Water baptism is a testimonial of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Water baptism has never been, nor will it ever be a means of securing the remission of sins.
The Greek word "baptizo" has been transliterated in our English Bibles. The translators simply replaced the "o" with an "e". This is called a transliteration not a translation, because in true translation work the meaning of the work is carried over from one language into another. Therefore the precise meaning of the word is not conveyed. If you consult the finest Greek lexicons or exhaustive concordances, you will always find that the word "baptizo" means "to dip" or "to immerse." The Greek language has another word for "sprinkle." Careful examination will show that the word "rhantizo" (sprinkle) is never used in connection with the ordinance of baptism.
Usually when people hear the word "baptism," they immediately think of water baptism. This has caused untold confusion concerning the doctrine of water baptism. To demonstrate that baptism doesn't always refer to water baptism, we will list ten different baptisms taught in the Bible. Most are not related to water at all.
1) the baptism of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11)
2) the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11)
3) the baptism of fire (HELL) (Matthew 3:11)
4) the baptism of Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:13-17)
5) the baptism of death (Matthew 20:22)
6) the baptism of pots and pans (Mark 7:4)
7) the baptism of Moses (I Corinthians 10:2)
8) the baptism of believers (Acts 8:36-37)
9) the baptism of the Old Testament (Hebrews 9:10)
10) the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts2:38; I Corinthians 6:11)
We know that water baptism is not a condition of salvation. Salvation is God's gift (Romans 6:23) and is received by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Bible teaches that when a person believes the gospel message (death, burial and resurrection) of Jesus Christ, that person is saved (when he believes or trusts that message). Romans 1:16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." We learn from I Corinthians 1:17 that water baptism is not a part of the gospel message that saves. "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." Here the gospel and water baptism are contrasted. Notice verse 14 where Paul the Apostle says, "I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius." Think with me! If water baptism were a part of the gospel and necessary to salvation, Paul the Apostle would be saying, "I thank God none of you are saved." This is obviously unthinkable. So therefore, we learn without question that water baptism is not part of the saving message (gospel); it is not a condition of salvation.
The two baptisms that relate to heaven or hell
The two baptisms that determine destination are the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of fire. Jesus said, "He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18)." Jesus Christ baptizes all believers the moment that they believe with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ will baptize all unbelievers with fire when they are immersed in the everlasting lake of fire, the eternal hell. A believer will never experience the baptism of fire. An unbeliever will never experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
"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 all been made to drink into one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13)." The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the operation of God whereby we are placed into the body of Christ. Every child of God has it. It occurs upon belief.
The baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins also occurs at the moment of belief (Acts 2:38; I Corinthians 6:11). It deals with the forgiveness aspect of our salvation whereas the baptism of the Holy Spirit deals with our placement into the body of Christ. "But ye are washed…in the name of the Lord Jesus (I Corinthians 6:11)." See also Acts 10:43, "To Him give all the prophets witness that through His name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive the remission of sins." In this passage in Acts 10, the people were saved and received the Holy Spirit before ever being water baptized. Water baptism clearly came after salvation. Peter says, "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we (Acts 10:47)?"
Water baptism comes after salvation (Acts 10:47). If you are saved and have not been water baptized since salvation, you should now testify to your faith in Jesus Christ by being water baptized. For the believer water baptism is an: 1) act of obedience to the Lord's command to be baptized, 2) a picture of the cleansing that occurred through the blood of Christ, and 3) a testimony of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Take advantage of the next opportunity to be baptized if you have not been baptized. You will be saved, whether you are water baptized or not, if you have trusted Christ as your Saviour. But there is a blessing in being obedient as a Christian.