Amongst modern bible-believing Christians, there is debate about the necessity of water baptism.  Some say that it is necessary only to confess Jesus and receive Him as your Lord and Savior to be saved and that water baptism is either optional or merely a “should do” or “sacrament” to show our obedience.  Such proponents often say that the act of water baptism is just an “outward sign of what is already and inward reality” (that you are a true believer in Christ).  Others say that water baptism is essential for salvation.  What is the truth?  


But what did Jesus Himself teach about baptism? 

1)      Jesus was Baptized Before He Began His Ministry:

First of all, before Jesus began his ministry, He went to John the Baptist to be baptized in water after which the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove (John 3:13-17).  When John, who had previously said that he was not even worth to untie Jesus’ shoes, was approached by Jesus to be baptized of him, John forbad him and said, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?”  In response, Jesus said: “SUFFER IT TO BE SO NOW: FOR THUS IT BECOMETH US TO FULFIL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  Matthew 3:15.

Jesus, the Son of God, who is our perfect example and the only one that we are to follow, went down into the waters of baptism “to fulfill all righteousness.” 

Remember that Jesus proclaimed that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and FOLLOW HIM.  Matthew 16:24.  He also proclaimed that He alone is THE WAY, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father but through Him.  John 14:6.  Thus, by “fulfilling all righteousness” with obedience unto baptism, Jesus showed us “THE WAY” what we too must do to follow Him.  Just, as before Jesus began His ministry, he was baptized in water and received the Holy Spirit, so should our first act after believing in and putting our faith Him be to be baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit. 

2)      Jesus Said that We Must Be Born Again  

During His discussion with Nicodemus soon after Jesus had begun His ministry, Jesus bluntly proclaimed: 

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, how can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be BORN OF WATER and OF THE SPIRIT, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."  John 3:3-7.  

Note that, not only did Jesus say that we must be born of the Spirit (as most Christians today would agree), He clearly said that we must also be born of the Water.  Many have tried to assert that Jesus was not talking about water baptism.  But these contortions of Jesus’ plain and simple words just don’t hold water – especially when we consider the Word of God as a whole.  

The birth of the spirit comes when you repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ.  The birth of the water comes when you, as a repentant believer, go down into the water and are baptized into Christ.  Biblically, as seen in the Book of Acts, these two events either happened virtuously simultaneously or the baptism in water happened very soon after the person came to faith in Jesus as the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the grave on the third day.  (anyone who is baptized without first believing in and professing their faith in Jesus Christ has merely gotten wet – there is no birth of the water, without there first being a birth of the spirit - as shall become clearer as we flesh out the other verses on the topic)  

3)      Jesus’ Commission to All Believers Prior to His Ascension Back to Heaven:

Among His last words to the disciples before returning to heaven after His resurrection was the charge (known as the Great Commission): 

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  HE THAT BELIEVETH AND IS BAPTIZED shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."  Mark 16:15-16

[note that Jesus said "he that believes (so, clearly, faith in Jesus comes first) AND is baptized".  And yet many Christians still feel the need to try to explain away these verses and assert that baptism is merely optional.] 

 The gospel of Matthew also records: 

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, BAPTIZING THEM in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Matthew 28:18-20

As these were Jesus’ last words to His disciples before is departure, they show the importance of the commission to teach (to observe) and to baptize those who believe in Him.  It certainly doesn’t sound like Jesus was saying that baptism is optional for the believer who wants to follow Him. 

[Note that Jesus didn’t commission the disciples to go out and teach and get those who will believe to say the “sinners prayer” and ask Jesus to come into their hearts  – but this is exactly what many modern Christians are preaching and practicing and leaving water baptism as something that you can do if you want to and when you want to do it, if at all. (Certainly the sinner's prayer can be used as a tool to enable a new believer to repent and confess his faith in Christ Jesus – as we are also taught that it is by faith in Jesus that we are saved and that we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths our faith in Jesus as the Lord and Son of God who died and rose from the grave (Romans 10:8-13).  But , clearly according to the Word of God, we don’t just “believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths” – we also have to FOLLOW Jesus and to fulfill all righteousness (John 3:13-17), first of all, by being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit).  The first thing that Jesus did before He began His ministry was to be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit. This is not being said to try to be controversial – but rather to encourage all of us to get back to the actual Words of Christ Jesus. ]. 


1)      The Very First Sermon – Peter on the Day of Pentecost 

On the day of Pentecost (after Jesus had ascended back to heaven) when the disciples were gathered together and were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (which was their being "endued with the power", as Jesus had told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they had been endued with this power – Luke 24:49), Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, stood up and boldly preached and testified to the multitude of the resurrection and divinity of Jesus as Lord and Christ whom they had crucified.  Those gathered together and who heard his powerful witness responded with the following, when they were convicted of the truth of what Peter testified of (they were "pricked in their hearts"):

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the 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.

