It helps to go to Scripture for what the Apostles say about it.
The Corinthians were talking among themselves, bragging about who baptized them. To this Paul responded,
‘Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?’ – 1 Corinthians 1:13
Apparently the people who were baptized by Paul were bragging about who baptized them. Everyone was losing focus on Christ, instead looking at who baptized them instead. It was ironic because the act of baptism itself was an act of public display, showing how were were buried and how we rose again in Christ.
‘I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,’ 1 Corinthians 1:14
It was enough for Paul to publicly thank God that he only baptized 2 people; any more would definitely mean more confusion and dispute regarding this concern about who baptized who. It could be possible that Crispus and Gaius were doing some of the bragging and making a big deal about Paul baptizing them.
‘…so that no one would say you were baptized in my name.’ 1 Corinthians 1:15
If baptism saved you, why would Paul be so thankful that he only baptized 2 people? Do you see it? Baptism doesn’t save us, and baptism by the most recognized Apostle won’t change that! It doesn’t determine our spiritual destiny. It’s not about us being in water, but about us being in Christ, buried in Christ, raised into new life.
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 1:16 that he actually baptized a few other people, but he definitely ends there.
Water baptism does not save a person.. Spiritual baptism does!
Baptism, according to Steven Bailey, as taught to her young daughter:
Steven filled his kitchen sink with water and placed an empty soda bottle in. The bubbles rise and the bottle is filled with water, and Steven explains that this is how we are in Christ, and how Christ is in us at the same time. He then seals the bottle with a cap, and says we are sealed with the Holy Spirit forever.
Water baptism doesn’t save us; it’s what it represents that saves us: We were brought into Christ, and Christ was brought into us. We are in Christ. We believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ, and when that happened we were brought into Christ, and Christ was brought into us. That’s what saves us.
‘For Christ did not send me baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.’
1 Corinthians 1:17
What saves? If Paul was not sent to baptize, but to preach the Gospel, then what saves? Water does not save. What does save? It’s hearing and believing the gospel that saved.
Taking communion is fun, and it’s a celebration. Baptism is fun, and it’s a celebration, because the Spirit has given us joy about what Christ did for us and what He gave us. These ought to be celebrations as our birthdays and weddings are celebrations!
Again, it is the preaching of the Gospel that saves.
‘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
Peter seconds what Paul was saying. It’s not the washing of our flesh that saves, but a spiritual baptism that saves. This spiritual baptism is when we were buried and raised, not from the water, but in Christ.
Spiritual Baptism involves death and burial.
‘Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?’
Earlier, Paul was asked, ‘can we sin, so that grace could abound?’; Today, we are being assaulted with this same accusation, and this is absolutely not the Gospel that we celebrate. We understand that sin stinks, sin stings, and sin doesn’t pay off. We understand that as we are in Christ, we would hold off on going back to sin, simply because sin absolutely stinks to us.
Paul reminds us of our spiritual baptism, and how we are fused with Christ and united with Christ. We keep singing and saying we want to become closer and closer to God.. but we’re missing it. Paul reminds us that we cannot get any closer; Christ is in us, and we are in Christ, and there is no getting closer. We ARE learning about this closeness, and man, I personally am learning new things and mind is being renewed… but Christ can never get any closer than how absolutely close as He is now – that we are one, and that He is in me, and He is in us!
The more we understand this, the more we realize that this life is an adventure, and not a climb! It’s not a question of endurance, but a matter of enjoying Christ with and in us no matter where we are! If we are striving to learn anything, we ought to strive to learn about who we are and what we have in Christ!
‘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.’
Water baptism is a celebration of this very verse. The Spirit came before the celebration. As we were born in the flesh, so the Spirit needed to give birth to us; this is why we say we are born again, because the moment we believe by His grace, we have been brought into life by the Spirit. Born again.
‘Having been buring with in 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 2:12
We say ‘God, you raised Christ from the dead, raise me from the dead.’ There’s no specific format about us receiving salvation through prayer, but the point is, we ask that we would be placed in Christ, out of Adam.
THE GREAT SWITCHEROO – ‘It’s great that you’re in the Spirit, but you have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’
‘You need tongues! This is the proof of the Holy Spirit, that you were baptized in the Holy Spirit!’ – What does this do to people? The enemy has tried and succeeded in using this to condemn people, going as far as saying that we are not saved if we do not speak in tongues… but what is the Truth in this matter?
John the Baptist says, ‘I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptized in the Holy Spirit’ (John 1:33); Do you realize that we are baptized IN the Holy Spirit? We’re baptized by the Holy Spirit, in the Holy SPirit, but the point is it’s a one-time deal, and there is no ‘level two’! We can’t say that we’re born but not baptized in the Holy Spirit!
There is ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM (Ephesians 4:5).
‘For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.’ 1 Corinthians 12:13
Baptism means IDENTIFICATION. We understand that we have a new identity in Christ. The Jews were baptized into Moses, but now, we are baptized into Christ.
Baptism means we are in Christ. ‘For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.’ (Galatians 3:27); We have been born again, we have put on Christ, Christ is a perfect fit, and Christ looks good on you, man.
Baptism is about identifying, union, and fusion with Christ. Water baptism doesn’t save. Jesus saves.