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Question #166

What is the difference between the baptism of Jesus and John's baptism?

Is the only difference from the Baptism of Jesus and Johns Baptism the Holy Spirit (Acts 19) because John was Baptizing for the remission of sins as well. (Mark 1:4 Luke 3:3) thanks

The Answer:

The passage to which you refer reads: “And 1 it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the 1 Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 1 And he said unto them, Unto 2 what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto 3 John's baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 19:1-5.

In the passage Paul acknowledges the purpose of John’s baptism. He referred to it as “baptism of repentance,” but the additional passages to which you refer teach that the “baptism of repentance” was for the remission of sins. Thus, both the baptism of John and the baptism Jesus commanded in and following the Great Commission were for the remission of sins. As you note, the baptism of John was not accompanied by the gift of the Holy Spirit. [For a discussion of what the gift of the Holy Spirit that is received with Great Commission baptism, see Questions and Answers, No. 14.] Those who were baptized in Acts 19 also received a miraculous gift of the spirit through the laying on of Paul’s hands. It should also be remembered that John, as the forerunner of Jesus, was to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17. Once the Lord came and the church was established that mission had been accomplished. Great Commission baptism brings one into Christ; it does not make ready a people prepared for Him in the sense that John prepared them for the establishment of the Kingdom or church on the day of Pentecost.

Thus, there are these distinctions: 1) Great Commission baptism does not make ready a people prepared for the establishment of the Kingdom or church; 2) John’s baptism did not carry with it the reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit; 3) John’s baptism was not in the name of Jesus Christ (or in Matthew’s account of the Great Commission, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit); 4) Great Commission baptism brings one into Christ, into the body, and into the Kingdom.

For a full discussion of baptism, including another discussion of the baptism of John, please read Lesson 3.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)