Baptism Questions and Anwers

Compiled by Gary Savelli
with excerpts from tracts of the Pioneer Tract Society

This tract answers most questions asked regarding why we teach that water baptism is not something to be practiced any longer among the obedient children of God.

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mk.16:15-16)

"...baptism doth also now save us..." (1Pet.3:21)

From these scriptures, and others like them, we see that salvation will be given in the end ONLY to those who have been baptized! Let this unshakable biblical truth echo in the corridors of your spirit and mind. Without baptism, there is no hope of salvation. With that revelation, one is confronted with an obvious question: Is the baptism which we must receive a baptism with water or is it the baptism of the holy Spirit? You must decide - because Paul said that now, in this dispensation, there is only ONE baptism (Eph 4:3-5).

The earliest church, being exclusively Jewish, practiced two baptisms. They baptized with John the Baptist's baptism of water, telling those who humbled themselves to this divinely ordained baptism to expect to receive Jesus's baptism of the Spirit. They followed the pattern set by John, who told those whom he baptized, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. He shall baptize you with the holy Ghost and with fire" (Lk.3:16). Later of course, Jesus died, was resurrected,. and ascended to the father where he was given the authority to practice this second baptism: "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." (Acts 2:33).

These two baptisms, John's and Jesus', are the only two baptisms which God has ever ordained.

The One Baptism of Christ

Paul's gospel cut against the grain of two baptisms. He saw it causing among the Spirit filled believers. To Paul, water baptism was no longer an option. God did not send him to baptize in water (1Cor.1:17), and as far as salvation was concerned, Paul said there is "one Lord, one faith, ONE baptism" (Eph.4:5). The only baptism which Paul practiced or preached was the baptism of the holy Ghost. He baptized in water a few Corinthian believers early in his ministry, and he lamented doing so (1Cor.1:14-16), for it gave rise to quarrels and made room for proud boasting concerning who was baptized by which man, whether by Paul, or Peter, or Apollos, etc. And water baptism is still doing the same thing among believers today. It is a "dead" ceremony, and to practice it is to practice "division" and "confusion". Whether arguing over the "name" used (i.e. "the father, the son, the holy Ghost, or - "in Jesus' name", etc.); or whether arguing over the way it is done (sprinkling, immersing, etc.); or whether arguing over to whom it is done (babies, adults, sinners, or believers), this ceremony will always confuse and divide. God's children will never agree on its use, because God does not want his Spirit-filled children to use it at all! If you love Jesus, you will lay it down forever and encourage others to do the same.

Paul Was Given A New Gospel

Paul's gospel of liberty from the works of the Law is perhaps more misunderstood now than when it was first preached. How many are still baptizing in water, and performing other dead ceremonial works, without knowing that by doing so they are denying the sufficiency of Christ! Israel's symbolic ways of worship, including John's baptism, were needful, holy instruments of God in their time. They served their divinely ordained purpose by pointing to the Messiah. But Christ has come now, and by his sacrificial death has made a "new and living way" for us to approach the Father: the way of life in the holy Spirit. If the baptism you preach is one which those without the Spirit can practice, it has no part in the kingdom of God. Now, we are commanded to worship God in Spirit and in truth - not in ceremony and in type. Ceremonial worship belonged to those under the old covenant. To worship God (now) in a way which was possible before the Spirit was given is to worship God in vain. Only what Jesus suffered and died to make possible is any longer acceptable with the Almighty.

All Believers Made One In Christ

Let us reason together - There are no longer two bodies of people who belong to God: Israel and the church. No longer two Lords: Israel's High Priest and Jesus. No longer two faiths: Israel's worship in symbols, and worship in spirit and truth. No longer two hopes: the restoration of Israel as a world power, and the return of Jesus. No longer two baptisms: John's and Jesus'. But "there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all..." (Eph.4:4-6). In other words, there are no longer two gospels. The time for John's message (and Peter's) of water baptism (to the Jews) has passed. Now is the time for reality in the Spirit. Let us rejoice that there is only ONE baptism, and let us rejoice that Jesus is still baptizing!

Now, my friend do you now know which baptism we must have if we hope to be saved? Do you know to which baptism Paul was referring when he wrote that we are "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him..." (Col.2:12)? Most do not. Below is a compilation of questions (and answers) we have had on this important issue over the years. Hopefully they will help you to see why you must forsake EVERY Christian group which is practicing such needless ceremony. Not merely because that group is practicing a "ceremony" - but because Jesus has not sent them to do what they are doing... the end of which is to confuse you and divide you from your family in Christ Jesus.

