Importance of Spiritual Baptism (Part 1)

Someone who just loves me to death and has fought tooth and nail for the observance of baptism by immersion in water as the only acceptable and biblical way to baptize new converts, asked me to read Ironside’s complete article on baptism and refute it point by point and not simply dismiss it out of hand. So, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”



By Dr. H.A. Ironside


Several years having elapsed since the first publication of this booklet, and a new edition being called for, I have considerably revised my former paper, though altering nowhere the teaching therein set forth.

Further study and experience have only confirmed what was first written, although I believe I see many kindred truths in a much fuller, broader way than I did some years ago.

The revision consists largely of additional matter which I hope may make clearer what is now sent out, and commended to the prayerful consideration of the people of God into whose hands it may fall.

The great essential is Christ, not baptism; but they who love His name will seek to keep His word.  But in this it is well to remember that an unkind, critical spirit is far more to be deplored than divergent views and practices in regard to ordinances, however precious. (Emphasis added)

If the great essential is Christ (and I wholeheartedly agree), then no argument in favour of baptism by immersion in water being an essential part of Christian doctrine is feasible, let alone it  being a sign of God’s approval, as Dr. Ironside later indicates in his dissertation on baptism.

We would do well to remind ourselves of God’s own testimony regarding his Son because that and that alone magnanimously proves that Christ is God’s “Great Essential.” Nothing else is needed.

For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.

Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:7-13)

Jesus’s earthly ministry was initiated by his baptism in water which served as a preliminary, anticipatory sign or symbol of the way in which He would accomplish man’s redemption through his blood, referring to his death by which his earthly work was terminated, and thereby accomplishing and fulfilling all righteousness. (Matthew 3:15).

Jesus’ baptism in water could never have been a fulfillment of all righteousness if He hadn’t been baptized (been wholly submerged and immersed in death). Hence his words in Luke 12:50: “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!”

Several people have asked me: “Why was Jesus distressed until He was baptized when He had already been baptized in water by John the Baptist?”

Hadn’t He already been baptized by John the Baptist? Yes, He was. But this baptism, when the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended from heaven upon Him simply gave Him the mandate, authority and power to accomplish the essential baptism into death on the cross.

Hence John’s magnanimous words in 1 John 5:6 “This is he who came by water and blood-Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” Indeed, there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood.

To assert that a convert’s baptism is a testimony or a sign or a symbol of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is to suggest that God the Father’s own testimony regarding his Son is insufficient.

Yes, a saved and blood washed saint’s testimony is great but God’s testimony is much greater.

He has already fulfilled all righteousness in and through Christ Jesus who came by water and blood.

It is finished; nothing more in terms of God’s testimony in and through water and in and through blood is needed. What is required of a saint is to testify by word of mouth. What does the Bible say?

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)

It is not a once-off ritual that testifies to our death, burial and resurrection with Christ.

It is the unsurpassed power of our daily spoken word (our verbal testimony) to the unsurpassed power of the blood of the lamb that testifies to our death, burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ.

A once-off ritual which has absolutely nothing to do with salvation is powerless.

Hence Paul’s exhortation in Romans 6 that our identification with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection is made effectual by our own cognitive reckoning (faith) that we have indeed been baptized (immersed) into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

I sincerely believe that the devil is using a ritual that has nothing to do with salvation as a tool and a ploy to divert the saints attention from the genuine and practical way to overcome the devil, our own fleshly nature and the world, and that is to use our God-given reasoning (reckoning) faculties to reckon that we have indeed been baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Although baptism was initially a Jewish ordinance and later used by John the Baptist and the early Christian church which was uniquely Jewish in the beginning, it has developed into a ritual accompanied by the speaking in tongues and slain in the spirit, both of which have become tools in the hands of Satan.

Dr Ironside then wrote:

Fruitvale, CA, March 1915


While, in the pages that follow, controversy has been so far as possible (consistently with the object of presenting what I believe to be the truth as to Baptism) sedulously avoided, yet it is hoped a careful perusal may prove helpful even to those who have been troubled by conflicting views.

The pamphlet presents the conclusions I have been obliged to come to after utterly denying for a number of years any present importance attaching to this ordinance, and after a careful study of what others have put forth on the subject, as well as much time spent, I trust before the Lord, over the word of God.

The apology for its publication, if such be needed, can be stated in a few words.

In going about, now for some years, seeking to “do the work of an evangelist,” I have been importuned again and again for a paper expressing my thoughts on this question.

Finding no publication that seemed to me altogether suitable (so few being at all full without being exceedingly controversial), I have tried to give as clearly and briefly as possible, what I believe to be the scriptural teaching upon it.

The query as to whether baptism brings its subject into the Kingdom of Heaven, the House of God, or the Body of Christ, has not really been touched.

