For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.13).

Probably no issue has contributed to more confusion, contention, and divisions in Christendom than baptism. Some churches teach baptism is a sacrament, some that it is necessary for salvation. Some teach infants are to be baptized while others limit baptism to adults. Some teach immersion, some pouring, some sprinkling. Apart from baptism, some churches do not consider you a Christian and some will not let you join the church or teach in the church. What one believes about baptism has a large influence in determining one’s church or denomination. To try and remedy this confusion, it is necessary to examine what the Scriptures teach about baptism.

What does baptism mean? The words “baptism” and “baptize” (βάπτισμα, βαπτισμός, and βαπτίζω) go back to the Greek word βάπτω, “to dip”. Homer used it of a brazier who dipped hot brass in water to temper it. In the Old Testament (LXX), βάπτω was used frequently. It was used of the dipping of hyssop in blood during the Passover (Exodus 12.22). The word βαπτίζω is used less frequently, but notably of Naaman who dipped himself seven times in the Jordan river to cleanse himself from leprosy (2 Kings 5.14). This word has a more intransitive sense than βάπτω. It has the sense of “wash” as in “washing oneself”. In Hebrews 6.2 and 9.10, we read about “washings” (βαπτισμός) that pertained to the Jews. The sense is cleansing. This sense was carried on by John the Baptizer who preached and performed “the baptism of repentance” (Matthew 3.2-6). About half the references to baptism in the New Testament concern John the Baptizer and this mission. The twelve apostles continued this sense. Thus, Peter declared:

“And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 3.21).

While baptism has the idea of cleansing, its basic meaning is “identification”. Thus, Jesus said,

“You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized” (Mark 10.38)?

And again,

“But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12.50).

Paul, describing Israel, wrote:

1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10.1-4).

Paul declared a new, spiritual sense and emphasis for baptism. According to Paul, every believer in Christ is a member of the body of Christ and has been baptized by the Holy Spirit. He wrote,

“For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12.13).

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, (Romans 6.3-6).

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2.9-12).

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3.5-7).

What kind of baptism did Paul teach in these passages? Did he mean water baptism or spiritual baptism? Let the reader ask himself the following questions. Can water baptism identify us into the death of Christ? Can it identify us in Christ’s resurrection? Can it cause us to walk in newness of life? Can a work of man do these things? These works are beyond the capability of man; they are of God. Paul taught that when one believes his gospel, that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4), he is baptized by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.13). With this act, God identifies the believer with Christ and he becomes a member of the body of Christ, i.e., the Church. God sees him as sharing (being identified) in Jesus’ death and resurrection. What an amazing and exciting truth!

What was the role of water baptism in the ministry of John the Baptizer, of Jesus, of the 12 apostles?  What do the Scriptures teach?

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1.4).

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16.15-16).

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38).

We should notice a few things from these passages. One, they contain a consistent message from John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter. Two, each deals with water baptism. Three, each deals with leaders of Israel and concern a ministry to and out from Israel. Four, each teaches water baptism was necessary for the forgiveness of sins. What are we to make of these Scriptures?

If one takes them at face value, one must conclude they mean what they say, namely, that according to the preaching of John, Jesus, and Peter, forgiveness of sins was based upon repentance, belief that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel (cf. Matthew 16.16; John 11.27), and water baptism. We also read Ananias words with regard to Paul’s salvation:

12 “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name’ (Acts 22.12-16).

Does this mean that salvation was through works? Yes and no.

Salvation has always been through faith. Hebrews 11 makes this clear as do many other passages throughout the Scriptures. While salvation has always been based upon faith, the content of faith has changed over time according to the revelation and the command of God.1 What did Abraham believe for salvation? Did he believe Christ died for his sins and was raised from the dead for his justification? No, he believed what God revealed to him: he would be the father of many nations, by him the world would be blessed, and God would give him a land (Genesis 12.1-3). Salvation has always been based upon faith in that which God has revealed. What about a Jew during the time of David? How was he saved? He was saved by taking a sacrifice to the priest and by believing that the sacrifice covered his sin. Both had to occur. He could not just have faith and not bring the animal. Nor was providing the animal with no faith sufficient. There had to be both. So both faith and works were necessary.

How does faith work? God provides a revelation. In response, a person says, “I believe it.” Faith is obedience. The two cannot be separated. The content of the message of John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter, was the message of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, repentance, and baptism. What was the response of faith and obedience? To repent, be baptized, and believe Jesus was the promised Messiah (cf. Matthew 16.13-19; John 11.26-27; Acts 8.34-38).

Consider the case of Naaman, the Syrian general, who commanded the King of Syria’s military forces (2 Kings 5). Elisha told the four-star leprous Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan to be healed. Naaman was angry Elisha had not come out to greet him but had sent his messenger to tell him what to do. He also thought his native rivers were better than the Jordan. From a purely human perspective, Naaman had reason to complain. But in the realm of the divine, human viewpoint means little. Eventually, Naaman was persuaded to do what Elisha had told him. The result: he was healed (2 Kings 5.14). His flesh became like the flesh of a “little child” (נַעַר קָטֹן). Because he obeyed, Naaman had the most beautiful skin of any man in Syria. Faith is believing and obeying what God has revealed. If God told one to do three jumping jacks for salvation, how would faith respond? Faith would respond by doing three jumping jacks.

What is God’s revelation today for salvation? Is it repent, be baptized, and believe Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel? No, the content of the gospel has changed. The Lord revealed our gospel to Paul and is called the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24). The gospel for today is the following:

1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15.1-4).

What we have to believe, i.e., obey, to be saved today is that Christ died for us and rose from the dead.

We have seen the role baptism played in the ministry of John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter. What did Paul write about water baptism? After all, almost all churches today teach some form of water baptism. In his first letter to the Corinthians, one the great issues Paul confronted and wrote to correct was divisions among believers. Paul wrote:

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void (1 Corinthians 1.14-17).

In addressing the problem of divisions, Paul wrote the Corinthians (c. 57 A.D.) he was glad he had not baptized many so that they might not claim him and let this be a cause of division. This passage rings true. In our mind’s eye, we can see Paul dictating the letter. He remembered he baptized Crispus and Gaius and just as his amanuensis recorded his words, he remembered he also baptized Stephanas’ household and related that. But the main point to consider is Paul’s statement: “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” Why did Paul write this? Jesus told his disciples,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.19).

Does Paul contradict Jesus? Not at all. How was Paul commissioned as an apostle? Was he commissioned like the Twelve? No. Paul received a special commission from the Lord. God saved Paul on the Damascus road where Jesus, the risen Lord, appeared to him. Jesus did not tell Paul to baptize as he had the other disciples. Jesus gave Paul a different mission from that of the Twelve. The heavenly Lord commissioned Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles while the earthly Lord commissioned Peter and the eleven as apostles to Israel (Acts 9.15-16; 14.26-28; 18.6; 22.21; 26.16-18; 28.28; Galatians 2.2, 7-9; Romans 11.13; Ephesians 3.1, 8; 1 Timothy 2.7). To Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ committed the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24).

A few years later, about 61 A.D., Paul wrote to the Ephesians,

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4.4-6).

Paul’s statement has the elements of a creed: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. The common element of the statement is the word “one.” Paul wrote there was one baptism. What baptism did he mean? From Paul’s other teachings, we know he meant spiritual baptism. Paul did not regard water baptism to be of great importance. He wrote the Corinthians, “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1.17). If only one baptism exists, what baptism is it–the baptism by man or the baptism by God the Holy Spirit? Clearly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is greater than water baptism performed by man.  It is clear that from the time Paul wrote the Corinthians to the time he wrote the Ephesians that water baptism was ending and that by the time he wrote Ephesians it had ceased. Therefore, water baptism has no place in Christianity. Why do churches practice water baptism?

The short answer to that question is that churches practice water baptism because theologians have failed to recognize and distinguish between Paul’s ministry and the revelation God gave to him and the ministry of John the Baptizer, Jesus, and the Twelve. John, Jesus, and the Twelve proclaimed the “gospel of the kingdom of God” (Matthew 4.17; 9.35). Their message was to Israel. Its focus was on repentance, water baptism, belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and the earthly kingdom of God. Paul proclaimed a different message. He proclaimed the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24) which focused upon Christ dying for our sins and rising from the dead. It was a message of grace and faith alone (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Paul’s gospel was primarily to Gentiles since he was the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). Failure to understand the differences between these two ministries and messages and failure to distinguish between Israel (God’s earthly people) and the Church (God’s heavenly people) has led to most of the hermeneutical problems that exist in Christianity. Only when one allows the Scriptures to mean what they say in context rather than reading later revelation into them or forcing them into a preconceived theological position do apparent contradictions vanish. Such methodology is much more successful and enlightening than rationalizing or forcing passages into contorted directions that result in confused or contradictory renderings.

In summary,

  • From John the Baptizer to Pentecost there was one baptism–water baptism (Mark 1.4; John 1.31).
  • During the period of time recorded in Acts there were two baptisms–water (Acts 2.38) and baptism with or in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.5; 2.38; 1 Corinthians 12.13).
  • At the present time there is one baptism (Ephesians 4.5). This is the baptism by which we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6.3-5) and into His body (1 Corinthians 12.13). This baptism is different from the baptism with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. At Pentecost, Christ was the Baptizer (Matthew 3.11; Acts 1.5). But for Christians, for believers of Paul’s gospel, the Holy Spirit is the baptizer. He baptizes us into Christ and his body (1 Corinthians 12.13; Titus 3.5-7).

If water baptism is invalid for our day, there is no need to discuss infant baptism. But since infant baptism is a major part of Christendom one small word will be said. No Scripture supports the idea of infant baptism. Search the Scriptures. It is not there. Furthermore, the notion that baptism is for the New Testament what circumcision was for the Old Testament is a human  invention. Not one verse supports this notion. One can only wonder how such teaching began. A chief principle of the Reformation was sola scriptura–the Scriptures alone. Tragically, men sacrifice that principle all too willingly to sustain theological biases.

From Paul’s teaching, the apostle to the Gentiles, the apostle of the gospel of the grace of God, and the apostle to whom Christ revealed the Church, the body of Christ, comes the knowledge of one baptism: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. By this baptism, we are identified with Christ and placed “in Christ.” God the Holy Spirit is the baptizer of believers, not a minister who dips, pours, or sprinkles water on someone. Despite the centuries of history of water baptism and all its attendant traditions, the Scriptures teach baptism of the Holy Spirit is the one legitimate baptism for the Church, the body of Christ.

1 See also the Gospel.

©2000 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated, March 16, 2015

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222 Responses to Baptism

  1. cj burrows says:

    This is so concise and clear. I have been asked the question of baptism by my children and researched pages and pages of explanation. Thank you for putting it in a few words that make so much sense, especially with the Scriptural veracity. I really appreciate your putting the Scriptures into the text.

  2. b wellskopf says:

    Why does Paul (or at least someone in his ministry) baptize Lydia (Acts 16:15), or the Phillipian jailer and his family (Acts 16:33), or the Corinthian believers (Acts 18:8)? Why would Paul have anyone, much less Gentiles, be baptized if it wasn’t part of the ministry of the Body of Christ?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Acts is a transitional book. Water baptism was essential for salvation in the kingdom program–the program of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve. God provided Israel with a time of testing (a time to repent and believe Jesus was the Messiah) of about 40 years after Jesus rose from the dead. After this period He allowed the Romans to come in and destroy the Temple (the heart of Judaism) and Jerusalem (70 AD). Paul baptized some during his early ministry. But from what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1.14-17 (about 57 AD) he recognized things were changing. By the time Paul wrote Ephesians 4.1-5 (about 62 AD) water baptism as a legitimate biblical practice had ended. After this, only “one baptism,” the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.13) was valid.

      • Chris says:

        What does this mean? “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46–47).

        Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations. Repentance should be preached to including the Gentiles.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          This was part of the “great commission” given the disciples. This was an extension of what the Twelve had been proclaiming to the Jews. Jesus told them the order of ministry in Acts 1.8. But Israel rejected this message. The Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles because the Jews rejected the message. Instead, God in His grace saved Paul who became the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13) and proclaimed the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24), what Paul called “my gospel” (Romans 2.14). This gospel revealed that salvation was based upon believing that Christ died for one’s sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Peter did not proclaim this at Pentecost and the Twelve did not know this gospel until Paul revealed it to them. This is why there was such contention that resulted in the Council of Jerusalem. See my article, The Great Hinge.

    • eli says:

      that is so wonderful
      everyone must be alert; here is what Paul has to say:Ephesians 2:19-22

  3. b wellskopf says:

    Were these Gentiles (Lydia, Phillipian jailer, Corinthians) Paul baptized converted to Judaism (Jesus as Messiah) or to the “Body of Christ” (Jesus is Saviour)?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      All who respond to Paul’s gospel (Romans 2.16; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4) become members of the body of Christ. This will continue until the body of Christ is complete. Paul was the first (Gk. πρῶτος) in the body of Christ according to what he wrote in 1 Timothy 1.12-17. The word translated “foremost” is better rendered “first.” First means first–#1 in a succession. In v. 16, Paul wrote he was a “pattern” (Gk. ὑποτύπωσις). This is a better rendering, i.e., less ambiguous, than “example” to all who would follow. In 1 Corinthians 3.10, Paul declared that he laid the foundation (Gk. θεμέλιος) as a “wise master builder” (Gk. σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων). Christ is always the foundation but He commissioned Paul to build His church, the body of Christ.

      • Rob Klein says:

        Thanks for your explanation on protos (I Tim. 1). I had not heard that before.

      • Randy Smith says:

        Isn’t it true Paul only baptized either Jews or at best gentile converts to Judeism or better put, worshipers of the God of the Jews…ie. Lydia, Phillipian jailor?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          The converts Paul had reference to in 1 Corinthians 1 were Gentiles who had believed Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) not the gospel of the kingdom Peter preached which focused upon the identity of Christ (Matthew 16; John 11). Water baptism was already fading away and by the time Paul wrote Ephesians was over. Lydia was clearly a Jew and the jailor a Gentile. But by this time, Paul had received the gospel of grace (Acts 20.24) which he preached.

          • Chris says:

            I’m afraid of this demarcation “Water baptism was already fading away and by the time Paul wrote Ephesians was over.”
            Where is the authority for such interpretation and explanation? How was water baptism fading away? Where was it alluded? That it was not mentioned again in other epistles does not mean that it had faded. Those letters were dealing with other specific issues.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1.14-17 about water baptism. Paul did not regard it as a primary function of his ministry. His focus was proclaiming the gospel. For Paul, the important baptism was the baptism of the Holy Spirit who makes us part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13). By the time Paul wrote Ephesians (about 61-62 A.D.), water baptism had ended (Ephesians 4.5).