RECENT VIEWER'S QUESTION:

Why in John 3:5 does it says "be born of water and spirit", yet you say water baptism is not necessary now? And if it is not needed among Gentiles, why in Acts 10:47,48 does the Bible say that Gentiles were baptized in water?

ANSWER

Regarding being baptized in "water" and in "spirit" (John 3:5) --- Jesus explained what he meant in the very next verse (John 3:6): "that which is born of the flesh [water] is flesh [i.e. a human birth]; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit [i.e. a spiritual birth]. Jesus was saying that being born the first time in this flesh (water), was not enough. We must be born a second time (in Spirit). If being born "of water" was, as you say, water baptism, then a person must be born again, AGAIN!(Three times - once into this world in the flesh, a second time in water baptism, and a third time in Spirit baptism).

Regarding Peter's baptizing of the Gentiles --- that was something that Peter and the first Jewish believers did. When Peter and those with him were astonished that the holy Ghost was poured out on the Gentiles, Peter "could not forbid them water", because that is what every Jew who repented prior to this happening did. If you were a Jew, and you repented - then you submitted to John the Baptist's baptism of repentance - and then, submitted again to Jesus' baptism in Spirit. There was no other way (in Peter's and the Jews' minds, that is).

However, as the gospel was going forward, and as the truth of Jesus's baptism was being made known, God needed a new man. He needed a man that could explain (as a wise master builder) what it was that was necessary in the dispensation we are now in - and that man was the Apostle Paul. HE was the one who would explain how a person was made one of God's children NOW. Paul taught that "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body". When a person receives the Spirit, it is God saying that the person receiving it has repented. That experience is being born again. That is the new birth experience - the baptism of the holy Ghost (with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

There were only two baptisms ever ordained of God: 1) John the Baptist's (in water) and Jesus's(in the Spirit). One was a shadow "type". The other was the reality in Christ. One has "faded away". The other is here. Or as Paul said, there is now "ONE baptism" (Eph.4:5). So we are faced with the stark reality of choosing, as Paul did, which baptism truly washed away sin. And once that choice is made, we must (as we do the other ceremonial shadow types of the law) let the "shadow" go. Which is the real ONE baptism now? Water or Spirit? If we choose water, then we choose to cling to what Paul called "dead works" --- works that were once ordained by God, but which he has now done away with. If we choose Spirit baptism - then it becomes obvious that water baptism is a useless ceremony, just as all the other ceremonial works of the law have become. All these ceremonies were holy and right in their time. But they were "dead works" when God brought about a change through Christ Jesus.

I hope that helps. We have a good tract: http://www.isaiah58.com/baptism.html that would be worth reading.

RECENT VIEWER'S QUESTION:

This is to inform you that the materials you've send me are received. Thank you very much. The materials are well understood, but some points are not clear.

When one receives water baptism, what does he/she receive? The "Holy Spirit" or what? Because the person believes and is baptized like the Bible says.

ANSWER:

Regarding water baptism as evidence of our "belief" .... A person has not truly "believed" until they have fully "obeyed" - and "God gives the holy Ghost to all who obey Him" (Acts 5:32). So water baptism is not a sign that one has "believed" at all. Being "born of (or receiving)the Spirit" is the sign that one has truly believed God.

Water baptism was something God gave John the Baptist. It was not an "act" merely performed "in water". John the did not come "doing" water baptism - the Bible says he came "preaching" water baptism. And what was the message he was preaching? The message was that he (John)would baptize in water for that time being, but one coming after him was going to baptize with the holy Ghost, and with fire. Water baptism was a holy thing in John the Baptist's time... so was animal sacrifice, the Levitical priestly service, etc. But when the time came that those things "faded away" (after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the coming of the Spirit), the "types" must be forsaken. It is NOT God's will to practice them any longer. If one practices water baptism, one must ALSO practice the other facets of Moses' ceremonial law (such as sacrifices, feast days, the tabernacle for worship, etc.), because "the law and the prophets were unto John." Meaning that John was also under the law - but the law and it's ceremonies and types had become reality in Christ Jesus. So to answer your question - what does a person receive in water baptism now? Nothing, other than they get wet! The truth is that if a non-born again person can practice it - it is worthless, because now, true worshippers worship "in Spirit and in truth", not in "ceremony and in type".

RECENT VIEWER'S QUESTION:

Please respond to this verse: Acts 10:45-48 "And they of the circumcision which beleieved were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days." If it is wrong to water baptize Gentiles, then explain this. Or is Cornelius an idolater?

