Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 28:19

This verse of Scripture is called by many people "the great commission" and is the only verse in all the Bible wherein Christ seems to command and ordain water baptism. Since no ritual can truly be an ordinance of Christ unless it was actually and plainly ordained and commanded by Jesus Himself, water baptism as a Christian ordinance rests completely on this verse. Hence, if this verse does not refer to water baptism, there is no other foundation upon which that ritual can stand.

I want to stress to the reader that the question is not whether Jesus was baptized with water or whether the Apostles baptized converts with water or whether the early church practiced water baptism or any other consideration. The only question that we must consider is whether Jesus Christ, the founder and head of the Christian religion, commanded His disciples to be baptized with water. If He did, then all of His disciples must be baptized with water. If He did not, then the followers of Jesus Christ should refuse to take part in that tradition of men.

At the outset I must point out that the word "water" does not appear in this Scripture verse. One may, if he wishes, infer that it means water baptism but that is an interpretation, not a proof. When all is said and done, it is not possible to prove that Jesus meant water baptism when He spoke these words unless some other verse can be produced to verify it. But, as I pointed out above, there is no other verse. (As a matter of fact, in all of the recorded cases of water baptism in the Book of Acts this formula was never used. Rather, the ritual was performed in the name of Jesus only, showing that the Apostles never looked upon this command as referring to water baptism.) Thus, when one faces the facts squarely and honestly, without attempting to protect a cherished doctrine, he must acknowledge that there is not one plain and clear Scripture, that is, one needing no interpretation or addition of words wherein Christ Himself commands water baptism.

I realize that many people, and especially ministers, will argue and plead for this so-called Christian ordinance and cloud the issue with all manner of reasoning. I understand the trauma and pain of seeing a pillar of their doctrinal beliefs crumbling before their eyes. I can sympathize with their desire to keep their beliefs intact. But, nonetheless, the truth as it is in Jesus is the only thing that matters. And the inescapable fact is that Jesus Christ, the Captain of our Faith and the Bishop of our souls, no where commands water baptism.

Let a man come to grips with this fact and this alone, that unless Jesus Christ clearly and plainly commanded water baptism, it cannot be an ordinance of Christ and the battle is soon over. By rights I should be able to close this treatise here and now because it is simply impossible to produce Scripture showing that Jesus commanded water baptism to be an ordinance of His church.

But, alas, I'm afraid that men don't easily relinquish an old and cherished doctrine. Unfortunately, most people are not willing to rest on the Scripture testimony even though they say that they believe the Bible. Most will cling to their prejudice and point to some supposed evidence in the Bible that infers that it is an ordinance, that is, if you want to make that inference. But it is beyond me how these people can claim, on the one hand, that the Bible is the rule of their faith and that every doctrine of Christianity is plainly spelled out in it and then, on the other hand, cling tenaciously to a doctrine that can't be justified except by rather shaky inference.

Nevertheless, although most professors of Christianity are forced to confess that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus command water baptism clearly and explicitly, yet they will put forth various arguments to justify their practice. Most of the arguments reduce to the following three:

  1. Jesus was baptized with water and He said that He did so in order to fulfill all righteousness. Since He is our example, we should be baptized with water also.
  2. The Apostles and the early church baptized with water. So they must have received a command to do so.
  3. If Christian baptism is not water baptism, what is it?

Now for the sake of those honest hearts that are in bondage to the chains of tradition and education, I will present some thoughts for your consideration. However, let me say that there is no way for me to disprove these inferences anymore than they can prove them to be correct. In addition, I must point out that it is not possible to prove anything to anybody unless that person is willing to be changed and to let loose of his own ideas. I can only present to you some arguments and thoughts. If you are willing to be convinced, you may be. If you are not willing to be convinced, you never will be — not even by God Himself.

But, in the end, I must always revert to my original argument that Jesus Christ never commanded water baptism and, therefore, it cannot be an ordinance of Christ. So, with this point firmly established, I will proceed to answer the three points above.


Probably the argument most often used to justify water baptism is that Jesus was baptized with water by John. Yet, oddly enough, almost all theologians and ministers of a baptist persuasion will deny that the so-called Christian ordinance of water baptism is the same as John's baptism. But if the two are indeed different, then how can one logically use John's baptism of Jesus to prove that we should undergo a completely different baptism?

