Baptismal Regeneration

‘He Saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit!’ Titus3:5

Many people today (in and out of the System) seem to think that the Water of Baptism has some kind of ‘magical’ effect on the person getting dunked, perhaps meaning any number of things such as:
You are Regenerated and filled with the Spirit at the moment of Baptism.
You are not yet or fully Justified until you receive this rite
Or that the Water itself has some kind of mystical power to actually wash away your sins

Following the false Premise of Moral Depravity any of these assertions could make sense. BUT given the fact that man is NOT Born morally depraved and Stained with original sin, this magical Washing in the rite of Baptism doesn’t jive with Scripture. First of all the term: ‘Baptismal Regeneration’ is not found in Scripture, but the ‘concept’ of it is found in the writings of early Christians. In concept baptismal regeneration is the ‘washing’ (cleansing, purging) that occurs in Repentance. The word ‘Washing’ in Scripture simply means: Bath, were as Baptism (baptizo) clearly implies performing a rite with water. As in John the Baptists, ‘Baptism of Repentance’ (Mk1:4, Lk3:3) The Jews were not unfamiliar with water Baptism, but wholly ignorant of Spirit baptism. (Jh3:4,9) In their thinking a person was ‘born again’ when they were baptized into Judaism as a proselyte. Simply meaning they were beginning their New life as a converted Jew; but they referred to it as Baptismal Regeneration. (similar to early Christian writings)

The question for us (as genuine Christians) is WHERE does this ‘Regeneration’ take place. That’s the issue here that seems to be dividing those of us out of the Church System. We are coming from a premise of obedient faith and purity of heart and in these matters of conscience and we often have to part ways if an important issue cannot be reconciled. So the question remains: ‘Does the Water Save?

In truth I can’t find anything in Scripture that says it does. When a person genuinely repents and comes clean with God all that needs to happen for Redemption to take place has ALREADY occurred in the process of repentance proven by deeds. The person is already CLEAN (within) before he enters the waters of Baptism. If you apply the actual baptism with water to the ‘Washing, Regeneration and Renewing’ that takes place in repentance you’re adding an additional step to Justification, which Scripture says occurs ‘by faith’ in Rom5:1. (of course by this we mean an obedient faith) Even Christ told the Disciples in John15:3 they were CLEAN already by the WORDS He has spoken to them, which of course they were obeying. What further cleaning did they require than the Purity of heart that comes through obedience to the truth? (1Pet1:22) If they required an additional washing in the waters of baptism why wasn’t it said here?

Again in John13 we find this same concept of Jesus ‘washing’ the inner man when Peter protested the foot washing. Jesus told him: ‘If I do not WASH you, you have no part in me’. Here is the symbolic concept of the washing in regeneration and new birth of John3:5. Peter, misunderstanding this concept at the time and requested a FULL Bath, but the Lord corrected him again and said: ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is Completely Clean’ Peter was already ‘bathedCLEAN within, by his obedience to Christ, washing his feet was a symbolic act of humility in service to others. So we are ALSO Completely CLEAN in our Repentance and follow our Lord into the water of Baptism as Commanded to exemplify our Faith.

When Paul said in 1Cor6:11You were washed, sanctified and Justified’, he was speaking this same concept. Water of itself is not going to sanctify anyone, as Peter said 1Pet3:21 ;
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

A like figure, or antitype is defined as ‘a thing resembling another, its counterpart’, baptism may indeed wash the outer man, but it’s an inward change is what counts. So ‘baptism’ resembles what happened to us in our Repentance which ‘saves’ us. That’s why water baptism follows repentance.

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. Acts2:38

The imperative is on repentance however, as we see in further passages calling people to turn to Christ.
(Acts3:19, 17:30-31, 26:18-21) In Scripture ‘Sanctified’ means 'Cleanse, Purity, Renew' what further 'washing' does the convert need to be cleansed and purified within then the faith that saved him to begin with. Acts15:8-9
So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Faith working by love purifies the heart of sin by obedience to the truth. It’s this kind of faith that’s operable in the repentance process. Therefore all that needs to take place for the Redemption of the soul has been accomplished at this point, so Justification has taken place. In water baptism the new convert is completing his obedience to the Lord to seal his relationship as an outward witness. The Water does nothing more to him than has already taken place in his repentance. Obeying Christ in the actual Baptism of water will certainly follow, as I pointed out with Cornelius, who was Right with God before he got wet. Anyone who has truly repented and then refuses Baptism given ample opportunity to do so must be seen as ‘suspect’ of insincerity. The Big question here would be WHY he will not identify with Christ in this manner, I have to doubt such a person ever repented to begin with.

In one of the oldest Christian document preserved known as the Didache, the early Christians outlined their beliefs and practices. When they mention Baptism they give the option of dunking, pouring or even sprinkling, warm or cold water to baptize the person, which ever was convenient at the time. Due to the dire circumstances they faced in those early days they had to improvise and get as many converts Baptized as possible before the Romans picked them up and made sport of them in the arenas. So if a lake or river wasn’t near by they would keep a bucket of water handy and perform the rite quickly by sprinkling or pouring. As in the case of Cornelius in Acts10, he was already a devote man who feared God and keep His commandments, ‘Washed, Sanctified and Justified’, pronounced Just and Righteous by Peter Acts10:22, 35, BEFORE he received the rite of water Baptism. After the Holy Spirit confirmed to everyone that the household was right with God, Peter requested Water to be brought for the final ceremony. (there was certainly no lake in his house!)

