Restoring the Foundations: Water Baptism
By Sarah Beveridge
I declare to you that Jesus is in the process of restoring what scripture teaches us about many doctrines, such as baptism’s and discipleship. In order to even begin the process of restoring, we must go back to the early church we read about in the book of Acts and re-learn what was established. Not only do we need to re-learn, but we also need to act on what we learn and become “doers of the word” (James 1:22). I once heard a man of God say “scripture we don’t practice is just theory to us.” I believe this is true!
The Lord has been dealing with me on the subject of “restoring the foundations” for a few years now. I have had many dreams about this and I believe the Lord has given me understanding and wisdom about His move to restore foundational truths. Primarily, Jesus wants me to pray into this “move of God”, but also document the process of uncovering these truths.
For several months I have been led by the Spirit to study scripture and pray about the subject of water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism. The Lord has given me dreams about this subject in order to bring clarity on what He wanted me to discover in my study and focus on in this article. The subject has many facets, and I kept asking the Lord, what do you want me to know? It is possible more will come later. I am sure there are many questions, like who is qualified to baptize a believer? My short answer is any Christian, not just a pastor. Scripture teaches that we are priests unto God and I feel very strongly that I will be baptizing many people in this coming harvest.
Hopefully what I am presenting here will help bring understanding to the importance of biblical New Testament water baptism and why it is crucial for believers to realize it was a decree made by Jesus Himself (Mat 28:19), as well as see its spiritual significance and that it is not just a ritual.
In this article I will attempt to accomplish three things:
- I will show you in scripture that God is doing something spiritual in water baptism and it is not just a ritual of identifying with Christ. (Heb 6:1-2, Col 2:11-12, 1 Pet 3:21)
- There is only ONE type of water baptism taught in scripture (Eph 4:5) and repentant believers should seek the scriptural water baptism immediately when they believe and repent (new birth) to gain the utmost benefit of what God does in baptism. (Acts 2:38-41, 8:36, 22:16.)
- I believe the Lord Jesus desires us to understand the foundational truth of the importance of water and Spirit baptism and that these are connected to the whole salvation experience according to scripture. (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Rom 6:4, Rom 10:9-10)
Biblical New Testament Water Baptism
Scripture teaches us these things about water baptism:
- It is for those who believe in Jesus and trust and confess in Jesus as their Savior (born again) (Mark 16:15-16, Rom 10:8-10)
- It is for those who repent and turn away from their sins (Acts 2:38-41)
- It is for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38)
- It is for the cleansing of our conscience toward God (1 Pet 3:21)
- It is for baptism “into Christ”; we died with Christ, buried our old man, and resurrected to new life by putting on Christ ((Rom 6:3-7, Rom 8:29, Rom 13:14, 2 Cor 3:18, Col 2:11-14, Gal 3:27)
- It is for deliverance from evil (demons) (Acts 8:6-8, 12, 1 Pet 3:21)
- It is for receiving the Holy Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues (John 1:33, Acts 2;38, Gal 3:27, 1 Cor 12:13)
- It is part of the whole salvation experience and scripture taken as a whole and in context absolutely teaches this
For the most part, churches today, which do full immersion water baptism treat it as a symbol and a ritual of identifying with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection to new life. And this is a very important aspect of water baptism. But what I have observed is there are a few other facets to water baptism that are overlooked and misunderstood. Namely, that water baptism is for the “forgiveness of sin” (Acts 2:38), it is to cleanse us from the effects of sin on our mind and conscience, for deliverance from evil (demons) (Acts 8:5-8, 12, 1 Peter 3:21) for obtaining power over sin (Rom 6), and for receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Although there are examples in scripture where believers received the Holy Spirit first and then were water baptized, and vice versa, the important thing to understand is that the early church performed water baptism on new believers immediately when they believed and repented.
The church was growing and it took time for them to understand how to do things properly, you can read about the various baptisms in these scriptures:
Acts 2:37-42 the upper room, the Apostles and the 3000 souls added to the church.
Acts 8:5-17 the baptism of the Samaritans.
Acts 8:27-40 the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.
Acts 10 Cornelius and his family.
Acts 16:25-40 the jailer and his family.
Acts 18 and 19 Apollos and the Ephesian disciples.
Acts 22:16 the baptism of Paul.
