Abstract: Is water baptism required for spirit baptism and salvation? Those who repent, receive Jesus Christ and believe in Him as Lord were baptized with the Holy Ghost. God wants to baptize all people in faith.

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Salvation by faith or by water baptism?

By Aramus Crane 2004

Part 2b:  Verses typically used by those saying water baptism is required for salvation.
(Evidence from the book of Acts.)

Based on a dialog with a missionary friend (claims to be formerly fundamentalist, now evangelical) who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).  To make the dialog more understandable to the reader, I reordered some of it, corrected some English mistakes, and eliminated redundencies.

The views of my brother in the Lord should not be taken to reflect those of all fundamentals, evangelicals, or DTS.  In fact, you'll find that his views differ explicitly from those expressed on the DTS website:  "no baptism or other ordinance however administered, can help the sinner to take even one step toward heaven." 

I consider myself a simple Christian.  My views largely allign with those of the Protestant forefathers, but the reader should not assume that they reflect the ideas of all Protestants, my foundation, my church, my supporters, my alma mater, or any other creature on the planet.  

Bible quotations are from the King James Version (KJV) because most people of my brother's persuasion prefer that version.

His statements are in blue.  Mine are in black.

"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....  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."  Acts 2:38, 41.

Note that it does not read, "let us baptize you" as it does in Matthew 28. God is to baptize, so the author only mentions the object, "you".

Note in the verse baptism is distinct from the receiving of the HS mentioned in the later half of the verse.  (spirit baptism).  In verse 41 it records their baptism (I think water baptism is pretty clear here).

I would find that extremely hard to believe.  I see nothing to imply water baptism.  How many times is water mentioned in the chapter?  0.  How many times is the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost mentioned?  6.  So, you must take it out of context to make water baptism "pretty clear".

Plus, this is the first day that the Holy Spirit arrived for filling people on earth. So, obviously, He couldn't have entered believing souls before this day when you hypothesize that they were baptized with water.  This event happened once in the history of the world, so we cannot draw a rule from this unique event.

If you have always believed without question that the baptism referred to here was a baptism in water instead of in the Holy Spirit, click here for a discussion on the feasibility of such an event.

If you want to get into some 1st year Greek (I had to take 5 years of it).  "Repent" is an aorist imperative connected with and "and" to "be baptized" an aorist passive imperative (not future like you think).  "you will receive" is a future middle verb (because it is a deponent verb -- 2nd year Greek).  So you do (imperative) two distinct things and then you will (subsequent future) receive the HS. Therefore repentance and baptism in this context are distinct from the spirit baptism mentioned later in the same exact verse.

So the text makes a clear logical and temporal distinction between water and spirit baptism.  I am not saying we fully understand this verse --  which is actually my point -- we should be humble enough to say there are  things we don't fully comprehend.   In your case you should say you don't comprehend the Greek either -- unless of course you secretly are fluent in Biblical Greek and just haven't let on.

What does baptize in the name of Jesus mean--water?  We see people believing in the Gospel of "the name of Jesus" in 8:12, distinct from baptism but there is not enough there to convince a skeptic.

Glad you see that also.  We both know that many skeptics wouldn't believe if God told them from Heaven.  We must address the objective intellectual.  Even for you, (slightly biased against the idea), the Greek says what it says to me (slightly biased in the other direction).  If the repenting and baptism are at the same time, you clearly get baptized (or "immersed") in Jesus when you repent and are cleansed.  To imply that the baptism is in water some time later doesn't jive with the Greek.  This is very similar to how we use the sentence in advertising.  Buy a hamburger and you will get a free bag of fries.  I don't think you would argue that the two events are separate and that Ronald McDonald will pay you a visit to your house with your fries, do you?  (-:  (Good thing I know you don't believe this any more so I'm laughing with you.)

Note the clear linkage between baptism (spirit baptism for me the reception of the spirit is a subsequent act -- you can see that even in the English without going to the Greek like I had to do above to make my point ) and forgiveness in the verse. (cf. 22:16).  And the context is not spirit baptism (water is assumed in all contexts unless otherwise stated)

The view that this is referring to spirit baptism doesn't hold water (forgive the pun but I couldn't help myself) when you look at the second half of the verse.  "and you will (future tense) receive the HS" clearly a subsequent and distinct act from the baptism mentioned beforehand.

So, if  there a time difference between your baptism in water and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit doesn't enter someone even at the moment that baptism in water occurs, as many people believe?  It comes some time later?  

Additional information
>From the official catechism of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), Vatican press 1984.