  4. b wellskopf says:

    Certainly Paul’s baptism was not the same as Peter’s (Acts 2:38), was it? If not, what was it’s purpose? What did it accomplish?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Paul provides no teaching on water baptism. Paul only wrote about the believer’s baptism by the Holy Spirit in which he is identified with Christ and made part of His body. Paul baptized few with water (1 Corinthians 1.17). His commission was to preach the gospel of the grace of God and to reveal the mysteries the ascended Christ had revealed to him.

      • Jim says:

        Let’s look at the facts. First there is not a Paul Gospel. Secondly’ Paul was baptized. Third the Book of Acts was not transitional. It described the Acts of the Apostles. Fourth Peter at the Day of Pentecost preached not only to the Jews, “but to all who dwelled in Jerusalem.” Fifth; In Acts :41-47 speaks of those who were Baptized were added daily.” Added to what, the Church. Plainly stated if you weren’t Baptized you were not added to the Church.
        Sixth; Who baptized the Jailer? It was either Paul or Silas.
        Finally, the Great commission was not given just for the Jews, it was for all Nations.” This is when the New Testament Church started.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Here are facts, not tradition, which is what you have written.
          1. Paul identified the gospel he preached as “my gospel” (Romans 2.16, 16.25; 1 Timothy 2.8; Galatians 2.2). Do you find anyone else preaching Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead for salvation apart from Paul? That gospel was unknown before Paul.
          2. Paul was baptized because he was saved under the gospel of the kingdom. Immmediately afterward he proclaimed that gospel (Acts 9.20). The risen Lord had not yet revealed “Paul’s gospel.”
          3. Acts was written for Jews to explain why the promised kingdom (Matthew 6.10) did not come. It began in hope and ended in tragedy. Paul went to Jews first and when they rejected the gospel turned to Gentiles (Acts 13, 18, 28). Once Acts ends he never went to Jews first (Ephesians 3.1).
          4. Peter addressed only Jews (Acts 2.5, 14, 22, 29, 36, 39).
          5. Water baptism was required for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1.4, 16.16; Acts 2.36-38). The Church is the body of Christ, in which Jew and Gentile are equal in Christ. No equality of Jew and Gentile existed under the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 10.5-6; Acts 10.28, 11.19). No one mentions the body of Christ but Paul. It is wholly a Pauline revelation.
          6. Water baptism was valid for a time. By the time Paul wrote Ephesians it had ended (Ephesians 4.5). Paul knew it would end soon from what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1.14-17.
          7. The “great commission” was given to Jews (Matthew 28.16-20). None of the Twelve were Gentiles. Since the call of Abraham God had no program to bless Gentiles apart from Israel.
          You have a choice. Remain enslaved to tradition or believe the Scriptures. Believe me, the latter is the way to go. Grace and peace.

          • Jim says:

            Here are the facts, that you neglected to add.
            Christ in the Great Commission included all people. The Gospel of the Kingdom (your words) would have been carried forward. This is based on the fact that Christ said it is finished. Meaning the Old Law was fulfilled. The New Covenant was started at his death and resurrection. In other words baptism would have still been a part of the New Covenant.
            Peter preached the first sermon in Acts 2. Not just to Jews but also to those who were in Jerusalem.
            The Epistles were sent to those particular local Churches of Believers such as the Church at Ephesus. When you put Ephesians 4:5 into context with 4:4 this then makes sense.
            “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,”
            Now this simply means that; “just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call” outside the body of Christ you were called to join.
            Then what after you were called and accepted the call; There was on Lord, which is Christ; one Faith, which is a belief that Christ is the Lord and the Son of God; one baptism, which is immersion into water to join him in the likeness of his death.
            When you put the verses into the context that they are supposed to be, understand that the New Covenant started at Christ’s death, that the Book of Acts is not a transitional book it is the Acts of the Apostles, and understand that the Epistles are letters written to the believers then you will have an understanding of the word of God. I do not preach tradition I preach the Gospel according to Christ.
            By the way if you study Galatians 1;1-10, you will understand that there was not a different Gospel given to Paul. In other words Paul preached what Christ taught the other Apostles.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              The “great commission” was given to the Eleven apostles by Christ. It concerned the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4.23, 9.35, 24.14), the gospel Jesus and the Twelve had been proclaiming for 3 years. These are not my words, they are Christ’s. Read Acts 2 again. Peter addressed only Jews. Acts 2.5 makes it clear that what Peter means in Acts 2.14 are Jews. Paul revealed the one baptism that places us into the body of Christ, not Peter. What happened at Pentecost concerned the nation of Israel as fulfillment of the New Covenant given to Jews (read Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, Joel 2). All this was Jewish ground. The Church was unknown and unrevealed in the Old Testament. Acts was written to Jews to explain why the kingdom Christ preached did not come. If you read my article, Jesus vs. Paul you will discover they taught completely different messages. Jesus came to fulfill the Jewish promises (Romans 15.8). Jesus did not reveal in His earthly ministry the doctrines Paul taught. Jesus revealed the doctrines Paul proclaimed in His heavenly ministry. This was a whole new, unrevealed program. It was, in the words of Paul, “secret.”

              • Michael Robinson says:

                Would you email me what Luke meant we he said Peter spoke to those afar off,in Acts 2 are 3 chapter.

                I thought the far off ones was gentiles

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  Peter spoke to Jews dispersed throughout the empire. See 1 Peter 1.1-2 and James 1.1. Gentiles were not in view.

                  • Chris says:

                    Please i agree with Jim that the Book of Acts is the Acts of the Apostles. You said “Acts was written to Jews to explain why the kingdom Christ preached did not come.” Was Theophillus a Jew?

  5. b wellskopf says:

    Isn’t it just as possible that Paul baptized only a few because it was not his main duty, and he simply had others take care of this ordinance? (cf John 4:2)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      John explicitly wrote that Jesus’ disciples were baptizing, not Jesus Himself. The scriptures reveal nothing of Paul’s companions baptizing. We must stick with scripture.

  6. Ron says:

    I appreciate the information you have presented here.

    In your response to b wellskopf, you said that the scriptures reveal nothing of Paul’s companions baptizing. In Acts 8 where it relates that Philip was preaching in Samria it says in verse 12, But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God an the anme of Jesus Christ, they ere baptized, both men and women. Later in verse 15 it says the Peter and John prayed for the new belivers so that they would receive the Holy Spirit because they had not received the Holy Spirit yet because they were only baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

    From this scripture it would seem that Philip was performing water baptisms. Why? It also seems to indicate that Peter and John expected them to receive the Holy Spirit through baptism, but they didn’t because it was not performed correctly, which would add an emphasis on how someone should be baptised.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this scripture. Thanks.

    • doctrine doctrine says:


      Water baptism was part of the prophetic kingdom program beginning with John the Baptist. The Twelve baptized as did Phillip. Peter declared in Acts 2.38 that water baptism was essential for salvation. Paul was saved and baptized under this program (Acts 9.18). Acts is a transitional book. The transition was from the kingdom program of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve to the grace only program which the ascended, glorified Christ gave to Paul (Acts 9.15; Romans 11.13). Jesus and the Twelve ministered to Jews under the Law. Paul ministered (primarily) to Gentiles apart from the Law. In 1 Cor. 1.14-17 we learn that Paul had already begun to abandon water baptism. His orders were to preach Christ crucified and risen. This was written probably about 55-57 AD. By the time we come to Ephesians, about 62 AD, Paul had abandoned water baptism for he declared in Ephesians 4.5 “one baptism.” This was clearly not water baptism but the baptism of the Holy Spirit who places believers of Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12.13). In the Acts 8 passage, it appears that at this point (remember Acts is transitional) the Holy Spirit was given under the authority of the the Twelve. Phillip was not one of the Twelve. For believers today, water baptism is no longer appropriate. As soon as one believes the gospel (1 Cor. 15.1-4) one is baptized by the Holy Spirit and placed into the body of Christ. We must let the Scriptures lay themselves out in order. If one reads back Pauline doctrine into the gospels or the ministry of the Twelve theology becomes confused.

      • Rafael Mora says:

        To me is not that obvious to come to that conclusion from bible alone, if you are to take only the bible and not assume that the water baptism doesn’t or it cannot include the spirit (what bible passage clearly states that the water baptism that Jesus preached didn’t include the spirit?)

        For example in the bible in several places you see that every time that god’s starts a new creation it starts by water and spirit.

        -Genesis 1.2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

        -Genesis 6.8 Noah, the flood and the dove that returned (symbolizing the spirit)

        -Exodus 14. Israel crossing the sea with the cloud guiding them (spirit)

        -Ezequiel 36-25. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

        26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new 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.

        -Mark 1- 10. John the Baptist announces that Jesus baptism is in spirit (so far no reason for it not to be from water and Spirit)

        -John 3.5. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

        So not sure where in the bible is shown that Paul is talking about a baptism that doesn’t include water? And why?

        So far the reason you gave is not biblical is your opinion when you mentioned

        “What kind of baptism was Paul teaching in these passages? Did he mean water baptism or spiritual baptism? Let the reader ask himself the following questions. Can water baptism identify us into the death of Christ? Can it identify us in Christ’s resurrection? Can it cause us to walk in newness of life? Can a work of man do these things? These works are beyond the capability of man; they are of God. “

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          I think the best answer I can give is to simply state what Paul declared in Ephesians 4.5. Water baptism was on the way out when Paul wrote the Corinthians (c. 57 A.D). By the time he wrote Ephesians (c. 62) it had ended.

  7. Hi, I share the same Mid-Acts view (Acts 9) and once held a “no water” position. But I have since changed that position, not that water has anything to do with salvation, Paul makes that VERY CLEAR. But what do any of yall think about this article?

    I am not trying to start a fuss, I am still open to moving to a “no water position” if the scriptures convince me.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      I do not think the article makes a strong case for water baptism. The Scriptures are clear that water baptism was a Jewish rite that lessened in importance as Paul’s ministry to Gentiles matured. By the time Paul wrote Ephesians 4 he had abandoned water baptism and viewed the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the only valid baptism for Christians. If water baptism were important Paul would have told us so. Sadly, if you could pick a subject which divides believers, it is water baptism. Why cling to it?

      • Well, I don’t reckon I was trying to convince an argument for why anyone should get baptized. I agree that the argument to water baptize is weak, but I see that Paul did it and I don’t think I have seen a passage that tells us to stop (as seen in the article). If Eph. 4:5 is saying that there is “one baptism” for us and all others are outside the will of God and not meant for us, then the same is true for the “one faith”. It is the faith OF Christ that saves us and that would be the faith that Eph. 4 is talking about. But does that mean we should not have faith IN Christ? Paul talks about other faiths, so I don’t think Eph. 4 is an all inclusive list, but rather those things in a spiritual since, those things which are a part of salvation. I believe in the practice of water baptism on the basis of this verse.

        Phil. 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

        I don’t see where Paul banned water baptism, as seen in the article. I believe in it because Paul did it, then made the statement in Phil. 4:9, and never banned it. I have no biblical meaning for it, but I ASSUME it pictures the remission of sins.

        That puts me in a situation where the “Baptist” think I’m a nut and the “Grace Movement” thinks I’m a nut, (We all have nutty things though). The important thing to realize is that we are complete in Christ at the moment of salvation. You can’t biblically put emphasis on water baptism because Paul did not.

        In other words, I don’t care much one way or the other, and I am more interested in the truth than tradition.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          My only point is why do something that “might” be alright when we know what is right? What benefit is there to water baptism compared to the baptism by the Holy Spirit?

          • Eli "hoss" Caldwell says:

            None. Just like there is no benefit to communion compared to what Christ actually did i.e. His death on the cross. I don’t care much one way or the other, wet or dry. (as long as it is acknowledged that it has no spiritual significance)
            Thanks for the input.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              The difference, however, is Paul received specific instruction from the Lord about keeping the Lord’s supper. This was not true of water baptism.

        • Brian says:

          By believing that Baptism is required for salvation, you’re saying that a ‘work’ is required and that Jesus’ death was not sufficient. The Jews were required to be Baptized for the remission of sins. We’re not, so why do it?

          • doctrine doctrine says:

            Water baptism was required for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1.4, 16.16; Acts 2.36-38). Works were required for salvation before Paul’s gospel but Christ’s death on the cross is the basis of salvation. Without it no salvation would be possible. Salvation is based upon doing what God has revealed. In the OT it was faith + works. With Paul, it is faith + 0. For the Church, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.1) is the only baptism (Ephesians 4.5). Church perform water baptism today because the err in not knowing the Scriptures.

            • greg rogers says:

              Dear Sir: I have been very curious about the differing positions of baptism as of late. I have friends in the infant baptism camp and more friends in the believers baptism immersion camp. I was baptized as a child, my wife as a believer with her family and my kids I believe to be believers yet not received any baptism for which we are deep in study contemplating what direction to go. In view of the divisiveness of this topic, I began to wonder if we were all getting it wrong to where I was literally contemplating the position you have seemingly have held onto firmly until I see this information suggesting that believers before Paul’s gospel could not be saved without water baptism. This is to suggest therefore that believers in Christ after His resurrection could only receive salvation as grace in Christ is supplemented by an act and for this, I now believe that you have headed on an incorrect path. Your argument for this very new viewpoint that is not supported by any is based on evidence that works righteousness was legit before Paul’s gospel and I completely and totally disagree. Paul’s gospel that he received was not intended to be different than the other apostles, but rather was enunciated as having been received by God in order to confirm that God did indeed speak to Paul in revelation in that this matched the other Apostles which thereby confirmed Paul to be an apostle. With your new teaching on this topic that so differs from so many great teachers is suggesting that you are claiming higher authority than the apostles who have been studied for centuries by many teachers and abided by…your teachings do not match. I am still concerned that there is such division over this topic, but it may come down to God pointing to one correct and one false which could be Him telling the infant baptism camp that when we are saved by Grace and when one identifies with God in this way, they can publically proclaim the beauty of this by baptism by immersion…and that an infant baptism should take more of a form of infant dedication where there is only value in affirming in their parents and the congregation that prayers for the child will be great for the salvation and future public demonstration of such in a simple baptism. Maybe you can share with me other teachers who teach the same as yourself? Do you have many prominent teachers who are similar? Can you share names? If you are on your own in too many respects, you could be treading on thin ice…I will pray deeply for this that God will illuminate you, myself and all in earshot to truths and will do so with circumstances that will point to Him and His truth. Thanks

              • doctrine doctrine says:

                In spiritual matters, the majority are always wrong. Read 1 Kings 22. Great story. Stay with the Scriptures, not men. If you have objections to the view I present, support them with the Scriptures. Read Mark 1.4, 16.16, John 3.5, Acts 2.38, 22.16 regarding the necessity of water baptism in the gospel of the kingdom. Demonstrate from Scripture that Peter proclaimed Paul’s gospel, 1 Corinthians 15.1-4, in Acts 2. If you can’t you need to rethink your position. Again, the majority are ALWAYS wrong. Read 1 Kings 18. Another great story! Water baptism has no place in Christianity today. Read Ephesians 4.5. ONE Baptism, not two or three. One. And it’s not water.