I believe the Lord is showing me the importance of new believers receiving water baptism immediately following their confession of faith in Christ and repentance of sin. (New birth.) This is especially important in this time when a great harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God is coming and has already started, and it is expedient that they be water baptized immediately.
The Romans Six Effect
I want to close this section with what the Apostle Paul told the Romans about water baptism, dying with Christ and power over sin. When you read these scriptures in context and mediate on what is really being said in all of Romans chapter 6, clearly the Holy Spirit was showing us the connection between water baptism and breaking the power of sin over our lives. I have heard Romans chapter 6 preached by different pastors and not once did I ever hear them really drive home the connection that the power over sin is through water baptism, which is clearly stated in verses 3-7. When I have read Romans 6 in the past, I completely missed the point and I always wondered, how do I really have power over sin? My prayer is that those of you who have been water baptized but never received this revelation, will get this down in your spirit man. My prayer is that those of you who still struggle with bondage to sin will finally be set free from the power of sin over your life by realizing what really took place when you were “baptized into Christ.” It was not an act of the flesh, God did something supernatural!
Romans 6:1-11 NLT
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ [in water baptism] so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
What about Baptism by Sprinkling and Pouring of Water?
There are many denominations that baptize by sprinkling or pouring water on the head of a believer, as well as baptize infants and children. I was baptized by sprinkling of water in the Methodist church when I was a child. As a matter of fact my whole family was baptized together by sprinkling of water to signify our membership to the church we were attending. Since I was just a child, I have no recollection of my baptism, and certainly it was not connected to repentance. How can infants and children make a determination about their spiritual condition before God? I have since been baptized by full immersion, but I still did not have the full understanding I do now about why water baptism is so important, but I was baptized into Christ and there is no need to be re-baptized.
Sprinkling water baptism was a departure from the apostolic and early church method of immersion and became a common practice in the western church around the 12th – 13th century. Below are some quotes I found about sprinkle baptism that are pulled from various encyclopedias and resource materials.
“In the time of the apostles, the form of baptism was very simple. The person to be baptized was dipped in a river or a vessel, with the words which Christ had ordered, and to express more fully his change of character, generally adopted a new name. The Greek Church retained this custom; but the Western Church adopted in the 13th century the mode of baptism by sprinkling, which has been continued by the Protestants, the Baptists only excepted. The introduction of this mode of baptism was owing to the great inconvenience which arose from the
immersion of the whole body in the northern climates of Europe. (Zell’s Encyclopedia, Art. Baptism, Vol. I, p. 236).
“Sprinkling as a form of baptism took the place of immersion after a few centuries in the early Church, not from any established rule, but by common consent, and it has since been very generally practiced in all but the Greek and Baptist churches, which insist upon immersion.” (McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, Art. Sprinkling, Vol. IX, p. 968).
“Sprinkling was still (in the period of 323 – 692) confined to Baptismus Clinicorum (clinical baptism) and was first generally used in the West in infant baptism in the 12th century, while the East still retained the custom of immersion.” (Kurts, a German Lutheran Historian, in Church History, Vol. I, p. 367).
”For several centuries after the establishment of Christianity, Baptism was usually conferred by immersion, but since the twelfth century, the practice of baptizing by infusion has prevailed in the Catholic Church, as this manner is attended with less inconvenience than Baptism by immersion.” (Cardinal Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers, p. 318).
As you just read, sprinkle baptism was adopted as a matter of convenience. The problem is that it has no biblical basis in the New Testament. In the New Testament scriptures, in every sense of the word, “baptize” in the Greek language of the text clearly means “to immerse or submerge in water.”
- Baptize / Baptized / Baptizing – G907 baptizō: to immerse, to submerge
- Baptism – G908 baptisma: immersion, submersion
I believe the Lord desires to restore the proper understanding and practice of water baptism, and for His shepherd’s to open their eyes and ears and hear what the Spirit is saying to the church in his hour.
For those who have been sprinkle water baptized, I would seek the Lord about re-baptism. Scripture says in Ephesians 4:5 that there is ONE baptism. The word “one” in Greek G3391 means; “only one, a certain one”
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. Eph 4:5
The certain ONE baptism is the New Testament full immersion water baptism as found in scripture.
Water Baptism, Repentance and Forgiveness of Sin
The baptism of John the Baptist was for repentance and forgiveness of sin. (Mat 3:1-6, Luke 3:3, Acts 13:24, Acts 18:25 etc.) John told those he baptized that they were to believe in the One coming after him, and He (Christ) would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of John was a sort of transitional bridge between the dispensation of the Law of Moses and the dispensation of Christ.