# 1226-1228 quotes Acts 2:38....then states "Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which...produces a life given effect...and it becomes a sacrament"

#1262 Section on the "Grace of Baptism" again quoting acts 2:38 "immersion in water symbolizes not only death.....Thus the two principle effects are purification from sins and a new birth in the Holy Spirit"

Here is a really good one for you #1427 "It is by faith in the gospel and by baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins...  Footnotes acts 2:38 for support.

So. "most" using your definition (RCC included) say that Acts 2:38 has everything to do with water, in fact the RCC church ("most" again) say that that specific verse proves that baptism is not only a part of salvation but a necessary sacrament to be saved.

Yes, over half of the Christians are Roman Catholic.  But they are just one of the denominations that has independently interpreted God's Word, not a majority .

also 2:41  baptism immediately followed accepting His message .

  So, baptism in the Holy Spirit comes after baptism here and we see the order reversed in Acts 10:43-48 "While Peter yet spake thes wods, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.  And they of the circumcision which believed 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 well as we?'"

So, if the baptism in the Holy Spirit comes before water baptism sometimes and after it other times, evidence is gathering that the events are fairly independent of one another, which supports my contention that salvation and water baptism are independent events.

"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  Then Simon himself believed also:  and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:  Who when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them:  only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.  And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power, that whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost."  Acts 8:12-19, 36-38

There is nothing here implying that salvation came at the moment that people got baptized in water.  I don't debate that baptism in water was a common way of expressing one's faith in the early Church.  

Here again, we get the understanding that baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit occur at different times, not at the same time as many believe.

Second point for me, there is no mention that the Holy Spirit entered the eunuch when Philip baptized him with water. 

"And when [Lydia] was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, 'If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there.  And she constrained us.'"  Acts 16:15

I don't know what you want to point out here.  Again, there is no mention of the type of baptism nor any link with salvation.  

The burden of proof is in your court -- baptism means with water -- definition of the word -- unless clearly stated otherwise.  

This is not true.  There is no inherent implication of water.  (To read our debate of the subject whether an educated reader should assume "water" when "baptism" is written,click here.)  The link is to judging her to be faithful, hence whichever baptism is referenced, it is linked to the profession or manifestation of faith that is water baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

"And [the keeper of the prison] took [Paul and Silas] the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway." Acts 16:33 

Read the context,  v. 31: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Here there is no mention of the necessity of water baptism, so to introduce "water" into the text two verses later is rather presumptuous.

"And Crispus, the chief rule of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." Acts 18:8

Once again, the type uncertain and even if it is water baptism, the verse is not explicit when the person was saved.

"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, 'Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?'
And they said unto him, 'We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.'  
And he said unto them, 'Unto what then were ye baptized?'
And they said, 'Unto John's baptism.'  
Then said Paul, 'John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.'  
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied.
" Acts 19:4-7

Read verse 1.  These people were already believers who hadn't heard of the Holy Spirit so they didn't have Him.  Clearly there is a long time between baptism of repentance and baptism with the Holy Spirit.  Plus, there was a second baptism but no Holy Spirit.  Then the laying on of hands (something we practice that the Repenters don't) and the Holy Spirit arrived on the scene.

Yes it was after in time but there is a strong immediate relationship between the two acts.  The NT doesn't seem to even fathom the idea of a believer not being baptized [with water].   The acts are clearly distinct but also intricately entwined.  One naturally and automatically follows the other.

After two dips in the pond and no Holy Spirit, I'm not sure an objective observer could say that they are "intricately entwined."  Anzi (I couldn't think of the English word.) perhaps the writer of Acts was trying to make a point that there was no connection.  

The pattern in the book of Acts was immediate water baptism following believing his message.

No debate with me there--It was something I enjoyed as a testimony of my faith.

(side note: In later church tradition the practice of baptism was almost universally delayed after a period of catechism.)  Does that mean baptism is necessary for salvation? no.

Exactly my point.

Does that mean it is a required Christian act of obedience?  yes.

I agree .  However, some contend that if an individual has been baptized once, there is no Biblical precedence for insisting on a rebaptism.  We must demonstrate grace for the Holy Spirit to do Hisjob of convincing and convicting.

Is it "linked" to salvation in some sense? yes?  just as Christ, depending on the individual, "linked" other things to salvation. 