Let me demonstrate how completely illogical it is to do so. We agree, I'm sure, that fish and beef are both meat and, yet, they are totally different. Now let's suppose that I can prove that Jesus ate fish regularly. Would it make sense for me to tell you that since Jesus ate fish this proves that you should eat beef? Wouldn't you think that there was something lacking in my logic if I were to tell you that to be like Jesus you must eat beef since He ate fish? Well that is exactly what the theologian is doing when, on the one hand, he says that John's water baptism is not the same as our water baptism while, on the other hand, he says that Jesus was baptized with water by John to show us that we should be baptized with a different one.

Now it may come as a surprise to you to learn that the theologians do deny the sameness of the two baptisms and you may well ask why they allow themselves to be guilty of such illogical nonsense. Well, the answer is that they find themselves in a logical dilemma, although it is a dilemma of their own making. You see, like everyone else, they start out already persuaded that water baptism is an ordinance of Christ. (Although it never really occurs to most of them to question the validity of this doctrine, I must say that most would be and are unwilling to question it.) And they believe beforehand that Jesus' baptism by John with water is somehow meant to be an example of righteousness that we should follow. Yet, they see plainly that John, who received a command from God to baptize with water, was a Jewish prophet and not a Christian minister. And they recognize that he received this command before the Christian church came into existence and while the Jewish religion was still the church of God. Thus, one cannot escape the conclusion that John's water baptism must be a Jewish ceremony and not Christian. So it would follow that if the two baptisms are the same the so-called Christian water baptism would not be Christian at all but Jewish.

This is the dilemma. This is what the theologian that desires to protect his Baptist doctrine must face. Obviously, if he wants to preserve this ritual, he must see some difference between these two water baptisms or else he must admit that water baptism is a Jewish ceremony and not Christian. But once he decides to make today's water baptism different from John's, which he is forced to do if he is going to prove his own baptism to be Christian, then he places himself in an extremely precarious position because, knowing that the practice of water baptism is not clearly commanded in the Scriptures, he needs a real healthy "proof," like Jesus Himself being baptized with water, in order to justify the continuation of this ritual as an ordinance of Christ. So rather than allow this ritual to stand on its own merits (which are precious few), he chooses to uphold it with inconsistencies and illogical nonsense.

It is almost inconceivable, isn't it, that learned theologians and Bible scholars who must be able to see this inconsistency would rather be guilty of a gross failure in logic than give up their beloved doctrine? Yet, the sad fact is that nothing can quite match man's love for his own conceptions of truth rather than truth itself.

Layman, evangelist, pastor, priest
It's an old, old story.
For doctrines, tenets, and traditions of men
They'll kill the Lord of glory.

At this point the reader may well ask why Jesus was baptized with water if it wasn't meant to be for an example to us. After all, there must have been some reason why He submitted Himself to that ritual. Certainly He was not baptized for the same reason that the other people were, that is, unto repentance. So why was John baptizing and why was Jesus baptized?

It is interesting that the Jews asked John much the same question. You see, they were expecting the Messiah to come and they thought that John might be him since he was baptizing great multitudes of people. So some Pharisees from Jerusalem went out to see John and they asked him if he was the Christ. When he answered that he was not, we read:

And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ? John 1:25.

This question is most revealing. Why do you suppose that they didn't say, "John, why are you dunking (pouring, sprinkling) these people in water like that?" Do you suppose that they would have asked him why he was baptizing if they didn't know what baptism was? Doesn't it seem rather obvious that they were not at all perplexed by what he was doing? They only wanted to know why he was doing it.

Well, it may come as a shock to you to know that the Jews were very familiar with water baptism. Not only did the Mosaic law command various water purifications but baptism was traditionally a Jewish conversion ritual that Gentile converts had to undergo. In addition, every Jewish convert to one of the sects of Judaism also underwent water baptism as a kind of initiation rite into the particular brotherhood, signifying a cleansing from his prior erroneous doctrines. This has become evident from the Dead Sea Scrolls which show that such sects as the Essenes water baptized all of their converts long before John came along. Thus, baptism was a Jewish custom of long standing.

