Which Gospel? The Gospel of Baptism (The Gospels and Acts), Part 2

Nicodemus

(John 3:3-18) In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Whether Jesus was speaking of baptism has become controversial for 500 years (it wasn’t controversial at all before Calvin). That’s a question I’ve addressed elsewhere. For now, the question is what does Jesus tell us our baptism means?

First, baptism is “of the Spirit.” This means, at least, that we receive the Spirit and that God, by means of the Spirit, somehow gives us eternal life.

Of course, baptism is also symbolic of the cleansing we receive by faith in Jesus. Baptism is thus a lesson in grace. You see, baptism is always spoken of in the passive voice. We “are baptized.” The saved man “is born of water and spirit.” Baptism is not a work performed but a gift received — just as is our eternal life.

Acts 2

We’ve covered the essence of Acts 2:38 already. We can therefore move immediately to the verses that follow –

(Acts 2:41-47) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What did baptism mean to those who believed on Pentecost? It meant a devotion to apostolic teaching (they became disciples).

And they devoted themselves to fellowship. Notice the verb is not passive. It’s active. They weren’t handed free relationships. Rather, they themselves worked to create relationships.

The met daily in the temple courts. The temple courts were large enough to hold such a large crowd and, of course, had huge spiritual significance to the Jews.

Now imagine having to walk the streets of Jerusalem every day to meet in the temple courts. Every day. It was a serious time commitment. And on the top of a mountain. It was uphill no matter where you started.

They also devoted themselves to the breaking of bread — meaning common meals. Some wish to limit this to the Lord’s Supper, but the idiomatic meaning of “break bread” was to eat a meal, and we know from history and scripture that the early church made a point to eat together — so much so that being disfellowshipped meant the unbearable penalty of not getting to eat with the church!

They met in homes. It was not yet illegal for the church to meet in synagogues and the temple courts, but to eat together, they had to meet in homes — which was surely a logistical nightmare for a church of thousands! A First Century home could hold, at most, 30 people, and so they had, in effect, over 1,000 “small groups,” meeting in homes to eat.

Finally, as we see so often in Acts, the Lord himself was active in helping to bring people into the church. “Added to their number” is no mere accounting procedure. Rather, the sense is that God himself was involved in bringing people into the community of the church.

Samaritans and Cornelius

(Acts 11:16-18) “Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

In both stories, we see that baptism symbolized the expansion of God’s kingdom to include Samaritans and Gentiles. Indeed, the apostles seem to have been reluctant to preach to either group. The apostles didn’t go to Samaria until after Phillip had preached to them and baptized them.

In the case of Cornelius, we see Peter struggling to overcome his prejudices — and Judaism — until God through a vision and, finally, the miraculous imparting of the Spirit, forced him to see that Gentiles were fully accepted by God. When he was finally persuaded, Peter commanded that these converts be baptized.

Baptism thus came to be a symbol of the fact that Christianity brings people of all races and nationalities into God’s kingdom — God’s nation — to be God’s people — God’s race.

Indeed, a major theme of the New Testament is the work of bringing Gentiles into full citizenship in the nation of Christ, without burdening theme with the traditional markers of Judaism.

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36 Responses to Which Gospel? The Gospel of Baptism (The Gospels and Acts), Part 2

  1. Alan says:

    Our church wrestles with the difficulty of providing all the teaching that is needed in two time slots (Sunday mornings and midweek). It really isn't enough. Meeting every day would certainly enable more and better teaching!

  2. Gary Cummings says:

    I do not believe that exegetically, the John 3 verse is peaking of baptism. The Jews believed that one's heritage as a practicing Jew would suffice for salvation (born of water=human birth), and Jesus said that human birth as a Jew was not sufficient, it would take a rebirth again or above from God's Spirit. This is my take on it and I do believe that salvation is by faith alone from start to finish and that this is what is referred to as being born of the Spirit.

  3. Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    I address the argument in some depth in Born of Water at http://oneinjesus.info/books-by-jay-guin/born-of-

    In short, John uses "born of blood" to refer to natural birth in 1:13, and there is no evidence in contemporary Greek or Jewish literature for "born of water" to refer to natural birth. In English we speak of a woman's "waters" breaking, but this is not a First Century idiom.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I believe the context of the conversation Jesus was having with Nicodemus it does point to water being that of the womens womb.

  5. Anonymous says:

    1 John 5:6-10
    "This is He who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth."

    Jesus came by water and blood. Jesus certainly didn't need to be born again He had no sin. Some want to say water always means baptism when it doesn't.

    "For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son."

    Three bear witness in heaven the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. Three bear witness on earth the Spirit, water, and blood. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit from heaven and born of flesh (blood and water) on earth. We should receieve His witness as that of the Holy Spirit and the flesh.

  6. nick gill says:

    AMEN! Our praxis neither reflects nor encourages the deep and passionate pursuit of the apostles' doctrine that Acts 2 describes.

  7. Anonymous says:

    1 John 5 speaks that Jesus came of the Spirit and in the flesh and anyone who has received the Holy Spirit in them they should be confessing Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit from heaven and born of flesh (water and blood) on earth. His witness in us should be witnessing to others.

