holy Spirit, did Peter say the following, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:47)


This is another undeniably clear indication that water baptism does not save.  


Cornelius' household was already saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit when Peter stood up and said, "It's time for a water baptism service so these good people can now identify outwardly with that which has already occurred inwardly."


Although the New Birth must first occur for one to be water baptized or baptized with the Holy Spirit, there is no set rule for which shall come first - water baptism or the Holy Spirit baptism.  


There is ample evidence in Scripture that either can occur first, but only after one has been Born Again. (Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-11; 8:12-21; 10:44-48; 19:1-7)



Three of the Seven Baptisms Are Exclusively for Believers


One: The Believer's baptism into the Body of Christ at the New Birth.


Paul called this "one baptism" because it is the only baptism that saves and immerses one into the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:5)      


Two: The baptism with the Holy Spirit.


Christ baptizes the individual with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11; John 1:31-33)    


Three: The Born Again Christian's baptism in water.


The Gospel Minister baptizes the Christian into water. (Matthew 28:19)


In our next lesson on Foundational Doctrines we will study the "Laying On of Hands."

Be blessed John and Barbara Hamel



How to Be Born Again (Receive Christ as Your Savior)


How to Receive The Holy Spirit & Power



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