In this regard it might help if we look at the root meaning of the word "baptize." The literal secular meaning of this word is to immerse into a cleansing agent. However, I will show you later that the way that the word is used in Scripture is always in regard to ritual purifications, many of which were not by immersion. So water baptism is merely a water purification that cannot possibly be more than symbolic since, though it may cleanse the body of physical dirt, it can never cleanse a defiled and polluted soul. But it is important to remember that these water purifications were an integral part of the Mosaic and Judaic religions which were filled with symbolic rituals.

But, getting back to the point, John didn't immediately answer the Pharisees except to say,

I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom you know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. John 1:26, 27.

However, the next day John saw Jesus and he said to them:

This is he of whom I said, "After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me." And I knew him not: but that he (the Messiah) should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. John 1:30, 31

Thus, this answers the question as to why John was baptizing with water. John knew that he was a forerunner of the Christ and that he was to announce His coming to the people. But John didn't know who the Messiah was. Nonetheless, he says plainly that the reason he was baptizing was that he might be able to help the people to recognize their long awaited Messiah when He came.

But how was John to do this? After all, what could baptism possibly have to do with this important question? Let's see if John will clarify this for us.

And John bare record, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, 'Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.' And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." John 1:32-34

Thus, John did not know who the Messiah was but God told him to begin to baptize the people and to announce that the Messiah was soon to come. In addition, He told John that when he baptized the Christ that he would see the Spirit descend and rest upon Him. Then John could announce to the people that this man was the Christ.

So John began to baptize great multitudes in the name of the coming Messiah. By and by Jesus came to be baptized. Now it appears that John sensed that Jesus was the Christ and immediately felt unworthy to baptize Him and was reluctant to fulfill God's command. Thus, we read:

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" And Jesus answered and said to him, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Matthew 3:13-15

Is it really possible that God actually sees some sort of righteousness in water baptism? Can being immersed (poured, sprinkled) in water possess any real righteousness in and of itself? I am persuaded that it cannot and that God is not at all impressed by water. Then what could Jesus have meant? Well, it appears to me that there were three ways in which they could fulfill righteousness by this ritual.

First, we must remember that God had commanded John to baptize the Christ. Therefore, John could not be righteous if he neglected to be obedient in this service. So, to fulfill all righteousness he had to baptize Jesus. Second, John could never be fully certain and, consequently, fully righteous in saying that Jesus was the Christ unless he actually saw the Spirit descend upon Him. And this he could see if and only if he actually baptized Jesus. These are the two ways in which John would fulfill righteousness by baptizing Jesus.

The third way concerns Jesus. You see, Jesus was a Jew and as such He had to satisfy the law. And the Mosaic law required that priests and kings be anointed into their holy offices by a prophet. We see an example of this in Samuel and David. We read that God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint a king in the place of Saul. After Jesse's seven eldest sons passed before Samuel and were rejected, Jesse finally brought in his youngest son David. Then we read:

And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him: for this is he." Then Samuel look the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. I Samuel 16:12,13

The parallel should be apparent. Samuel and John were prophets. David and Jesus were chosen by God to be King. Samuel anointed David with oil in the midst of his brethren and the Spirit came upon him. John baptized Jesus with water in the midst of His brethren and the Spirit came upon Him. David's brethren rejected him as king for some time and Jesus' brethren have rejected Him as king for some time. David was called the Lord's anointed and Jesus is called Christ which means "the anointed One."

Thus, everything becomes clear if we keep in mind that Jesus was a Jew. He was born under the law. As a Jew it was necessary for Him to fulfill the righteousness of the ceremonial law as well as every

moral precept. The law required that he be anointed by God's prophet to be king. Was he not circumcised on the eighth day? Was He not presented in the temple as a babe? Did He not observe the Passover and the Sabbath and all of the other feasts? Yes, he did all of these because He was a Jew. And, in like manner, He submitted Himself to John to be anointed into His holy office as Messiah and king.

