Baptism is the One Salvation

 Baptism is the One Salvation.

Just get back to the Bible on what it teaches about One Baptism is the One Salvation.  It will eliminate both the unsound doctrine of Church of Christ that water baptism is necessary for salvation, and the Swaggart’s horrible and destructive statements about baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever asked yourself the question about the seven ONEs of Ephesians 4:4-6, the great summary of major beliefs of the Bible, why one salvation is not mentioned in there with “one faith”, “one baptism”, etc. The reason is that the “baptism” mentioned by Jesus in the Great Commission and the “baptism” fully developed by Paul in Romans, is the baptism of salvation. Unfortunately, or fortunately we will see as we come to look at baptism as a contemporary parable, we always think of baptism as water baptism. Well, that is good, and that is exactly the way it was when Jesus started His ministry in Palestine with the baptism by John the Baptist. John, considered, the last of Old Testament Prophets, and consistent with the water baptism of the Old Testament, had a ministry of preparation for Jesus centered around repentance and water baptism. This will become clearer in this chapter.

Contemporary baptism is a Drama Baptism based on the two baptisms that must follow it in order to be an act of obedience and in order to be dramatic on what it represents: first in the background of Drama Baptism must come the Baptism of Jesus–Jesus told of that baptism in Mark 10:35-45–a baptism of death, burial, and resurrection; and second in the background of Drama Baptism must come a personal change in life–the same personal change Jesus speaks of in the Great Commission of “believe and be baptized”–whereby there is a radical inward change of life similar to that of which the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20 whereby “we are crucified with Christ {initial salvation with repentance and faith}, nevertheless we live {initial salvation with faith and 9 month new birth}; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me {new birth}; and the life which I now live in the flesh {continuing salvation in sanctification}, I live by the faith of the Son of God {adoption}, who loved me {reconciliation} and gave His life {redemption} for me.”

4-1: Baptism in the Old Testament.

Since “baptism” literally means a “physical process” there are many kinds of baptisms mentioned in the Bible, including in the Writing Prophets. In fact the most important baptism for salvation–the “baptism spoken of my Jesus in the Great Commission of “believe and be baptized”–let me call it “baptism of salvation” for now and I will explain it later, is mentioned in the Writings of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. {You will have trouble believing that such a distinctively Christian doctrine as “baptism” is taught in the OT if you have not come to see the NT as not a replacement of the OT, but rather as both a clarification of the OT in the light of the life and teachings of Jesus, and of course the death; and as a special Bible of Gospel for the Gentiles.

In the verse we look at from I Corinthians 10:1-4 below, there is a national baptism being spoken of, a baptism of the nation of Israel if you would. Have you ever wondered how the nation of Israel could be a chosen nation of God, and yet almost all of the children of Israel in the wilderness were denied by God “eternal rest”. Yes, of the first generation of the children of Israel called out of Egypt, none were saved except Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb, and all the children under 20 years of age. {The only difference there is that it is at a nation level so that the prediction is made of the time of Christ when the whole nation of “selfs” will be baptized.} Consider as one example of the many different usages of the word “baptism” in the Bible, you have a “baptism into Moses in the cloud and the sea” in I Corinthians.

“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” (I Corinthians 10:1-5 NJKV)

Exegesis: (1) all of our forefathers, Paul said, experienced the physical blessings from God of rescue from Egyptian bondage and personally witnessed the miracle of passing through the Red Sea on dry land; (2) all the children of Israel had a baptism “into Moses”–hardly sufficient for salvation as into Moses and not into Christ–which here is a baptism by an immersion in the cloud and the sea; (3) all of the children of Israel, at this point after Mount Sinai you would have to call them both a “congregation” and a nation, in the wilderness wanderings for 40 years would partake of the physical blessings of food and water from God; (4) they even drank “spiritually” of the Rock of Christ–they drank but not hard enough and not long enough as constantly they were working on the more difficult task of developing “a evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God”; and (5) this national baptism was not sufficient for salvation as God was not well pleased but with a few, their bodies were scattered in the wilderness rather than being allowed in the Promised Land and a new generation–all of those under 21 years of age–would have 40 more years in the wilderness of faith testing, and most significantly according to the book of Hebrews they were not allowed to enter into God’s eternal rest of heaven. You will recall from the treatment in the book of Hebrews that the bottom line of this is that almost all that came out of Egypt, because of their unbelief, were not allowed to go into the Promised Land nor allowed to go to heaven. They all saw these miracles and works of God but not all believed. Now, you will notice the wording related to the cloud and the sea, “under the cloud” and that is called a baptism into Moses and “passed through the sea” which is also called a baptism into Moses. Perhaps this one example from the OT as made clear in the NT will open your mind to the fact of the many types of baptism in the Bible, in order that we can proceed with Paul on the most significant of all baptisms for salvation, the baptism of salvation. And just to mention a few by way of a preliminary introduction: there is Holy Spirit baptism, world baptism, Christ baptism, self baptism, and water baptism. The Holy Spirit baptism {one of the most abused Bible doctrines in belief and practice by those called Pentecostals} which happens to all Christians when they believe, it is generally called the new birth experience in the Bible, is what I am referring to here as salvation baptism. It can best be introduced by I Peter 3:21.

