Mark 16: 16 says “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” Notice, the passage doesn’t say “He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized”; nor does it say, “He that is baptized shall be saved”; but he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved! You must believe! The continuation of Mark 16: 16 says “… but he that believeth not shall be damned.” If you don’t believe why be baptized? Basically, if you don’t believe you will not get baptized; but you are also damned.
Water baptism is essential for salvation. Mark 16: 16 also doesn’t say “He that believeth shall be saved and doesn’t need to be baptized…” John 3: 3,5 says “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The word ‘born’ is the Greek word ‘gennao’ which means to beget, to conceive or to regenerate. Baptism is essential! Jesus wants to Baptize us with the baptism of repentance; the baptism of water; and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This is the one baptism. There were some believers who received the Holy Ghost without being baptized in Acts 10, but Peter commanded them to be baptized: Acts 10: 47-48 says “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” In this passage God gives the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles to show the believing Jewish Christians that salvation was for them too. But the key here is obedience: Acts 5: 31-32 says “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins (through water baptism). And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that OBEY him.” The word ‘obey’ in this passage means to hearken, to submit to the authority of, and to conform. God gives the Holy Spirit to them that believe him. Have you submitted to Christ’s authority through water baptism?
John 1: 12 says “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” The word ‘power’ here is the word Exousia which is delegated authority, privilege, freedom, and the right. They received Christ and were given authority through water baptism. Faith through water baptism gives you the ‘Exousia’, the authority; but when you receive the Holy Spirit you receive the ‘Dunamis, power of the Spirit to carry out that authority. Luke 4: 36 says “And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority (Exousia) and power (Dunamis) he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Many are illegal in the Spirit; they have power, but no authority. And some have authority but no power. You must be born of water to obtain the right (authority) to the power accessed through the Holy Ghost. This is only given through water baptism.
Titus 3: 5 says “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The word washing means a bath, that is speaking of water baptism. God first saved us with the ‘washing of regeneration’ meaning he made us alive in water baptism: Colossians 2: 11-13 says “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” When Jesus forgave you of your sins through water baptism he made you alive, or the King James says he quickened you. Your sins had been cut off from you like that of circumcision; and here we see that water baptism is a sign like that of circumcision. Ephesians is a mirror book of Colossians, and notice what Paul says in Ephesians 2: 1,5-6 “And you hath he quickened (in water baptism), who were dead in trespasses and sins… Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (through water baptism) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together (through the Holy Spirit), and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
Without water baptism, you cannot be forgiven: John 20: 23 says “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Remission or remitting is only done through water baptism. Understanding this is key in how you administer water baptism to those that are to be saved. Acts 22: 16 says “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” The words ‘wash away’ mean to wash fully, that is, to have sins remitted. But it’s interesting that the question was asked “… why tarriest thou?” To tarry is to wait. Your sins cannot be forgiven without water baptism! Churches have waited to baptize people because they do not believe that water baptism saves: 1Peter 3: 20c-21 says “… eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” The phrase ‘The like figure’ means like the flood of Noah’s day saved him and his family, water baptism saves us and rescues us from destruction. The old earth was baptized with water, and so the creation of the new will be introduced with a baptism with fire. What saves us in water baptism is a purified conscience washed in the blood of Jesus through faith. Just the washing of dirt from one’s body is not what’s in view here. Ezekiel 36: 25-27 says “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you (WATER BAPTISM), and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit (THE HOLY SPIRIT) will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you (THE HOLY SPIRIT), and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” And Zechariah 13: 1-2 says “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.” The Septuagint says “… I will remove the false prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.” The word ‘fountain’ in Zechariah’s passage is the Hebrew word ‘Maqowr’ which means a source of water, blood, or a wellspring. Jesus’ death on the cross did this for us. His death removed the remembrance of the old, and brought in the new! Most believe that water baptism is only symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; when in all actuality it’s where your old man is crucified with Christ and you are made alive by the cleansing and forgiving blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 6: 6 says “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” It is through water baptism that we are cleansed from sin: Hebrews 10: 22 and 1Corinthians 6: 11 says “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed (to bathe) with pure water… ye are washed (remitted by water baptism), but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” In water baptism, your mind is purged by the blood of Jesus Christ through faith. The old man and the old mind is put to death there. It is here then that we must understand that Christ died on Golgotha, that is to say the place of a skull (Matthew 27: 33). Your old mind must die in the waters of baptism. Luke 23: 32-33 says “And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” The word ‘Calvary’ is from the Greek word Kranion, where get our word ‘cranium’. Luke 23: 39-43 says “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, if thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The thief on the cross was not only crucified with Christ; but he was baptized there: Luke 12: 50 says “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” Christ calls his own death on the cross a baptism. Jesus told the man “… To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Paradise is Eden, a restored Eden, a restored place. Baptism purifies the mind through faith. It’s not only a reversal of the degeneration of what the sin of Adam did; but it’s the justification into a new life from the sin of Adam like it never happened in the sight of God. It’s a regeneration!
Anthony D. Booker