In short, there can be no more justification in saying that because Jesus was baptized with water we must also be baptized with water than in saying that because Jesus was circumcised by a rabbi on the eighth day we must also be circumcised by a rabbi on the eighth day. Both were Jewish legal rituals that Jesus fulfilled because He was a good and devout Jew. If we deny that circumcision has any place in the Christian religion (and to my knowledge all professors of Christ do deny it), then we ought to deny that water baptism has any place in it as well.


Having been born and raised in that part of the world that for centuries has been deluged with many Gospel truths and a rather correct conception of God I think it is almost impossible for most people to comprehend the powerful hold that Judaism had on the Apostles and the early church. It is rare for us in the western world to meet anyone born and reared in true paganism. Even atheists here have some conception of what God should be if He exists.

But such was not the case when our Lord came into the world. The whole earth was given over to polytheistic idolatry. The barbarian, the Greek, the Roman, the Scythian, it matters not where you looked, the whole world was devoid of even a semblance of a right conception of God. Except among one small nation of people — the Jews.

Whether he was a good Jew or whether he was a bad Jew, there was no question in his mind that the Jews were the sole possessors of the truth and the way of the living God. He looked upon all other peoples in the world as heathen and unclean, outside the good graces of God and with no hope of salvation. His whole life, from the womb to the grave, was wrapped up in the Mosaic law and the traditions of the elders. The Jew was so steeped in his ritualism that he couldn't even conceive that it might be merely symbolic and must one day pass away. To him the ritual was the very essence of true spirituality and he couldn't imagine spirituality apart from it.

However, in all fairness to the Jews it must be pointed out that for hundreds of years they had been struggling to preserve their religion from the assaults and corruptions of a hostile and pagan world and the Pharisee, with all of his distortions and legalistic excesses, was merely the reactionary endpoint of this struggle. And the multitude of the Jews was deeply imbued with this Pharisaic attitude.

So this was the world of Jesus of Nazareth and it was out of this environment and from these raw materials that He must mold His church—a spiritual church, not of symbolic rituals, but of life and substance and power. And this was the world of the Scribes and the Pharisees with whom Jesus fought a running battle for three years on these very issues. And this was the world of His Apostles and disciples with whom the Lord labored so diligently and with whom He was so often discouraged because of their thickness of understanding.

The one essential point that must ever be kept in mind is that the Apostles and the early Christians were devout and zealous Jews and never thought of themselves as anything else for many years. Long after Pentecost they still practiced circumcision, vows, shavings, offered sacrifices, observed the law of clean and unclean, and attended the temple services and kept the Jewish feasts. Consider the following verses as examples of their behavior after Pentecost:

And they, continuing daily in one accord in the temple...Acts 2:46

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer... Acts 3:1

And by the hands of the Apostles were many signs and wonders among the people: (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch). Acts 5:12

And the day following Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present...and said unto him, "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe: and they are all zealous of the law." Acts 21:18-20. (About 22 years after Pentecost.)

By this we can see that the early church actually met and held services in the temple in that part called Solomon's porch. And this practice continued until the persecutions arose after Stephen's death. It never occurred to them that they were to do otherwise. That is what Jesus probably meant when He told His disciples that "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." John 6:12. He knew that they couldn't see the passing away of the old religion of types and shadows and the entering in of a new one in which the worshippers were to worship in spirit and in truth.

About eight years after Pentecost in the city of Joppa, Peter had a vision in which a sheet containing many unclean animals was let down to him from heaven and the Lord told him to slay and eat. Peter was shocked at the idea and refused. This happened three times. Then while Peter was thinking on these things, visitors from a Gentile named Cornelius came to see him and the Spirit told Peter to go with them.

Up to that time no Gentile had received the Gospel. Nor for that matter had they had it preached to them. Gentiles were unclean. The Christian Jews were not so much as aware that salvation was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. God, by this vision, was showing Peter that the Jewish religion was passing away and he was preparing Peter to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, i.e., to Cornelius and his friends.

When Peter arrived at Cornelius' house, he began to preach to the assembled Gentiles. While he was speaking, the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles as He had done on the disciples in the upper room. Peter and his Jewish companions were stupefied. They could hardly believe their eyes.

