DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY OF RUSSELL EARL KELLY, PHD

BAPTISM AND ACTS 2:38

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REVISING THE DISPENSATIONAL CHART
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ANTICHRIST, by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
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BAPTISM AND ACTS 2:38
GOD: BIBLE PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
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BAPTISM AND ACTS 2:38 

1. God saves sinners the same way before the Law, during the Law, and after the Law.  

Gen 15:6 And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. 

In pre-Calvary times salvation was still by grace through faith alone. Even though faith was not seen as faith in Jesus Christ, it was still faith in God’s provisions (in Christ). Therefore, since nobody prior to Calvary was required to be baptized by immersion to be saved, it should be self-evident that the same is still true after Calvary. 

2.  In the Old Testament the Passover event was the justification by faith event and the salvation event. No baptism of any kind was required in order to be saved. 

Ex 12:13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood , I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 

Even though nobody was immersed or even got wet, the crossing of the Red Sea was a symbol which compares loosely with New Covenant baptism. Once again baptism FOLLOWED the justification by faith and salvation event of washing by the blood of the Lamb. 

3. None of the numerous washings or sprinklings of the Old Testament concerned justification by faith; they all related to sanctification. 

4. Not a single O.T. prophecy mentioned the necessity of baptism to effect New Covenant salvation. If baptism by immersion were such an important change in the plan of salvation, one would expect it to be mentioned often by prophets.  

Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jer 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. 

5. John the Baptist taught that Jesus’ Spirit baptism was superior to his water baptism. However, even his immersion was only for those who were already members of the household of Israel. If baptism by immersion were to be an essential part of the New Covenant, one would expect John the Baptist to say something far different than Mathew 3:11. 

Matt 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 

6. Those who teach that literal physical water baptism OF THE BELIEVER is essential to salvation do not understand the nature of justification by faith and the imputed righteousness of Christ. 

Matt 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.
Col 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. 

Jesus insisted on being baptized, not because He was a sinner, but because His baptism became THE baptism which God would accept as perfect righteousness. Therefore it is Christ’s baptism which is our righteousness and not our own baptism. 

7.  In John 3:1-15 Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus’ statement about being “born again” as a reference to physical birth. Jesus did not correct him by describing water baptism by immersion (3:5-15). Instead Jesus only spoke of the regeneration by the Holy Spirit. In fact, beyond John the Baptist the words “baptize” and “baptism” do not occur once in John. One would think that the important gospel book of John would be full of such references if it were to be such an important doctrine. 

8. John 3:16 does not include water baptism in its formula for the plan of salvation. 

9. In Matthew 20:22-23 Jesus spoke of “the baptism that I am baptized with” and compared it to his experience of suffering. If baptism by immersion were essential for salvation, He certainly would have mentioned it. 

Matt 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
Matt 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. 

10. Jesus taught that becoming a disciple came BEFORE baptism. The Greek is even more clear. “While you are going MAKE DISCIPLES, while you are baptizing, do it in the name of …”  

Matt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Matt 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 

Literal physical water baptism is merely an outward public confession of the real inner Spirit baptism which has ALREADY taken place in the heart of believer at the moment he/she accepts Christ. There are scores of great Bible texts which emphasize justification and salvation occur the moment one believes (John 3:16; 4:16; 5:1, 24; Rom 8:1; 10:9-10; Eph 2:8; Titus 3:5). 

11. In Acts 2 those in the upper room at Pentecost “were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1) and “were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (2:4). There is not a word said about immediate baptism. Being “filled with the Holy Ghost” suggests that they must have been saved before being baptized. 

John 3:22 and 4:1-2 describe Jesus and His disciples baptizing before Pentecost. Since this is before Jesus ascended and before the permanent indwelling of the Comforter promised in John 14 and John 16, it must refer to the temporary indwelling of the Spirit which occurred throughout the Old Testament. We must assume that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Elijah, and Elijah and all O.T. saints were saved before Pentecost even though they only received the Holy Spirit temporarily. Rather than being a saving event, the falling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a signal that the New Covenant was being inaugurated in power. Those who teach that immersion-baptism effects salvation cannot grasp this Bible trueh.

12. After considering all ”baptism” texts, Acts 2:38 must mean: 
 

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for [because of] the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

True repentance is impossible unless the Holy Spirit is already indwelling the believer. Criminals are imprisoned “for” murder; because they have already murdered; not “in order to murder.” Likewise, baptism “for remission” means baptism is “because of” repentance effected by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  

13. In Acts 3:19 Peter did not say a word about baptism by immersion being essential for salvation. Again, if it were essential, why did Peter omit it? 