  8. Gary Cummings says:

    Jay,
    I have seen commentaries on both sides of this "water" question. Nicodemus was definitely referring to physical birth, that is his ethnic heritage as a Jew. To him that settled the question of being born again. In the context of the Scripture, Jesus seems to connect the physical birth with the water, and spiritual birth with the Spirit of God. I do see a contrast between the two. A lot of people are quick to see "baptism" anywhere water is mentioned, and this could be a case of illegitimate totality transfer, that is identifying water as baptism anytime water is mentioned, irregardless of the context. I think that Nicodemus' reference to the womb narrows this down to the "water associated with human birth". I have been at childbirth as an RN, and believe me, there is a lot of sanguinous fluid and blood and amniotic fluid. I have seen no such documentation about the reference you made and would like a footnote on that please. Again, that seems like an argument from silence instead of going by the words in their context. As I understand it, water = physical birth, and spirit= spiritual birth. Then, Jesus could have been referring to proselyte baptism or the effusions of the Essenes, but I have not read a likely argument for those opinions.
    thanks,Gary

  9. Jay Guin says:

    From my previously cited book, Born of Water, beginning at page 35 —

    Now, as we’ve seen, there are plenty of passages that teach that if you have faith and are baptized, then you are saved. None of the previously quoted “baptism” passages, however, says what happens if you have faith and are not baptized. Perhaps baptism is one but not the only path to salvation.

    We have to consider John 3:1-8—

    Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
    In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
    “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
    Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    If “born of water” in verse 5 refers to baptism in water, Jesus has said that baptism is not only a path to heaven, it is the only path to heaven.

    While many, including myself, have argued that “born of water” refers to physical birth, the stronger case is that it refers to water baptism. The argument for a reference to physical birth is that Jesus refers to being “born again” and that “flesh gives birth to flesh” in the immediate context, so that physical birth is very much a part of the discussion. Indeed, Nicodemus is moved to ask ironically whether Jesus is calling on him to return to his mother’s womb. And in English, we often refer to the “waters of birth” or to a mother’s “waters” being broken. However, I’ve been persuaded by more careful study that “born of water” refers to baptism, for the following reasons:

    a. This is the position taken by the Christian church for centuries, by many different denominations and expositors:

    Except he experience the great inward change of the Spirit, and be baptized (wherever baptism can be had) as the outward sign and means of it.—Wesley’s Notes.

    John himself declared that his baptism was incomplete,—it was only with water. One was coming who should baptize with the Holy Ghost. That declaration of his is the key to the understanding of this verse. Baptism, complete, with water and the Spirit, is the admission into the kingdom of God.—Alford’s Greek Testament.

    This regeneration, which our church in so many places ascribes to baptism, is more than being admitted into the church. … This is grounded on the plain words of our Lord in John 3:5. By water, then, as a means, the water of baptism, we are regenerated or born again; whence it is called by the apostle, the washing of Regeneration.—Doctrinal Tracts, M. E. Church Edition of 1825.

    Forasmuch as our Savior Christ saith, None can enter into the kingdom of God except he be regenerated and born anew of Water and of the Holy Ghost; I beseech you to call upon God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of his bounteous goodness he will grant to these persons that which by nature they cannot have; that they may be baptized with Water and the Holy Ghost, and received into Christ’s Holy Church, and be made lively members of the same.—Book of Common Prayer, Art. Baptism.

    “John said: I baptize with water; the One coming after baptizes with Spirit; but Christ says: The baptism of both is necessary. One must be born of water and the Spirit.”—International Revision Commentary, Edited by Dr. Schaff.

    It is true that the word water does often symbolize temptation in Holy Writ, especially in the Psalms. (Psalms 18:16; 69:1-3.) But here (John 3:5) it cannot be interpreted that way; for here Christ is speaking of baptism, of real and natural water such as a cow may drink, the baptism about which you hear in the sermons on this subject. Therefore, the word water does not designate affliction here; it means real, natural water, which is connected with God’s word and becomes a very spiritual bath through the Holy Spirit or through the entire Trinity. Here Christ also speaks of the Holy Spirit as present and active, in fact, the entire Holy Trinity is there. And thus the person who has been baptized is said to be born anew. In Titus 3:3 Paul terms baptism “a washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” In the last chapter of Mark we read that “he who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16.) And in this passage Christ declares that whoever is not born anew of the water and the Holy Spirit cannot come into the kingdom of God. Therefore, God’s words dare not be tampered with.—Martin Luther’s Sermons on the Gospel of Saint John, Vol. 22, p. 283.

    The Church Fathers are unanimous in interpreting John 3:5 as a reference to water baptism, as well —

    As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, “Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]).

    “`And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kings 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: `Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’” (Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).

    “[N]o one can attain salvation without baptism, especially in view of the declaration of the Lord, who says, `Unless a man shall be born of water, he shall not have life.’” (Tertullian, Baptism 12:1 [A.D. 203]).

    “The Father of immortality sent the immortal Son and Word into the world, who came to man in order to wash him with water and the Spirit; and He, begetting us again to incorruption of soul and body, breathed into us the Spirit of life, and endued us with an incorruptible panoply. If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be God. And if he is made God by water and the Holy Spirit after the regeneration of the laver he is found to be also joint-heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead. Wherefore I preach to this effect: Come, all ye kindreds of the nations, to the immortality of the baptism.” (Hippolytus, Discourse on the Holy Theophany 8 [A.D. 217]).

    “[When] they receive also the baptism of the Church . . . then finally can they be fully sanctified and be the sons of God . . . since it is written, `Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’” (Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 71[72]:1 [A.D. 253]).

    “This then is what it means to be `born again of water and Spirit’: Just as our dying is effected in the water [Rom. 6:3, Col. 2:12-13], our living is wrought through the Spirit. In three immersions and an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water, but from the Spirit’s presence there.” (Basil the Great, The Holy Spirit, 15:35 [A.D. 375]).

    “You have read, therefore, that the three witnesses in baptism are one: water, blood, and the Spirit (1 John 5:8): And if you withdraw any one of these, the sacrament of baptism is not valid. For what is the water without the cross of Christ? A common element with no sacramental effect. Nor on the other hand is there any mystery of regeneration without water, for `unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” (Ambrose of Milan, The Mysteries 4:20 [A.D. 390]).

    “[In] the birth by water and the Spirit, [Jesus] himself led the way in this birth, drawing down upon the water, by his own baptism, the Holy Spirit; so that in all things he became the first-born of those who are spiritually born again, and gave the name of brethren to those who partook in a birth like to his own by water and the Spirit.” (Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius 2:8 [A.D. 382]).

    “[N]o one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink his blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious? These [priests] truly are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of that blessed Head.” (John Chrysostom, The Priesthood 3:5-6 [A.D. 387]).

    “It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, `Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents’ or `by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him,’ but, `Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.’ The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam.” (Augustine, Letters 98:2 [A.D. 412]).

    b. Baptism is very much in the context. John 1:19 ff. discusses the baptism of John. Indeed, in 1:26, John the Baptist says “I baptize with water” and in 1:33, John says that Jesus “will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” This is, of course, parallel with “born of water and Spirit.” Immediately after the account of Jesus with Nicodemus, we read in 3:22 that Jesus and his disciples went to the countryside and baptized with water.

    c. There is no evidence that the Jews thought of water as an element of or symbol for physical birth. Indeed, John’s earlier references to natural physical birth speak of being “born of blood.” John 1:12-13. In both cases, “of” is the same preposition, ‘ek. One commentator who sought evidence that the Jews used “water” to refer to physical birth came up with considerable evidence of water being a Jewish metaphor for conception, but nothing for associating water with physical birth.

    Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, The International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971), 216-217. “In due course I turned away from the view that the water is simply the amniotic fluid that flows away during the process of birth, because I could find no ancient text that spoke of birth as ‘out of water.’”; D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Boston: Baker Book House, Inc., 1996), 41

    d. The Greek tends to support that only one birth is in mind—

    The unity of the two elements is shown by the use of the single preposition ‘ek: ‘by water and Spirit’.

    Another interpretation sometimes offered is that “water” refers to the Spirit, referring to Isa. 44:3 and John 7:37. However, John 7:37 uses “living water” to refer to the Spirit. Isa. 44:3 might use “water” to refer to the Spirit but could equally well be interpreted to refer to blessings in general.

    Ultimately, this interpretation fails because Jesus surely intended to be understood by Nicodemus. Nicodemus was likely familiar with the baptism of John, but was not likely to have understood “water” as meaning the Holy Spirit—it was hardly a conventional metaphor at the time. Anyway, why would Jesus refer to be being born of “Spirit and Spirit”?

    In conclusion, the baptism interpretation has the stronger weight. Many commentators from a great many denominations agree. The Greek supports this view. And there is simply no evidence that a First Century Jew might have understood “water” as a reference to physical birth.

    Does this mean that those believers who have been wrongly baptized—as infants or by sprinkling—are lost? After all, Jesus plainly says that one cannot be saved “unless” he is baptized of the water and the Spirit?

    The question must now be re-defined—if a devout, penitent believer believes himself to have been baptized, will God accept that baptism even though the baptism is either not by immersion or before the believer came to believe? Is it enough that the believer thinks he has fulfilled the command to be baptized?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but Jesus is our living water not any baptismal pool. Water baptism is a symbol a great symbol but nothing more. Water baptism symbolizes what Jesus our true living water has already done for us.

    Paul to Titus never mentions that water baptism regenerates. The baptism of the Holy Spirit regenerates us not water baptism. Titus 3:4-5 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

    Mark 16:16, There will be people in heaven who were baptized, it does not say those who aren’t baptized will be condemned.

    Acts 2:38 Repentance brought forgiveness of sins and then they were baptized. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

    The context of John 3 points to water as physical birth from the womb. 1 John 5 also shows water means physical birth 1 John 5:6 “This is He who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.”

    You can give the opinions of men all you want, there are many great men who have been wrong throughout history, men thought the world was flat why didn’t they know is was round when the Bible tells us it is.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jay,

    People who totally trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior who don't hold your view of baptism, are they your brothers or do you believe they are lost?

  12. Jay Guin says:

    Anonymous,

    Leon Morris and D A Carson are two of the premier conservative evangelical NT scholars on the planet. They are expert in First Century Greek and NT backgrounds. Neither is part of the Churches of Christ. Both tried to diligently to find some evidence — any evidence — that a First Century reader would take "born of water" to mean "physical birth." Neither could find it.

    Neither scholar is sympathetic to the Church of Christ interpretation, but neither will accept yours because it's just not how the words were used in that place and time.

    However, that hardly means that God damns those who are incorrectly baptized — a different question altogether. Just as God accepts imperfect faith and imperfect penitence (who could meet such a standard?), God does not require a perfect baptism.

