Most of all, we should discern the meaning of our baptism from that of the baptism of Jesus. We cannot be born again merely by receiving water baptism. We can be born again only by believing in Jesus Christ. Rituals such as baptism or circumcision are not indispensable conditions for the salvation of God. The Bible does not define the water baptism of believers as a must for their salvation. Rather, it puts great emphasis on the baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist.
In fact, lots of Bible passages support that the baptism of Jesus is indispensable and essential for our salvation. First of all, His baptism is proclaimed as the prologue to His whole righteous act in each of the four Gospels. For example, the gospel according to Mark begins the gospel of Jesus Christ, exactly from the baptism of Jesus, and John wrote the gospel in date sequence, using terminologies such as “the next day” (1:29) and “the third day” (2:1) starting from the day Jesus was baptized.
John the Baptist declared the Word of God on the very next day of Jesus’ baptism, saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This passage means that all the sins of the world were passed onto Jesus when John the Baptist baptized Him. And then, He died on the Cross for the atonement of our sins, saying, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), and rose again from the dead the third day.
The Apostle Paul also said, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). The Scriptures here refers to the Old Testament. How could a sinner offer a sacrifice to be forgiven in the Old Testament? He had to put his hand on the head of the sin offering before slaying it. If he had omitted the process of “putting hands on the head of the sin offering,” he could not have been forgiven for having offered an illegal sacrifice.
The Apostle Paul said, “Or do you now know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3) Then, how can it be possible that we are baptized into Jesus? To be baptized into Christ Jesus is to believe in His baptism at the Jordan, not just our own water baptisms. When we believe in the fact that John the Baptist passed all our sins onto Him by laying his hands on Jesus’ head, we can be baptized into Him.
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Those who passed all their sins onto Jesus through John the Baptist by faith have become God’s sinless children.
“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). The way of being delivered from sin by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh is to be spiritually circumcised without hands (Romans 2:29 states, “Circumcision is that of the heart.”), that is, to believe in the baptism of Jesus, which cuts off the sins in our hearts, the Apostle Paul said.
“There is also an antitype which now saves us baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism is an antitype that saves us. As we already know, people perished in the days of Noah for not believing the water, and even today, there’re still disobedient people who would perish even though they might believe in Jesus, because they don’t believe in Jesus’ baptism, which is the water.
The Apostle John revealed everything about the gospel in his first Epistle writing, “This is He who came by water and blood Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood” (1 John 5:6). Jesus came to us both by His baptism and the Cross to save us from all our sins. John also said, “And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one” (1 John 5:8). This tells us that the baptism of Jesus, the Cross, and the Spirit all together compose one perfect salvation.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). We are born again of the water and the Spirit. The belief in His baptism of the water and the Cross is all you need in order to be redeemed and receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. This is what the Bible says about “being born again.”
Thus, the Apostle Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). In order to receive the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, you should have immutable faith in the baptism of Jesus with all your heart. What else can we possibly say? Don’t deny the truth that so many passages support His baptism as an indispensable deed of His righteousness for our salvation. Christianity must return to the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2). Here, we can get a clue to finding the original gospel of the Early Church. They taught the doctrine of baptisms, of the laying on of hands, of resurrecting from the dead, and of eternal judgment to those who just became Christians. We all should believe in our minds that Jesus took away all our sins through His baptism and died on the Cross in order to be judged for our sins according to the righteous law of God.