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”  Acts 2:36-41

Here we can plainly see that, from the outset of the disciples’ ministry, they preached faith in Jesus, repentance and baptism in water and the Holy Spirit.  We can also see that they did not wait to schedule the baptism.  They went down into the water immediately.  They did not wait for monthly or semi-annual water baptism or until the new believer had gone through a six week new member's class – no, they were immediately baptized. Why then is this exactly what so many modern Christian churches doing, contrary to what the bible teaches?  

What the Word of God clearly shows, as we read through the Book of Acts (which should be our core model for all believers, as it is the teaching and demonstration of what the new testament church preached and practiced), it becomes obvious that in virtually every instance, they taught the gospel and, when the hearer came to faith in Christ, they immediately went down into the waters of baptism and were baptized into Christ.  Immediately after the water baptism (or before in some instances – the order is apparently not important), the new believer was also baptized in the Holy Spirit (just as Peter had said, “and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost”) – and, in almost every instance, it is recorded that they spoke in other tongues (in some instances it is recorded that they prophesied and/or praised God, the Holy Spirit giving them utterance – see, for example Acts 19:1-6).  For more on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, CLICK HERE.  


So what are the prerequisites for baptism?  We find the answer as we read in the eighth chapter of Acts what happened after Phillip had preached Jesus to the eunuch:

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?


And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”  Acts 8:35-38 

1)      BELIEVE / FAITH:  So, we can easily see that, before we can be baptized, we must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of GodBaptism without faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is merely getting wet.  It is only a baptism into Christ if the person being baptized has faith in Jesus Christ as the divine Son of the Living God. 

[Thus, we also see that infant baptism is absolutely non-biblical and is not ordained of God.  Baptism is for those who are old enough to have faith in Christ and, as we shall see, for those who have sin (infants are without sin and have no need of baptism)  and for those who have the capacity to put their faith in Christ and to make the decision to follow Him.  If you were baptized as a young child without understanding or were baptized as an adult without putting your faith in Christ Jesus as the Son of God as a born again believer in Christ, you should now be baptized into Christ if you have come to faith in Him as Lord and Saviour who died for your sins and rose from the grave.] 

2)    REPENTANCE:  As Peter declared, we must also repent before being baptized.  Acts 2:36-41.  Repentance is acknowledging our sins, asking God to forgive us of our sins and turning away from a life of sin.  God’s word tells us that if we confess our sins to God, he is faithful and just to forgive us.  1 John 1:8-9.  (Peter also declared, baptism is also for the remission of our sins.)  

For a more thorough discussion of true Repentance, CLICK HERE.  


1)    FOLLOW HIM:  The first, and most obvious answer to the question of why we need to be water baptized is that Jesus Christ Himself commanded us to do it.  It is an act of obedience to Him.  Jesus declared, “if you love me, keep my commandments.”  John 14:15.  Or, put another way, it is our first step in "following" Him.  He proclaimed not only that we must "believe" in Him, but He also made clear that we must "FOLLOW HIM".  He was baptized to "fulfill all righteousness" and to show us the way - so must we too be baptized to fulfill all righteousness, following Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Part of "the Way", as Jesus taught, is being "born of the water" - not just being "born of the spirit".  

2)    PUT TO DEATH THE MAN OF FLESH/ARISE IN LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION TO A NEW LIFE:    The apostle Paul explained another important reason why we must be baptized.  It is because we are being baptized into the likeness of Jesus’ death and resurrection: 

“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.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Knowing this, that OUR OLD MAN IS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 6:3-11

Thus, we see that, through baptism by immersion as a repentant believer who has come to faith in Jesus Christ (the bible never records a single baptism by sprinkling – it was always by complete immersion in the water), we lay our old man and its sinful nature into the water and that old man is then dead.  When we are raised up out of the water, we are raised as a new man (or woman) that is alive in Christ and dead to sin.  This is important!  We need to lay the old man of sin to rest and be raised in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection as unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  With our old man of sin dead and we now raised to life with Christ, we are able to move forward in Christ in a way that we cannot otherwise do.


Once we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, repented of our sins and been baptized in Water, are we then done?  No.  Not according to God’s Word.  Remember, that John the Baptist said of Jesus whom he would baptize in water: 

“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”  Matthew 3:11 (See also, John 1:32-34).

Remember that Peter also declared on the day of Pentecost to the multitude:

“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.” Acts 2:36-41

So, after repentance and water baptism, we need to receive the “gift of the Holy Ghost.”  This is the baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire that John the Baptist spoke of and declared that Jesus is the baptizer in the Holy Spirit. 