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 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. Mark 1:4-5
“And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” Luke 3:3
Water baptism in connection to repentance and forgiveness of sin did not change after the Lords resurrection and ascension. However, the baptism of John was not complete because it did not constitute baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ, who fulfills water baptism.
Scripture teaches us that when the church was born and began to grow, they still understood that water baptism involved repentance and forgiveness of sin. What was added to John’s baptism was the baptism into Christ and the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Peter instructs the church about water baptism related to repentance and forgiveness of sin when he spoke these words as recorded in the book of Acts. He is clarifying that even though many had been baptized by John, they must now be baptized into Christ.
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 NLT
Acts chapter 22 records a scene that took place in Damascus after the conversion of the Apostle Paul.
Ananias speaking to Paul:
‘And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ Acts 22:16
I think it is worth mentioning here that it is important to understand the distinction between the blood of Jesus that “cleanses us of our sin” by atoning for our sin (1 John 1:7, 1 John 2:2) and water baptism that “washes away our sins” through our repentance and God’s forgiveness, therefore we receive a clean conscience toward God. (1 Pet 3:21)
I believe emphatically that there is something deeply spiritual that God is doing in water baptism. If we worship God in “Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:24) then why wouldn’t baptism also encompass this reality? Read on as I expand on this.
Water Baptism and the Flood of Noah
In 1 Peter chapter 3, Peter is teaching the church about water baptism when he points out that the flood in Noah’s day is foreshadow of water baptism for Christians.
Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit. 19 In it he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed. In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water. 21 And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you – not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him. 1 Peter 3:18-22 NKJV
If you read that scripture in the Amplified version below, Peter says we are saved by baptism in that our minds are set free from inward fear and questioning by cleansing our guilty conscience. (Water baptism does not atone for sin like the blood of Jesus, but clearly it is part of the whole salvation experience.)
Peter also says the water is not washing physical dirt from the flesh. In other words, the act of baptism is not an act of the flesh. But rather, the water is washing away the sin that polluted our minds and is spiritually washing our conscience toward God, when we repent and put on Christ. Peter also says that water baptism delivers us from evil!
Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:20-21 in the Amplified version:
20 [The souls of those] who long before in the days of Noah had been disobedient, when God’s patience waited during the building of the ark in which a few [people], actually eight in number, were saved through water. And baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth [bathing], but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience (inward cleanness and peace) before God [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:20-21
If we look at the symbolism of foreshadow of baptism in the flood of Noah I see there is deliverance from evil. Noah and his family were not just delivered or saved by the ark from the flood, which is a type of Christ saving us from Gods wrath. But Noah was also delivered from wickedness and evil when they entered the ark. And the water of the flood destroyed the evil, ungodly and wicked by literally washing them away. I believe this is showing us that deliverance from demons is taking place in water baptism.
The pre-figure of the flood of Noah teaches us that God sent the flood, and the flood was the end of evil and the beginning of a new life. Do you see the connection to water baptism? It was God who sent the flood to cleanse the evil!
I believe it is VERY important to understand there is more taking place in water baptism than many of us have previously assumed. Any believer that has not been properly water baptized should be. This will set you on the proper foundation and deliver you from evil and cleanse your guilt concerning your sin and give you power over sin once and for all.
Water Baptism and Deliverance in the Book of Acts
In Acts chapter 8, Philip the deacon is preaching in Samaria.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city. Acts 8:5-8
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Acts 8:12
I believe we can surmise from these scriptures that those who were baptized because of Philips preaching of Christ in verse 12 are the same Samaritans he preached to in verse 5-7 who had unclean spirits come out of them.
I believe the Lord is stressing this principle because He wants His people set free and delivered from demons just like they were in the book of Acts. The deliverance of evil can be accomplished in water baptism!
If the pastors and shepherds could see this, they can be a huge help in setting Gods people free.
During water baptism it is important to be led by the Holy Spirit to pray appropriately and tarry with the individual during their water baptism to ensure that all the Lord wants to occur in that water baptism is completed. Including, repentance and cleansing of the guilt of sin, deliverance from demons and Holy Spirit baptism.