At this point Peter uttered something that clearly demonstrates that he considered water baptism to be a Jewish conversion ritual and that until this time he had considered it impossible for a Gentile to be saved without first converting to Judaism. He said,

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? Acts 10:47

In the first place Peter was astonished that these Gentiles could receive the Holy Ghost without being Jewish. And, in the second place, he was bewildered over what to do with these Gentiles. Since God had obviously accepted them, that is, they were not only regenerated but also sanctified wholly (we know this because Peter later says that their hearts were purified,) how could he logically refuse to make Jews out of them by the conversion ritual of water baptism, even though they had not gone through the rather lengthy instructional period required of Gentiles when they converted to Judaism. I know that it is nearly impossible for us to realize how almost totally disorienting and confusing all of this was to Peter and the Jewish Christians. Unless one comes to see that water baptism is not a Christian ritual but Jewish, he can't possibly understand the astonishment, the confusion, and the bewilderment that Peter was experiencing at that time and what the above Scripture is really showing us.

(Let us digress for a moment to note that it is obvious from this example that water baptism has absolutely nothing to do with salvation. It is clear that they were saved men and women since God gave them the Holy Ghost and purified their hearts before they were baptized with water. If water baptism had anything to do with salvation, God would not have baptized them with the Holy Ghost until after they were baptized with water. It is unthinkable that God would fill them with the Holy Spirit and purify their hearts before he regenerated them. This certainly makes water baptismal regeneration an untenable doctrine.)

In the next chapter of Acts we find that when Peter got back to Jerusalem he was called on the carpet with the accusation:

Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. Acts 11:3

See how Jewish the Christians were even after eight years? They still did not really understand the Gospel. So Peter rehearsed the matter with them. And by this time, since he had had some days to think about what had happened, it was beginning to occur to him that water baptism (as well as all the other Jewish rituals) was nothing, but that there was another baptism, the spiritual baptism, the substance of what water baptism typifies, the baptism of the Holy Ghost—that it was this baptism and only this baptism that mattered. We see this in his words:

Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, "John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." Acts 11:16

No doubt it had always been a strange thing to the Apostles that Jesus didn't baptize with water. (And it is evident that He did not for otherwise he would have said, "I have indeed already baptized you with water and soon I will baptize you with the Holy Ghost." But, instead, He pointed to John as the water baptizer.) And now, after having seen what happened at Cornelius' house, he was beginning to understand why Jesus didn't baptize with water and what He had meant when He spoke the above words just before His ascension.

Some years later Paul, that great apostle to the Gentiles and whose writings Peter acknowledged to be Scripture, spent a good portion of his time and dedicated a large part of his epistles to combating the efforts of Jewish Christians to Judaize Gentile Christians. For Paul, by revelation, was brought to see clearly the passing away of the ritualism of the old covenant. Thus, Paul labored to bring people off of the rituals and ceremonies to a real possession of the substance of the Gospel—Christ in you, the hope of glory. He constantly directed believers away from the outward form and to the inward work of righteousness in the heart by the Spirit of God.

As was concerned with water baptism, this man who claimed that he was not one whit behind the chiefest of the Apostles plainly and boldly said that he was glad that he had not baptized but a few.

Were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. I Corinthians 1:13-15

Then he adds as an after thought, showing how little importance he placed on this ritual:

And I baptized also the household of Stephanus: besides which, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. I Corinthians 1:16, 17

On these words of Paul I would like to make a few observations. First, though I can't prove it, I am persuaded that the few that he did baptize were Jews and that he baptized them because they asked to be baptized because being Jews they thought that they should be. Second, in Matthew 28:19 Jesus appears to have commanded the Apostles to baptize with water. Yet, Paul, who received his calling to be an apostle directly from Christ, and to whom the great commission most assuredly applied, says very plainly that he was not sent to baptize. Thus, I must conclude that Paul did not consider Matthew 28:19 to be a command to baptize with water. Otherwise, Paul is guilty of the grossest disobedience. And, it is unthinkable that he would actually thank God that he had not baptized if Jesus had really commanded that converts be baptized. Finally, it is evident from his words ("For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel") that he in nowise looked upon baptism as having anything to do with the Gospel.