From scripture, we also see that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost are two names for the same person of the Godhead) was a separate event from believing and receiving salvation through faith in Christ and it was a separate event from baptism by water.  For illustration, consider the following passages:

“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.”  Acts 8:14-17

“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 19:1-7

From the forgoing passages, it is easy to see that what the early apostles and disciples taught and practiced was:  1) faith in Jesus Christ;  2) repentance;  3) baptism in water; and 4) baptism in the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. 

As this was the original doctrine, this is what we, as followers of Jesus Christ, should be teaching and practicing today.  Unfortunately, so much of modern Christianity has strayed from this model of truth and in many churches today only "faith in Jesus" is being taught and either (or both) baptism in water or baptism in the Holy Spirit has been left out completely or has not been emphasized or taught as essential.  Unfortunately, even repentance has often been left out of the equation in much of modern Christianity.  What this has led to is a situation where a large part of modern Christianity is not full of the life and power of God that it should be.  The full gospel is not being preached and new believers are not being fully equipped to truly follow Jesus.  As you become a follower of Christ, do not fall into this trap.  Seek and receive the full gospel that you may become a fully enabled and empowered disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

[for more on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit CLICK HERE ]

If you live in or near Las Vegas and would like to be baptized in water & the Holy Spirit, please feel free to contact us HERE




The following is an excerpt from a dialogue about water baptism and the popular teaching that it is optional and is merely an outward expression of an inward reality: 


It seems that our modern Christianity has largely brushed aside the importance of water baptism - and I think it is part of the reason why the modern Church is nearly dead and not fully fulfilling the commission of Christ to the believers/disciples. 

First of all, Jesus Himself, in commissioning His disciples said:


"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:15-16.

Yes, Jesus did say that whoever believeth not shall be damned (and not that he who is not baptized shall be damned as the "baptism is optional" proponents point out).  But clearly, part of the great commission to the disciples is to "preach the gospel" with the very next sentence saying "he that believeth AND is baptized." So, clearly part of that "gospel" to be preached includes the commandment to be baptized (those who believe will keep His commandments). 

In reading through the Book of Acts, I think every time a person came to faith in Christ he was baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit (and spoke in tongues and/or prophesied) the same day almost without fail (except for the instances when they had believed & been baptized but hadn't received the Holy Spirit because they didn't know about it until later). (Notably, even when they had been baptized of John's baptism which was of repentance, they were re-baptized into Christ) (but in Acts 2:38, Peter does say to be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins).

Aside from baptism being just an outward manifestation of the belief in Christ Jesus, Paul says that it is being baptized into Christ's death and being resurrected into a new life, having laid our old man in the grave (water) and we now being dead to sin are raised to life in Christ.  See Romans 6:1-11. 

While I spent my first 3 years as a born again Christian in a church that taught that baptism was a good idea but optional, I was water baptized.  Actually, I was born again in late 2007, was baptized in the Holy Spirit in spring 2008 and then was not baptized until November of 2008.  I mention that not as my travelogue, but to make a point of what I experienced - which I believe matches with scripture. 

When I was first born again, I knew that my heart had changed and I was notably a new born in the spirit.  While I was a true believer, I was still weak in the flesh and unwittingly was holding onto some of the world.  God was slowly taking away my desires to drink, etc. (with no one telling me what I could or couldn't do), but like Peter who denied Christ in fear after Christ's arrest, I was not an empowered believer who would boldly stand and proclaim Jesus to the world. I was content to "keep it to myself" as most Christians today do.

When I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, I moved to a whole new level of walking in the spirit and increased empowerment as a believer.  However, even then, I was still embracing the world and some minor sins to some degree (that I wasn’t even fully aware of).  When I finally came to the point of complete surrender and submission to God's will, I was water baptized – and I truly hungered to be baptized.  That day, everything changed tremendously.  My old man of sin and the world was completely dead (and has never come back to life, as it was threatening to do at some points up until that point).  I was truly a new creature in Christ and the old me was dead and buried.

I think it is no mistake, that the early disciples of the Book of Acts, preached faith, repentance, baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit - and ensured that all happened immediately - not waiting for the next month's scheduled baptism day for whoever wanted to be baptized. They preached that all three were necessary and did not delay in ensuring that every new believer received them immediately. 

While baptism itself doesn't save, I think how the modern church has played down water baptism as wholly optional and unnecessary is directly contrary to biblical practice and scripture. That coupled with the fact that 75% of the "Christian" world rejects baptism in the Holy Spirit (and tongues and prophesying that accompany it), is a big part of the reason that so much of "Christianity" is dead today.  2/3 of what equips the believer has nearly been abandoned altogether.  (It's so easy to just get someone to say the sinner’s prayer and then leave them at that)

Anyway, for whatever all that is worth, there's my two cents.  I think it is absolutely necessary for the Church to get back to believing and practicing what the bible teaches - taking Jesus at His Word and not equivocating and expend our effort trying to explain away why the Word doesn't really mean what it says. 


Since 5/07/2014

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