In time past, Israel had many ceremonial practices in their service to God under law. These ceremonies were described as A SHADOW of good things to come (Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:16-17). One such practice was the washings of the priest and anyone considered unclean (Numbers 19). Wash means to wash away, wash off, bathe, to be washed. This ceremony was a type of purification required under the law.
Exodus 40:12-15 And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and WASH THEM WITH WATER. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
Numbers 8:5-7 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou do unto them, TO CLEANSE THEM: SPRINKLE WATER OF PURIFYING upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.
Numbers 19:20-21 But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord: THE WATER OF SEPARATION HATH NOT BEEN SPRINKLED UPON HIM; he is unclean. And it shall be a perpetual statue unto them, that he that SPRINKLETH THE WATER OF SEPARATION shall wash his clothes and; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.
Ezekiel 36:24-25 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. THEN WILL I SPRINKLE CLEAN WATER UPON YOU, AND YE SHALL BE CLEAN: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
If Israel did not follow God’s instructions for their purification through the ceremonial washings, they were considered unclean and would be cut off from among the congregation (Numbers 19:20).
During Jesus earthly ministry and the Acts of the Apostles, the practice of washing continued in the form of water baptism (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38). The word baptize means to immerse, to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe.
Under the law, when someone believed the gospel of the kingdom, they were required to be water baptized. Matthew 16:16 He that believeth AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED, but he that believeth not shall be damned.
On the day of Pentecost, when the Jews understood that they had rejected their Messiah, they asked what shall we do? Acts 2:36-38 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, WHAT SHALL WE DO? Then Peter said unto them, repent and BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 41a Then they that gladly received his word WERE BAPTIZED…
The keeper of the prison believed and was baptized.
Acts 16:30-33 And brought them out, and said, Sirs what must I do to be saved? And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him theword of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; AND WAS BAPTIZED, he and all his, straightway.
In the beginning of Paul’s ministry, those who believed the gospel were baptized. However, further into his ministry, it is evident the practice of water baptism did not continue. 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. Water baptism is only referenced in Paul’s epistles in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17. He declared his ministry was to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:8-9).
The apostle Paul made it clear that his ministry consisted of one baptism. Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism. That baptism was the baptism of the believer into the body of Christ by the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 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.
Some in the dispensation of grace hold fast to the idea that water baptism should be a part of the churches practice today. They say that water baptism is an outward sign of what has happened inwardly by faith, and that is shows the believer is not ashamed to be identified as a Christian. Yet, nowhere in scripture are we told this is a reason to be baptized. Neither John the Baptist, or Peter said those are the reasons Israel should be baptized. According to prophecy, and under law, when one believed, water baptism was required for remission (forgiveness) of sins.
Mar 1:4 KJV - John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance [FOR] THE REMISSION OF SINS.
Mar 1:5 KJV - And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and WERE ALL BAPTIZED OF HIM in the river of Jordan, CONFESSING THEIR SINS.
Mar 16:16 KJV - He that BELIEVETH [AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED]; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Luk 3:3 KJV - And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE [FOR] THE REMISSION OF SINS;
Act 2:38 KJV - Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and BE BAPTIZED EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST [FOR] THE REMISSION OF SINS, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
In order for Israel to receive forgiveness for their sins, they were required to repent and be water baptized. When they did as instructed, this demonstrated Israel’s faith and obedience before God. In the following verse, the Pharisees and lawyers refuse to be baptized going against the will of God. Luke 7:29-30 And all the people that heard him (Jesus), and the publicans, justified God, BEING BAPTIZED WITH THE BAPTISM, OF JOHN. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel (will) of God against themselves, BEING NOT BAPTIZED OF HIM.
Water baptism is not how the believer in the dispensation of grace receives forgiveness of sins. One simply believes the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1Co 15:1 KJV - Moreover, brethren, I (Paul) declare unto you THE GOSPEL WHICH I PREACHED UNTO YOU, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1Co 15:2 KJV - BY WHICH ALSO YE ARE SAVED, if ye keep in memory WHAT I PREACHED UNTO YOU, unless ye have believed in vain.
1Co 15:3 KJV - For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4 KJV - And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Under the law, the twelve apostles preached the gospel of the kingdom and followed by baptizing those that believed. Nowhere in Paul’s epistles does he say water baptism is required? Neither does Paul tell us in his epistles that water baptism is an outward sign of what has happened inwardly by faith, or that it shows the believer is not ashamed to be identified as a Christian.
Under the law, water baptism was something the believer was REQUIRED TO DO in obedience to God for remission of sin. The believer’s salvation today does not require works, as was Israel. If water baptism was essential for forgiveness of sins, as it was for Israel, do you think Paul would be so careless as to neglect to mention it in his epistles. He only mentions water baptism once, and said he came not to baptize but to preach the gospel. So, water baptism was not a practice in the dispensation of grace for forgiveness of sin as it was in preaching the gospel of the kingdom to Israel.
The only thing necessary for salvation today is to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ by faith.
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Tit 3:4-5 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Salvation is based solely on the finished work of Jesus Christ. When we place our faith in the gospel,
we are made accepted in Christ and receive forgiveness of sins because of his shed blood.
Ephesians 1:6-7 To the praise of THE GLORY OFHIS GRACE, wherein HE HATH MADE US ACCEPTED in the beloved(Christ). In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath MADE US meet (make sufficient, render fit, qualify) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:
In the dispensation of grace, only the baptism of the Spirit is required for salvation.
Colossians 2:12-13 BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, HAVING FORGIVEN YOU ALL TRESPASSES;
The baptism reference here in Colossians is the baptism of the Spirit. Romans 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. 1 Corinthians 12:13For 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. Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Baptism into Christ is solely the work of the Holy Spirit. So, when we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, the baptism that follows is the baptism of the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, ONE BAPTISM,
Romans 14:5b …. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.