Do I need to be water baptized—for a testimony, for salvation, or not at all?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Water baptism, the most divisive issue within Christendom, is rightly called “religious TNT.” There is tremendous confusion about water baptism. Who should administer it (priest, pastor, deacon)? What is the proper mode (sprinkling, pouring, immersion)? What words should be said? Who should be water baptized (adults only, or adults and babies)? How many times forward and backward? Where should it occur? For salvation, for a testimony, or not at all? Rather than appealing to church tradition, which is contradictory among denominations, why not look at the Bible and let God tell us what He wants us to know and do? By doing so, we can bypass all the confusion!
Our Apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17a). In fact, Paul actually thanked God that he did not baptize some people (verse 14)! Surely, Paul was not operating under the so-called “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Would Israel’s 12 apostles ever thank God for having not water baptized people? I trow not!
Paul wrote, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism” for us in this the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 4:5). Rather than speculating as to what that one baptism is, we can simply search Paul’s epistles for the answer. Our one baptism is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
The only baptism that we need today is the baptism whereby the Holy Spirit—not a priest or preacher—places us into the Church the Body of Christ. This is a waterless, supernatural baptism. Paul also refers to this baptism in Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:12, and Galatians 3:27.
Romans 6:3-5: “ Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” No physical ceremony (that is, water baptism) can put us into Jesus Christ; this baptism is a supernatural baptism.
Colossians 2:12: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Again, God performs our one baptism, not a priest or preacher.
Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Again, remember, no physical ceremony (that is, water baptism) can put us into Jesus Christ; this baptism is a supernatural baptism.
Remember, “baptism” in Scripture is not always a reference to water baptism. The one baptism that you need today is already yours in Christ! When you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour (the Gospel of the Grace of God of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), you received your one baptism. In that instant, God the Holy Spirit placed you into a living, unbroken union with Jesus Christ. “Ye are complete in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10). You do not need a ceremony such as water baptism to “enhance” your Christian life. Anyone who says that you do, is taking away from what God has already given you in Jesus Christ. Do not let someone rob you of your identity in Jesus Christ! Anyone who urges you to get water baptized is not encouraging you to demonstrate your “faith,” but rather is actually urging you to demonstrate your unbelief in these verses. That is serious, friend!
The one baptism necessary for salvation today in the Dispensation of Grace is the Holy Spirit baptizing us into the Church the Body of Christ, identifying us with Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins. Understanding that water baptism has nothing to do with us, resolves all of the confusion and division regarding sprinkling, pouring, and immersion, adults and/or babies, how many times forward, how many times backward, what words should be said, and so on. The Bible is so simple when we simply let it say what it says where it says it.