It is evident that man's love of outward ritual far outweighs his desire for a true, inward, spiritual relationship with God. One need only look at the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Churches, which all historians acknowledge to have evolved out of the Apostolic church, to see that Paul failed in his war against the Judaizers. The Apostles were hardly cold in their graves when a priesthood was introduced. That was followed by a Passover supper, but celebrated daily as the Lord's Supper or communion. The priests adorned themselves with beautiful and ornate vestments closely styled after the Jewish high priest. They burned candles and incense, just as did the priests in the temple. They instituted a daily sacrifice called the mass. And, among many other Jewish rituals, they instituted a water purification called Baptism which was supposed to cleanse the polluted soul so that it could enter into heaven.

In the Reformation the reformed churches cleansed themselves of all the Jewish and pagan rituals except baptism and the supper. They retained these two rituals because they failed to realize that they are Jewish and were never instituted by Christ. This was followed by bloodshed, hatred, and persecution over "who, when, where, how, and by whom" this ritual was to be done, attitudes and actions that one might expect among the Jews whose religion was composed of carnal ordinances but totally out of place in a religion that was to be performed "in spirit and in truth."

I think that it is rather significant that we never read of any dissensions among the Jews concerning the manner in which the various rituals were to be performed. Whereas the history of Christendom is marred by continual divisions and fighting's, yea, even bloodshed, over these questions. Yet, nobody could be more zealous for their rituals than the Jews.

How can one account for this? There must be a reason and I believe that the reason is very simple. The "who, when, where, how, and by whom" was clearly spelled out for them in the Scriptures because these rituals were definitely appointed by God and were a central part of their worship and lives. On the other hand, the New Testament is so vague about baptism that one can never really be certain about anything. Hence, the many disputes and fights about it because all the contending parties can produce Scriptural reasons for their views. Since I can see no rational reason why anyone would particularly care what way he was baptized, I must conclude that each party contends for his sprinkling, pouring, or immersion because he is truly persuaded in his mind that the Scriptures teach that mode.

For my part, I can't imagine the Lord being any less clear about baptism if He really meant it to be an ordinance of His church than He was to the Jews for the many rituals that they were to perform. The very absence of clear direction tells me that the Lord never meant water baptism to be a part of the Christian religion. And this seems to be verified in the Epistle to the Hebrews where the Apostle in speaking about the old covenant says that it was a religion

Which stood only in meats and drinks, and washings (baptisms in the Greek) and carnal ceremonies, imposed on them until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:10

Thus, it seems perfectly clear to me that carnal ceremonies (and water baptism is certainly a carnal ceremony) were to cease when the old covenant was replaced by the new covenant.

And, really, what is the point of water baptism? The Bible is clear that only the Blood of Jesus Christ can wash away sins. And only the most spiritually dark believe that sin is water soluble and can be washed away by water baptism. And if water baptism does not actually wash away sins (and it does not and can not), then what is the purpose? The answer usually given is that it is an outward sign of an inward work of grace. But isn't that what the old covenant was all about, to symbolize inward spiritual graces that one day would be available through Christ? And others say that it is our outward testimony to the world of an inward conversion experience. But that is foolish because many thousands are baptized with water that have never experienced an inward regeneration. The only testimony that anyone can have confidence in is a bringing forth works meet for repentance. In addition, who gets baptized in such a public manner that the world is even aware of it? So it seems totally senseless to me to retain a couple of "left overs" from the old covenant that really do nothing.

Let us summarize by saying that water baptism is a Jewish ritual that was already old at the time of Christ, that the Apostles and the early Christians were practicing Jews for many years after Pentecost and kept all the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism, that they practiced water baptism because they were Jews, that Peter and Paul both saw that the Lord intended these things should cease, that the Roman and Orthodox Catholic churches retained a great deal of the Jewish rituals, that the reformers eliminated most of the rituals but retained water baptism, that it has caused great discord and persecutions between people who profess Christ, that it is so vaguely described in the Scriptures that it is difficult to believe that had Jesus intended its observation He would have been so incompetent, and that, when all is said and done, it is a rather pointless thing to do in an age of true spiritual enlightenment.