“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 toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (I Peter 3:21 KJV)

This baptism is described as “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God”. Parenthetically, you will notice that to put away the filth of the flesh, immersion is required; but the baptism of which the Apostle Peter is writing, has nothing to do with water baptism by immersion, or water baptism period, it is baptism however that does save. What is the baptism that saves? Would you think that it is the same as the message of the Great Commission since Jesus gave that commission in order for disciples all over the world to experience salvation, “believe and be baptized”! That is the baptism that saves, and it is a different baptism from water baptism. What saves is: “the answer of a good conscience toward God”. It is a response on your part and on my part, and we will continue to talk about it first on the national level as a prediction in Jeremiah and Ezekiel and then on a personal level as the fulfillment started after the Ascension of Christ. After Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and when we get back to this passage of I Peter 3:18-22, I want to develop it under 4 figures of baptism: first, World Baptism, as the passage mentions how the whole world except for eight souls was covered and destroyed with water; second as Christ Baptism as the Bible calls the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our salvation a “baptism”; thirdly, Self Baptism, as even as Christ died, was buried, and arose, we over ourselves are to experience a death, burial, and resurrection–more precisely in the Bible this is called repentance and the new birth; and lastly Water Baptism, as the Bible commands us to be immersed in the water as a command of obedience to the example of Christ and as a figure or representation of what has already happened spiritually to the self. (That will preach, right!)

4-2: The 4 figures of baptism of I Peter 3:18-22.

Okay, I think we have enough background from the predictions of the Writing

Prophets, to go into the real thing that happened during the time of Christ and of His apostles, in particular we will focus around the Apostle Peter and the book of I Peter as found in 3:18-22. Can I read it one more time, this time in the total context; and as I do so please look for the 4 figures of baptism: world baptism, the baptism of Christ, baptism of self, and water baptism.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the day of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” (I Peter 3:18-22 NJKV)