                • Greg Rogers says:

                  I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that because you have a majority of Christians thinking one way that this is necessarily wrong. This is indeed unbiblical in and of itself. In fact, this is the sentiment that started Mormonism, JW, the worldwide church of Christ…they all seemed to sway different and I believe different to be unique and special and to find a following that focuses on them and not God. For this, I am researching this area through servants who are demonstrating fruits of the spirit of pointing towards God, His Scriptures and potentially towards others who abide by them the same as this demonstrates a humility of pointing away from themselves, more towards God and those who historically truly seek Him and more likely towards the truth. Your key mistake in your ideas are that believers immediately before Paul’s ministry were saved by works and grace. Now your second mistake is the suggestion that just because something is mainstream, it must be false…this is a completely unbiblical mentality in itself. The only thought I would suggest that lines up with this thinking is for those many who are not believers who tend towards the flesh and immorality who for eons have been the many where those of us who pursue holy living where our gaze is upon the King will typically be the few unless God chooses to send revival. In this light, those who attempt to pursue something within the Christian camp to be different may indeed find themselves in line with the majority world’s ways in that the world has folks who want the focus towards themselves…Sorry, just being candid. So, again, tell me some other sources that would find agreement to your views? Do you have any? Thanks Greg

                  • doctrine doctrine says:

                    Think. Use your brain. What do the Scriptures say? Read them, not what men say about them. I’m not alone but I am in the minority. You might want to read materials by the Berean Bible Society. Or Les Feldick. Your response is self-righteous but the main problem is you provide no Scripture to back it. It’s just, well, the majority disagrees. So what? They always do.

                    • greg rogers says:

                      OK. so readers and author recognize this last reply that encourages me to use my brain and to become humble in reply to the things I have stated. How did I exemplify not using my brain or a lack of humility? I humbly find semblance of truth in many other really wise humble theologians and humbly submit cause to trend away from my potential for feeble understanding as just a man with experiences that can taint true biblical understanding. This discourse should be cause for serious gut checking and heart inspection. I now lean towards the most validity in those churches who might have a baby dedication not for tradition sake but for the sake of encouraging the family and congregation to truly pray and teach that child. And a free will gesture for those who are indeed in Christ because they were taught and prayed for who want to declare that Christian living and holiness found in the gospel that buries self and sin at the cross then finds life in being raised with Christ …in the form of a simple communication method of baptism is the very best way! the church just after Christ and before Paul who were encouraged to be baptized for salvation are to be considered to be simply encouraged to trust Christ alone in the language of the day of which baptism was one of the primary letters or words in the language…that’s all. Nothing magic in the water. Just language that was used to both understand grace by faith alone and language to help explain it to a people transitioning from one covenant to another. Very simple. the reasons on this website make it much more complicated and thus seem to steer from truth.

                    • doctrine doctrine says:

                      I understand your point but my focus is upon revealing what the Scriptures teach. Ephesians 4.5 states there is one baptism. One. What is it? Is it water or the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the baptism that brings the believer into union with Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13; Romans 6). It is the only valid baptism today. Christendom is obese with traditions with no Biblical basis. Remove these traditions and people can live healthy spiritual lives free from confusion. God has spoken plainly. The problem is that men want to add something to what God has said. Jesus condemned the religious professionals of His day for two things: self-righteousness and tradition. Nothing has changed.

            • Greg Rogers says:

              I have made comments already on this…I have worn bibles out over close to 30 years studying God’s Word and upon rehashing the Biblical communications to do with baptism towards the Jewish believers then toward the gentiles, I see differences but do not see justification for suggestions that no room for baptism today. Israelites performed washings, offerings and ceremony and to them, language used referencing this baptism which seems to insinuate that the dunking in water necessary for salvation I completely disagree. I believe that evidence in a wholistic picture of what is going on here to point to a final washing of sin, rebirth into a new covenant and salvation by grace through faith alone was communicated best using the letters and words, if you will, that reference the idea of water baptism that best articulate logic in sentences that describe the gospel of grace alone by faith alone to the ears of the new Christian Israelites. And as far as Paul in 1 Cor. 1:12 and on, this is absolutely not justification for the idea of this same symbolistic baptism coming to an end. Look at these verses in context…There became division just like we have denominational division today. When Paul asks,”Was Paul crucified for you?” the obvious answer is that no indeed, but rather Christ was. The following question,”Or were you baptized in the name of Paul” The obvious answer that follows logically is that no indeed, but instead those believers were baptized in the name of Christ. Therefore Paul argues that Christ did not call him to baptize but to preach not to suggest that baptism is no longer valid but to suggest that baptism by him as an apostle who was well recognized could be a distraction from the real reason for baptism which is that it is simple a symbol of the majestic gift from God of His Son. It is a great depiction of what occurs when we are regenerated from the old man to the new found in Christ! Taking steps away from ideas incorporated in baptism I believe is very thin ice and dangerously steering gteh boat away from God and His Word. I have spent a week studying and praying through this topic and this is my honest conclusion.

              • doctrine doctrine says:

                With all due respect, your study and prayer do not line up with Scripture. If words mean anything, Paul stated there was ONE baptism (Ephesians 4.5). One is one, not two. Do you believe there is more than one Lord, more than one faith? Water baptism was valid during God’s dealing with Israel (washings), during John the Baptist and Jesus’ earthly ministry, with the Twelve, and in the early part of Paul’s ministry. In the gospel of the kingdom water baptism was required for salvation (Mark 1.4, 16.16, John 3.5, Acts 2.38, 22.16). But that ended. We know it was on the way out from what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1 (and water baptism was never a requirement for salvation under Paul’s gospel). By the time Paul wrote the Ephesians, it was over. This is not complicated. The Scriptures are straightforward. The problem, once again, is tradition. Christians have been so brainwashed that baptism always means water they cannot think of it in any other terms. The only baptism, the GREAT baptism is 1 Corinthians 12.13 and Romans 6. It is bone dry.

  8. linda c says:

    Another great article. So glad I found your site. I a going to try to read through all of your articles so pardon me if I have questions or if I make a comment at the end. I very much appreciate your input. I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as well but have heard many churches or people say that as believers it is good to do a full water immersion baptism as a proclamation to the world that we are now part of the Body of Christ and that He has cleansed us from our sins. Thoughts on that? Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Water baptism has ceased. The only legitimate baptism for the Church today is baptism of the Holy Spirit who baptizes us into Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13 cf. 1 Corinthians 1.14-17; Ephesians 4.5). Water baptism continues to be performed because of one of two reasons: ignorance or disobelience.

      • linda c says:

        Thank you. I understand it has ceased and although it is not necessary for salvation you think it is not a good idea to do it as a proclamation either? I did it before but that was before I really understood the meaning but many churches just encourage it not for salvation but just because Jesus did it and they want to tell the world hey i am a Christian now and I follow Christ who cleansed me of all unrighteousness. Thoughts?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          I think we can proclaim our faith in Christ apart from water baptism. Because of the Scriptures I cited I do not think it is right for Christians today.

          • linda says:

            Quick question hope you can help me with it.
            I understand that we are all born spiritually dead so in order to become spiritually alive we must believe in the gospel of grace and the Holy Spirit will indwell in us correct? So how was it in the old testament? was the holy spirit sent to them as well? I thought that was only after Jesus resurrection that He was able to send the comforter(Holy Spirit), so how did He tell Nicodemus that he needed to be water baptized and be born again of the Spirit if Jesus had not left. How could the people get the Holy spirit then if Jesus was still on earth. What am I missing to understand this concept.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              In the OT, the Holy Spirit came upon certain individuals (artisans, prophets, kings) for certain periods of time. For example, the Holy Spirit left Saul and David prayed He would not leave him after his sin with Bathsheba (Psalm 51.11). At Pentecost, He permanently indwelt believers. And with Paul we have the additional truth of Christ indwelling us (Colossians 1.27).

              • Grace Receiver says:

                Great article!
                So you believe, then, that the Holy Spirit permanently indwelt the believers at Pentecost? Was not Pentecost merely a continuation of the OT program, where the Spirit would indwell them temporarily for a specific purpose?
                The goings-on in Acts 2 seem very different than what Paul speaks of, when he talks about us in the body of Christ being sealed with the Spirit.
                On a related note, do you agree with the idea that the indwelt saints at Pentecost were unable to sin?
                Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  Grace Receiver,
                  Pentecost was the beginning of the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31.31 in which the Holy Spirit would permanently indwell Jews. We have no indications of sin but it was possible as is evidenced by Ananias and Sapphira. God dealt with this immediately as He will in the Kingdom economy (rule them with a rod of iron).

          • I was first immersed in a baptist church,then in a UPC baptismal and it was told to me that I wasn’t saved until I was and spoke in tongues too. Yet it was in the nazerene church altar I was overwhelmed in my body with a glorious experience saying only Hallelujah. Over and over…I have never seen that happen to anyone else yet the UPC refused to believe that was the Holy Spirit…what do you say. ” and they saw that the Holy Spirit had come upon them…the word is “saw”.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Only one baptism is valid today (Ephesians 4.5) and that is experience when one believes the gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). We are saved solely by believing Christ died for us and rose from the dead. At that point God baptizes us into the Church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13).

          • Joe says:

            I believe most people are baptized when they are new Christians who have been fed “milk” and not “meat”. In most cases, such as mine, one has to become the “hunter” who searches for the “meat”. Too many churches continually feed us nothing BUT “milk”!

  9. Swaminatha vijayaraj says:

    After reading, I have some question, if Baptism is not absolutely required for gentiles salvation which is the body of Christ, why peter baptized Cornelius. I agree with the word of God saying salvation is only by faith. I believe it is the outward testimony of my salvation and baptism is not my salvation

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Acts is a record of a transitional program. Both the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God were operational from the time of Paul’s salvation until Acts 15.11. Peter baptized Cornelius because water baptism was required for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom. That’s all Peter knew. He knew nothing of Paul’s doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Paul baptized early in his ministry but had stopped water baptism by the time he wrote Ephesians 4 (about 60-62 A.D.).

  10. Above you can see where I was a “Baptist” and commented on your post.

    I just wanted to let you know that I and my Baptist pastor are now fully persuaded that water baptism is not for us. He is teaching it to our church and it should not be a problem as the congregation already believes that the body of Christ started with Paul and that Acts was transitional.

    Just letting you know, keep up the great work! –Bro. Hoss

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you, as always, for your encouraging words. I know Baptists are not creedal congregations but the Nicene creed declares, “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” As believers, we can affirm this. The “one baptism” (Ephesians 4.5) is Paul’s revelation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Who baptizes us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13). May God bless your church and your pastor. It is primarily through the doctrines of Paul that we can grow into mature believers.

  11. JC says:

    You are WRONG. WATER Baptism was, is, and always will be a Commandment. It is a PHYSICAL manifestation of your Faith. Demons operate -through the ego- in the Physical realm.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Do you have Scripture to support your statement?

    • JC,

      There are problems with making water baptism a “commandment” for this dispensation. Read this post and look at the last two points–they are on water baptism.

      Christ didn’t tell Paul to baptize (1 Cor. 1:17). That is why Paul could thank God that he had baptized so few of the Corinthians–it wasn’t a commandment he received from Christ and so he really didn’t care about baptism (1 Cor. 1:14-16).

      In this dispensation we don’t have physical manifestations of our faith (such as water baptism, circumcision, etc.). Read Colossians 2:6-23 and Ephesians 4:1-6. (KJV )

      Blessings! –Eli “Hoss” Caldwell

      • Jim says:

        Eli “Hoss” Caldwell,
        Read 1 Corinthians in the proper context.
        In the Church at Corinth there was a division in the Church there. Paul was saying that he was “Glad that no one was Baptized his name.” Also he was happy that because he didn’t baptized anyone except Crispus and Gaius, who were of the church at Corinth, he couldn’t be used in who follow who.
        He followed Christ. And what Christ commanded in the Great Commission.
        In Romans 6:3-5; “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
        How can you be baptized into his death unless by being buried into water (which is proclaimed throughout the Bible)? Do you get put into a grave with dirt covering you? Nope.
        Newness of life is the same as Christ said in John 3:5.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Where in the world is water in Romans 6? Furthermore, not one Scripture every speaks of water baptism as “burial.” The baptism Paul revealed was the baptism of the Holy Spirit who identifies believers into Christ’s death. As we are identified in His death so we are identified in His resurrection. Romans 6 is as dry as the Kalihari, not a Martini!

          • Jim says:

            Again one must understand to who it is being addressed to. It is being addressed to the Church at Rome and when they were unbelievers.
            Romans 6:What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
            This does not speak of the Holy Spirit at all. Verse 4 speaks not of being baptized by the Holy Spirit at all. Did the Holy Spirit die on the Cross? Not at all. Christ did.
            We were therefore buried with him by baptism into his death. We know for a fact that Christ died on the Cross and therefore this doesn’t speak of the Holy Spirit.
            Ask yourself then how can we be baptized into his death? The answer is that by immersion in water which Christ spoke of in the Great Commission and Peter reemphasized at Pentecost.
            By the way the Eunuch found water.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              The essential meaning of baptism is identification, not water. The Jews were baptized into Moses (1 Corinthians 10.1-2). They passed through the Red Sea dry. Not a drop of water was upon them. God views believers as identified with Christ in His death and in His resurrection. That is what Paul taught in Romans 6. Romans 6 has nothing to do with water baptism. As I wrote earlier, Paul placed little importance on water baptism and wrote in Ephesians 4.5 there was only one baptism–baptism by the Holy Spirit. That baptism is the only one that counts. Water baptism is a work of man; Spirit baptism is a work of God. Which is greater? Confusion comes when one tries to equate what Jesus told the Eleven in the great commission with what He revealed to Paul. These were two totally separate, different programs. Separate them and you have order. Mix them and the result is confusion (which is where 99% of Christendom is).

