Water Baptism
What It Really Means to Take the Plunge!

by Pastor John Hamel

See Addendum Below for "Seven Baptisms of the Bible"

“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 should also walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)


We’ll get back to that above verse in a minute. First I want to remind you that Jesus said, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) 


What does it mean to be Born Again?  Simple.  The first time you were born you entered into the Earth realm through the person of your Mother.  The second time you are born you enter into God’s Kingdom through the Person of Jesus. He’s the door.


Say, “Jesus, You’re my choice” and you’re in the Kingdom and the Family. (John 1:12; Romans 10:13; Colossians 1:13)


Once a person makes Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives, God requires them to take the plunge – literally. 


God calls all Born Again Believers to be water baptized. Why? I’ll explain. The verse of Scripture at the top of this page answers that question in two parts. 


First, when someone is properly baptized they are wholly immersed in water, not just sprinkled.  This is why the above verse says we are “buried” with Him in baptism.  To go down into what I call “The Watery Grave” is to identify with the death and burial of Jesus Christ on our behalf.  It’s actually a way of saying, “I died to my own sinful self when I gave my life to Jesus.”


Second, to rise up out of the watery grave is a way of identifying with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  It’s actually a way of saying, “I’ve been raised from my former dead life of sin and have risen to a new life in Jesus.”


So, it’s easy to see that Water Baptism is simply an outward expression of an inward experience.  It’s the Born Again Believer’s way of saying, “I completely identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on my behalf.”  This is why it is not Biblical or acceptable to “sprinklebaptize an infant. 


First, infants are unable to identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Their undeveloped little minds cannot possibly comprehend such a thing. 


Second, Biblical Water Baptism is by complete submersion, not sprinkling.  Now you know why.


Water Baptism is powerful, too!  In one Church where I served as Pastor for a number a years, a drunken man kept showing up in my services.  He sat quietly and paid attention.  He reeked of booze but behaved as a gentleman.  The Lord told me, “Allow him to attend as long as he behaves.”  He continued to behave so I allowed him to sit and hear the Word of God.  He came week after week.


One day after hearing me teach on the symbolism and the power of Water Baptism, this man asked us to baptize him.  We went to an area lake and baptized him.  As circumstances had it, I was to never see this man again.  However, three years later I received a call from him. 


This former alcoholic said, “Pastor John, I want to tell you something.  When I began coming to your services, I had been drinking alcohol every day of my life for thirteen years.  I want you to know you helped me to understand what Water Baptism really is.  I also want you to know that I have not had one drop of alcohol since the day you baptized me in Lake Thunderbird.  I’ve never desired booze again.”


All I could say was “Glory to God.”  There is something powerful about the true Biblical form of Water Baptism.  When it is fully understood and obediently adhered to, it somehow releases the delivering power of God.  


That’s what obedience to God’s Word always does.  Obedience always sets the stage for the miraculous.


Say, “Jesus, You’re my choice” if you’ve not been Born Again.  That’ll get you into the Family. (John 1:12)  


Then submit to the watery grave of Biblical Baptism.  By going down into the water you’ll be saying, “My old life is dead and buried in Christ.” (Colossians 3:3)  By coming up out of the watery grave you’ll be saying, “I’m raising to newness of life in Him.”


Keep in mind that Water Baptism does not wash away your sins as some teach.  


The Bible teaches that only the Blood of Jesus can wash away your sins. (Hebrews 9:22)  


Water Baptism is an outward declaration of an inward experience.  It says, “Hey, lookie here.  The old me is dead.  The new me has risen in power with Jesus.”


Water Baptism.  Now you know what it really means to take the plunge!


Many people believe it is not possible to be saved unless one has been water baptized.  However, that is not what the Bible teaches.  For further clarity on this subject, JHM has included the following Addendum with ample additional Scriptures for your personal study.


Be blessed ... John and Barbara



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


How to Receive The Holy Spirit & Power





Addendum: The Seven Baptisms of the Bible


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, "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 Heaven with Him. 


This confusion 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.


"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)


Here the Apostle Paul stresses the importance of going on to maturity and not remaining in the babyhood stages of Christianity.  He said we do this by becoming established in what many refer to as the "Foundational Doctrines of Christ" listed in the above Scripture. 


Notice one of the Foundational Doctrines of Christ to which Paul referred is "the doctrine of baptisms" (plural).  


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 "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 you may look up the verses at your convenience. 


Number One


John the Baptist baptized in water unto repentance. 


"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 baptism, 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.  He was sinless.  He said He did it 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)


Number Two


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


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


This, too, was a baptism where individuals were repenting for a lifestyle of sin. (John 3:22; 4:1) 


The Old Covenant and the New Covenant overlapped during the time of both John the Baptist's and Jesus' Ministries and Jesus oversaw His disciples baptizing individuals for the same reasons John baptized.  However, later under the New Covenant, as we will see, the practice of water baptism had a change of purpose.  


Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I saw unto thee, except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)  He 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 to both gain access to and understand the Kingdom of Heaven and all its realities. This transformation occurs only at the New Birth and not at water baptism.  


Water baptism is now a symbol of what occurs at the New Birth, as we will see.


Number Three


Christ's baptism of suffering for the sin of humanity. 


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 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 His own death on the cross, spoke of His being immersed 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)


Number Four


Israel's baptism in the cloud, the fire and the Red Sea.  


"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 under the cloud by day, the fire by night and through the parted Red Sea. (Exodus chapters 13-14; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6)


Number Five


The Christian's water baptism.  


"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 occurred inwardly - specifically the New Birth.  


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


Sprinkle baptizing babies is not Scriptural for two reasons.  First, baptism means to immerse, not to sprinkle.  Christ was not sprinkled in death and suffering for us.  He was wholly immersed in death and suffering for us.  Second, babies do not yet possess the mental capacity to understand what water baptism symbolizes.  Therefore, according to the Bible, it is impractical to baptize them.  


Water baptism does not save, it is simply a figure of that which does save - acceptance of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


"...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 are 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. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Colossians 1:20)  


A mere figure, or symbol, 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.


The Apostle Paul 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. (Romans 3:24-25; 5:1; Ephesians 1:7)


There are many examples of Christians being water baptized in the Scripture, none of them indicating that salvation occurs at that time.  Water baptism occurs only after salvation in Christ. (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)


Number Six


Baptism into Jesus Christ and into His Body.


"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)


This is the only one of the seven baptisms that saves a human being from the penalty and punishment of their sins.  


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 "element" the Christian is immersed into at the time of the New Birth is Christ's Body, not water. (Romans 6:3-7; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 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 sins.  


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 sins and baptized into Christ's Body. (Romans 10:9-13)  


So it is clear, baptism into the Body, not baptism in water, is the only one of seven baptisms that saves.


Number Seven


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 is a baptizing with empowerment for service.  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 a clear indication that water baptism does not save.  


Cornelius' household was already saved and Spirit-filled when Peter stood up and said, "It's time for a water baptism service so they can identify outwardly with that which has already occurred inwardly."


Three of the Seven Baptisms Are for Believers


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


All who experience salvation in Christ experience this baptism.      


The Holy Spirit baptizes individuals into Christ's Body. (1 Corinthians 12:13)


Two. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, an endowment with power for service. (Acts 1:8)  


This can only occur after one is Born Again.  However, it can take place before, during or after water baptism. (Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-11; 8:12-21; 10:44-48; 19:1-7)


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


Three.  Water Baptism which can only come after one is saved, as we have clearly seen.  


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



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


How to Receive The Holy Spirit & Power



Home  l  Bible Training  Top  Beliefs  l  Contact