Good point.  Salvation depends on faith, the desire to follow the guidance of the Scriptures as we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit more than the desire for anything else. This is what we call lordship salvation. If the Holy Spirit convinces someone to do anything and he refuses to, then he does not have saving faith.  However, that conviction never occurs, then there is no lordship decision to be made.  Just as you couldn't show any temporal sequential link between baptism and salvation with any of these verses, so Biblical sources do not support a consistent temporal relationship.

you are wrong there -- they are clearly connected in some sense they are often mentioned together both temporally and in the same sentence sometimes even with "and" like 2:38

(It is probably obvious to the reader that we showed that chapter 2 was not referring to a water baptism.  Plus, the temporal sequence is reversed in 10:43-48)  
"And now why tarriest thou?  arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."  Acts 22:16

This is a Roman Catholic verse use to justify the idea of baptismal regeneration.

On this one, we need to return to the original event to see what kind of baptism was meant.  The original event was in chapter 9.  The author uses a similar statement in verse 18, although without the forgiveness part.  Notice the context where verse 17 says that he was promised that he would recover his vision and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  So, verse 18 says the scale-like blinders fell from his eyes and he was baptized.  It would be completely twisting the verse out of context to change verse 18 to mean water baptism when 17 said it was Spirit baptism.

Are some of the verses mentioned above not clear?  you bet!


Are some debatable? yes.!!  But obviously something is going on here we don't fully grasp.  Therefore I am not willing to be so dogmatic to say that salvation, works, etc have NOTHING to do with salvation.  Are the the basis of it? NO!!!  related someway, somehow in God's infinite mind?  I think clearly so. How?  I really don't know (and that is my point--we don't know so should be so quick to judge).

Reader:  What are your thoughts now about the subject?  Take our survey.

Continue the discussion.  Annex A:  Can "water" be assumed anywhere "baptism" is mentioned in Scripture?

Is water baptism the most logical understanding of Acts 1?

Let's throw out my preconceived notion, your preconceived notion, and ignore the context, grammar, and the Bible's testimony that salvation is by faith.  Is it logistically possible for it to be water baptism mentioned here.

Could one disciple perform the water baptism?

Note it reads: "almost 3000" new believers in one day.  Think about that for a moment.  They heard the word and were baptized.  Peter and the writer of Acts help us here in that they tell us it was 9AM when Paul started preaching.  Let's assume that Paul  fasted because of the extraordinary anointing that God was doing so he didn't need time to eat. Assume that he only said the words that are recorded in Acts and didn't preach for more than 5 minutes.  Assume he got a crowd of 3000 to the baptismal pool in 30 minutes.  Actually, there is no record that I know of that they used manmade pools like we do now.  That makes little difference for me theologically, but we cannot assume that they did it then if there is no record of it.  Thus, they had to find natural water deep enough to dunk people in.  Is that possible in Jerusalem, I don't know.

Anyway, on the best of all cases, there were less than 8.5 hours left. (As a degreed theologian you surely know that the Hebrew day ended at 6PM.) For a moment we will assume that Peter did the baptizing here--we'll take up other alternatives later.  How is he going to baptize 330 people an hour, one every 18 seconds?  That is shorter than it takes to order a serving of fries from Burger King.  He would be the McDonald's of the baptism world!  This is hardly the reverent act, especially if Paul believes as some that by this baptism in water meant that people were obtaining a new eternal life!  You would have to assume that God made the world stand still again. These would all be miracles that would have been made clear enough in the Bible that it wouldn't have taken 2000 years for a guy like me to discover.

Could the water baptism be performed by multiple disciples in one place?

Now let's assume that some of the other apostles helped him.  Who do we have record of as baptizing with water?  That we must find out too.  Then we have to find out if 20 people can move around in the pool they used. Clearly you couldn't have the normal quiet sober intimate time of a proper baptism with 12 people simultaneously shouting their testimony.  I think I've made my point.  I've chuckled for three days on this one.

Could the water baptism be performed by multiple disciples in multiple places?

Now let's assume that they went to different places.  We have to find out how many places are deep enough in which to baptize.  So, logistics of this event make water baptism questionable. 

Forget the logistics.  There were also 12 apostles, could have been other Christians also to help, we don't know that they had everyone give a public testimony, they could have been sprinkled, etc etc..  Logistics have very little weight since we have no idea of the actual circumstances.  The point is the text.  in vs. 38 the reception of the spirit is a subsequent act to the baptism mentioned previously. 

If we start "forgetting logistics", that we are physical beings limited in space and time, our religion loses touch with reality and becomes a fantastic fairy tale unapplicable to earthly life.  Unless the Bible states that a miracle occurs, we should not assume such an event to validate our beliefs that run contrary to the Biblical testimony.

Return me to the discussion.

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