I believe in all honesty we have to consider these things in light of our ‘Doctrinal’ bias on the rite of Baptism. If a person cannot be ‘regenerated’ by the Spirit until he is baptized in water, HOW (and why) did this happen to Cornelius? AND how many more instances of this happened among the Gentiles that are NOT recorded in the Book of Acts? Since many of early Saints were immediately captured and put to death after they pledged their faith in Christ, I think we would be VERY unfair to imagine that ‘everyone’ of them had an opportunity to be Baptized before they sealed their testimony in blood. That’s why among the early Saints there is record of Several Baptisms the considered to witness the genuineness of their faith:
First the Baptism of Repentance, then the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Baptism in water, the Baptism of partaking in the Lord’s Cup of sorrow and suffering and finally their BAPTISM OF BLOOD as a Martyr .

In our day it’s difficult to relate to these things, since our suffering is being ostracized, excluded and called an evil Judge. BUT can any of us look back and say that a person never Baptized in water who sealed their Faith in Blood, was yet to be Justified and Regenerated because they died before water touched them? It’s an outrageous assumption and ludicrous for us to take the moral high-ground in this issue over some doctrinal assumption that defies common sense. As I said ANYONE truly in Christ with the passions and desires of their flesh crucified is going to obey the command to be Baptized in His Name when the right opportunity arises. BUT WHERE are they going to go in our darkened day of error to do this when most of us are so isolated when we come out of the System we lack any genuine face to face fellowship with other Saints? Many conversions take place over long distance today so we must consider these things in light of our views on Baptism. Such a thing was unknown to the early Saints.

Their conversions were always face to face during meetings in different towns and villages. We often do not have that privilege so we have to consider what kind of advice to give these new converts when the question of Baptism comes up. I for one cannot in Right Conscience tell a person who has come out of the System in a broken and powerful Repentance that they lack a real Justification until they find a place to be water baptized. Many of them will have been previously Baptized inside the System anyway, so under the ‘magic water’ theory, they’ve already had the washing necessary to Justify them regardless of their sincerity (or lack thereof) at the time. Since the ‘water’ itself has mystical properties wouldn’t it stand to reason that the person being baptized (regardless of where or by who) would receive the Washing necessary for their ‘future’ Justification in an awakened state? This rather complicates the issue, but I believe it’s a valid point that has to be considered by the ‘Baptismal Regeneration’ people.

The MAIN reason this was not a huge issue among the early Christians is that NO ONE believed in the pagan fallacy of original sin or dual nature. So there was NOTHING to Wash away in a ritualistic Baptism. All the arguments over Baptismal Regeneration (meaning that the water has mystical powers) came out of the so-called Reformation based on the original sin fallacy. Why else would an infant require Baptism unless he was born infected with original sin that needed some kind of covering? Heretic Augustine believed this in forth century Rome and the Reformers picked it up 1500 years later. What I can’t understand is WHY do those of us OUT of this System of error have to retain this teaching when we all agree that original sin is a Myth? It doesn’t make sense! NO one among us is discouraging people from being Baptized, but we are facing the reality of the situation we’re in. Those who insist on the necessity of water in Justification had better be prepared to jump on a fast plane when someone is lead out of the System and to the Lord through their efforts on line. Otherwise the Blood will be on their hands if that person dies without water Baptism!

I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, but wondering WHY we can’t rise above these petty disagreements and join forces against the fallacies of original sin and inability. Baptismal Regeneration is a fallacy derived from organizations like the Church of Christ, eastern and western Orthodox churches and in Catholicism. AND it is a fact that they insist on it because of Original Sin or some kind of Corrupted Nature inbred into man that requires compensation from God due to inability to stop sinning. So they argue the same passages to support it you use (who stand aloof of their systems) to convince us (also outside the System) we’re in error for not agreeing that something mystical happens in the water.

For example: Mk16:16 ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned’.  Such a passage is without question the Command of Christ just as Matt28:19-20. He told us to Baptize all those who wished to follow Him in an obedient faith, count the cost and endure to the end. BUT He never told us that anything more than an outward washing and witness happened in the water. As the people were Baptized into Moses by crossing the sea 1Cor10:2, so we are to be Baptized into Christ to symbolize our death to sin and rebirth in Him. (Rom6:4-6) This happens in Repentance, not in the water.
It’s ‘Repentance for Remission’ Lk24:27, Not Water for remission.

In other passages in the Book of Acts ‘Belief’ comes before Baptism: Cornelius we already mentioned in Acts10, the people who gladly received the implanted word in Acts2:41, those who believed under Philips preaching Acts8:12, the Eunuch in Acts8:36. And as I said the thousands who likely went to their deaths in the Roman arenas before they an opportunity to be water baptized. The Blinded Churches (who hold this doctrine) will Never give it up and brand anyone a demon heretic who disagrees with them. BUT those of us out of this mess should be able to acquiesce in some manner of accord for the cause of Truth, since we claim to have taken our ‘BATH’ in a real Repentance proven by Deeds and now stand Clean before our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism follows an Obedient Faith sold out to follow Jesus. There is no further ‘Stain’ of sin to wash away in the water that hasn’t already been Purged in Repentance.

And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts8:36-37