ANSWER:

Peter and John continued to go to the temple (Acts 3:1) after they had received the holy Ghost, even though there was nothing in the temple that could any longer wash sin away, or provide them any benefit. They had evidently not understood that the earthly priests were no longer of value to their souls any longer, and that prayers (that's what they were going for) need not be made in an earthly temple to be heard. Even Paul continued to observe certain ceremonial rites (Acts 21:26) of the law, even though he himself later said they were "dead works". These things were necessary for them to do out of a love for God, for the law was in the process of "waxing old and vanishing" (Heb.8:13). The disciples were continually having truth unfold to them, and we read many times after God showed them something, them saying, "and I remembered the word of the Lord...." - and God would explain to them what just happened. Cornelius was not an idolater - nor was Peter for water baptizing him - but Peter had never seen a person receive the holy Ghost baptism who was NOT water baptism - and in his perplexity, he said, "how can we forbid this man water?"

Water baptism was a work of the law (for it was given to John the baptist prior to the coming of Jesus - and "the law and the prophets were unto John"). But as the gospel of the Spirit of God was unfolding, these "dead ceremonies" began to fall by the wayside. And Paul was taught by God that ALL ceremonies of the law, all "types" in the old covenant were no longer necessary (Col.2:16). All that was necessary in this new covenant was God cleansing the soul by baptizing them with the Spirit into the body of Christ (1Cor.12:13).

Now - Paul was a wise master builder - he said so. The foundations of the gospel were given to him by God. And he said, NOW, there is "only ONE baptism" (Eph. 4:4). If there is only one baptism, why do you (and others) practice two, and LOVE two? Those that love two baptisms are "rebellious" to the truth that Paul preached.

RECENT VIEWER'S QUESTION:

Do you believe water baptism is necessary for salvation?

ANSWER:

Water baptism is NOT necessary for CONVERSION. In other words, one can receive the real Spirit of God (which is the baptism of the holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues) WITHOUT water baptism.... so it is obvious that water baptism is a "work" that God has finished with in this dispensation. I need also caution you on the use of the word "salvation" as a synonym for "conversion" - it is not so used in the Scriptures. Salvation is what Jesus is bringing with Him for the faithful (1Pet.1:5,9) - it is not something we attain in this lifetime. We are "converted" now --- we will be "saved" in the end, when Jesus says "well done, good and faithful servant."

RECENT VIEWER'S QUESTION:

You say that water baptism is unimportant. John 3:5 states "verily,verily I day unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter intothe kingdom of God."

"Acts 8:36 - God went to a lot of trouble to see that the Eunuch was baptized with water.

Act 10:47 - again the coventant was sealed with baptism in the name of Jesus.

Acts 19:5 - another example of baptism in Jesus name, for in the next verse is when they recieved the Holy Ghost. Is says "AND" when Paul laid his hands upon them...

Each example is clearly a separate experience. These are only the ones off of the top of my head. Obedience is vital in God's economy. We have leaders, because it is God's teaching. The spirit ALWAYS lines up with the Word. Why do you say water baptism is not necessary if the Word says it is?

ANSWER:

Thank you for your comments. However, you have a very important decision to make. There are clearly two baptisms ordained of God for specific times and people in the Bible. 1) John's water baptism, which was given to John by God for Israel, as a sign of repentance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah. 2) Jesus' baptism in the Spirit, which was given by God to Jesus, as a sign that one had truly repented, been sanctified, and received into the body of Christ. (please read these scriptures: Luke 3:16, 1Cor.6:11, 1Cor.12:13).

In every Biblical example of water baptism, we must see whether the people being water baptized needed to be - and whether those baptizing them should have been doing so. There were some in the Bible that should NOT have been water baptized, and that is why Paul told some, "I thank God that I baptized NONE of you..." (1Cor.1) - because it confused them.

These are the ONLY two baptisms ordained by God. They each had a specific purpose, they were each for a different people, and for a different time. Now you must make your decision. Water or Spirit - because Paul said that NOW - in this dispensation we are in, there is only "ONE baptism" (Eph.4:3-4).

Which one do you practice? Spirit only - in obedience to Jesus? Or water AND Spirit in rebellion to the truth? There is only one that counts.

RECENT VIEWER'S QUESTION:

I have enjoyed your web page and the teachings on them. I noticed that you have revelation knowledge concerning the HOLY GHOST baptism. GOD has revealed this to you. However concerning your teachings on water baptism I would strongly encourage that you take this back to the LORD in prayer. SPIRIT baptism is a necessary part of the plan of salvation as also is the baptism of water. I am confident that you will better understand baptism and its purpose if you consider this: Notice that baptism was not JOHN'S idea, but had existed in GOD'S plan LONG before John was ever born. JOHN simply began baptism in a different manner making ready for the infilling of the SPIRIT.

