Water, Water, Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink! - The Seven Baptisms

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While it seems that most of the time denominations argue about what method of baptism to use, little attention is paid to the fact that there are actually seven baptisms in the Bible and that only three of them actually involve people getting wet! It’s very important to familiarize yourself with these baptisms, because they play a critical role in rightly dividing the scriptures.

If you start applying things from one baptism where it wasn’t intended, you could wind up getting crazy ideas like thinking baptism has something to do with salvation, receiving the Holy Ghost, or some other kind of nonsense.

We’ll start chronologically from the first recorded baptism to the last.

1. The Baptism of Moses.

I Cor. 10:1-2, 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;
2) And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;”

Isn’t that peculiar? A baptism in the Bible, 1500 years before John the Baptist ever showed up!

This refers to the time when the entire nation of Israel passed through the Red Sea on dry ground, and not a Jew in the whole bunch of them got wet! This was a baptism of identification. At the moment of Israel passing under the cloud and through the sea, it was a public identification for the entire world to know that these people were God’s people, and that the Lord God Jehovah was their God.

2. John the Baptist’s/Peter’s Baptism.

Matthew 3:1-6, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2) And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3) For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4) And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5) Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6) And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”

Before we delve into this, it’s critical to point out some very important facts. Do you realize at this point in history, no one knew who Jesus was? They would shortly, but these people were getting baptized before anyone had ever even seen Jesus! They were getting baptized before Jesus had even started His earthly ministry, let alone died on the cross, and certainly before anyone was talking about trusting in His atonement on the cross.  John the Baptist would have made a terrible Baptist today, he was a bacon avoiding, Mosaic Law abiding, Sabbath keeping Jew!

The formula here was preparation for the Messiah. The idea was for people to get their hearts right and to make it known publically. The Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t Heaven, it was the national kingdom promised to the Jews all throughout the Old Testament, specifically Isaiah. If the entire nation repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah, following the crucifixion (which would have to have happened as it was prophesied) and the Tribulation, Jesus Christ would have returned 2,000 years ago and set up His earthly kingdom then – not sometime still yet in the future.

Acts 19:2-5, “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.
3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
4) 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.
5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul made it very clear that the purpose of John’s baptism wasn’t people getting saved and getting the Holy Spirit, it was a matter of repentance and it was all about the people believing on the Messiah which was to come later on.

The “remission of sins” that people were getting baptized for under John had nothing to do with getting rid of their sins on an individual level. It had to do with the nation of Israel having its sins forgiven on a corporate and national level.

Peter preached the same thing in Acts 2, the whole context of his message can be tied to the second coming as prophesied in the book of Joel. Everyone that was there was a Jew or at least a Jewish proselyte, and it was one of Israel’s last few opportunities to turn to God lest the Holy Spirit and the gospel turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).

National forgiveness for Israel isn’t a foreign concept, under the law every year the priest would enter in and offer a sacrifice for the entire nation (Heb 9:7-8); this baptism was working towards doing the same thing. If you had repented of your sins, wanted to be identified with the future Messiah and kingdom, and wanted the corportate forgiveness of the sins of Israel (which would be acomplished later by the cross) you would get baptized.

If you’re a Campbellite, whatever made you think that these people that John was baptizing were getting their sins remitted? Have you completely ignored what God said about remission in Hebrews?

Heb. 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

Nobody gets their sins forgiven in the eyes of God unless blood has been shed! Where was the blood in Matthew chapter three? Jesus hadn’t even arrived on the scene yet! Blood wasn’t going to be shed until three and a half years later.  No one's ever had their sins forgiven by getting dunked in a river!

Amazingly enough, these people were getting baptized before they got saved. Did you read that part in Acts 19? Those baptized under John were supposed to believe later, once the Messiah arrived on the scene. Now days, we get baptized after we get saved. There’s a big difference! Don’t take your doctrine of salvation from Matthew chapter three instead of the book of Romans.

3. The Water Baptism of Jesus.

Matthew 3:13-17, “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14) But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15) And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Have you ever wondered why in the world Jesus got baptized? If so, you’re not alone, John the Baptist voiced the same thing to Jesus when he said, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?”

The answer Jesus gave him was short and to the point, “…Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”

Did you see how Jesus said it “becometh us” to fufil all righteousness? Some people try to say that this was one step in Jesus becoming God, which is heresy. The first reason why Jesus got baptized was one of the same reasons why John got baptized, to be an example to the rest of the people on what to do.

The second reason Christ was baptized was to identify Himself as the Son with God the Father. This was made apparent by what happened immediately after He was baptized. This is very important as the Jews are monotheistic and needed a sign from Heaven showing them that Jesus is God as well. Not that there are multiple Gods, but that Jesus Christ was God as well.

