Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Why is it that some churches teach that water baptism is necessary for salvation while others teach that it is not? Some churches also teach that being baptized in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues is essential for salvation while others do not even believe that tongues are for today. The answer to this problem is that many of these churches have not rightly divided the Word of God and looked at the whole gospel. Many of them are guilty of taking one scripture on baptism and trying to form their doctrine out of that one point. It is important not to take one or two scriptures out of context. This we will be careful not to do in this study. We will take a look at all the scriptures that pertain to baptism and determine what each one means and to which baptism it is referring.
There are three baptisms that are important to the believer in this age. According to the author of Hebrews, this is a basic doctrine that you should be well aware of as a Christian. We are also told in Ephesians that we are to grow up and not to be children any longer because children are tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of strange and false doctrine that comes along.
The word baptism comes from the Greek word, "baptizo", which means to fully immerse. There are churches that sprinkle rather than immerse. As far as the Bible is concerned, baptism was never sprinkling but a full immersion of the believer.
Each baptism has three very distinct characteristics. Each baptism has a recipient, they have something into which that recipient is immersed and each recipient is immersed by an agent that is designated to baptize in that baptism.
The first and most important baptism of all is the baptism into the body of Christ. This is what happens at our conversion. When we are baptized into the body of Christ, we are saved and become born again believers.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
When Paul says, "one baptism", he is speaking of the one baptism that does save us. Becoming a member of Christ's body saves us but as we will see later, the other two baptisms, although important, do not save us. Many, many Christians have mistakenly taken this passage of scripture out of context and believed that water baptism is what saves us.
1 Cor. 12:13
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Here, Paul tells us who the agent is that does the baptizing. The Holy Spirit baptizes us into one body. Who's body is this? It is the body of Christ. Does the Holy Spirit baptize us in water? No, the Holy Spirit immerses us into the body of Christ only. There is no other agent that can do so. Not man, not even God the Father. This is the Holy Spirit's duty. It doesn't matter who we are or what kind of faith we had before coming to know Christ, we are all baptized into the body of Christ the same way. Then, we are all Christians, no longer Jewish, gentile, slave or free. In God's eyes, we are all the same. Again, in Ephesians, there is one body that we are baptized into, there is one Spirit that performs the duty of baptizing us into that body and this is the one and only baptism that will save anyone.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
This baptism cannot be the baptism in water. Is Christ water? Of course not. So when the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ, we put on Christ. This means that we take on His nature Then we should continue to learn of him and grow in his wisdom, maturing in him and learning what and who he is. As we do this we will take on the mind of Christ.
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.
We are not raised with Christ through water baptism, but through faith of the operation of God, not the operation of a minister or any other person.
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:
Peter explains that water baptism is simply the figure of what saves us. It is faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that saves us, not works. Simply washing us with water is not enough to give us a good conscience toward God. Having our spirits washed clean with the blood of Christ is though!
2 Cor. 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
When we get saved, the Bible says that all things become new. This is concerning our spirit and our relationship with God. Think about it this way, when we get saved, does our hair automatically change colors? Do we instantly live in a new house? The answer to these questions is a conclusive, "No". What does happen is that our spirit, again, the real us, is re-born and becomes alive to God. It is important to note that death never means a "cessation of existence". Death is simply a separation. At physical death, our spirit and soul are separated from our body. At spiritual death we are separated from God. That is why the second death is the death that is to be feared. It is an eternal separation from the father. No one on this earth has ever been totally and completely separated from God's presence. He is there for whosoever will call out to Him.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
When we are born into this life, our spirits are alive to God but there comes a time that we "die" spiritually or are separated from God.
For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Paul is explaining how when he was a young child, innocent to right and wrong, he was alive to God. But when he came to the age that he knew what was right and wrong, what most of Christianity calls, "age of accountability" he became separated from God. This happens to all of us. Then when a person accepts Christ, they are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Their spirit is literally immersed into the body of Christ. By this they are re-born! They become new creatures in Christ. All of their past, in the spirit, is gone. God no longer sees their sin but he sees them as a valuable part of Christ's body.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
I have been asked by several people in my life, and especially Mormon missionaries, if I believe a person who has committed murder can be saved. The answer is an unequivocal, yes! God will forgive that person of their sins, no matter how heinous but that person still may have to pay his debt to society. He is still the same person on the outside with a past in the world but not with God. God has completely wiped that man's slate clean and given him a fresh start! How sad that some wait until their life is so completely destroyed before turning to Jesus!
In closing, I want to reiterate. The most important baptism and the only baptism that saves is the baptism into the body of Christ. This baptism occurs when a person calls out to the Lord and is born again. At this moment, the Holy Spirit takes the believing person's spirit and fully immerses it into the body of Christ where it becomes an important member and part of Christ's body. God no longer remembers this person's sin. Their spirit takes on the very nature of our God.
The Thee Baptisms for the Believer - Introduction
Read Part Two - The Baptism into Water
Read Part Three - The Baptism into the Holy Spirit
Testimonies from People Who Have Been Baptized in the Holy Spirit