ANSWER:

If it is possible to be saved (in the end) without something - we don't need it any more. If it is possible to receive the holy Ghost WITHOUT water baptism - then God is telling us something about a baptism that he has finished with . . . it's no longer necessary.

It was a "type" of the baptism to come. If we are "baptized into the body" by water - then we need it. But we "are all baptized into one body BY THE SPIRIT" (as Paul taught in 1Cor.12:13). So if a person can be made a member of the church (which is what happens when one receives the Spirit), then "water" is something "extra" which only men require now - not God.

It was necessary in John's day, because John was performing it during a time when ceremony was part of acceptable worship to God . . . but as the other ceremonies of the law, God's "pattern" is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and HIS baptism. In other words, as John said, "I must decrease, and he must increase". Notice that Jesus NEVER baptized anyone in water (John 4:2) - he has a better one, and as Paul wisely said as the "master builder", NOW, there is only ONE baptism (Eph.4:5).

I suggest YOU re-think YOUR position, because you are practicing TWO baptisms, and that is not what the scriptures teach. And, as important, is that the Spirit is NOT saying to do that today.

RECENT VIEWER'S QUESTION:

You mention that water-baptism is no longer applicable, but Philip the evangelist baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch in water and was then 'transported' to another location. Doesn't this teach that water baptism is still relevant today?

ANSWER:

Water baptism is John's baptism, not Jesus' baptism. It is a work "of the law", for "the law and the prophets were until John". Jesus has fulfilled all the "types" of the law, and now baptizes people with the Spirit. ANY and EVERY ceremony practiced which is possible without Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection is a useless "Christian" or other "tradition", and the faithful will leave them behind. They are no longer needed in this new covenant.

The Ethiopian eunuch must have been a Jew, because that is who water baptism was primarily for. (There are also examples of Gentiles receiving water baptism early on in church experience - but still, this "type" for the Jews was being taken out of the way). Water baptism did not wash away the Eunuch's sin - that is something ONLY Spirit baptism can do (1Cor.6:11), and it did not put him into the body of Christ as Spirit baptism alone does (1Cor.12:13).

RECENT VIEWER'S COMMENT:

Are you saying that baptism doesn't need to be done with water? What is the difference between being baptized with water and being baptized by the Holy Spirit? How are the procedures different and where is this documented in the Bible? My mother is baptized in the UPC, and claims she speaks in tongues. I have never witnessed this, and am not sure I want to. But, I am willing to hear what others have to say about it.

ANSWER:

On the issue of "water baptism". . . First we must establish a truth which Paul preached to the Gentiles (that is you and me). He told us that NOW (in this dispensation) there is only ONE baptism (Eph.4:4). Not two... but one. So we must ask the question, "which baptism is it that God now has ordained for people to receive"?

There were only two baptisms ever ordained by God, only two clearly referenced baptisms in the scriptures: John the baptist's water baptism, and Jesus' spirit baptism.

John the baptist's baptism was for ISRAEL (not gentiles); and it ALWAYS contained a message when it was performed: "there is one coming after me... he shall baptize you with the holy Ghost and with fire". If it did not have that message with it, it was not John's baptism. (So men who practice water baptism without the following message of Spirit baptism are not even practicing John's baptism, really!)

After Jesus came, and died for sin, he went up to the Father, and purchased the "promise" of the holy Ghost, which he shed on the day of Pentecost. As the gospel was going forth, the ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles was given to Paul, and his message was that of the holy Ghost baptism ONLY. Ceremonial works of the law (of which John's baptism was one) were irrelevant in the gospel which Paul preached. Paul said "God did NOT send ME to baptize (in water)". He also said that he was "thankful that HE (Paul) had not baptized (in water) any of the believers in Corinth". Why? Because it was confusing to people! Water baptism is a work of the "Law", and is past. It was for the Jews; and Peter and Paul did baptize a handful of people (even some who were Gentiles), but as their knowledge of the true faith was "exploding" into full view, it was Paul who had the revelation that it was BY the holy Ghost baptism that a person was put into the body of Christ (1Cor.12:13). And that is why Paul (and we!) practice that ceremonial act unto Gentiles no more.

Water baptism is not a demonstration of "faith" as people are told... it is a demonstration of "unbelief", and leads one to believe that what God does for a person is insufficient to save their souls in the end. Since Christianity is built on ceremony and tradition, that is why the foolish there continue to practice water baptism (and many other signs and symbols of old covenant worship). And of course, that is one reason the Spirit of God is saying to all of the holy Spirit baptized children within Christianity: "Come out of her my people".

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