4. The Baptism of Suffering.

Matthew 20:22-23, “But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
23) And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”

This baptism has nothing to do with water. It is a baptism of suffering. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist early on in the book of Matthew, so this has nothing to do with any water baptism. When Christ was on the cross, he was immersed in suffering. As we know, He suffered for all the sins of mankind, past, present, and future.

Apparently James and John would be baptized with the baptism of suffering as well. My only explanation for this would be that they both suffered immense pain physically for the cause of Christ; James, as a martyr by the sword, and John, who was dropped into a vat of boiling oil.

5. Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the body of Christ is a little cookie. 
This picture is meant to mock such an ridiculous idea.

Matthew 3:11, “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:”

First of all, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and the baptism of fire are two separate baptisms, and will be thoroughly explained by once we get to the last point of this article. They do not overlap; they are not connected in anyway other than you as a reader will get one or the other.

Upon salvation, a person is indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God. A person, in this dispensation, cannot be saved without the Holy Spirit being in him. The Bible is very clear that you cannot have Christ without having the Holy Spirit as well:

Rom. 8:9-11, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

A modern day group of believers will try and convince you that you have to be baptized or speak in tongues to receive the Holy Spirit, but as is evident here you can’t be saved without the Holy Spirit. There was a time when you could say a person could be saved without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit early, but those days are gone now.

This is what John was talking about; the day in which the Holy Spirit would indwell believers on a permanent basis (Eph. 1:13, 4:30). This wasn’t happening before the cross. Either at or after the cross, a spiritual organism known as the “body of Christ” was formed. As the Holy Spirit indwells a saved man, he is also placed within the body of Christ, and on some sort of spiritual level he is one with Jesus Christ.

I Cor. 2:13, “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.”

John 17:21-23, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

Do you see why it’s important not to monkey around with things before the cross? Under John’s baptism, the body of Christ didn’t even exist and people were not indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Why would anyone look for how to be saved there or try to get any church age doctrine from there?

6. Believer’s Baptism.

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:”

At first you might come to the conclusion that this verse supports the idea that baptism has something to do with salvation. Looking at several other scriptures in Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians you’ll see that salvation is of faith alone. So that begs the question, why does it say “…baptism doth also now save us…”?

The first thing I’d ask you is do you think women have to have babies in order to go to Heaven?

I Tim. 2:15, “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

“Save” or “saved” doesn’t always mean having your sins forgiven, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and being placed within the body of Christ. Women are being “saved” here in the sense that they can overcome the stigma that was put upon them after the fall (see the context of the verse) by following the God given pattern for submitting to the authority of their husbands (not a very popular idea today, nonetheless).

In I Peter 3:21, the words “save us” are clearly defined by the following parenthetical statement, “(not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)” The Putting away the filth of the flesh ("the flesh" is the old sin nature as defined in Romans, so the putting of the filth of the flesh is forgiveness of sins) is not what this baptism is about, this baptism is about having a good conscience towards God after salvation. Furthermore, the beginning of the verse shows us that baptism is a “figure” of salvation, it only pictures it.

Pastor Rick DeMichele, in his pamphlet on Believer’s Baptism, points out the four things that believer’s baptism pictures and proclaims:

“It PICTURES and PROCLAIMS four important things:

1. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS the believer's death, burial, and resurrection with Christ. "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." Colossians 2:12
2. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS the death of our old life to sin, and our resurrection to walk in newness of life. "As Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4
3. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS our faith in the Trinity of the Godhead. "Baptizing them in the NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 28:19
4. Scriptural baptism PICTURES and PROCLAIMS our "putting on" of Christ. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26,27.”

Believer’s baptism is a decision made by the Christian to follow Christ as a disciple. It happens after salvation, not before, and it has nothing to do with actually being saved.

7. Baptism of Fire.

Matthew 3:11-12, “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:
12) Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

We already saw that the baptism of the Holy Ghost occurs at salvation and was promised to believers before Christ died. The baptism of fire is something else. It is defined in the very next verse as burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.

That’s not good. The people that heard the message that John the Baptist was giving were going to get one or the other.

This baptism occurs at the Great White Throne Judgment, when all those who have rejected Christ will be judged according to their works, and whether or not their names are written in the book of Life.

Rev. 20:11-15, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Those not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Their bodies will be resurrected before the judgment begins. The saved are given a new resurrection body that is identified with Christ (I John 3:2), those that are resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire will have a resurrection body that is identified with their father, the Devil (John 8:44, Is 66:24). Baptism usually always has something to do with identification, the Baptism of Fire is no exception.  Whatever that is, it’s not something good and pleasant.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you happen to be reading this and have not asked Jesus Christ to save you from the penalty of your sins, understand the fact that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Today, pray and ask God to forgive you of your sins based upon what Jesus Christ did for you.

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