  1. The Baptism of the World. There is always so much interest in who and where Christ preached to the souls in prison that I will deal with it up front. Many of you know that the doctrine of the Mormons is that Jesus during the three days between death and resurrection came to the land of the United States and preached to the American Indians. However, the real context is that He went to Hades, the place in between heaven and hell, and preached to all the souls of the world that were destroyed during the flood. The context also speaks of the patience and longsuffering of God with the people of the world during the forty years that Noah preached and prepared the ark for the great flood that destroyed the whole world. The whole world was baptized with water, and that flood of water resulted in the salvation of only 8 souls! {It is interesting how in the BIBLE AS HISTORY that Werner Keller tells of the archaeological discovery of the ark setting on mount Ararat. Well, the biblical story of the flood, of course, is recorded in Genesis 6.} Can you conceive of a world today that has so far drifted from the Bible in emphasis that it automatically thinks of “baptism” in terms of only what happens to an individual as they are immersed before a local church or sprinkled. {Of course sprinkling can in no way be considered any form of baptism since baptism literally means immersion. Parenthetically, perhaps that is part or our problem: since the most important baptism of the NT is a spiritual immersion inside the individual believer as they believe, and since the change in many individuals is more like a sprinkling change that an immersion change, we have superficial salvation in many cases instead of real salvation.} In order to stop the process of always automatically thinking of baptism in terms of what happens to a person in the local baptistry, can you conceive as a beginning a “world baptism”. Surely, you know that can not take place in your local church baptistry. So already you have opened the doors of your mental logic, to consider that beyond world baptism, there are three other distinct meanings of baptism in I Peter 3:18-22.
  2. The Baptism of Christ is a figure of world baptism for salvation. Look again at the text and context of the verse above from I Peter 3. What you find there is a “baptism which saves us”; and since you know the consistent message of the Bible to be that salvation can come for the world only through Christ, then baptism here is just the Apostle Peter’s way to talk about a kind of baptism that is the salvation provision for the world. You also see this in the “by the resurrection” of Christ, knowing that this kind of baptism, alias salvation, comes through the death and resurrection of Christ. Is your brain starting to get with the Apostle Peter, and the Holy Spirit through Peter? Now, this by far does not mean that all the world is saved by this kind of baptism. Even as in John 3:16 where God so loved the world and as God gave His Son for the world and still an individual in the world must “believe” in order to receive this baptism of Christ for the world, so also the world baptism only applies with individual “believe”. You begin, I hope, to see a summary of the Bible and in particular the 14 letters of the Apostle Paul around the subject of “Believe and Be Baptized” It is only another sign of how far our doctrines have drifted from the Bible of the Apostles, that we tend to think of baptism as only what happens in the baptistry. That is a form of baptism, but only one of the four baptisms. {Actually there are five baptisms if you allow for the false doctrine of the Pentecostals where they get a baptism, they claim, of the Holy Spirit after the baptism of salvation; and which most generally, they believe, leads them to talk in tongues. In reality, many of the problems that Paul dealt with in the church at Corinth, and which is recorded in I and II Corinthians, centers around the kind of self-centeredness of a group of people who think they have special wisdom, that the Word of God came to them only, or that the Word of God came out of them: and this folly of unsound doctrine is what has lead us to the common false practice of false Bible teachers today who claim to receive special revelations from God. You know what I mean, those who say “God told me” or “God gave me”. You would think that they are a Pope or a President of the Mormon Church who also claim when they speak to speak special revelations from God.}
  3. The Baptism of Self is a figure of Christ’s baptism. You must see in the little parenthetical expression of I Peter 3:18-22, the “namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)”, that the kind of baptism is one that takes place inwardly in the individual. It is NOT the physical water coming in contact with the outward flesh in order to make it clean. This baptism gets to the internal conscience; this baptism allows the soul and spirit of the believer to get a good answer to God; and this baptism is what comes automatically as a person truly believes. That is exactly what Mark is saying in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (NKJV) Why is a person not condemned if they are not baptized, since the second part of the verse says that they are condemned if they do not believe. Well, it is automatic: even as the inward change by God through the Spirit, so drastic as to be called “baptism” in the Bible, comes automatically with “believe”, so a failure to believe automatically prohibits the corresponding inward change.
  4. Water baptism is a figure of inward baptism and the baptism of Christ. Yes the water baptism that takes place in the church baptistry is one of the 4 main baptisms of the Bible, in particular of I Peter 3:18-22. You remember it was this kind of baptism that was an essential part of the ministry of John the Baptist; and also recall that Jesus as He was baptized in the baptistry of the Jordan River, stated that this kind of baptism was done by Him as an example for others, and as an act of obedience. {This very act of obedience implies that it is a work that can be done by the individual believer; in no way related to salvation because salvation comes by “grace only”, and “not of {any} works, lest any man should boast”.} Yes, baptism in the baptistry, at least when done by immersion, represents two historical and spiritual facts that come before it: (1) Another kind of baptism that Peter calls the world baptism of Christ–that is, salvation by the crucifixion and resurfacing of Christ–the provides for the world a baptism of salvation when accepted individually by belief; and (2) An inward change that has already occurred inside the believer.

4-3: National Baptism in Jeremiah.

A good Jeremiah introduction to this “national baptism” which later I will relate to salvation baptism is in Jeremiah 24 with the parable of the two baskets of figs. Here is what God showed to Jeremiah as recorded in Jeremiah 24. Two baskets of figs were set before the temple in Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took the king of Judah and many others captive to Babylon.

“One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad. Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like (another figure like world baptism and water baptism) these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. ” (Jeremiah 24:2,3,5 KJV)

This is like the parables Jesus told, then explained later to His disciples. God explains it to Jeremiah, then Jeremiah in turn through his book explains it to us. In fact, shortly before His crucifixion as recorded in the Gospels, Jesus compared the nation of Israel to a fig tree which would not yield fruit, and told additional parables and teachings on eschatology that numbered the days of salvation for Israel in a completion of the abominations of desolation of Daniel. Jesus weep over Jerusalem and Israel, a chosen place and a chosen people since Abraham; but when God promised to bless the seed of Abraham, it was singular seed representing only Christ Himself, and shortly after the crucifixion of Christ only approximately 100,000 Jews were allowed to be saved, then the nation was cut off, probably until the new Jerusalem of heaven on earth. Then just like Jesus would tell a parable to the whole multitude then take the disciples aside and explain it, God explains the parable to Jeremiah and to us. “Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…” (Jeremiah 24:4 KJV) So that you get the impression that Jeremiah show the two baskets before the temple at the time of Captivity, then after pondering on it for a while–like the disciples–were given the explanation. Notice God had delivered them into captivity for their own good. Recall that Jeremiah for years had preached submission to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, because that was the way God had planned it. Much like when God sent Joseph and the while family of Israel down into Egypt during the famine, it was for their own good. Okay, the promise and the prediction starts next.