    1 John 5:6 speaks of "coming" not being born (same verb as in 1 John 4:2). The context is testimony, particularly God's testimony (v 9), that we should believe. It seems to me to refer to his baptism and crucifixion/resurrection, the two most persuasive miracles showing his divinity

    So, while I disagree with your exegesis, I think you're ultimately right that the Churches of Christ have been far too narrow in their baptismal theology.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Jay,

    I disagree with your interpretation of 1 John 5, to say water as you say means born again is referring to Jesus is absolutely absurd Jesus certainly didn’t need to be born again He had no sin. 1 John 5 speaks that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit from heaven and born of flesh (water and blood) on earth.

    And as I said you can give the opinions of men all you want, there are many great men who have been wrong throughout history, men thought the world was flat why didn’t they know it is was round when the Bible tells us it is.

  14. Anonymous says:

    And to also say Jay even though we disagree about baptism, I believe you to be a man after God's own heart.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Jay,

    You say 1 John 5 the Spirit, water and blood refers to how Jesus came as you say to water means being born again as you say Jesus was speaking about water in John 3. 1 John 5 is speaking about when Jesus came, the Bible is clear many times that Jesus came by the Spirit and came in the flesh. To say Jesus needed to be born again just makes absolutely no sense Jesus had no sin. 1 John 5 is definitely speaking that Jesus came of the Holy Spirit from heaven and of flesh born of water and blood on earth. Jesus’ coming by the Spirit in the flesh is something we Christians must believe is true. The water in John 3 and 1 John are speaking about physical birth from the womb.

  16. Gary Cummings says:

    Jay,
    Carson and Morris are excellent Biblical Scholars. They and you may be right-or wrong. Either way is fine with me. The main thing is a spiritual rebirth through the Spirit of God and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. You would agree that baptism in water is not sufficient to save a person. I know a lot of baptized pagans, counting on their baptism to save them.

    Again, let's look at the structure of John 3:1-6
    1. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and told Jesus: "We know you are a teacher come from God." "No one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."
    2. Jesus said: "Truly , truly, I say to you , unless is born again (or from above), He can not see the Kingdom of God."
    3. Nicodemus reply: "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?
    4. Jesus answered: " Truly, truly, I say to you, unless is born of water and the Spirit, he can not enter the Kingdom of God." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

    Analysis:
    vs 1&2:
    Nicodemus : "You are a teacher from God. No one can do these signs you do unless God is with you.
    v.3:
    Jesus: "I honestly say to you: one can not enter the Kingdom of God with a second birth.

    An affirmative statement about Jesus is made by a supreme teacher (Nicodemus) of Israel, and Jesus accepts that.

    Jesus then, as the teacher affirmed by Nicodemus, teaches him that entry into the Kingdom of God requires a second birth. (No mention of baptism here .)

    v4-Nicodemus:
    1.How can a man be born when he is old?
    2.Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
    Apparently , Nicodemus does not get the point Jesus is making about the means of entrance into the Kingdom of God. If Jesus would have meant baptism. He would have said so. Then Nicodemus, would have understood that.
    Nicodemus gave a rational reply to Jesus' statement:
    How did be done when one is old?
    Can one re-enter his mother's womb.
    Both of these answers indicate that Nicodemus understood Jesus statement as "physical birth", though that is not what Jesus meant, as we shall see.
    v5. Jesus: Honestly I say to you unless is born of water and the Spirit, he can not enter the Kingdom of God.

    Jesus did not use the word BAPTIZO here, which is a word associated with baptism. He did say "born of water". From what I have read, this refers to (1) Christian baptism,
    (2) the water of physical birth, (3) human semen (in some Hebrew and gnostic circles), (4) Proselyte baptism, (5) the baptism of John the Baptist.

    A few questions:
    Why would Jesus demand Christian baptism , something not yet taught until Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus?

    Why doesn't this simply mean what Nicodemus meant-physical birth. This naturally answers the question of Nicodemus.

    This could be the water of human semen, as taught in some Hebrew circles. If so, this could stem from an understanding of the water of human blood as in John 1:13 "not of blood" .

    This could mean proselyte baptism, which converts to Judaism were required to experience. The Essenes were always immersing themselves to rid themselves of sin, that is a possibility as well.

    Lastly, this could refer to the baptism taught and performed by John the Baptist. Why not this one? Jesus would have added the "the Spirit" to the water baptism of John. This has a high possibility of being what Jesus meant. The conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus took place shortly after the ministry of John the Baptizer. Jesus would then be saying to Nicodemus: "You must be baptized in water for repentance as John is doing, and be born or baptized in the Spirit of God as well." This one does make a lot of sense. Jesus is pointing to the contemporary work of John as an example of being born again with the addition of the Spirit.

    I believe that born of water either refers to (2) physical birth, as it relates to the physical birth and understanding of Nicodemus or (5) the baptism taught by John the baptizer with the addition of the Spirit.

    It is dangerous to go into the Epistles, which not yet written when Jesus said these word to Nicodemus. The words of the epistles of course had been written by the time of the composition of the Gospel of John. SO that point can't be pressed too hard.

    I see the natural flow as this:
    Jesus said to be born again. Nicodemus took this as relating to physical birth. Jesus went from that understanding and referred to that as the water of physical birth, but what was needed was the birth by the Spirit of God.

