Does Water Baptism Change Our Hearts?

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Hi R____,

Thank you for taking your time to share your thoughts concerning water baptism with me. Here is one of the verses you reference:

Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

While I do not deny that Christ was both circumcised and water baptized, I must point out that He did do simply because He was “made of a woman, made under the law” and that His water baptism at the age of 30 was done only “to fulfill all righteousness” that was in the law which He was still under at the time He began His ministry of “reformation”.

Heb 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings [ baptisms], and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Let’s examine the conversation Christ had with Nicodemus, which you reference:

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

We are all “born of water” by being born with bodies of sinful flesh:

Rev 17:15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

Christ make clear this point of water being a type of flesh in the very next verse:

Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Yes, indeed, we must first be “born of water” as “the first man Adam” and be “the waters… [ the] peoples, where the whore sits” before we can be “born of the spirit”. “That which is born of flesh is flesh” correlates with being “born of water” in the previous verse, and being “born of the spirit” correlates with being “born of the spirit” in verse 5.
So Christ concludes this point He is making to Nicodemus with this statement:

Joh 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again [ of the spirit].

Christ did not baptize, and we are told that for a purpose.

Joh 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

Paul began baptizing, but in God’s time he was brought to see that water baptism was just part of the “divers washings” of the law of Moses, which did nothing to change the heart. I was personally water baptized twice, and I was as carnal afterward each time as I was before. But when Christ’s spirit came into me, then I was washed with the water “by the word”, and was truly baptized of the spirit which is His words.

Mat 3:11 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:

“With the holy ghost and with fire” are both Biblical types of God’s Words:

Jer 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

So this is the “water” with which we must be baptized and cleansed. Physical water does nothing at all to change the hearts of men, any more than physical circumcision:

Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Christ told us that His words were “a well…[ of] living water”:

Joh 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Like all of us, this woman did not understand what ‘water’ Christ was referring to.

Joh 4:11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
Joh 4:12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Joh 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
Joh 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Peter knew that Christ had “the words of life”, and Christ tells us that those words are spirit:

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh [ dipped in water or not] profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Joh 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
Joh 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Joh 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Joh 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Joh 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

There were “many things” Christ had to tell his disciples which they could not receive at that time.

Joh 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

As the Judaizers who persecuted both our Lord and His apostles demonstrated, one of the hardest things for the natural man to do is to give up outward rituals like circumcision and sabbath keeping. So two of those “things which ye cannot bear now”, and which Christ revealed to us through the apostle Paul, were that neither physical circumcision nor physical baptism were capable of cleansing anyone:

Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The ritual of being physically circumcised outwardly did nothing to change the heart inwardly, and the same is true for any and all outward rituals, including the ritual of submerging a person in physical water. That is why Paul tells us:

1Co 1:17 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.

The “preaching of the gospel” God sent Paul and me to do is “the washing of water by the Word“, which really does cleanse us from within, but it has nothing to do with performing any outward ritual which does nothing to affect the heart of any man.
All those verses you reference are indeed right there in the scriptures, but they are one and all just examples of what Christ referred to as “many things to tell you, but you cannot receive them now”.
I hope the “washing of the water by the word” will help you to understand that “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel”, and that those cleansing words of Paul are much more profitable than partaking of an outward ritual which always appeals to our flesh, but as such will never have any chance of changing the hearts of men.
According to Christ, it is that which is within which both cleanses us and defiles us. “Nothing from outside a man can defile him”, and neither can anything without a man cleanse him:

Mar 7:15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
Mar 7:16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Likewise it is the “rivers of living waters… springing up within us” which cleanse us with “the washing of water by the word” within us.

Joh 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Your brother in Christ,
Mike

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