Only if you are ignorant of the revelation of the mystery.
The church is divided into a hundred different camps regarding this extremely controversial subject. Unfortunately, they are all ignorant of the revelation of the mystery given to Paul, and are oblivious to the cause of their confusion.
If you cannot understand Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, then you will naturally conclude that we are somehow related to Israel and that we are to follow the preaching and teaching of John the Baptist and Jesus while he walked the earth.
What most do not realize is that water baptism did not originate with John the Baptist nor with Jesus. The people of Israel knew exactly what John was doing. The Pharisees did as well, but they did not know why.
“And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?” – John 1:25
The Pharisees knew that before the coming kingdom there would come a messenger who would clean the house of Israel in order for them to enter the ‘holy priesthood’ and take their rightful position as the ‘Priests of the Lord’
“But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.” – Isaiah 61:6
Originally God excluded only the tribe of Levi to maintain the temple and only a select few of Israel were to be priests. However, it was always God’s intention to make the entire nation a nation of priests to all the world!
“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” – Exodus 19:5-6
It was written in the Levitical law that the priests were to be first washed with water before entering their holy position.
“And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.” – Lev 8:6
“And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.” – Exodus 40:12
So then, John the Baptist came proclaiming the kingdom of God (the kingdom where Israel would be priests) and the remission of sins through water washing.
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” – Mark 1:4
John preached his water baptism in the river Jordan for the remission of the sins. However, this water washing was not the only prerequisite for the priesthood.
“And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” – Exodus 40:13
Under the Levitical law the priests put on holy garments and were anointed with oil after their water baptism, but John the Baptist describes the true anointing with the Holy Ghost:
“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:” – Matthew 3:11
Both the water baptism and the Holy Ghost anointing were necessary requirements as described in the Levitical law in order for Israel to enter the kingdom.
In Luke 7:29-30 submission to water baptism was how believing Israel justified their faith in the coming kingdom as taught by Jesus.
Water Baptism Today
While baptism was commanded by Jesus for the remission of sins, Jesus also taught the entire law while confirming the promises given to Israel.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” – Romans 15:8
It was not until after Pentecost when God instituted the dispensation of grace that he gave first to Paul. He would then reveal the secret of the meaning behind his death on the cross.
This message of the cross was made available to all men without distinction, covenant status, circumcision, or water baptism.
Instead of becoming priests and reigning in an earthly kingdom, the body of Christ today is to assume a heavenly position with Christ as our mediator. No one today can become the priestly mediator to Christ through the washings and anointings of the law.
Rather, by his grace, God freely gives those that believe a high calling in Christ Jesus! Once we believe that Christ was the much needed blood propitiation for our sins, then we are baptized into the Lord himself!
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” – 1 Corinthians 12:13
We are not baptized into water to remit our sins, we are baptized into Christ! This baptism is not just a cleansing, it is an extermination. Our baptism into Christ crucifies our flesh and places us into his death. Likewise we will take part in his resurrection.
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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.” – Romans 6:3-4
Paul’s Message of Baptism
Just as John the Baptist came baptizing with water in obedience to God, we too must obey the instructions of God for this distinct and separate dispensation.
In Paul’s writings alone do we find the instructions given by the risen Lord Jesus to us today, for no one before Paul knew of the grace of God through the secret kept hidden from the foundation of the world.
Contrary to the instructions for the apostles in other dispensations, Paul was not sent to baptize.
“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
However, his reason for not water baptizing is even more instructive than his admission to not being sent. The reason Paul was not sent to water baptize was because it would make of no effect the cross of Christ.
Upon the cross of Christ our sins were nailed, and our flesh was crucified (Gal 2:20). Our baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ magnifies the truth of the operation of God by the cross to be received by grace.
Rather than being an act of grace, water baptism is something that must be performed in order to meet the qualifications of entering the kingdom. It is the same conditional prerequisite that the law always places upon Israel.
Instead of proving the grace of God in the cross of Christ, water baptism proves the obedience to the law. Wherefore, if Paul were to place his followers back under the law, he would be doing a great disservice to the message to which he was committed – the gospel of the grace of God.
So it is today, that those who submit themselves to water baptism believing that it is necessary in order for God to be satisfied are also placing their trust back under a conditional system originating from the law.
Paul teaches us that we have been delivered from the curse of the law with its numerous requirements. Today we have a more glorious testimony of the grace of God, which is to believe in the ‘one baptism’ of Ephesians 4:5.
Water baptism is for those entering the kingdom come to Israel, or who are ignorant of the greater mystery truths given to the apostle Paul. It is not by water baptism, but by the spiritual baptism of 1 Cor 12:13 that we can proclaim,
For it is the Lord’s work, his work alone,
that seized my berth in heaven’s home
and nothing more than this I know
than Christ crucified, a cleansing flow.