“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” – 1 Cor 1:17
Paul tells us that the gospel he preaches is separate from water baptism. The gospel Paul proclaimed was the preaching of the cross (1 Cor 1:18).
By the cross we have forgiveness of sins through his blood, atonement, redemption, and reconciliation with God. All given by God’s grace and imputed to us by faith.
The good news of water baptism was diminished in light of what the cross of Christ could accomplish.
The Gospel of Baptism
“ John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” – Mark 1:4
Washings were performed frequently in the Jerusalem temple to make things clean. Sacrifices were required of men to atone for sins under the Mosaic law. Then, John the Baptist came preaching water baptism to all Israel for the remission of sins.
Anyone in Israel could come to John and be baptized in water to make themselves clean. While we know that no man’s effort can truly cover sins, God offered water baptism through John for forgiveness.
Many in Israel had their sins washed away by water baptism without as much as one sacrifice. They only needed repentance. This was great news to all who would repent (Mat 3:6-8)!
Wash Away Your Sins
The good news of the coming kingdom was combined with the good news of remission of sins. This water baptism gospel, also called the “gospel of the kingdom”, was how the twelve apostles preached the gospel to many during Jesus ministry to Israel (Luke 7:29-30).
They continued the water baptism gospel through Pentecost where Israel pricked in their heart asked what they should do for the sin of crucifying the Messiah. Peter’s response:
“ Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,…” – Acts 2:38
A devout disciple of Jesus and partner with Peter preaching the gospel of the kingdom explained to a newly converted Paul that water baptism indeed washed away sins:
“ And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” – Acts 22:16
Water Baptism Supplanted
No one preaching the baptism gospel understood the preaching of the cross. Wherever the baptism gospel is presented in scripture it is always presented for remission (forgiveness) of sins.
But Paul taught the cross of Christ for forgiveness of sins. Water baptism had been supplanted by something greater!
At one time the gospel of a kingdom and remission of sins was intimately tied to water baptism. That is, until Paul.
No wonder that there are so many confusions about water baptism when people fail to recognize the special revelation given to Paul from the Lord.
It was first known by Paul that water baptism was not required and was separate from the true forgiveness of sins which is through Christ’s blood (Eph 1:7).