I am often asked why I am so opposed to water baptism. It is argued that even if water baptism is not an institution of Christ it cannot possibly do anyone harm. So why not go along with it? Why pose it as a stumbling block to those that cannot free themselves from the prejudices of their education?

My answer is that, on the contrary, it does great harm. There is a true Christian baptism that Christ has ordained. If one looks upon water baptism to be Christ's true appointed baptism, he will not look for another and will, thereby, come short of the Gospel promise. In the words of the Apostle in his epistle to the Hebrews

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. Hebrews 4:1

This was written to Jewish Christians that were all bound up in rituals of the old covenant and Paul here warns them that there is a state of spiritual rest beyond the new birth that they could easily fail to obtain and that they should fear lest they be turned aside from it and fail to receive the promise.

In the fourth chapter of the Gospel according to John we meet with a very interesting statement that is given to us in parenthesis:

When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples)... John 4:1, 2

This is indeed amazing! Jesus did not baptize with water! Yet, almost everyone believes that He commanded water baptism to be an ordinance of His church. Now this leads to two very interesting questions. 1) If Jesus did not baptize anyone, then who baptized the Apostles with the so-called Christian water baptism ? 2) Why did Jesus refuse to baptize with water?

It is an undeniable fact that it cannot be shown that the Apostles were baptized with a so-called Christian water baptism. If Christ instituted a Christian water baptism and if He baptized none, then it is simply impossible to demonstrate how the Apostles were ever baptized with a water baptism. It ought to be obvious that it is totally illogical to say that Jesus founded the Christian Church and that He commanded that its members undergo a ritual water baptism but that He failed to administer this important ordinance or sacrament to His hand-picked apostles. I think that one is forced to conclude that either He did not institute water baptism as a Christian ordinance or He did baptize the apostles, but the Scriptures just somehow fail to mention this important event.

To me the latter alternative is out of the question because I just can't conceive of the Bible overlooking such an important event. But more important is the fact that the Bible plainly says that Jesus did not baptize with water. So why didn't He baptize with water, not even His apostles? I can see no other solution to this dilemma except to conclude that He did not baptize with water because water baptism was to play absolutely no role in His newly founded church. His baptism is of a totally different nature. And it is with His own baptism that He wishes to baptize His followers.

John the Baptist very plainly says that he was sent to baptize with water but that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost. John makes no bones about the difference in their ministries. He in no way implies that Jesus was going to continue his own work of water baptism, but he clearly distinguishes between his own work and that of Christ.

And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, "Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." John 1:33

Thus, we conclude that Jesus does truly have a baptism of His own and that His baptism, unlike John's, has nothing to do with water. We must also conclude that since it does not appear that He ever baptized anyone with the Holy Ghost while He was living, He must have intended to do so after He rose from the dead. And is this not verified by the following?

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: For the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said to His disciples,

John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Acts 1:5

Here Jesus plainly tells us that the Apostles had been baptized with water by John (not by Himself) and that they would be baptized with another baptism in a few days, that is, with His own baptism. A few days after Jesus spoke these words, the promise was fulfilled. On the day of Pentecost they were inundated and immersed in the mighty, cleansing power of God and were never the same again.

But was this baptism with the Holy ghost to cease with them and were we to be left with an empty form and ritual which possesses no life and cleansing power? By no means! John the Baptist had made it plain that all of the people would be able to experience Christ's baptism. On the day of Pentecost after Peter had been baptized with the Holy Ghost, it is obvious that Peter saw this as being the great work of Christ in this age because, while preaching to the people, he said,

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. Acts 2:38, 39

Thus, Christ did baptize His Apostles with His baptism and He desires to baptize all of His disciples in every age with this same baptism.

Some years after Pentecost Paul tells us that there is but one baptism:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism... Ephesians 4:4, 5

Now John the Baptist told of two baptisms—his with water, which then was, and Christ's with the Holy Ghost, which was to come. In addition, John said that

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

Three years later on the day of Pentecost Peter tells us of Christ's baptism having come and John's still being done. Then several years later Paul assures us that there is only one baptism. I think that I can safely say that only the darkest and most wicked of persons would say that John's baptism with water has precedence over Christ's glorious baptism with the Holy Ghost and is that baptism that remained when Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

With what has been said thus far, I am confident that the honest soul sees that water signifies nothing and that the one and only Christian baptism is Christ's own baptism with the Holy Ghost. However, since there is considerable talk nowadays about the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, I think that I should discuss what that baptism is and what it is not.