“For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:6,7 KJV)

You can not find a better description of the new birth than this “heart to know” God of Jeremiah, especially when you consider the amplifying verses of Jeremiah with the promises to both take away the stony hear and to put a new heart in His people. {Have this group of people become the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Yes, the Gentiles more than the Jews after the initial period of Acts where so many Jews were converted, then during the time of the Apostle Paul, cut off by and large with a few exceptions. {This is the bottom line of the abomination of desolations of Daniel. Desolations from the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, yes; desolations as the people had to flee the invading Roman Army of General Titus in 75 A.D, yes; but the desolation of all desolations was that Jews would be cut off as the chosen nation of God for salvation, while still allowed to exist as a nation, and given as usual the function as custodians of the oracles of God.} This is what I like to call “salvation baptism”. God giving them a new heart, a heart that knows God, a whole heart that knows God, and they truly become a people of God personally as more than a nation, and God is truly their God in the full sense of the word. Once again when we take a closer look at the passage of I Peter 3:18-22, I will show how this is the equivalent of the “not putting away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God”; it is the new birth; it is the baptism into Christ with His death, burial, and resurrection; it is repentance and faith; and it is what I like to when discussing I Peter 3 to call “self baptism” {Really I think I should say baptism of self, because it is not something that you can do for yourself.} It must be your answer of a good conscience to God, but only God can give the new birth. However, I am sure that you want to know the end of the story about figs. The good figs were the people of Judah that were taken captive to Babylon, the bad figs were the ones that remained in Judah. Now, I am not sure exactly how God separated them in order to deliver the good figs into the hands of Babylon, and to keep the bad figs out. I am sure it related somewhat to what God had told them through Jeremiah, and their obedience to that decision.

“And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah {remember when Nebuchadnezzar took king Jehoiachin and others to Babylon, he placed Zedekiah over the people left in the land}, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt: And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.” (Jeremiah 24:8-10 KJV)

Notice that God has always tried to purge the people that are called by His name, the bad from among the good whether you call them figs or wheat. (Of course, after the time of Christ He started doing things differently, said leave the chaff among the wheat, in other words leave them alone, and the separation would come at Judgment at the end of time instead of continually as in the Old Testament times.) He has always desired a small group or nation, if you will, of dedicated believers. That was part of the passage of I Corinthians 10:1-12. Let us expand what we looked at to the larger context.

“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them (notice that God was displeased with “most of them”, most of the people named as the people of God)…But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell (and Numbers 25:9 indicates there were additional deaths afterwards); nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:1-12 NJKV)

I like this figure of speech. Paul is saying that a person or group of persons, in this case the church at Corinth, can be so far out of it mentally and spiritual as to think they are standing up when in reality they are flat on the floor. When I come back to the 4 figures of baptism of I Peter 3, I would compare it to persons thinking that their head is above water–that they are treading water or floating–when in reality they have sunk under the water!

4-4: More on “Baptism of Self” as Predicted in Ezekiel.

You see what God was telling Jeremiah back in Judah about this new heart, what I like to call the baptism of self, he was also telling Ezekiel who was already in Babylon captivity. This kind of consistency and comparing scripture with scripture is part of what gives us confidence that the Bible of 66 books is the Word of God.

“Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; {ah, a new spirit, so that you begin to see that the one new heart is also a new spirit and also begin to see that this could be such a change in the inward self as to call it the “baptism of self”}; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, (this would be more of the change of self as the old sinful heart of stone is removed, repentance), and will give them an heart of flesh:  (a heart that is practical to live out the inwardly changed newness) That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 11:17-21 KJV)

It should be mentioned at this point that we know that even among the people that were restored to the land of Israel after Captivity, only a remnant of the remnant received the new heart. We see that in the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi; and we will come to that book in a later chapter. And then we also know that even during the life of Christ, only a minority of Israel turned to faith with a new heart in Christ. In fact, the nature of the nation of Israel as Paul tells us in the book of Romans changed dramatically: (1) the real Israel or real children of God became more Gentiles than national Jews; and (2) the kingdom of Christ became more a larger, selected entity among all peoples than on a dedicated piece of land.