Acts 3:19  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 

14. In Acts 8:12 the Samaritans “believed” first and were “baptized second. The fact that they “believed” proves that the Holy Spirit had already indwelt them. 

15. In Acts 8:36-37 Philip would not baptize the Ethiopian eunuch until he first “believed with all his heart.” This should be proof positive that saving faith PRECEDES baptism. 

Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
Acts 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 

16. In Acts 9, after Jesus spoke to Paul (Saul), Paul asked “What will you have me to do?” Paul was evidently under deep conviction which caused him to ask that question (9:6). Next we see Paul praying (9:11). Even before being filled with the Holy Spirit, God told Ananias that Paul was His “chosen vessel“(9:15). Look carefully at 9:17-18. First, Ananias was to “put his hands” upon Saul (9:17). Second, Saul was to “receive his sight” (9:17). Third, Saul was to “be filled with the Holy Ghost’ (9:17). And, finally, Saul “was baptized” (9:18). Note that in chapter 9 baptism FOLLOWED receiving the Holy Ghost! When Paul re-told his conversion experience in Acts 22:1-16 verse 16 is added. While admittedly confusing, it is wrong to place more emphasis on 22:16 and totally ignore 9:17-18. Baptism is the outward act which symbolizes the inward washing of the Holy Spirit which occurs at the moment of salvation (Titus 3:5; Mt 10:33). Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.…..Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
17. In Acts 10:17, concerning the Gentile believers of Cornelius’ household, Peter tells his fellow Hebrew Christians: 
 

Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 

The Gentiles of Cornelius’ house had evidently already been saved BEFORE being baptized!!! Since the Word of God does not contradict itself, either Acts 10:47 or Acts 2:38 is misunderstood by those who teach that baptism by immersion is essential for salvation. Once again the sequence of events is (1) salvation, (2) receiving the Holy Spirit and (3) baptism.  

18. In Acts 18:25 Apollos must have certainly previously been saved without being experiencing post-Calvary baptism. He was “mighty in the scriptures,” “instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord.“ Yet he “only knew the baptism of John.”  

Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
Acts 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 

19. Romans 2:14-16 describes the inner moral law which underlies the external Law given to Old Covenant Israel. The moral law is known through nature and conscience; every person has an inner light which tells him/her it is wrong to break at least 9 of the 10 commandments. If immersion by water were essential for salvation, one would expect all seekers of God’s truth to have a strong desire to be baptized. 

Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Rom 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Rom 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. 

20. Rom 6:1-10 is much more about justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ than the perceived baptism. Chapters 3:21 through 5 do not include baptism in any necessity for salvation.  6:2 begins with believers already being saved and “dead to sin.” 6:3 simply says we were baptized as an admission that we had died with Christ at the moment of salvation when we were washed by the Spirit. In 6:4 baptism should be the beginning point of our sanctified walk. 6:5 to 6:10 are descriptions of imputed righteousness. 

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 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.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Rom 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Rom 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.Rom
6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
 

21.  In 1 Peer 3:21 Peter clearly taught that water baptism does not save. Like the Red Sea crossing, those who were literally washed in the water during the flood died in their sins (3:20). Those who quote Peter in Acts 2:38 oddly ignore Peter in this text. 

1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (NOT the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Baptism which is essential to salvation is not immersion by water. It is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh” through physical water. Rather it is “the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Christ.” And that occurs the moment one accepts Christ and the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. 

22. In 1 Corinthians 1:14 Paul “thanked God” that he had not participated in baptizing most of the leaders at Corinth – yet he boasted that they were the “seal of his apostleship” in 9:2. Again, if baptism by immersion effects salvation, it is very strange that Paul actually thanked God that he did NOT participate in it. 1 Cor 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

23. In 1 Corinthians 6:11 the word “washed” most likely has the meaning of Matthew 3:11; John 3:5 and Titus 3:5 which occurs at the moment one accepts Christ. 1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
24. In Colossians 2:10-12 the sequence of events is: (1) justification by faith -- “complete in him” and (2) “circumcised with him.’ Circumcised with him, buried with him, raised with him – this is imputed righteousness referring to Christ’s words in Mt 3:15. It is Christ’s circumcision which saves; it is Christ’s baptism which saves; it is Christ’s burial and resurrection which save. None would argue that the believer’s resurrection at the coming of Christ saves him – he is resurrected because he has already been saved.  
 

Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Col 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. 

25. Titus 3:5 reads “by the washing of regeneration.” It does not read “by the regeneration of washing.” Baptism by immersion does not regenerate; the Holy Spirit washes and regenerates the moment one has saving faith (Mt 3:11). 

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Matt 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 

26. In Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, and Titus there is not a single word by Paul teaching that baptism by immersion is essential for justification by faith.

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