It is not the so-called Pentecostal or charismatic or tongues experience. This is a modern day deception of Satan, a cheap imitation of Christ's glorious baptism. As I will demonstrate, the purpose of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost is to purify the heart and nature from every trace of carnality and sin and to render the recipient truly holy. I have never met one person with the tongues experience that has been thereby cleansed from all sin and perfected in love and that lives above sin, both inward and outward. Most tongues speakers are very worldly and many are in deep sin. Thus, that experience which has deceived millions is a counterfeit of Satan.

Before I present Scriptures to show what the Baptism with the Holy Ghost is, let me remind you of the root meaning of the word baptism. The word "baptize" is a transliteration of a Greek word whose primary usage in the Scriptures has to do with the various ritual purifications of the Jews. A transliteration is not a translation, rather it is merely giving the word an English pronunciation. So the Greek word baptizw(pronounced baptidzo) is changed to baptize. Now it is a crying shame that the translators did this because it gives a meaning to the reader that the original does not possess. But it must be remembered that the Bible was not translated until many years after it was written and it was translated by men that were accustomed to using the word baptize in ordinary speech.

Most Greek dictionaries will say that the word means "to dip or immerse." But that is not the meaning of the word as used in the Scriptures. Let us look at two verses using the verb baptizw.

And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
Mark 7:4

The words "wash" and "washing" above are both translated from the word for baptize and baptism. In other words, it is clear that this Greek word is used for ritual purification. An interesting sidelight is that, although pots and pans were ritually purified by dipping or immersing, the hands were purified by pouring water over the hands. As a matter of fact, it can be shown that Jewish ritual purifications was performed by immersion, pouring, and sprinkling. And all of these are called "baptisms."

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he (Jesus) had not first washed before dinner.
Luke 11:38

The Pharisee here was referring to the act of ritual purification that the Jews always performed before eating, lest they accidentally ingest something unclean. The word translated "wash" here is the Greek word for baptize >baptizw. Finally, let us look at a discussion between John's disciples and others about baptism.

Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him." John 3:25, 26

If you read the above very carefully, you will see that their discussion was about ritual purification and specifically about people being purified by water baptism. Clearly, then, this Greek word baptizw as used in the Bible has to do with purifying and cleansing rather than dipping or immersing. Thus, we can conclude that the purpose of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost is to purify and cleanse the believer from all sin. And, incidentally, this was not done by dipping or immersion but by pouring, for we are told that God poured out of His Spirit upon all flesh. With this clearly in mind let us examine what Peter had to say about it when Cornelius and his friends were baptized with the Holy Ghost.

And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as [he did] unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Acts 15:8, 9

And listen to what Jesus had to say:

Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

And Paul said:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you,
who also will do it. I Thessalonians 5:23, 24

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection. Hebrews 6:1

Now the very God of peace...make you perfect in every good work to do his will... Hebrews 13:20, 21

And again, Peter says:

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, "Be ye holy; for I am holy." I Peter 1:15, 16

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. I Peter 5:10

From all of these scriptures we see that the purpose of the Gospel is perfection, a thing that the law could never produce,

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did... Hebrews 7:19

For the law with all of its outward ceremonies and rituals could never purify the heart and make the conscience clean. And as Jesus said,

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries... Mark 7:21

But as Peter said, the Gospel baptism purifies the heart and thereby produces perfection in the believer, that is, deliverance from all sin. This is the purpose of the one true Christian baptism. This is what the Gospel is all about. It makes possible a fulfillment of our Lord's prayer where He says,

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

Thus, dear Reader, content not thyself with a dead and empty form as though Jesus will be pleased with such Jewish ceremonies. Seek that baptism that purifies the heart and makes one to be espoused to Christ as a pure virgin without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. For Jesus Christ has come to baptize His people Himself and to prepare for Himself a pure Bride.