              • Jim says:

                The confusion is on your part. Confusion happens when one takes verses out of context as such as I am seeing in your posts.
                The very fact that you are reading into the scriptures that there are two Gospels is wrong.
                Paul did not receive a different Gospel for the Gentile. There is one body and one Christ.
                Paul received his training from Christ in Arabia. He was taught exactly what the other 12 were.
                In Galatians 1: 11-12; he states that no man taught him but he received it from Christ himself.
                Who did the other 12 Apostles receive their training from? Christ himself.
                So why would Christ teach Paul a different Gospel than the one that he taught the other 12. He wouldn’t. That would cause a division in the Church.
                Please before you cause anymore confusion, study the Bible. Put the verses in the proper context. Quit cherry picking part of the verses. Understand who the books were for, the trials they were having.
                By the way there were 12 Apostles. You are forgetting Matthais, who was chosen after Judas. Paul was number 13

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  Read Galatians 2.7. How many gospels are there? Do you ever find Peter or the 12 preaching Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead? Read Matthew 28.16 again. There are 11 disciples, not 12. Matthias was chosen later. Paul was not 13. He was 1. He was an apostle of an entirely different order. He did not meet the qualifications set forth when Matthias was chosen, was not converted until several years later, was given a whole new set of doctrines the 12 had no knowledge of and was the apostles of the Gentiles while the 12 where apostles to Israel (Galatians 2.7-9). I provided 7 specific answers with Scriptures to each of your objections. Since you have not responded to these I conclude tradition is dearer to you than the Scriptures.

  12. bri says:

    Thank you!! For years, I was robbed of the joy of assurance in my salvation because of this water baptism issue… Only when I really got into Paul’s teachings did I understand better about Christ, the cross, the Holy Spirit, righteousness and DEAD WORKS!!
    Well I really hope more people get to see this article, it’s SO important.

  13. William says:

    Is it therefore a sin to receive or preform water baptism or simply a worthless tradition?

    God Bless all here,.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Since Paul stated in Ephesians 4 there was one baptism I think water baptism is not a part of correct Christian activity. Baptism for Christians is a work wholly of the Holy Spirit.

  14. Jesus commanded it and that’s enough for me. No amount of human reasoning to the contrary could persuade me to believe otherwise. If we have faith in Jesus then we will do all that He has commanded. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My
    commandments.” In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus also said, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. [Don’t know whether this will be published but that’s what Jesus said/commanded.]

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jesus spoke the words you cite to Jews under the Mosaic Law in His earthly ministry. Jesus had no ministry to Gentiles during His time on earth. Water baptism was necessary for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom. After his resurrection, Jesus spoke to the apostle Paul from heaven concerning His Church, the body of Christ. Paul declared there is ONE baptism–the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For your position to be valid water baptism performed by human hands is greater than baptism by the Holy Spirit. Thus, the choice is to go by Jesus’ words to Jews in His earthly ministry or Jesus’ words to Paul regarding the Church in His heavenly ministry.

      • Jason Vanlue says:


        Didn’t Matthew 28:19 take place after the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Therefore those words weren’t part of his “earthly” ministry as you say. You stated Jesus was talking to Jews in Matthew 28:19, that’s right the disciples were Jews. However, when he said “make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them….” Was he only referring to Jewish nations when he said ALL nations?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          The OT prophetic plan based on the Abrahamic covenant was that Israel would be a blessing to Gentiles. So the “great commission” was part of this program. But before this could happen, Israel and to repent. The Lord gave the order of evangelism in Acts 1.8. But Israel would not repent. This is why the apostles refused to leave Jerusalem and evangelize Gentiles even as late as Acts 8.1. And in Acts 11.19 we read they evangelized only Jews. No OT plan existed to bless Gentiles apart from Israel. But God in His grace suspended judgment, saved Paul, and he became the channel of blessing Gentiles. That is why he called himself the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). He referred to himself as one “untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15.8) because he was proxy/repentant Israel. He provided blessing to Gentiles that the nation was supposed to do but wouldn’t because they refused to repent. Israel will have another chance, however, and will fulfill their destiny after they repent (Zechariah 8.20-23).

  15. Mitch V. Stasiuk says:

    You said “the difference, however, is Paul received specific instruction from the Lord about keeping the Lord’s supper. This was not true of water baptism”.
    Specific instruction, like a ritual of grape juice & crackers?
    Jesus & the 12 had just finished the Jewish Passover meal, and then were engaging in the Jewish tradition of breaking bread, and drinking wine after a meal. (look it up, it is easy to prove).
    The Corinthians were meeting together to eat meals, and apparently were abusing that which Paul had taught them.
    Jesus, speaking spiritually in John 6.55, “For my flesh is meat inded, and my blood is drink indeed”.
    Why is it that we never look at this as spirtual instruction, only physical temporal instruction? Much of what was done in 1 Corinthians has faded out; Paul never again mentions the Lord’s supper in any other epistles.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      What I had specific reference to was “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11.26). The Lord’s supper is mandated until the Lord returns, i.e., Rapture. Water baptism has ended based upon Ephesians 4.5.

  16. cig says:

    I’d Paul stopped preaching water baptism, and I assume the apostles were in agreement, how did the practice universally continue until today?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Read 2 Corinthians 5.16 and 2 Timothy 1.15. The Church for nearly 2,000 years has focused upon Jesus’ earthly ministry to Israel rather than the doctrines of Paul.

  17. IAN says:

    Thanks for the enlightenment. Refreshing! This also means that in Romans 6 Paul is not referring to any water at all, but clearly to the Spirit Baptism by which we are baptized into Christ and therefore into Christ’s death also, right? Please comment!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you. And correct! Romans 6 is bone dry.

      • IAN says:

        Thanks a million. I know the Holy Spirit Himself has led me to your site. As a born-again believer for the last 34 years and a Pauline dispensationalist for the last 10 yrs or so, I’ve been enthralled with the identification truths in Romans 6 and the eternal & heavenly truths of the Body of Christ in the rest of Paul’s writings. Just cannot get enough of it. I have a few questions though on my personal walk which I will write to you in person for, if that’s ok? I suppose there is a ‘contact’ email available. Thanks once again!

  18. MW says:

    For years reading scripture, water baptism always puzzled me. Though I knew it had nothing to with salvation, but how pastors and teachers so subtly get you to believe it’s our first step to obedience, or an ordinance. And new converts, being really new, in the back of their minds, think they gotta take care of this right now. This gives me the impression they think their salvation is not complete without water. I can see how confusing it would be for a new convert. In addition, Churches are mixing gospels, kingdom and Grace of God causing a false gospel. However, if you rightly divide Christ earthly ministry from the revelations given to Paul it starts make perfect sense. I think the reason the majority of Christians don’t believe this is, its so traditionally ingrained, folks don’t want to see it; as well as go by what they were taught versus what the Bible really says. When they try pick an argument with you, and you show them what the Bible really says; you find they have no position. Other than, what’s given them out of a blender.

  19. Gentleman,

    You amaze me and scare me at the same time, I am a fairly new believer desperate to find more solid doctrine, that’s how I found this site.

    Two very simple questions please. If a believer was baptised by being submersed, not knowing anything about what you discuss here, did he do something wrong?

    If someone used to be a really rebellious and shameful man, and turned from sin and put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is very far from being a good man but a completely different man, especially according to his wife and kids. He loves the Lord Jesus with ALL HIS HEART, no sport or gadget or any temporary thing this world has to offer grabs his attention and affection as the Word does, even though he does not know an ounce as much as you do. Is the fact that he loves the Lord and is drawn to the Word a good sign that he is indeed a child of God, that all the wonderful promises of the Bible applies to himself, a sinner saved by grace, even though he battles with sin?

    How would he know if he is deceiving himself? I would really appreciate your answers.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The Lord is faithful and true. All who put their trust in the work of Christ–that He died for our sins and arose from the dead–Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) can be assured God will conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8.28-29). As we are justified by faith, so are we sanctified by faith. See my article, Identification With Christ, for how to live a victorious Christian life. May the Lord continue to lead you (Ephesians 1). Grace and peace.

  20. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it.

  21. becky says:

    Hey Don, In the paragraph of Rom 6:3-6 near the beginning of the study, the word “united” has 4 b’s typed in front of it. just thought to let you know.

  22. becky says:

    Hi Don,
    I was studying baptism in the Scriptures this morning then came to read your study. Mine was not as extensive as yours but I came to the same conclusion. I had a discussion with a brother who says that Paul was baptized with water. I decided to check into it this morning and that is what got me to studying baptism. It appears to me that Paul was baptized by the Holy Spirit, not water.
    Act 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
    Act 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

    Ananias told Paul he was sent for two things: 1) To lay hands on Paul to receive his sight and 2) that he be filled with the Holy Ghost. V.18 then says IMMEDIATELY the scales fell from his eyes and Paul 1)received his sight and 2)was baptized. It says in Act 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
    I thought maybe this was the proof that it was a water baptism, but then couldn’t find anywhere else where baptism was representative of a “washing away of sins.” I also thought that maybe Paul at some point realized that water baptism wasn’t necessary.

    I do have one more question about another verse, Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
    I read the whole context where these believers had been baptized with John’s baptism. Do you think these were baptized in water in this verse? I read the next verse where Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Paul was saved under the administration of the gospel of the kingdom so he was baptized with water. He preached Jesus was the Son of God, the gospel of the kingdom, immediately afterwards because that was the only gospel revealed (Acts 9.20). As for Acts 19, the key to understanding this passage correctly is to see that v. 5 continues and goes with v. 4. In other words, they were not rebaptized, once for John and once for Jesus. It was one baptism. So the sense is, “And Paul said, John indeed baptized [with] the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on him that was coming after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard that, [about John’s baptism] they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The baptism of Paul (v.6) was that of the Holy Spirit (no water).

  23. Becky says:

    Thanks so much, clears things up.

  24. Sue says:

    Hi Don,

    The Lord’s supper was touched upon in the comments section so I thought I’d ask my question here.

    Could you put light on the verses in 1 Corinthians 11, 26-32

    What does it mean ( verse 30) ‘for this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep’ speaking about those who do not judge the body rightly and those who eat and drink in an unworthy manner? How do you judge the body rightly?

    These must be believers?
    How does this apply to the church today? Clearly it is no light manner as it could be judged and disciplined. ( verse 32 )

    where is Grace if some ‘ sleep’ ?
    Who was not ‘waiting to eat with one another’
    If you do not frequent a Sunday church meeting where communion is organised for you how do these verses apply?

    Thank you for your help with my confusion.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      It’s impossible to know all that was going on but it must have been bad. The Corinthians were apparently getting together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with dinners which devolved into gluttony and drunkenness. The abuse was so bad that God judged them. Paul had lots of problems with the Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 5.1-8).

  25. Jack S. says:

    Don and Sue,

    I have always felt that 1 Cor 11:27-34 refers back to 1 Cor 11:20-22, people that are coming to the feast early and eating all of the food and drinking all of the wine, are acting in an unworthy manner and should examine themselves if they don’t want to be judged as pigs by the assembly. After all, in a spiritual sense, none of us are worthy; If I couldn’t partake of the elements until I was worthy, I would never have them!
    Try this…..
    20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
    (Then skip to v. 27-34)
    27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

    Just a thought.
    Jack S.
    Meridian, ID

  26. Bruce W says:


    I’ve known for a long time now that water baptism is absolutely unnecessary for a believer in Christ.

    One just has to read Acts 10 to see this fact. Cornelius and his family believed, were saved and then filled with the holy spirit prior to water baptism. I think Peter was both amazed and baffled that this occurred because it went contrary to what he had experienced till then and preached.

    Yet here were gentiles saved and filled with the Holy Spirit from just hearing and believing the word but that’s exactly what Paul preached. “Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

    Not only that, interestingly enough, if one reads Peter’s message clearly, it was Not Repent and be Baptized. He preached that Christ died for our sins and was raised again from the dead. That’s the Gospel message of Grace. “Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Yet Peter and they others still baptized them anyway after the fact and all I can think is that was simply a rote response due to his already established ministry.

    My wife and I had to leave a fairly large nondenominational church because they taught baptism was necessary for salvation. We didn’t know this until one day a guest speaker from Dallas Theological Seminary of all places taught that fact on a Sunday to three packed services. I was infuriated and even more so when he called Roman Catholics & other mainline apostate protestants brothers. The death knell was when he started the baptism of desire nonsense and I thought to myself that DTS has been infiltrated by Jesuits. Suffice it to say, we never went back to that church.

    It’s been a long hard prayerful struggle to get my wife out of the grips of Roman Catholicism. She is saved now and actually studying the Bible with me and I’ve deliberately steered those studies to Paul’s work. She was astonished by Galatians and now understands Grace + Faith + Ø for the first time in her life is the true gospel and wants to share it with others. Thank God Hallelujah!

    She also realizes we must leave the small church we now attend because it’s all about keeping the ten commandments. I gave the pastor a teaching on Grace and OSAS and I’m leaving the rest up to the Lord. We’re still looking for a church that preaches the true message of Grace and can’t find one.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you. I’m afraid the apple has fallen far from the tree at DTS since the days of Dr. Chafer–or since I was there. Wonderful about your wife. When one understands God’s grace one can only be astonished. All the best in finding a church. Grace and peace.

  27. Max Adamski Jr says:

    You stated “While baptism has the idea of cleansing, its basic meaning is “identification”.”

    When John the Baptist baptized Jesus was it for cleansing or identification?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The overarching meaning of baptism is identification but in terms of the kingdom gospel it was cleansing (Acts 22.16). Israel’s priests washed when they served in the Tabernacle/Temple. The anticipated the greater promise (cf. Exodus 19.5-6).

  28. Lee Poskey says:

    Thank you very much for your wonderful studies.
    I enjoy learning from you, and this topic is very helpful to me.

  29. Saju Skaria says:

    Dear ‘Doctrine’!
    Based on what I read here from your article on Baptism, do you say a new person who believes in Christ (per Rom 10:9) need not to take water baptism as commanded by Jesus in Mtt 28:18- ?

    If Spirit Baptism is what we have now, when does a new believer gets that baptism? Also how does he know that he is baptized in spirit? – any evidential signs or feelings?

    Appreciate your response – thanks.

    Saju Skaria.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      We know we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit by faith. The Scripture states it (1 Corinthians 12.12-13). Paul wrote that Christ did not send him to baptize but to preach the gospel. Later, he wrote the Ephesians that only one baptism now existed (Ephesians 4.5). Therefore, water baptism has passed away.

  30. ele says:

    Dear Doctirne, what about the Ethiopian eunuch. He believed and then ask Philip what hinders him to be baptized when they came into a certain water. And Philip said ..If thou believed with all thine heart thou mayest… This is also a water baptism after he got saved..first baptism of Christ .second baptism in water. Pls explain to us will help us understand more.

  31. I have recently created a page full of baptism articles and videos (from different pastors) from the Mid-Acts Dispensational position. Some of you might like to watch the videos by various Grace preachers,

    Understanding water baptism by Richard Jordan

    Distinctions that matter, baptism! by Richard Jordan

    Should I be water baptized by Ron Knight

    Is water baptism a command that we should follow? by Richard Jordan

    Is water baptism for today? by Richard Jordan

    Baptism and the believer by Richard Jordan

    Eph. 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism by Richard Jordan

    There are different baptisms in the Bible by Ron Knight

    There is one baptism, and it isn’t water by Ron Knight

    Introduction to baptism by Justin Johnson

    What is baptism? by Justin Johnson

    Paul’s one baptism by Justin Johnson

    Baptism with the Holy Ghost by Justin Johnson

    “Baptism” by Pastor Steve Atwood

    “What’s the big deal with water baptism” by Pastor Perry Lemmons

    “Baptism” by E.C. Moore

  32. Joe says:

    I think most if not all babes in Christ look to the Apostles as they walked with the Lord as omniscient with halos over their heads. If Peter says in Acts 2:38 that people must repent and be baptized then it must be so. Since some in the early days spoke in tongues then it must apply to us today. But actually these guys were the first to run at the crucifixion. There was just so much they didn’t know and understand (hidden from them) as in Luke 18. There was still no consensus as late as Acts 15. Today we have the completed bible. Even late in Peter’s life he says that Paul’s teachings were hard to understand. 2 Peter 3:16. I believe in many ways we are more fortunate than some who may have actually listened to the Lord teach only to try later to reconcile that with Paul. I believe the problem is we don’t study and if we do sometimes for some reason the Holy Spirit does not open our heart….example: God opened Lydia’s heart in Acts 16. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t. Doctrine, can you help us understand why this is? thank you.

    btw, your site is so very user friendly

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      God knows every heart. His great genius is He can accommodate man’s free will and accomplish all things according to His sovereign will. God has revealed His will in the Scriptures. Men fail to read the Scriptures carefully and fail to distinguish between His program for Israel and His program for the Church. When these are mixed contradictions and confusion results. These misunderstanding have become tradition which is what is taught in seminaries and in pulpits. Failure to understand and teach Paul’s doctrines has resulted in massive confusion throughout Christendom. However, if one wants to understand the Scriptures God will reveal them.

  33. Mark Steggles says:

    Hi Doctrine,

    Everything is making sense to me regarding the gospel of the kingdom vs Paul’s gospel. However, one question that is bugging me is why did the Philippian jailer and his household get baptised in Acts 16 by Paul? Is water baptism an assumption here?

    Thank you

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Acts is a transitional book. Everything did not change at once. Paul was beginning to see the end of water baptism from his words in 1 Corinthians 1. By Ephesians 4, water baptism had ended.

  34. Ronnie says:

    I was listening to a great video series(3) with Rodney Beaulieu regarding baptism and he was saying that when John the Baptist was baptising (for the Priesthood of Israel and the kingdom to come), women were NOT baptised. Priesthood was only for men!
    While I understand that the book of Acts is a transitional book, I still do not understand why were women batised, like Lydia for example. What do you think?
    Thank you, and GOD bless you! :)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Philip continued the kingdom program begun by John and baptized men and women (Acts 8.12-13). He knew nothing of Paul’s gospel. Because the apostles and deacons continued the kingdom program it seems logical John baptized women. The Levitical priesthood excluded women but John was not baptizing into the Levitical priesthood. The kingdom program required everyone to repent and be baptized (Acts 2.36-38). That was the way of fulfillment of Exodus 19.5-6, cf. 1 Peter 2.9.

      • Ronnie says:

        Thank you.
        I was under the assumption that John was not baptizing women.
        I guess that was were it triggered m confusion.

        GOD bless you, brother! :)

  35. courtney king says:

    Dear Bro.
    Thank you for your article on “Baptism” I find it clear and concise, doctrinely sousound. Some folks will have difficulty with it but let the chips fall as they may.
    I looked at it openly and it lines up with the bible. God Bless You!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you for your kind words. If one will examine the Scriptures without bias they are quite clear.

      • Cheryl says:

        Thank you so much for this. I came from a family with a non-practicing Catholic mother, a non-participating Methodist stepfather and attended the United Evangelical church on my own at about age 13. We moved away and even into adulthood I never found a church that felt like “home” again. A couple of years back the Lord called me back to him and I began independent study, gradually adding friends to my study group. Never joined a church (my husband is agnostic but allows me my Sabbath and independent study without strife) but find that most of them don’t seem to follow the Scriptures – even if they know they are teaching something that is untruthful – because they are tied to the denomination they are ordained into. Anyway, thought I needed to be baptised and asked SEVERAL ministers to do it – NONE would do it unless I BECAME A MEMBER OF THEIR CHURCH, which convinced me again that I WOULDN’T WANT TO BE A MEMBER EVEN IT IT WAS POSSIBLE. One of them wouldn’t baptise a MEMBER who was afflicted with lung cancer (and possibly dying of it) because he was still smoking. UNBELIEVABLE, huh? Your article and complete clarification has brought so much peace to me – I thought I was being disobedient for NOT being baptised. My friend was going to baptise me because I was so tormented about it. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this information. I will be gratefully reading your other articles as well. Any hints for me? I would like know about communion and about fasting. I have no experience with them at all so I need to know: how is it done properly? do I need to do it? Also, do I need to cover my head when I pray or if I were to attend church?(I am female.)

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Thank you. Statements like yours from readers are the reason I write. The good news is that you HAVE been baptized by the One from Whom it counts. On head covering, it had cultural significance in Paul’s day which has now been lost. God has given women a natural head covering (hair) which Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 11. Communion is taught by Paul and valid, (1 Corinthians 11). Paul provides its significance and rules for practice. How often one takes communion is a local church and an individual decision. Christ simply told us to do it. We have freedom as to how often. As for reading, the biggest thing to understand is God’s program for Israel and His program for the Church. Read Jesus vs. Paul, A Conversation With Paul, Paul’s “Mystery”, Paul: Chief of Sinners? for starters. Grace and peace.

  36. Dawn Sobczak says:

    What about the practice of partaking in the Lords supper? I know this is controversial too.
    Thanks for your ever prompt reply

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      It is a valid practice for believers today. Paul taught the Lord’s supper in which we remember His death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11.23-34).

  37. Mark Steggles says:

    Hi Doctrine,

    Can I ask your opinion on Hebrews 10:19-23:

    “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

    It appears to be saying that we can draw near to God based on our faith, a clean conscience, and being washed in water i.e. water baptism?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      I cannot be dogmatic here but I think this is reasonable. Paul wrote Hebrews (see my article, Who Wrote Hebrews?). He probably wrote it by 60 A.D. and before he wrote his prison epistles. Hebrews is addressed to Jews and I think it was Paul’s final appeal to Jews. Almost all Jewish believers had been water baptized (a requirement of the kingdom program). Paul had been saved under this program and had been baptized (Acts 9.18). Because of this, he could write “us” in his address to Jews. The primary point of Hebrews is to tell Jews that Christ was the fulfillment of all that had come before (covenants, law, prophecy). Judaism as such was over. After this, Paul no longer went to Jews (Jews first) as was his habit throughout Acts. He wrote he was Christ’s prisoner for Gentiles (Ephesians 3.1). God had commissioned him the apostle of the Gentiles, not the apostle of the Jews (God had 12 of those). He finally accepted this (Acts 22.18) but God had to put him in prison to do it. Read how Acts ends.

      • Mark Steggles says:

        It’s interesting that the words used are ‘pure water’ or ‘clean water’. Seems to be some extra meaning there… not necessarily water baptism.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          The water was “pure” in that it was in accordance with God’s command to baptize. It became “sanctified” as were the implements the priests used in the Temple.

  38. Joe says:

    Most of my friends, in laws, acquaintances are Catholics. Mass is held sometimes at funerals, weddings, etc. If I am present what should I do? I don’t like someone sticking something into my mouth or drinking out of the same cup but I don’t want to offend anyone.

    Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Unlike most Protestant churches, Roman Catholics do not practice open communion. Unless you are RC you do not take Mass. You can stay seated or go to the rail, cross your chest with your arms and receive a blessing. No one’s going to be offended by this.

  39. Said says:

    I read with great alarm your theories on water baptism. Contrary to your writings here water baptism is still very much a part of the salvation by faith ‘package’practiced by the church. Yes we are saved by faith through grace, and this as a result of Christs finished work on the cross, to live this saved life victoriously, baptism(water) buries the old man, which is compared with circumcision of the heart, so the new creation is free from sin(we are empowered over sin).

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Alarmed or not water baptism has no part in the Church, the body of Christ. We are spiritually baptized (1 Corinthians 12.13). There is one baptism (Ephesians 4.5)–and it’s not water. Water does not bury the old man. Romans 6 is bone dry. Paul spoke of baptism as being identified with Christ in His death. This identification is a work of the Holy Spirit, not a work of man. The question you have to ask yourself is this: is the one baptism water or the Holy Spirit? Is man greater than God?

  40. Obi Nwabuko says:

    Why does everyone think baptism is only about water? Paul explains to us about types and shadows but the substance is CHRIST. Paul says “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all were “baptized” into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.. ” (1 Cor 10:1-2)
    This the key to understanding spiritual baptism vs water baptism. The question one must ask is how did the Children of Israel get baptized into Moses? The author of Hebrews provides the a BIG CLUE:

    “By faith they (children of Israel) passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned” Heb 11:29

    In case you missed it: Notice “DRY LAND……..” The children of Israel didn’t even get a rain drop on their head, while the Egyptians drowned. This is symbolic of believers coming out of the world through through Christ….

    Paul usage of baptism in his epistles is SPIRITUAL. The one baptism in Eph 4 is SPIRITUAL. Through the work of the Holy Spirit by faith, we are baptized into Christ, His death, and the Body of Christ (Church). Our whole identification and union of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is all by the Holy Spirit.
    Water baptism is an outward public sign; just as an engagement ring is to a wedding…Does the lack of engagement ring invalidate a marriage union?

  41. Terri says:

    I am a believer and greatly enjoy your articles and comments. I like to know what and why I believe in things, 1 Corinthians confuses me greatly. I don’t agree with it but it’s in the bible. Why can we say these passages are not culturally relevant but not say that about others. Why then can’t we say the other sections regarding women that Paul write about are not culturally relevant either. Who gets to pick and choose these things? One answer I got was it is up to the Holy Spirit. So if the Holy Spirit tells me it is no longer culturally relevant I can disagree or not practice it? Looking forward for your help in clarifying this…

  42. Terri says:

    There is a comment above and someone referenced the verses on head covering/hair verses and you replied the hair referencing was no longer relevant.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Apparel has always differed according to society and culture. In Paul’s day, a head covering was deemed proper and appropriate for women. For a woman not to cover her head was view as inappropriate and perhaps even rebellious. For a Christian women not to cover her head would not have been view favorably by society, especially in light of what Paul stated about angels who observing our behavior. Today, head coverings do not have the cultural significance of Paul’s day. God has given women a natural head covering of hair, usually longer hair. In terms of application, Christian women should dress appropriate to today’s standards and not try to scandalize or shock–the angels are still watching.

  43. Terri says:

    I think you may be saying that the chapter is meant to tell people not to dress inappropriately if you are doing it for scandalous or shocking reasons? And we are suppose to read it like a parable and decipher its meanings? I usually now can read the Bible and understand it and in fact feel enlightened by it and it’s new revelations I read each time I read a passage again. I do believe this is God’s word or the bible becomes completely irrelevant.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      For a woman in Paul’s day not to wear a head covering in certain circumstances was considered presumptuous. Paul’s admonition was to act appropriately because angels are watching the relationship of man and woman. Every culture is going to have its own application of this.

  44. Brad Nitzsche says:

    Greetings Don. I have possibly a strange question.We recently moved to a different state, and due to a physical disability I am unable to go to church services. I have been a believer for 43 years, and until 4 years ago belonged to a good bible church. I took the Lords supper many times during that time. I would like to continue doing so. Can my wife and I do this at home on our own without a minister present? I never felt like it had to be ritualistic, and that any believer has the ability to commune with God, but I dont want to do anything wrong or be disrespectful to God. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank You for your ministry.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you. So sorry to hear of your disability. The Scriptures give no reason why you and your wife cannot celebrate the Lord’s supper at home. The purposes of the celebration are to remember the Lord and proclaim His death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11). You and your wife can Biblically worship at home in this way. May the Lord bless you. Grace and peace.

  45. Elvie Manrique says:

    Hi Don, the book of Romans Chapter 6 had informed us that we shared Jesus death, burial and resurrection. “1st Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”When did believers crucify and die?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Interesting question. From God’s perspective it occurred in His foreknowledge. From the believer’s perspective, the moment of belief.

  46. Student says:

    I an intrigued by this article. I have a few questions I would like you to clarify:

    1. If this “one baptism” is through the Holy Spirit, how do you receive the Holy Spirit and when do you know that you have become one with the body of Christ?

    2. Can you explain to me why Paul’s teaching should be followed opposed to Jesus’ teachings throughout the Gospels? I have read from your posts that you believe Acts is a “transitional book.” However, Acts was only the beginning of Jesus’ ministry after he ascended to heaven.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The baptism of the Holy Spirit into the Church, the body of Christ, occurs at salvation, when one believes Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4; 1 Corinthians 12.13). Jesus earthly ministry (Gospels) was for the Jews, not Gentiles (Matthew 10.5-7; Romans 15.8). See my article, Two Remarkable Healings. The risen Lord commissioned Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13) and revealed to him doctrines previously unknown. See the article, Paul’s “Mystery.” So we have two different programs: Israel and Church. The former is primarily Jews and the latter primarily Gentiles (See The Olive Tree). Finally, my article, Jesus vs. Paul reveals these differences. Paul is to be followed because he received direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 1.1, 11-12). Paul’s words are the Lord’s words from heaven.