    Wayne Grudem, in his excellent SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, does not view John 3:5 as referring to Christian baptism, but relates it to the reception of the promise of the New Covenant in Ezekiel 36: ' I will sprinkle clean water you, and yuo shall be clean from all your uncleannesses…..a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you."
    It is very likely that Jesus had this Scripture in mind in His conversation with Nicodemus. As a teacher of Israel, one would have thought that Nicodemus would have understood this. Anyway, Ezekiel is not referring to baptism here, but to a washing of or by the Spirit of God.

    Likewise, Grudem points out that Titus 3:5" "specifies not water baptism but "washing of regeneration", explicitly stating that it is a "spiritual" washing that occurs when we are born again., just as we receive a spiritual, not a physical new heart at that time as well." (Grudem: SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, p. 973).
    Grudem also states that Eph. 5:26 refers to a spiritual washing rather than a literal washing in water. "It is the Word of God that does the washing referred to here, not physical water." (Grudem, p. 973.)

    Now is saying all of this, I do not deny that people who become disciples of Jesus should be baptized (by any means of water available-though I prefer immersion). They are baptized because their sins have been forgiven, just like a person gets married for love. They get married because they are already in love, not to receive love. (Though a couple's love grows in many ways over the years from the fresh human sexual love to that of the love of companionship and the very deepest friendship).

    Again, not all passages with water in it refer to christian baptism. Some see baptism in the blood and water coming out of Jesus' side on the cross and a few other places. That is hyper-sacramentalism. I do not discourage baptism, and have baptized a few people in my life into Christ. IActually, it was the Spirit of God who did this, I was just a poor instrument).

    Again, these are not my final conclusions, but ones I can live with at this time of my life. I am open to more light from God's Word and Holy Spirit.

  17. Gary Cummings says:

    Anon,
    Email me sometime. I agree with you here. I do love Jay and all the others here. I do believe Jay has a deep heart for the Lord.

  18. Gary Cummings says:

    Again, typos have entered the picture. Delete "Josephus" and put "Nicodemus" in that place. I should only do these things when I am more awake, and have had more than one cup of coffee. Mea Cuppa!
    Gary

  19. Gary Cummings says:

    Jay,
    This has been a good exercise is study and sharing and I appreciate it. From what everybody has written "water and Spirit" says more than just those 3 words. I have had my two cups of coffee now. Sorry I missed that cup with you in Tuscaloosa. It is a LONG way from Waynesboro, VA to Birmingham. That was the hardest part of our drive to Texas. From Birmingham to New Orleans was not bad, then from NO to Lafayette, LA not bad. From Lafayette to Leakey, TX was not bad either. I rented a small house/cabin in town and visited with cousins and saw the country where my dad grew up as a kid. He was a like lot Newt in LONESOME DOVE. His people were ranchers: cattle and goats, and an occasional hog drive. Well we got back home and I worked my last week of full-time employment as an RN. I will continue doing specialty IV infusions 3 days a month till I am 66, then I can work more if I want to. Right now, I am debating to work on an MA in American History- I've been accepted, apply to be trained as a hospital chaplain through CPE, or preach at some non-denominational church. Maybe all three?
    Anyway, I appreciate your allowing me to be here as a guest, since I have left the RM. I can honestly say that I would not feel too much out of place at a Progressive Church of Christ (if there were one in my area). If I ever get too argumentative or obnoxious, please let me know.

    Well, here comes my third cup of coffee!
    Gary

  20. Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    I'll reply to your thoughtful comment by quoting your comment and then inserting responses throughout. I omit the first part, because I agree with it.

    Jesus did not use the word BAPTIZO here, which is a word associated with baptism. He did say “born of water”. From what I have read, this refers to (1) Christian baptism,
    (2) the water of physical birth, (3) human semen (in some Hebrew and gnostic circles), (4) Proselyte baptism, (5) the baptism of John the Baptist.

    This covers the gamut.

    A few questions:
    Why would Jesus demand Christian baptism , something not yet taught until Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus?

    True enough that Christian baptism began with Pentecost, but John's baptism was already in effect and well known. And Jesus had his disciples baptize in the very same chapter (3:22 ff). Jesus' own baptism by John (in water), receiving the the Spirit (1:33), precedes Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus. John's baptism was for the remission of sins. John the Baptist's baptism is very much in John's context. John could easily have expected his readers to understand "of water and Spirit" in light of Jesus' own baptism as a prototype of Christian baptism.

    Why doesn’t this simply mean what Nicodemus meant-physical birth. This naturally answers the question of Nicodemus.

    This could be the water of human semen, as taught in some Hebrew circles. If so, this could stem from an understanding of the water of human blood as in John 1:13 “not of blood” .

    * Even the ancients knew that conception and birth happened 9 months apart. Jesus is not speaking of being conceived but of being born. Therefore, the semen argument seems forced. "Born of semen" as a way of saying "physical birth"? Seems more than awkward. And Jesus himself was not born of semen, but he was baptized. Why pick a metaphor that excludes Jesus as our example?

    * As noted before, no one has produced a shred of evidence that a First Century reader would have taken "born of water" as a metaphor for physical birth. And "born of blood" in 1:13 strongly argues against it. Why not use "born of water" in 1:13 and set up the metaphor in John 3 if that's what John meant? Many themes and phrases in John 1 flow throughout the Gospel.

