Readers Question / Comment - Has water baptism ceased? Did Spirit baptism replace water baptism?

Hi,

I was wondering what your thoughts are on those that teach that Water Baptism has ceased and was replaced by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Theyíll say that John the Baptist was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah who will baptize with the Spirit compared to him baptizing with water. And they say that the Great Commission was talking about Spirit Baptism and not Water Baptism since Jesus talks of baptizing His Apostles with the Spirit before He Ascended, and He gave the Apostles the authority to give the Spirit to disciples by the laying of hands.

And that there is no record of the Apostles or even any of the other 120 in the upper room being re-baptized in the name of Jesus Christ when they received the Spirit on Pentecost.

And theyíll point out Ephesians 4:5 that states there is One Baptism. And they say it has to be Baptism of the Spirit since itís superior to water baptism. And throughout Paulís epistles he speaks of us being united into Christís Body by One Spirit and that we are baptized by One Spirit.

So just wondering what your thoughts are on those that teach these things when itís clear though that the Apostles did water baptize others, and they were under the Spirit when they did so.

God Bless,
Zack


JPN Reply:

Hi Zack,

thanks for the question. I can understand why some people may think Baptism of the Holy Spirit has replaced water baptism as there is a lack of water baptism mentioned in the Epistles especially. Some would point to Rom 6 but I don't personally see this as water baptism. But that aside, in my opinion the weight of evidence still shows that water baptism is required for believers today. Personally I don't think anyone reading Jesus' instructions in Matt 28:19 would realistically (without their own agenda to discredit water baptism) take this to mean spirit baptism. He is instructing believers what they should do to those that believe amongst the nations - disciple them, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey His word. I've never heard of Spirit baptism being in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And it is what the Holy Spirit does... not what disciples do as such.

While it is true that Jesus did go on to teach the disciples about the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5) there is no thought that this replaces water baptism amongst the disciples. For example, as you will be aware...

Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, taught about water baptism:

Act 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

As did Phillip who was also full of the Holy Spirit

Act 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Act 8:35-38 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. (36) As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" (38) And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.


Peter again later when Gentiles believed
Act 10:45-47 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. (46) For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, (47) Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.

Paul himself was baptised:
Act 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

Lydia with Paul in Acts was baptised:
Act 16:14-15 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. (15) When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.

And Paul instructed others to be:
Act 19:3-6 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. (4) Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." (5) On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. (6) When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

So it is right through Acts. If someone is going to say it was only for a limited period of time until the Apostles were more enlightened, then where is the evidence of that? Is there later instructions that water baptism is not commanded anymore? Nope.

So I believe it is still asked of believers today. Some go way too far the other way and use some scriptures to say that if you are not baptised in water you cannot be saved. Which is wrong as well. But water baptism still has its place as an outward observance that symbolized what has happened to the believer when they are baptised into the one body by the Spirit of God.

God Bless,
Iain.