      • Student says:

        So is receiving the Spirit something I just have believe in and then I have it?

        I will make sure to read those articles as well.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          When one believes Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) God seals the believer with the Holy Spirit and gives Him to indwell as a down payment of the promise of redemption of the body, i.e., resurrection (Ephesians 1.13-14). God identifies the believer in Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6.3-5; 1 Corinthians 12.13). This is not an experience. It is a declaration from God taken by faith.

  47. George says:

    Hi Bro Don, praying all is well with you and your ministry:) I have a brother of mine that challenged me on a few points, hope you can help:
    1) He said Cornelius was a gentile and that Peter gave him not the kingdom gospel but that of faith only, as Cornelius received the Holy Spirit without baptism? Peter also mentioned that the gentiles would be saved the same as the gentiles from now on?

    2) Eternal security was given to David and Solomon via the sure nercies of David foretelling of the gospel of grace which came at the cross?

    3) the phillipian jailer who was a gentile baptised all his household in Paul’s prescence thus justifying water baptism for the body of Christ?


    • doctrine doctrine says:

      1. Cornelius was a Gentile. Read Acts 10. Do you find anywhere that Peter preached that Christ died for Cornelius’ sins and rose from the dead? Peter knew only the kingdom gospel. It was not until many years later that he understood Paul’s gospel (Acts 15.11). Cornelius received the Holy Spirit apart from water baptism. Peter and his fellows were astonished (Acts 10.45). This was to prepare Peter to support Paul at the Council of Jerusalem (see my article, The Great Hinge.
      2. Little information is given in the OT on eternal security. They seem to have had it but it is not laid out in a doctrinal format. Jesus said He was the God of the living (Matthew 12.26-27).
      3. Water baptism was practiced by Paul early on but abandoned later. Paul hinted at this in 1 Corinthians 1.14-17. Clearly, this statement at the very least reveals that water baptism was not important in Paul’s ministry. By the time Paul wrote Ephesians 4.5, water baptism has ceased to be practiced.

      The only baptism that counts and is important is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism divides believers. Do any agree? Baptism of the Holy Spirit unites believers.

  48. George says:

    Thanks bro Don for your answers,
    Regarding Cornelius he did hear the gospel of God/ grace that saves ” “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” -Peter said this to cornelius, very similar to Pauls Gospel?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The gospel of the kingdom included believing in Christ (Matthew 16, John 11). But the content of that belief was not believing Christ died for one’s sins and rose from the dead. Believing in Christ for Peter meant believing who He was–the Messiah, the Son of God. See my articles, Faith vs. Works in James: Resolving the Problem and The Gospel of the Kingdom.

  49. George says:

    So bro Don, when John wrote : Revelation 1:5 KJV. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, did John know this after he spoke to Paul or before in Acts 2?
    Also when Peter sat to eat with the Paul’s gentile converts did Peter eat unclean food and then when seeeing the little flo k of kingdom believers revert back to kingdom gospel living, how do you interpret that event?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Peter wrote similar words in 1 Peter 1.18-19. Since Peter did not use such language in Acts 2, it is logical to conclude he did not know it. Paul is the one from whom we learn the significance of Christ’s death, His shed blood, in relation to the work on the cross for salvation. Ergo, Peter and John learned this from Paul. Question 2 is interesting. Perhaps, maybe even probably. But the Jerusalem apostles had a hard time giving up the Law (see Acts 21.20).

  50. Roger Spielmann says:

    Just a quick question. I’ve personally never met a Christian from the Protestant tradition who believes that water baptism is required for salvation. It’s used today merely as a public statement that one has accepted Christ.

    My question is: What’s the big deal if churches baptize new converts? I mean, if it’s simply making a public statement, why not be baptized?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Water baptism is a source of major disagreement in Christendom. Paul stated one baptism exists: baptism by the Holy Spirit. It’s a matter of obedience. Why perform a rite that no longer has Biblical purpose or meaning? It perpetuates confusion. If Christians followed Paul’s teachings 95% of theological and practical problems would disappear.

  51. Mark Steggles says:

    After pondering your teaching for months I have come to the conclusion that your interpretation is wrong… it does not fit with Paul’s actions.

    You say that the one baptism is a spiritual baptism but that is based on your interpretation. It does not fit with what we see Paul doing in the book of Acts. He was still baptising after the council… Philippians jailer & the people at Ephesus. The book of Acts shows us how people got saved. Paul’s letters are to already saved believers.

    Jesus’ words are crystal clear. He who believes and is baptised shall be saved. Hearing the gospel and then responding in faith (action – repentance and baptism) is still valid for today.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Read the Scriptures again. Paul placed little importance on water baptism (1 Corinthians 1.14-17). During Acts Paul went to Jews first, then Gentiles. That changed after his Roman imprisonment. Jewish priority ended. He declared he was Christ’s prisoner for Gentiles (Ephesians 3.1) and in that same letter declared there was one baptism (Ephesians 4.5). Paul taught the baptism of the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13) and identifies him in Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6). So which is the “one baptism,” water or the Holy Spirit? Who is greater, God or man? Water baptism is a work of man and ceased by the time Paul wrote Ephesians. Jesus ministered to Jews during His earthly ministry, not Gentiles. He commissioned Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles. To follow Christ, as a Christian, one must follow Paul, for he received direct revelation from the risen Christ regarding the Church, His body. There is only one way to be saved today: by faith alone in Paul’s gospel: 1 Corinthians 15.1-4. All other paths are deception.

  52. james forrestal says:

    Is there clear scriptural evidence that Paul baptized Gentiles? If it can be proven he only baptized Judeans then might he have done so under the national kingdom of Israel program not yet being aware of the no baptism policy for the individual Body of Christ program? At Corinth Crispus was Judean. The household of Stephanas:”first fruits of them that believed: Judean idiom? Gaius? I can’t find anything definitive about his ethnicity. Todah

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Paul had given up the kingdom program when he came back from Arabia. He baptized a few people, but as he wrote the Corinthians, he did not regard it as important. For Paul, everything was the gospel of grace, faith + 0, identification with Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit and His baptism into Christ’s body.

    • Grace Receiver says:

      That’s an interesting thought, James. I was wondering something along those same lines: did Paul perhaps baptize for the same reason that he performed circumcision, etc? To gain the Jews? (1 Cor. 9:20)

  53. Norma Watkins says:

    What about the church’s Ordinance? We are do observes these ordinance in “remembrance of Him” right?

    1 Corinthians 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

    “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). Our baptism is a public testimony of our faith in the Lord Jesus: Christ, and the way in which we identify ourselves with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The Lord’s supper is a continuing memorial (1 Corinthians 11.23). Water baptism has ended (Ephesians 4.5). Our identification in the Lord’s death and resurrection is the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6.3-5; 1 Corinthians 12.12-13).

  54. Carl Ballinger says:

    Your articles are profound. I just found your site yesterday, and you’ve already helped me see scripture in a new way, I think a good way. On Baptism: In my church, like most churches, we do baptisms. I was baptized two years ago this week. However, my pastor explains pretty much each time we have baptisms, the immersion itself does nothing; it is merely a public way to profess faith, like a wedding ring for marriage.

    So, that being said, with the acknowledgement the baptism does nothing in itself, what are your thoughts on doing it as a celebration in a congregation for someone who has professed faith?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you. It’s wonderful to celebrate a believer’s salvation. But no Scriptural support exist for using baptism as a celebration of salvation. I’m very simple and like to keep things simple. Christendom is confused enough. Why complicate matters more?

  55. Jack S. says:


    I tend to think that your pastor is the exception and not the rule. When asked if one is a Christian, most people will quickly reply, “Yes, I was baptized on 1/1/1999 etc” They tend to associate the water baptism with their salvation because THEIR pastor did not make clear that there is only one baptism, and that is of the Holy Spirit.


    • Carl Ballinger says:

      I can only speak for me, and my knowledge of my Church, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, which also has the official position of supporting believer’s baptism, but that it is a ceremony, not part of actual salvation.

  56. Marti Holland says:

    There is one baptism which is of the Holy Spirit. Without this work of God one is not saved. Have you ever considered that the “baptism” of Paul in Acts 9: 18 is not of water but of the Spirit? Read the prior verse…..”receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Verse 18….”he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” Do you see that Paul’s filling with the Holy Ghost is his baptism?
    John the Baptist stated that he baptized with water, but that the Christ would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire! It is clear that almost all of the baptisms spoken of in the New Testament are speaking of a baptism of the Spirit not with water. We are in error when we assume “water baptism” in the place of the baptism by the Holy Ghost. Read Acts 18: 24- Acts 19: 6 and see what happened with Apollos, a man fervent in the spirit and who taught diligently the things of the Lord, KNOWING ONLY THE BAPTISM OF JOHN! He is then set straight by Aquila and Priscilla yet some of his disciples are still without the Spirit until Paul sets them straight and they are BAPTIZED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Water baptism was required for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1.4, 16.16). Peter water baptized even after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2.36.38). Paul was water baptized because he was saved under the gospel of the kingdom. There is only one baptism in the Acts 19 passage, the baptism of John. In other words, Acts 19.3 and Acts 19.5 were the same baptism. Water baptism ended officially with Paul’s declaration in Ephesians 4.5.

  57. Marti Holland says:

    I cannot believe you are saying this! “Water baptism was REQUIRED for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom?” You have just added a requirement to be saved….no matter what time period you are talking about. You have just trampled underfoot what the Lord Jesus has done. The baptisms in Acts 19:3 and 19:5 are NOT the same… was John’s (water and no salvation had taken place…they had not even HEARD of the Holy Spirit vs. 2) and the other was the baptism of the Holy Spirit after they HEARD that they should believe on Christ Jesus. Again, Paul’s baptism in Acts 9 is of the Holy Spirit, NOT water. Compare the sentence structure of Acts 9: 17 and 18 (“…receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”) (Paul then received his sight and AROSE, and was baptized) You don’t rise up when you are dunked down in the water! Paul arose first and then he is baptized in the Holy Spirit.
    Abel, Noah, Abraham were all “righteous” men in God’s eyes before any law or circumcision (which symbolized a cutting off of the flesh). All three of these men’s flesh had been spiritually cut off….they were “dead” in their flesh so they could be alive in the Spirit. John’s preparatory baptism was the same meaning….death of our flesh in the water (confession of our sins) to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit (the REAL baptism). It is a gift from God to know what a wretch one is! Only God can reveal one’s utter depravity for them to cry out for His mercy. Only God can put this fear into a person that they are lost and without the Holy Spirit and will face God without Christ. They will stand upon their own merits of righteousness and will be cast out!
    I highly recommend that you read Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians. It is a blessed book and I hope you will see yourself in his writings. Paul’s fear was that the Galatians were falling from grace, that the false teachers were persuading them to add something to their gift from God. Paul sensed that he was becoming their enemy because he told them the truth! (Gal 4:16) Also, the works of John Bunyan….namely “The Acceptable Sacrifice, the Excellency of a Broken Heart: Showing the Nature, Signs, and Proper Effects of a Contrite Spirit” (based on Psalm 51) I write to you in love….warning you that what you are saying is not of the Spirit.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      I have read Luther’s commentary on Galatians (more than once) and I have read Bunyan. Before Paul, works were required for salvation. See my article, Faith vs. Works in James: Resolving the Problem. Luther and Bunyan did not understand this because they read Paul into the gospels and the gospels into Paul. This has continued in Christendom which explains the theological confusion and fragmentation. If you had told a Jew salvation was by faith without works he would have hauled you into court for blasphemy. Nothing in the OT taught this. Read Mark 1.4, 16.16; Acts 2.36-38, 22.16. Do these passages teach water baptism was required for salvation? If words mean anything, they do. People only have the idea of salvation by faith alone from Paul. You won’t find it taught anywhere else. This is why Paul is so important and so different. Today we are saved by faith alone, believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). But before Paul, this was completely unknown. The Acts 19 passage does not relate a rebaptism. The text reads, 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. What Luke wrote in v. 5 is that when they heard about John’s baptism (vv. 3-4) the were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (v. 5). There was no rebaptism. Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. This was to give these Jewish believers the same experience as what had occurred at Pentecost. I recommend Cornelius Stam’s commentary on Acts. It is essential reading for every Christian. Grace and peace.

  58. Marti Holland says:

    Luther and Bunyan did not understand! Oh sir, you are in gross error! You are the one who does not understand faith versus the law. Yes, I would have been hauled off to court and called a blasphemer as were so many others….including Jesus, if I spoke the truth as I am now to you. If you knew my story you would most likely scoff…..I was VERY involved for many years with a large Bible Church, taking classes at Dallas Theological Seminary, and doing all kinds of benevolent works, until early one morning, on March 30th, 2011, while sitting in a McDonald’s having breakfast at the age of 55 I was overcome with the Holy Spirit for the first time in my life. I knew exactly what it was, no question, and no one was more surprised than I was!!! I was in utter fear all day long, crying out to the Lord to have mercy on such a sinful person as myself. That day scales fell from my eyes and I was born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit and all things became new. All of my prior life became filthy rags and many beloved people had to be forsaken. My family and friends did not understand what had happened to me….they denied that I was not already saved prior to that day, even when I insisted that I wasn’t. Why in the world would a person begin to tell others such news when they knew it would sabotage the relationships? I was a people pleaser and wouldn’t think of speaking as I do…the ONLY explanation for all of my changes is the indwelling Holy Spirit, but no one wants to believe that. I’m called all sorts of things now, but what a joy I have in Christ. I implore you to ask the Lord if my words may be true. Man’s reason cannot understand such things. Luther and Bunyan were in opposition to people as yourself, as was Paul. I hate to leave you alone. Matthew 15:14

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Luther and Bunyan understood justification by faith alone. They did not understand Paul’s apostleship. They did not understand God’s prophetic, covenant program with Israel. They did not understand Romans 15.8. This is why Luther wanted the book of James removed from the canon. Had he, he would have never have said such critical things remarks about it. I have given you the Scriptures to prove salvation by faith alone was unknown before Paul. The choice before you is to believe the Scriptures or believe tradition.

  59. Marti Holland says:

    Please go read Luther’s comments on Galatians 5:6 Your words about Luther are incorrect. Several sentences out of Luther’s commentary are as follows: “Now he believeth not truly, if works of charity follow not his faith. So on both hands, as well on the right hand as on the left, he shutteth hypocrites out of Christ’s kingdom. On the left hand he shutteth out the Jews, and all such as will work out their OWN salvation, saying, “In Christ neither circumcision;” that is to say, no works, no service, no worshippings, no kind of life in the world, but faith without ANY TRUST IN WORKS OR MERITS, AVAILETH BEFORE GOD. On the right hand he shutteth out all slothful and idle persons, which say, If faith justify without works, then let us work nothing, but let us only believe, and do what we list. Not so, YE ENEMIES OF GRACE. Paul saith otherwise. And although it be true that only faith justifieth, yet he speaketh here of faith in another respect; that is to say, that AFTER IT HATH JUSTIFIED, IT IS NOT IDLE, BUT OCCUPIED AND EXERCISED IN WORKING THROUGH LOVE…”
    These words by Luther are contrary to what you wrote about Luther’s beliefs and his lack of understanding of Paul’s apostleship (what does that mean anyway….lack of understanding what Paul wrote?) Luther’s words are in support of James 2: 14-26 You have not read Luther’s commentary through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. You are the one who does not understand Paul! Did you ask the Lord if my words to you are perhaps true?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      No, you did not read what I wrote carefully. Luther understood Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith. Paul taught works come from faith. That Luther understood. He did not understand the Jewish plan of salvation, the gospel of the kingdom. He did not understand the Church began with Paul, that Paul’s apostleship was wholly different from that of the 12. He did not understand Paul’s secrets, etc. Luther did not understand Paul beyond his doctrine of salvation nor his unique apostleship.

  60. Marti Holland says:

    I suppose that you do understand Paul and his doctrine of salvation (which is God’s doctrine not any man’s) and you do understand Paul’s “unique apostleship” contrary to the twelve (I disagree with you). How was Abraham righteous? By works or faith? How was King David righteous? By works or faith? How was Peter righteous? Works or faith? It was the Jews that didn’t understand faith; they understood Moses, and every man born in sin understands Moses, law, and works; that is no mystery.
    You claim that Luther was so displeased with James’ epistle that he wanted it thrown out of the canon. Again, go to his Galatians commentary on 5:9 “A little leaven doth leaven the whole lump” Within his paragraphs on this verse Luther points out an allegory used by Jesus that the light of the body is the eye. When our eye is single our whole body has light, if it is evil (not single) then our body is dark. Luther says: “By this allegory Christ signifieth that the eye, that is to say, the doctrine, ought to be most simple, clear, and sincere, having in it no darkness, no cloud, &c. AND JAMES THE APOSTLE SAITH, “He that faileth in one point is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) Can you not admit you are mistaken about how Luther felt about the book of James? Luther not only quotes him, but calls him an apostle. Do you not admit that the book of James can be very misunderstood if not read through the eyes of the Spirit and with great care? Everyone knows that the Book of James is quite different and many people call it their “favorite” book. Why? Because they probably have no Spirit in them and man’s reason gravitates to what they understand. “Faith without works is dead” etc. Oh how man so desires some credit, some little thing that makes him worthy of eternal life!!! So many are proving their “faith” by what they do, when all along they have never been born again, have no faith, have no Spirit, and go about “working” for the Lord proving their worthiness. Satan loves it!!! I can attest to this for I was one of these people for 55 years….unaware that I had never been born of God. None of us deserve the gift of Christ and to be justified by His works. We DESERVE hell!!!
    Several replies ago I told you I was finished responding to you….but the Lord kept instructing me to respond because of what you would say about my brother, Luther. Other lies about Luther include that he hated the “Jews.” Well, before anyone quotes Luther in saying this they had better define what a Jew was to Luther. It is NOT what we today define as a Jew (someone who doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah), no, a Jew to Luther were the ones CLAIMING CHRIST yet not knowing Him at all; teaching lies and errors under the disguise of truth. Deceiving many, the Pope, and all of his “glorious” array, the monks, the Anabaptists…. all of these are antichrists and yes, Luther hated them for what they were doing to so many people! He called the Papacy, “senseless asses” because of their insistence upon works to justify themselves (even though they would SAY that works do not save). Do you not think Paul hated the false teachers who were deceiving his “little children” the Galatians? Of course he did! He was fighting for them, exhorting them to return to his Gospel which was Christ and Christ alone.
    I pray you will sincerely ask the Lord about this, that the Lord is merciful to you as He has been so with me and continues in His mercies each morning.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      You have not read enough of Luther to understand him. Luther had various views over time. Some of his comments were extremely anti-Semitic. The problem with my critics is that when I ask a question I am met with silence. Here’s the challenge: find a passage in the OT that states David was saved by faith alone or by believing Christ would die for his sins and rise from the dead. Find a passage in the gospels stating men were saved by faith alone. Men were always saved by faith, but not faith alone (exception: Abraham). This was a Pauline revelation. Answer the question as to why those at the Council opposed Paul and told him his converts were not saved unless they kept the Mosaic Law? These were believers who opposed Paul. Had they know Paul’s gospel, they would not have argued with him. Answer these questions and I’ll concede you are right. But if you cannot, logically, you must concede I am right.

  61. Marti Holland says:

    By the way, was it not James who writes his letter to the “twelve tribes” (James 1: 1) and not to the “church”….is it not James and the elders present with him that told Paul to prove that he had not “forsaken” Moses by taking four men plus himself and undergo the Nazarite vow which God put a stop to!? (Acts 21: 17-27) Was not the church in Jerusalem, with James as at least one of the leaders, done away with and dispersed? James was under intense persuasion by the Jews claiming Christ; perhaps this is the reason he wrote his epistle trying to explain that works will always proceed from true faith.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      I’m not sure I understand your point. James ministered to believing Jews, not Gentiles. He had no ministry to Gentiles, which was true of all the 12. He wrote to Jews (James 1.1) as did Peter (1 Peter 1.1). James did not understand Paul’s ministry and was a keeper of the Jewish law throughout his life. He was upset with Paul because Paul taught that believers of his gospel were not under the administration of the Mosaic Law, which is what those at the Council maintained. James believed men were saved by both faith and works and he was right–until Paul came along. If you will read The Great Hinge, I explain all this.

  62. Marti Holland says:

    Dear Doctrine,
    It is now more than clear how you believe. To say that anyone at any time was ever saved by anything other than faith and faith alone is to leave Christ and all His benefits. I am not in a debate with you for there to be a winner and loser, I’m telling you the truth, but you will not listen. David was saved by faith and faith alone (Romans 4: 1-8; Psalm 32: 1,2; Hebrews 11: 32) Hebrew 11 gives a long list of Old Testament saints that were saved by faith and faith alone….not because of their works in any way. I do not understand why you would give an exception to “Father” Abraham who was the first Jew? I suppose it is because you think the law was after his time. The law was not given for people to think they could keep it….it was given to reveal sin to the sinner. To shine light on the sinner’s sinfulness…to make him aware of his need for a Savior!
    The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus telling people that their faith had provided forgiveness of their sins (the real healing) and also their physical healing. The real healing of anyone is faith in Christ….because we are all born “sick” and “blind” in sin.
    You are correct that I have not read all that Luther has written, but in his comments on Galatians 3:2 he writes that we ought to diligently read the book of Acts “because it containeth most substantial testimonies, which are able to comfort and confirm us against the Papists our Jews, whose abominations and colored hypocrisy we impugn and condemn by our doctrine, that we may set forth the benefits and glory of Christ…” No where in this commentary have I heard him even mention what we commonly consider a Jew today. I have read almost all of the works of John Bunyan (60 something) and these two men, Luther and Bunyan, understood faith and works….they both had been born again, they both had the Spirit of God indwelling them and their writings reflect that. They both endured intense persecution from the “Christians”…..the false teachers.
    Mr. Doctrine, I am after your soul, not your approval or winning this debate. About a year ago I came across a sentence that I found very insightful. I carry it around in my wallet. I do not know who wrote it…it was not signed, which is appropriate.
    “It is verity (truth) not victory, that is here contended for because of the nature of spiritual pride, it is the most secret of all sins. There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable and there is no other sin in the world that men are so confident in.”
    I will most likely not be writing you back anymore and it is not because I cannot defend myself…it is because you have refused to answer my question. Have you earnestly asked God if my words are perhaps the truth? If you have not done this….if you have never been born again then the Holy Spirit does not indwell you and there is no point in discussing any further.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      As I’ve said, Bunyan and Luther understood faith and works–as explained by Paul. But before Paul, faith and works were not understood in this way. What I am trying to get you to see is that Paul’s revelations were NEW. The 12 had no concept or understanding of them. Jesus did not reveal them in His earthly ministry. The 12 were not saved like we are saved. They did not believe Christ died for their sins and would rise from the dead. The Scriptures state they “understood NONE of these things” (Luke 18.31-34). Is that clear? They were saved by believing Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Water baptism was also required. That is what God had revealed (Mark 1.4, 16.16, Acts 2.36-38, 22.16). The apostles at the Council said circumcision and keeping the Law were required for salvation (Acts 15.1, 5). How do you deal with these verses? Ignore them? Deny them? The risen Lord revealed the meaning of His death and resurrection to Paul from heaven. Do you not wonder why Peter at Pentecost did not proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection for salvation? The reason he didn’t is he didn’t know it. Works, before Paul, were wrapped together with faith. If God told you that to be saved required you to do three jumping jacks, would you do them? Now what would that be, faith or works? It would be both, for faith is obedience. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, water baptism was required for salvation. This is clear from the Scriptures which I have provided. Was this a work or faith? It was both. Faith responds to what God has revealed. With Paul we have something entirely different. Faith and works are wrapped up solely in the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection. No one understood this before Paul because God kept it hidden. The reason so much confusion exists in Christendom is because Paul is read into the Gospels as if what he wrote was always known. It wasn’t, and to say it was is to reject God’s Word–which most of Christendom does. What is before you is a choice–believe the Scriptures or believe tradition, what the vast majority in Christendom teach. But remember, in spiritual matters, the majority are ALWAYS wrong!

  63. Charlene Berrie says:

    Due to having a human mother was there any taint of sin on Christ? I believe He was sinless else His death would be for His sin. Your thoughts?
    Another question. Is it wrong to observe the Holy Days even though we know they are for Israel? We understand we dont have to but we are reminded how they fit into Gods plan for Israel.

  64. Ken Schisler says:

    Dear Doctrine,
    I believe you’re trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. While it is true there is a progression in revelation in Scripture, there are simple basic truths that go unchanging. You teach that Jesus’ instructions were superceded and outdated by what you interpret to be Paul’s teaching. By the same token, we could go on to say, that since John outlived Paul and all the other Apostles, we must sort through all previous revelation to conveniently update and edit it. By making yourself a sort of Pauline addict, and reading your beliefs into his words, you’re setting yourself up for error and for those that follow your teachings.
    I prefer to stick to the instructions Paul’s CEO gave to us! He said:
    Mt 28:19* Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (Jew and Gentile alike), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
    By the way, I’m a missionary in South America, with the boots on the ground in the front lines of carrying the Gospel. What are you doing for the sake of Christ? While you argue against the validity of water baptism and spend endless hours doing so, we’ve seen the Lord blessing the application and practice of it. For the great mayority of our converts, it has helped confirm their identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and brought great blessing and stability into their lives. We do not teach it as required or needful for their salvation, but only as an outward sign that confirms publically and openly the step they have taken inwardly, in having believed in the atoning work of Jesus. (By the way, we do not refuse the Lord’s Supper to non-baptized) In dozens of water baptisms, (as believers in the Full Gospel), we’ve witnessed many folk spontaneously receiving the Baptism in the Holy Ghost right in the Baptistry. Many others we’ve seen experiencing the fullness of the Holy Ghost before water baptism. Very obviously God does what He wants and in the way He wants! So are we to say, that your conclusions refute the reality of what these folk have experienced. Continue to write all you want tucked away in your comfy little corner, aloof and apart from the rest of us dummies on the ground who continue to carry out the Great Commission. When the rewards are handed out, we’ll find out who did what they were supposed to do!
    May the Lord grace us all to be faithful and true to Him!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      You must have done graduate work in Phariseeism. Your comments reveal an appalling self-righteousness and arrogance. You think you are better than others because you’re a missionary in South America, “with boots on the ground in the front lines.” You comments reveal egregious misunderstandings in several areas. Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 28.19 to the Eleven–Jews under the Law. This program was under the gospel of the kingdom, not the Church. If you wish to obey Matthew 28.19 you must obey the entire Mosaic Law. Please see my article, The Great Commmission, for these implications. The issue of water baptism is not about helping converts with identification with Christ but what the Scriptures teach. Water baptism was never about identification with Christ. Not one Scripture supports such an idea. Only Paul taught identification with Christ and he taught believers are identified with Him through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not water. To teach water as the identifier is false teaching. If you were to obey Matthew 28.19, you would have to practice water baptism as a requirement for salvation. The Scriptures are clear one could not be saved apart from water baptism in the kingdom program (Mark 1.4, 16.16; Acts 2.36-38). Lastly, your comments indicates a low regard for the Scriptures since you believe human experience is equal to or above the Scriptures. You appear to have no understanding Satan engages in deceit and what is perceived as “works of God” are deception. Christ appointed Paul, not Peter, not James, not John, as the apostle of the Gentiles. All Christian doctrine comes from Paul. If you desire to obey Christ, teach Paul.

  65. Ken Schisler says:

    My only intention in stating my occupation, was to affirm that I have seen firsthand countless lives delivered from witchcraft and demonic bondage, that now dearly and gladly serve the Resurrected Christ! If you wish to turn a blind eye toward that reality, proven “on the ground” by thousands upon thousands of changed lives here and on other mission fields, that is your prerogative. I believe in the Gospel, as Jesus, Peter, James, and Paul preached it, with power, anointing, and “signs following”. Sorry, Don, this is one that doesn’t follow your way, but in any case I desire you no evil. May the Lord bless you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      I wish the Lord to bless you also. But the Lord blesses obedience to His word. While God brought water from the rock even though Moses struck it in disobedience, Moses never entered the promised land. The “signs” you wrote of have ceased. The power of God is the gospel and Christ’s resurrection, not in signs. Paul taught sign gifts have ceased and that we are to live by faith, hope, and love, not signs. What you fail to understand, and the source of your confusion, is that God’s program revealed through Paul was different from the program to Israel. God began a new program with Abraham and Moses that lasted 2,000 years. It was new. God began a whole new program under Paul. We call it Christianity. The Church was not revealed in the OT. It was new. It has lasted 2,000 years and it too will end at the Rapture. Until you understand God has specific programs for specific times you will remain confused and everything will be mixed up, Law with Grace, Church with Israel, Heaven with Earth, etc. As I stated before, Paul is to us what Abraham, Moses, and the Twelve were for Israel. New program. Stick with Paul and stay on the right road.

  66. Ken Schisler says:

    It’s okay, Don. I’m stuck to preaching Christ (from all the multiple Scriptural sources) and occupied in His work. I’m sorry you so easily pass off “signs” as having ceased. There is proof otherwise, both from Scriptural and factual premises, but I don’t have time for endless disputes. By the way, your “hero” had a very subjective and life changing supernatural experience on the road to Damascus. It was not his knowledge of Scripture, rather that encounter that brought home to him the reality of the living and resurrected Christ. Obviously must believe that, but since you are so “gungho” on Pauline teaching, maybe you shouldn’t rule out a similar experience in your own life. I would encourage you to leave some space for it and even seek it.
    My father, a CMA missionary to Borneo, thought the same as you – that signs belonged to another age. When he faced the reality of the spirit world, the powers of darkness in the land and in the people he went to serve, he realized he wasn’t equipped. He sought God and the Lord met him in a mighty way, revolutionizing his walk and ministry. Look, Don, simply there are too many I’ve met, in addition to my own experiences to negate such a reality proven “on the ground” and from a different view of Scripture than yours. Sorry, we could go back and forth with endless arguments, but like I say, no time nor desire to get involved. Must work for the night is coming!
    Sorry if at any time my words at any point sounded offensive! Like I said no evil intended. Won’t we be surprised when we all meet up yonder! :) God bless!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The powers of darkness recognized Jesus and Paul (Acts 19.15). Paul wrote the following to the Philippians, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) If you know the Lord, if you have the Holy Spirit, He will convince you Paul is the appointed apostle of the Gentiles, the founder of the Church, the founder of Christianity, and that the Lord gave him the doctrines by which we are to live godly lives. I have no time to argue either. You can accept it or reject it–just as a Jew could accept or reject Moses. Grace and peace.

  67. Ken Schisler says:

    Don, one final word in parting: I am not the one in rejection. You erroneously interpret disagreement with your views as rejection of Paul’s teaching. I source Pauline letters as well as all the other books of the Bible in my commitment to know Christ for myself and to preach Him to others. The end of all things is Christ – not Paul, Peter, John, or anyone else. Jesus is the Head, focus, and goal of the Church!
    You avoided my suggestion to give some space in your life for a personal encounter with the living Christ. But at least, don’t reject or stigmatize those of us who believe in a supernatural, “close up” God, who reveals Himself through His Word, but also through the Spirit.
    It would do you well to follow Gamaliel’s wise suggestion:
    Acts 5:38* And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 39* But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
    Gamaliel was wise enough to realize he or no one should presumptuously write off anything as not being of God. Maybe he didn’t fully understand what was going on, nor did it fit into his own theological think tank, but at least he gave allowance for the fact that “just maybe” God was at work. Very wisely he played it safe… Maybe it would do you well to follow suit.
    May our hearts be in line with Paul’s prayer: Eph 1:17* That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      I’m not sure what you have in mind with a statement like “give some space in your life for a personal encounter with the living Christ.” Do you think I am not a Christian or are you saying a personal encounter is seeking tongues, healing gifts, gifts of knowledge, etc.? If the latter, you’re asking me to seek things Paul stated have ceased. Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Today, the believer is to live by faith, hope, and love. These have replaced sign gifts. The canon is complete. The power of God is the gospel and Christ’s resurrection. To seek anything else is foolishness and disobedience. The living Christ is the Word of God Who reveals Himself through the written word. The Word specifically given to believers today are the doctrines of Paul. That is why Paul commanded believers to imitate him. See my article, Follow Paul?

  68. Luis says:

    Hello brother, I would first like to say that I’ve read a great deal of your articles and I am always encouraged by the insight you provide from the scriptures. Since this article deals with baptism, I was wondering if you could shed some light on 1 Peter 3:21 to help me disprove those who use this verse as support that baptism saves (which is nonsensical).

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Peter wrote to Jews (1 Peter 1.1), not to Gentiles, not to the Church, the body of Christ. According to the gospel of the kingdom water baptism was required for salvation (Mark 1.4, 16.16; Acts 2.36-38, 22.16). However, in this verse, Peter recognized that mere water could not wash away sin. Water baptism was supposed to include a spiritual component, a mental attitude of repentance towards God which salvation required. In Acts 2.38, Peter told the Jews, “Repent and be baptized…for the forgiveness of sins.”

  69. Luis says:

    Then why is it that in 1 Peter 2:24 Peter writes that “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross…” This sounds very much like something Paul would teach. If Peter is indeed indicating that his gospel is the gospel of the kingdom, then wouldn’t he have focused on Jesus’ identity (i.e. The messiah/Christ) ? How would this relate to my previous question regarding the baptism of repentance? Hope you can shed some light, and thanks again for your time.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      By the time Peter wrote 1 Peter (probably mid to later 60s) he understood the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. He had learned much from Paul but still found some things difficult (2 Peter 3.15-16). The gospel of the kingdom ended in 51 A.D. From that point forward, only Paul’s gospel was valid. See my article, The Great Hinge.

  70. Luis says:

    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I really enjoy your articles and I hope you do write more in the future. Grace and peace be with you.

  71. todd says:

    Finally a statement that I totally agree with.One night on the way home from an Assembly of God bible study ,as my thoughts struggled with this topic,I believe it was the Holy Spirit spoke to my mind and said “baptism means a spiritual washing”
    But now what,anybody got any ideas where I can find a church that has this doctrine.

  72. todd says:

    I need to add one more thought in your defense doctrine,after reading what others are saying here ,I wish they could see how defensive their comments are.9 out of 10 times I try to state my opinion on this topic I am greeted with a defensive comment as well.I would be interested on learning WHY they feel the way they do about this topic,all I can hear through their writings is how right they are .The Lord has taught me that Faith is a gift,and aint nobody gonna get faith on their own ,you get it through obedience,and once you get it you guard it with your life cause you don’t want to ever lose it cause the trial you went through to get it was rough.Anybody can memorize the bible and quote something some theologian said 1000 years ago,but when the rubber meets the road what really counts is your personal walk with our creator.and this topic along with a bunch of others can be a real stumbling block and we all should know what the bible says about stumbling blocks. The Lord speaks to us through his word,we need to be patient though cause Gods time and our time are different,we need to train ourselves to be obedient,it’s not hard it’s just difficult.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you. Religion and tradition hold great power. Too many simply believe things that are not in the Scriptures or misunderstand the context of what is there, to whom was it written, when was it written, etc.

  73. Kerri says:

    In Acts 19: when Paul arrives at Ephesus and found some disciples he asked them “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” My question is – If we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus, why did these disciples not automatically receive the Holy Spirit upon believing? Was it that they had believed in WHO Jesus was but had not received the full message of his death for our sins and his resurrection? This passage has always left me wondering if we can believe in Jesus and yet not receive the Holy Spirit. Obviously without the Holy Spirit you are not saved.When Jesus says in John 3:5 “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit,” I always thought he was speaking of water baptism and Spiritual baptism. Could you explain this passage? Was Jesus saying that water baptism shows that a person recognizes sin and the need for repentance and unless you understand and acknowledge this you will never recognize the need for a Savior? Did he say this because he was teaching as one under the law, and that was his reason for recognizing both water and Spiritual baptism.
    I really value your insight. You have helped me greatly in understanding Gods word. This is the one site I really feel helps me in my understanding. This site makes it all fit together perfectly. Before sometimes I would feel like I would read a passage and then come across other passages that would seem to contradict a passage somewhere else. It would leave me feeling confused. I am smart enough to know that there are no contradictions in the Bible so it has to be my understanding. It has always led me to study and study as issue until I gain the insight to make it all fit! THIS SITE DOES THAT!! I thank God for this site because I have grown so much in my understanding through this site. No other Bible study has done that for me, so Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      These individuals were believers of the kingdom gospel. While the Holy Spirit had come at Pentecost, He clearly did not come upon all believers. But all who believed Paul’s gospel received the Holy Spirit. I do not fully understand this but can only note that is what the Scriptures state. Obviously, the kingdom gospel was diminishing due to Israel’s rejection and by Acts 15.11 ended. Under the gospel of the kingdom water baptism was required for salvation (Mark 1.4, 16.15; Acts 2.36-38; 22.16). So this is what Jesus was teaching in John 3. Paul initially bapitized with water but did not hold it to be that important (1 Corinthians 1.17). It was clearly unnecessary for salvation since Paul taught believing the gospel saves (Romans 1.16-17, 4.5). By the time he wrote Ephesians, water baptism ended as a Christian practice (Ephesians 4.5). The “one baptism,” the only valid baptism in Christianity is the baptism of the Holy Spirit who baptizes us into Christ, into His body. Thank you for your kind words. Grace and peace.

  74. J says:

    Don – I want to thank you for correctly and effectively dividing the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15) for the edification of the Church. Your clear and well thought out responses truly displays what it means to be a Berean, searching the Words daily (Acts 17:11).

    I want to encourage you to continue pressing onward and strengthening those who are willing to listen/read your findings.

    “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” 1 Timothy 4:6

  75. Rebel says:

    Quick comment: Was the thief who was crucified with Jesus baptized before he died? Didn’t Jesus tell him that he would surely be with him in heaven? Shouldn’t that end all arguments whether or not you have to be baptized with water to be saved?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The thief was not baptized. He came to recognize who Jesus was on the cross. He was an exception–God’s prerogative.

  76. Nancy says:

    Thanks for these articles. They have cleared up a few questions that I’ve had. I do have one more question for you though. In John 1:29 we read that John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This seems to me to indicate that John the Baptist understood that Jesus had come as the perfect sacrifice to pay for all our sins. But there are other verses such as Mark 9:32 and Luke 9:45 that indicate the disciples did not understand why Jesus was going to die. Do you think John the Baptist understood more than the disciples did?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      It’s a difficult passage but do not think John understood what he said. I dealt with this issue to some degree in my article, For Whom Did Christ Die?

  77. Mike says:

    Thank you for your ministry your studies have been a main stay for me as I have been studying dispensational truth over the past three years. I attend a southern Baptist church in the south and my attempts to share some of these truths to my friends in the church have been very difficult. My pastor is doing a study on the book of Acts and when he comes to Acts 2 :38 he says that repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins must be interpreted that the baptism part is because of our repentance and is separated from the repentance part as something that follows it. I know from your studies that this was not true for the Jew during that time. His argument is tied into the word eis which is the greek word for, (for remission of sins). He says that the word eis/for always means because of and he gave a few examples, Matthew 4:21 and a few others that he indicated supported this view. I looked up the word eis and was amazed at the difference of opinions on how this word should be interpreted in the scripture. Some say it always means because of and others say it never means because of. I know you have some expertise in this area and thought you could shed some light on this subject. I have a good friend that is an associate pastor at our church and his comment to me on this subject that if we believe that it is repentance and baptism for remission of sins then our Baptist theology is incorrect. I know that he says this because he doesn’t understand dispensational truth, but if this verse is correctly interpreted that should at least start the conversation on the difference of the kingdom gospels and Paul’s truths that were revealed to him. Thank you again for all your work on Doctrine.

  78. Mike says:

    Thank you for the response. I agree, but it is difficult to have the baptism conversation with a Baptist and they quote a scholar like Robertson who would tell you that all the verses you have referenced would never mean that baptism is tied into salvation. For me this is key in helping people understand the two gospels.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      A grammatical discussion about εἰς can never resolve the matter (which is why I included Robertson’s analysis). Everything depends upon reading the Scriptures without bias. The verses I referenced state explicitly that salvation required water baptism.

  79. George says:

    Hello bro Don, great article! But I am still curious to know how did John and the apostles baptize? Immersion seems to not be scriptural, some say dipping them sprinkling, some pouring – these would seem to agree with large crowds and emphasis on much water, in scripture, and lastly sprinkling which can be done with a big barrel of water? Which method do you tend to lean on?, thanks for your help :)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      We’re not given specifics. Most likely, John immersed in the Jordan. But circumstances would have dictated the mode. Baptism was based on the actions of the priests. They washed (βαπτισμός), Hebrews 9.10 before performing their duties. Israel was to become a holy nation, a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19.4-6). That was what baptism was about.

  80. George says:

    In 1st Cor 11:1, Paul says to the Corinthians to keep the ordinances, is baptism included ? , I thought that all ordinances were nailed to the cross?, please explain Paul’s contradictory statements, thanks!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The problem is not with Paul but with the translation. The word translated “ordinances” is παράδοσις and means “teachings.” These were the truths Paul had taught. See 2 Thessalonians 2.15, 3.6 where Paul used the same word in writing the Thessalonians.

  81. Nick says:

    I have been reading your work for about two weeks now and it makes so much sense to me and I can’t go back to the way I once viewed the Scriptures. All that I had built since my conversion in late 2015 was built on sand and the denominational teachings of the institutional church. I have since then started to build on a rock solid foundation. In your opinion what is the best modern bible version out there today which I can use to teach those that are new to the scriptures? I currently use the KJV for myself but I think many new bible readers would find the language difficult. Thank you for all your work and may the Grace and Peace of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be always upon you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Thank you for your wonderful testimony and for sharing the great work the Lord is doing in your life. I prefer a more literal translation such as KJV and NASB. I like the KJV since I am skeptical about some of the assumptions made in textual criticism regarding the majority text and critical text. Most translations are pretty decent (I give most of them a B grade). The biggest complaint I have with translators is when they fail to translate and become interpreters. May the Lord continue to enlighten and enrich your life.

  82. Matthew says:

    Find a bible study app(mysword) or site (crosswalk or biblos) that allows you to click on the word/words then gives you the hebrew/Greek word that the English word was translated from and the definition of the Hebrew/Greek word. The examples I gave you are very user friendly and you will be surprised just how many times translators became interpretors. May the Lord continue to illuminate you in this journey of viewing the bible from a dispensational view.

  83. Mary says:

    Do any of you remember when you first believed? Right then and there, did you not experience the amazing love of Christ? I knew nothing of baptism – wet or dry. I knew nothing of grace only or Paul’s mystery. All I knew was that I believed in Christ crucified. 14 years later…years of following tradition and mixing Jesus’s message vs Paul’s – I began praying for wisdom so that I could understand my purpose in the Body of Christ, not in a local non-denominational building. Seek the truth like treasure and Christ guarantees you will find it!

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