    This could mean proselyte baptism, which converts to Judaism were required to experience. The Essenes were always immersing themselves to rid themselves of sin, that is a possibility as well.

    Indeed, Nicodemus may well have taken "born of water" to refer to a baptism that admits one to covenant relationship with God. Christian baptism for a Jew would be seen as being admitted into true Judaism, that is, like proselyte baptism or Essene baptism. In a very real sense, Christian baptism is proselyte baptism — and was likely understood that way by the Jewish converts.

    Lastly, this could refer to the baptism taught and performed by John the Baptist. Why not this one? Jesus would have added the “the Spirit” to the water baptism of John. This has a high possibility of being what Jesus meant. The conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus took place shortly after the ministry of John the Baptizer. Jesus would then be saying to Nicodemus: “You must be baptized in water for repentance as John is doing, and be born or baptized in the Spirit of God as well.” This one does make a lot of sense. Jesus is pointing to the contemporary work of John as an example of being born again with the addition of the Spirit.

    I entirely agree. John's baptism was for repentance and for remission of sins. It was very much a precursor of Christian baptism, missing "of Spirit" and into the name of Jesus. Certainly, Jesus could have been saying you need baptism — like John's — except with the Spirit, too. (And you receive the Spirit by virtue of being baptized into Jesus' name.)

    I believe that born of water either refers to (2) physical birth, as it relates to the physical birth and understanding of Nicodemus or (5) the baptism taught by John the baptizer with the addition of the Spirit.

    It is dangerous to go into the Epistles, which not yet written when Jesus said these word to Nicodemus. The words of the epistles of course had been written by the time of the composition of the Gospel of John. SO that point can’t be pressed too hard.

    I see the natural flow as this:
    Jesus said to be born again. Nicodemus took this as relating to physical birth. Jesus went from that understanding and referred to that as the water of physical birth, but what was needed was the birth by the Spirit of God.

    Wayne Grudem, in his excellent SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, does not view John 3:5 as referring to Christian baptism, but relates it to the reception of the promise of the New Covenant in Ezekiel 36: ‘ I will sprinkle clean water you, and yuo shall be clean from all your uncleannesses…..a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.”

    There are plenty of commentators who do not see Christian baptism in John 3:5 — all them post-Calvin and nearly all coming from a Calvinist/Reformed heritage (I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've not seen one). Calvin separated baptism from salvation because he saw grace as unconditional and irresistible — that is, not involving any choice at all by the convert. Most who argue John 3:5 argue from their Calvinistic assumptions — baptism is a "work" therefore cannot be the moment of salvation. If an Arminian argues that way (and I suspect some do), it would be because he can't imagine God damning over a failure to be baptized — in line with recent trends in American evangelical thought (sinner's prayer and all that). But such arguments still find their roots in Calvinism.

    It is very likely that Jesus had this Scripture in mind in His conversation with Nicodemus. As a teacher of Israel, one would have thought that Nicodemus would have understood this. Anyway, Ezekiel is not referring to baptism here, but to a washing of or by the Spirit of God.

    Certainly, there are those who argue that "water" means "Spirit" so Jesus really said "born of Spirit and the Spirit' — hardly the most elegant way of using the image. I certainly agree that washing by the Spirit is in mind, just not that it's all that Jesus has in mind.

    Why did Jesus go out and have his disciples baptize? And why does John report this immediately after Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus?

    Likewise, Grudem points out that Titus 3:5? “specifies not water baptism but “washing of regeneration”, explicitly stating that it is a “spiritual” washing that occurs when we are born again., just as we receive a spiritual, not a physical new heart at that time as well.” (Grudem: SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, p. 973).

    This is easy to assert; not so easy to prove. How do you make the case without Calvinist presuppositions? How does the text itself reject the interpretation of "washing" as Christian baptism?

    (Titus 3:5) he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

    Most Arminian commentators take "washing of rebirth" to refer to water baptism — which is, of course, tied closely to the Spirit's renewing work. And some important Baptist commentators have come to accept the same conclusion, such as G.R. Beasley Murray. Again, this is how the phrase was invariably interpreted until the work of Calvin.

    Grudem also states that Eph. 5:26 refers to a spiritual washing rather than a literal washing in water. “It is the Word of God that does the washing referred to here, not physical water.” (Grudem, p. 973.)

    (Eph 5:26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

    How on earth does "washing with water" become "washing with the word"? Again, unless you start with Calvinist presuppositions, that interpretation never even occurs to you.

    Given that the early church unquestionably practiced water baptism for its converts, what would a First Century Ephesian have understood?

    Consider,

    (Heb 10:22) let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

    "Sprinkled" here surely refers both to the Ezekiel passage (sprinkled by the Spirit) as well as the sprinkling with blood on the Day of Atonement. "Bodies washed with pure water" sure seems to refer to baptism. The parallelism suggests the two events are concurrent.

    Or consider —

    (Gal 3:26-27) You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

    "For" at the beginning of 27 (gar) has the force of "because." Why are we all sons of God? Because we've all been baptized and so clothed with Christ. In a world where all converts received water baptism, that's what the readers would have understood.

    Now is saying all of this, I do not deny that people who become disciples of Jesus should be baptized (by any means of water available-though I prefer immersion). They are baptized because their sins have been forgiven, just like a person gets married for love. They get married because they are already in love, not to receive love. (Though a couple’s love grows in many ways over the years from the fresh human sexual love to that of the love of companionship and the very deepest friendship).