Water Baptism and the Spirit, Soul and Body of Man
I received a word of knowledge from the Lord in 2014 where He clearly said to me “the pattern of the Tabernacle overlays everything.” I wrote about that in my book, “My God and Your Jesus Christ, a Letter to my Brethren.”
Here is an image of the Tabernacle I made, click to enlarge:
What I see in scripture concerning water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism and the Tabernacle pattern is this. The human being is three parts; body, soul and spirit. This coincides with the tabernacle pattern as follows:
- Outer Court= body
- Sanctuary/Holy Place= soul
- Most Holy Place= spirit
Scripture teaches us that the Lord is interacting with each part of us to sanctify our whole being. For example, here are a couple scriptures:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. I Thes 5:23
We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. Romans 6:6
Water baptism interacts with each part of an individual in this way:
- Body: through water baptism we are set free from demons which reside in the flesh of man, our flesh is circumcised and put off as we put on Christ. (Rom 6:3-5, 1 Pet 3:21, Col 2:11-12, Gal 3:27)
- Soul: the soul is comprised of the mind, will and emotions. In water baptism, after we have repented and been forgiven, our soul/mind is then cleansed from condemnation and a guilty conscience. We are given a clean conscience toward God and He does not want us to have shame for what has been forgiven. The soul is cleansed from the effects of sin on our mind and emotions. Therefore we have peace knowing we are forgiven. (Rom 8:1-2, 1 Pet 3:21)
- Spirit: our spirit is called the “inner man” or “heart”, this is where the Holy Spirit resides in man. When we are water baptized and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then Christ has come to make His home in our heart, our inner man. (Eph 3:16-17, John 14:23)
Water and Spirit Baptism is the Entrance to Sanctification
In the outer court of the Tabernacle is what is called the “bronze laver.” It was a basin, or large bowl filled with water located halfway between the brazen altar and the Holy Place. The priests were to wash their hands and their feet in it before entering the Holy Place.
Like everything in the Tabernacle it is symbolic and relevant to us as Christians. The symbolism and foreshadow is of water and Spirit baptism. It also symbolizes washing of the water of the word. (Eph 5:26)
The laver was located in the outer court to signify that Christians are to be cleansed of their old life through water baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for their new life. The entrance to the Holy Place is then steps away from the laver. Entering into the Holy place symbolizes the life long process of sanctification of a believer and follower of Christ.
Scripture is showing us there is something powerful and spiritually supernatural that occurs in water baptism. There is inward cleanness and peace toward God, as well as power over sin. This is not a ritualistic experience, it is a spiritual experience and God is definitely doing something in water baptism.
There is a string of events occurring just prior to and during water baptism that we need to break down and be aware of. This is important because it speaks to the whole salvation experience. Some of these things we do and some are what God does.
- We believe by faith and call upon the name of Jesus and put our trust in Him as our Savior (We do this)
- We repent and change our mind about our behavior, recognizing we have sinned and accept Gods will ( We do this)
- Our sins are forgiven and washed away and we receive power over sin (God does this)
- Our conscience is cleansed and we now have inward peace toward God (God does this)
- We are delivered of evil, demons actually leave the body (God does this)
- The Holy Spirit comes and “baptizes” the believer and there is the evidence of speaking in tongues (this is the sign given to know a person has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, otherwise how would you know?) and now the believer is empowered to operate in the gifts of the Spirit (God does this)
Clearly God is performing a string of very spiritual events in water baptism, and it is much more than a ritual. It is a very essential component to salvation. The culmination of all these events is a strong Christian who has been set on a solid foundation that was established by Christ (Mat 28:18-20). They have truly been born of water and of Spirit.
“Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5
They have repented, been cleansed of guilt, been delivered from evil, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, made into a new creation, and now have everything needed to overcome sin, operate in the gifts of the Spirit, produce fruit of the Spirit and start a new life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The Lord has stressed to me that we are not to compare ourselves and our experiences to each other, but we are to measure ourselves and experiences according to the word of God. Again I want to emphasize the most important thing is to understand what the Bible teaches about water and Spirit baptism and not to use experience to validate truth. If Jesus is “restoring the foundations”, then obviously He does not want us to compare our experiences to each other but to measure all things according to the word of God.
If anyone has uncertainty about anything the best action to take is to pray and ask the Lord to guide you, and of course study this yourself as we are instructed. (2 Tim 2:15)
Much love to you all,
Additional Recommended Teachings about Water and Spirit Baptism: