How do you explain baptism recorded in the New Testament?

I was looking for a church to attend that gave the Grace Word of God. Reading the information on your website I notice that you do not believe in water baptism. This disturbed me very much because most of everything else you teach I could say amen to. How do you explain the New Testament water baptism that took place in Acts 8:38 ?? Or in Acts 10:45-47? Also in Col 2:10-11 God gives us the new sign of the Covenant, not an outward sign, but an inward sign. This takes place when we are buried with Him in baptism. Your statement concerning the washing they gave priests in the Old Testament should direct you to the washing that we need as priests (Rev 1:6 & 10:5). We are called to the ministry of reconciliation. I know that our Lord is continually revealing Himself to us. When I think I have it all figured out, He shows me something else to take me deeper into the Word. Please help me to understand your position more clearly.

I Thessalonians 5:21 says “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Check out what you’ve been taught about Water Baptism and see if it matches the Scriptures. Consider this: The failure of the average Bible student to recognize the differences between Peter and Paul, the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Grace of God, is the reason why there are so many churches and denominations. Paul was not one of the 12 Apostles (I Corinthians 15:5,8). Who then is Paul? If the Lord chose 12 Apostles and trained them for over 3 years, why then 1 year after He ascended into heaven did Jesus Christ saved and make Paul an Apostle? According to I Timothy 1:11-16; Romans 11:11-15; Ephesians 3:1-9; God began something new with Paul; the dispensation of the grace of God; a mystery; a secret revelation was given to him about how God postponed His dealings with Israel (until a future date) but in the mean time He has turned to the Gentiles in his grace and is forming “the Body of Christ.”

Water baptism is associated with John who the Bible calls “the Baptist.” He was a prophet sent to the nation of Israel. Water baptism was part of the “gospel of the kingdom” and was required “for the remission of sins” (Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:4). The Gospel of the Kingdom was the good news that Israel’s King has come and will sit on the throne of David and reign over Israel and the world as prophesied and promised. Water baptism was the means of identifying who in Israel believed that gospel and who in Israel would be cleansed to go into that Kingdom (Luke 7:29,30; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:37,38).

Again: the “Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 4:17,23) is distinctly different from the “Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Not knowing the difference is what brings so much confusion about works and grace (baptism, endurance, selling all, loosing life, and lordship salvation); all the issues which frustrate the grace of God.

John the Baptist “Preached baptism” (Mark 1:4; Acts 13:24) but in I Corinthians 1:17,18 Paul “Preached the Cross.” Before Paul no one preached the “Good News” of the Cross. In Matthew 16:21,22; Luke 18:31-34 it is clear that the Apostles, during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ on earth, did not even know that he was going to die. Yet in Matthew 10:5-10 they were sent out to preach. They surely did not preach “the Blood,” “the Cross”! With the salvation and commissioning of Paul as the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13) God not only postponed his dealings with Israel (until he resumes with the pouring out of His wrath) but in His grace turned to us Gentiles and revealed through Paul “The preaching of the Cross.” The means by which ultimately Israel will be saved, but most assuredly the means by which today we (Gentiles) are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. Faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the full, complete payment for our sins (I Corinthians 15:3,4; Romans 3:23-28; Ephesians 2:8,9).

The two references in Acts 10 and Acts 16 do not teach that a Believer in this age of grace should be water baptized. In Acts 10:47 Peter baptized Cornelius (a Gentile) out of confusion. It is a question more than a command. Peter does not understand why he is being sent to a Gentile. He does not know what to say to a Gentile (Acts 10:36,37). And finally he does not understand how this Gentile received the Holy Ghost without being baptized (compare Acts 2:38 with Acts 10:44-47). In Acts 16 Paul baptized Lydia and the Philippian Jailer’s family. It is not clear to me why he did, but I know from his words in I Corinthians 1:14-17 that the Lord Jesus Christ did not send Paul to baptize and that Paul was glad he only baptized a few. Instead he was to preach the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for the propitiation, justification and remission of our sins. Paul first visited Corinth in Acts 18 and he wrote the letter of I Corinthians during his stay at Ephesus in Acts 19:10. There is no record of Paul water baptizing again. Instead he teaches that we are to “keep the unity of the Spirit” which requires “one baptism” today. Since it is the Spirit’s unity this is how “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” – I Corinthians 12:13. Water Baptism divides believers today into denominations and church memberships, thus breaking the unity of the Spirit. The verse in Colossians 2:12 is a good case in point. Here is how we are placed by the Spirit of God into Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. It is called in the verse “the operation of God.” No man can do this. And water baptism is not a picture of this. Man made that up. Romans 6:3-5 is a Spiritual fact, not a water ceremony. This is how God saves us and declares us righteous.

Just a couple more thoughts. By learning how to rightly divide the scriptures one can see more clearly the meaning of Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.” God’s purpose for the nation of Israel is to restore His reign on planet earth. God’s purpose for the Body of Christ is to restore his authority in the heavens (Ephesians 6:11,12). Now we can understand what God was doing, is doing and will do – Ephesians 1:9,10.

In failing to “rightly divide the scriptures most all denominations and churches start the Church – the Body of Christ at the day of Pentecost but then none actually practice the things that happened at Pentecost such as “having all things in common.” They pick and chose which part of Pentecost they want to follow. They should pick none and follow Paul. Water baptism was part of that program. Leave it there. Keeping Israel’s program separate from the Body of Christ, and by knowing what God is actually doing and accomplishing today will clarify what God’s will and ministry is for us. If we preach the wrong gospel, or practice the wrong will of God we will not be approved and will be ashamed someday at the judgment seat of Christ – see II Timothy 2:15 and I Corinthians 3:10-12.

I hope this will help you. If it is all new to you, print this out, study it by looking up the scripture references. Faithfully pray about it and may the Lord give thee light.