    Again, not all passages with water in it refer to christian baptism. Some see baptism in the blood and water coming out of Jesus’ side on the cross and a few other places. That is hyper-sacramentalism. I do not discourage baptism, and have baptized a few people in my life into Christ. IActually, it was the Spirit of God who did this, I was just a poor instrument).

    Actually, many argue that the marriage metaphor works the other way: you're not married until you go through the ceremony. Personally, I am a bit on the in-between side. Marriage is supposed to happen at a definite time. The couple, their families, and society need a point of demarcation that says — the marriage begins now and so you should consider this couple as married. How else do we know when premarital sex (sin) become postmarital sin (holy)?

    However, marriages can come about by other means — by common law, in this country — but it's unwise.

    Like you, I've read a lot of commentaries. On these kinds of questions I find the Arminians make the Arminian arguments and the Calvinists make the Calvinist arguments. The Calvinists are particularly bad to argue in circles: Because Calvinism is true, therefore this passage means X. I have little patience with such argumentation from either side of the divide.

    And I find my own views somewhere in between the two — see my series on Searching for a Third Way: http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/s…. Therefore, I don't really care how the argument turns out. I just want to get it right.

    The arguments that I find persuasive are either —

    * Based on evidence other than the commentator's theological presuppositions.

    * Made by a commentator against his own presuppositions. Thus, when a Baptist argues that "born of water" means baptism, I study carefully what he has to say. Both Leon Morris and D A Carson do not want to find baptism in "born of water." But both reject the physical birth conclusion because they know their sources and aren't willing to make an argument that they can't support even when it supports their views. However, neither is willing to admit that "born of water" means Christian baptism, because they both come from a Reformed background.

    As I've said, I don't think this means those baptized as infants or other than for the remission of sins are damned. But I believe baptism is the properly, God-ordained means of the Christian announcing his faith and committing to the Lordship of Jesus — and God's way of announcing that he has saved and justified this person. And I think that the Spirit is — in the normal case — received at baptism. But God's mercy is not bound by baptism and he can and does save outside baptism when need be. He never, ever rejects someone who comes to him to true faith and penitence. Nonetheless, we are commanded to baptize those we convert, and so that's what we should do.

  21. This is a challenge to us because the phrase "born of water" is usednowhere else in scripture. This leads me to posit that Jesus was introducing a new concept, a new teaching to Israel's teacher Nicodemus; a prophetic one couchedin new, unique prophetic language.

    For the entire phrase seems to be "born of water and the spirit" and I'm not certain that it refers to two separate "births."

    As Jay points out, Jesus' baptism was unique (and prophetic) at its time because of the appearance of the Holy Spirit along with it.

    If "born of water" means natural birth … well, everyone is born that way; that's just being born, not "born again." Right? Or is there a flaw in my thinking that I can't see?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Jay I have some problems with what you said.

    Jay-Jesus’ own baptism by John (in water), receiving the the Spirit (1:33), precedes Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.

    Here I have a huge problem. Jesus had the Holy Spirit before He was baptized. To say Jesus didn’t have the Holy Spirit would be denying the truth of who Jesus came as. Do you not realize that Jesus the Son and the God the Father were and are of the same Spirit?

    Jay-And Jesus had his disciples baptize in the very same chapter (3:22 ff)."

    John 3:22 "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized.”

    It says Jesus’ disciples baptized, it does not say they were baptized. I’m not saying they weren’t baptized by John’s baptism but the Bible never mentions the disciples baptism not by John’s baptism nor being baptized after Jesus’ resurrection. If baptism is when we are forgiven why would the Bible not show the disciples very own baptism, if baptism takes away sins to show the disciples baptisms would be something of importance.

    Jay-How on earth does “washing with water” become “washing with the word”?

    Ephesians 5:26 “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word”

    Surely your not saying water washes away our sins, Jesus’ redeeming blood washes away our sins, Jesus is our living water Jesus is our Savior.

    Jay-Heb 10:22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

    Jay-You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

    These are the symbolism of water baptism. Water baptism symbolizes many parts of our walk with the Lord. We are baptized to show that Jesus died was buried and rose again, baptism symbolizes that we no longer want to live to sin but want to live for Jesus, baptism symbolizes that we have been clothed with Christ’ Spirit, and baptism symbolizes that Holy Spirit has sprinkled our heart and conscience clean.

    The ring is a symbol of a marriage relationship as baptism is a symbol of our relationship with God. If a couple is married but don’t yet have the rings which symbolize the marriage that doesn’t mean they don’t have a marriage relationship, same as person who has been accepted by God having received the Holy Spirit if they haven’t been baptized yet that doesn’t mean they don't have a relationship with God.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Jesus was trying to explain to Nicodemus who was thinking of being born in the physical sense that he also needed to be born again of the Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus that which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit and repeats that Nicodemus needed to be born again.

    John 3:6-7 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again."

    Jesus was saying we must be born again of the Spirit.

  24. So what we don't know is whether Jesus is talking about one birth, the second birth, or two – the natural birth as opposed to the spiritual birth. He could have made it clear whether he meant "born of water" as natural birth if He had said, "Flesh gives birth to flesh through water," but He didn't.

    Still, right after the conversation in John 3:1-20, the next thing John records is that Jesus went out, spent some time with his disciples, and baptized.

    John the writer introduces his gospel with the pre-existent Christ testified by John the baptizer, chapter one, so we're already introduced to the concept. Then John the writer tells of Jesus' baptism and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

    So of course He means that we must be born of the Spirit. But how can we be certain that He's not speaking of baptism when using the word "water"?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Keith,

    It is clear Nicodemus was thinking of being born in the sense of physical birth. Jesus didn't tell Nicodemus to be baptized to be born again as some want it to say which it wasn't unusual at all for Jesus to use the word baptize. Right after Jesus' reference to born of water and Spirit Jesus speaks of two births a physical birth and a Spirit birth and born again is the second birth of the Spirit. The entire context of their conversation in John 3 is about two births the context itself reveals that the water meant physical birth.

  26. Perhaps. But there's a larger context, too; the first few chapters of the gospel.

    I used to be pretty sure that this incident had nothing to do with baptism.

    Now I'm not so sure.

  27. Oops! Always a challenge to post with my phone. I don't always post everything I intend to before touching the "Submit Comment" button!

    John's gospel uses the word "water" about as many times as the other three gospels put together. He uses some form of the word "baptize" or "baptism" about half again as often as any other gospel writer – and always in a literal, water-immersion sense; not quoting Jesus' figurative uses of the term ("I have a baptism to undergo" – except in one instance, saying that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit).

  28. Anonymous says:

    Keith, so you say the context of passage has nothing to do with what is being addressed, that is absolutely wrong and is one of the worst arguments I have heard someone try to make as they try to dismiss context.

    Not once when they were baptizing at the Jordan River did they say they were being born again

    Why didn't Jesus tell Nicodemus to be baptized to be born again when He said water as you pointed out it wasn’t unusual at all for Jesus to use the word baptize.
    And not once when they were baptizing at the Jordan River did they say the people were being born again.

  29. Anonymous says:

    1 John 4:7-13, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit."

    Those of who are born of God have His Spirit, no mention of baptism. God sent Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins not water baptism.

  30. Anonymous, I don't have your answers. I don't fully have the mind of Christ; or know why He chose the words He chose and not others. I don't know why He didn't directly tell the rich young man what he lacked. I don't know why He called himself 'Son of Man' rather than 'Son of God.' Perhaps He just wants us to think this out together, to challenge each other with its possibilities and ramifications … to come to our own conclusions.

    I think you either misunderstand or misrepresent what I said. I didn't say there was no context; I said there is a larger context. And, as I said, I think it's possible that what Jesus said to Nicodemus was phrased in prophetic language. He may have been testing Israel's teacher, to see if He could draw out of him the depth of meaning in baptism – which, certainly, Nicodemus was familiar with.

    I may be absolutely wrong, and it may be one of the worst arguments anyone has ever heard, but it's not because I'm dismissing context. I'm broadening it.

    In John's gospel, Jesus turns water into wine; speaks of living water; heals a paralytic at a pool of water; sends a blind man to wash at a pool of water.

    John also uses terms referring to the Holy Spirit about half again as many times as any of the other gospel writers.

    I think by emphasizing these themes, he may well be trying to communicate something.

  31. And again, my friend, you would put words in my mouth if you think I said water baptism makes propitiation for sins.

    But there are all kinds of scriptures that so closely associate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gift of baptism that we simply can't afford to dismiss them.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Keith, I agree sometimes there is a larger context, but not everything is in larger context, sometimes what is being said is in the direct context as it is in John 3 with the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, and we should never because of biased opinions take anything out of it's context, we should study the context as it is given and pray for the Spirit to give us understanding. I don't have full understanding of the Bible, as long as I'm on this earth I will be a student of the Bible.

    Grace, mercy, and peace

  33. I'm right there with you in the lifelong study, bro.

  34. TR says:

    Being a part of the Church of Christ for 15 adult years, I have come to wonder if our teaching of baptism ("you must be baptized to be saved") and the "other" teaching ("you don't have to be baptized to be saved") are both inorganic in nature.

    We seem to teach what we do to counteract those who teach the opposite; but I never within scripture an individual being told they must be baptized to be saved. Christ's words in Mark 16 were not made to establish the "doctrine of baptism." Neither were Peter's or Paul's. Rather baptism (meaning immersion in water) was the organic faith response. There was no attempt to strain out the gnat of when the point of salvation occured. It was all a part of a natural, cohesive event–faith, repentance, baptism.

    In man's attempt to understand the understandable, we have decided it necessary to delineate the moment of salvation and have broken down the miraculous working of God into something we can control and regulate.

    Does anyone ever stop to wonder why there's also no one in scripture who asks "Do I have to be baptized to be saved?" I suspect it would have been a silly question to ask in light of the teaching of John the Baptist, Christ's baptism, and the overwhelming events that occured at Pentecost.

    I think that if we in the Church of Christ put people more in touch with the living, breathing, life-altering gospel of Christ, we would find it unnecessary to teach the need for immersion in water.

    I also think that if the "non-baptismal regenerationists" put people in touch with the same thing, they would find it unnecessary to have quarterly baptisms because the organic response of the faithful, penitent would be like that in Acts 2.

    But that's just my opinion…

  35. Jesus loves us all says:

    When the thief was on the cross, and said Lord remember me in heaven, Jesus said back to him trust me today you will be with me in heaven, he never was baptized in water. And he was saved per the Lord.

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