Thursday, January 7, 2021

Is Water Baptism for the Body of Christ? - Part 3

Today we pick up in our third and final study on the subject of baptism, and specifically, the question of whether it is for the Body of Christ today. As we have mentioned earlier, there are three baptisms recorded in Matthew 3:1-12 and none of them are for the church. We also mentioned that Jesus' baptism was to fulfill the law in regard to the priesthood as an example for the nation to follow. 

Before, moving any further, I must point out that there is a fourth baptism mentioned in Luke12:49-50 where it says, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (50)  But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" The text makes it pretty clear that this baptism is one that only Christ will take. This, of course, speaks of when God the Father baptized his Son with the sins of the world on the cross. 

So, we have seen that there are four baptisms mentioned in the Bible: water, holy spirit, fire, and wrath. Water by John, Holy Spirit and Fire by Jesus, and Wrath by God. The problem with all of these baptisms is that none of them are for the church today.

Even Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, said in 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."  How could he say that? After all, Christ did tell the Twelve to baptize in Matthew 28:18-19 when he said, "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. (18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."

The issue for those who can not seem to put it together is that Paul was not one of the Twelve, he was never meant to be one of the Twelve even though I have heard many say, including myself, that Peter and the others messed up by choosing Mathias when they should have waited for Paul. Wrong! Paul's calling was different in that he was sent to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15) while the others were not (Matthew 10:5). 

The conclusion is that the only baptism that is for the Body of Christ is that of the Holy Spirit and it occurs at the moment of salvation. Paul explains this in Romans 6:4 when he says, "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." Also, in Ephesians 4:4-6 when he said, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5)  One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6)  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Our baptism is not with physical water! To teach that water baptism is required in any way, shape, or form is contrary to the teachings of Paul and the Gospel of Grace. 

Another interesting point that E.W. Bullinger points out is that water baptism is only spoken of in Paul's Acts-Period epistles (Corinthians and Romans), but never again afterward. Also when Paul speaks of baptism in his post-Acts epistles, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and the Pastoral letters, he is only speaking of Spirit baptism into the Body of Christ at conversion. 

Again, Paul also shows that what was physical under the old program is now spiritual under the new in 1Corinthians 12:12-13; Colossians2:9-13. Again, a move from the physical under the Law to the spiritual under Grace.  Our identification in Christ is a spiritual one and not a physical one. Everything for the church is spiritual. We are a heavenly people and not an earthly people. Our promises are spiritual and not physical (Ephesians 1:3). 

The only conclusion that I can draw is that to baptize today is trying to make the church Israel, which is exactly what most do whether they want to admit it or not. Paul is our apostle and it is his teachings that we are to follow (1 Corinthians 11:1, 14:37). He was the first in the line of sinners to be a part of the Body of Christ (1 Timothy 1:15-16). And the only way to right divide is to realize the significance of Paul. Also, anyone who feels uncomfortable with us saying that we follow Paul, apparently don't have a problem with Israel following Moses.  

E.W. Bullinger once said, "it is the reliance on tradition instead of the study of the Bible that prevents people from understanding and enjoying it." He also said in his work, "The Foundations of Dispensational Truth", that "Christians have all been so long tied to the tether of tradition that difficulties are met with in connection with rightly dividing the Word of Truth." The problem with most Christians is that they are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up, and set. 

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