Here I need only to say that I do not believe it brings one into any of the three.

To my mind the importance of it is not in regard to what it brings one into (and, as others have noted, Scripture NEVER says it brings one into anything), but in that it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples, and therefore should possess marked interest for all who desire His approval.

I presume that those known as Friends, or Quakers, with numbers of other Christians who recognize no ordinances (though they assuredly lose much by such neglect), are yet in the Kingdom, the House and the Body.

At least, I know of no Scripture that teaches, directly or indirectly, otherwise. (Emphasis added)

Ironside happily concedes that baptism by immersion in much water has absolutely nothing to do with salvation, i.e. to bring the convert into the Kingdom of God, or the Body of Christ or the House of God.

Yet, he makes much ado about baptism being the expressed will of the Lord Jesus for his disciples and therefore should be of great interest to all who desire His approval. If this is true, then the one criminal who was crucified next to Jesus was allowed to enter into God’s Paradise without his approval. And guess why? Well, we all know that he wasn’t baptized by immersion into much water, which according to Ironside,. is a sign of God’s approval.

The most shocking thing about Ironside’s statement, “To my mind the importance of it is not in regard to what it brings one into (and, as others have noted, Scripture NEVER says it brings one into anything), but in that it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples, and therefore should possess marked interest for all who desire His approval,” is that it distorts the meaning and purpose of God’s revealed will and therefore deceives the many who are captivated by his remarks.

If water baptism in lots of water gains God’s approval, then Paul of Tarsus was peculiarly lacking in God’s approval because he wrote:

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 Corinthians 1:17)

Every single will or resolve of the Father expressed in the Bible has a purpose and ultimately a single-minded goal in view.

He never says: “OK you guys, listen up, this particular will or command of mine cannot benefit you in the very least. It has nothing to do with salvation or sanctification; it cannot bring you into my Kingdom; it cannot gain you access into the Body of Christ and it cannot bring you into the House of God. In fact it is completely impotent and cannot do anything for you. Nonetheless, you MUST obey it if you want to obtain my approval.” Really? REALLY???

A simple example will suffice. In 2 Peter 3:9 God expresses his will that none should perish but that all should come to repentance and be saved.

Any old Tom, Dick and Harry will tell you there is a magnanimously divine purpose in this.

His purpose is to grant everyone an opportunity to repent because it is his will that all of mankind, without exception, should enter into his Kingdom and the Body of Christ and the House of God.

No! saith the great Ironside, “To my mind the importance of it is not in regard to what it brings one into (and, as others have noted, Scripture NEVER says it brings one into anything), but in that it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples, . . .”

But my dearest Lord Ironside, can’t you see that this was precisely why Jesus became man? “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8).

God’s entire plan, purpose and will for mankind is to get them all into his Kingdom and yet you demand that we adhere to a ritual that has absolutely no value whatsoever so that we may obtain his approval?

Even the most basic man-made command contained in a country’s constitution has a specific purpose and that is to benefit law abiding citizens and punish the lawbreakers.

But you, Mr. Ironside, demand that we keep a command that benefits no one. Really??? REALLY???

In that case we may as well desist from being baptised by immersion in water because it does not bring us into God’s Kingdom and neither does it bring us into hell.

What then is the expressed will of the Father and his only begotten Son?

Surely if their expressed will was the baptism by immersion in much water so that his disciples may obtain his approval (which replicates a works-based salvation, although many would deny it), then Luke 19:10 should rather read as follows, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost and to baptise them by immersion in great quantities of water so that they may obtain my Father’s approval.” Really? REALLY???

This borders on blasphemy because it denies the efficacy of Christ’s death on the cross, his burial and resurrection. Indeed, it suggests that you have to do something, albeit being baptised by immersion in water, to obtain his approval. Really? REALLY???

Fancy that, Ironside admits that baptism by immersion in water does not save but audaciously declares that it obtains God’s approval.

The result of his immoderate statement suggests that all who are not baptised by immersion in great quantities of water like rivers, dams, swimming pools and the likes, do not have God’s approval. Let’s briefly look more closely at the meaning of the word “approval.”

The Merriam Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus defines “approval” as follows:

  • the belief that something or someone is good or acceptable : a good opinion of someone or something
  • permission to do something : acceptance of an idea, action, plan, etc.

Adherents to baptism by immersion in water claim that converts who’d been washed in Christ’s blood (i.e. been saved) are the only approved candidates for baptism by immersion in water.

But wait a second. If salvation through the blood of Christ alone permits him/her entrance into the Kingdom of God, the House of God, and the Body of Christ because God deems them good and acceptable (suitable) for his Kingdom – through the blood of his Son, of course – what kind of approval does baptism by immersion in water offer the repentant sinner?

Is it a special kind of approval that surpasses and exceeds the approval repentant sinners receive who’d been washed and cleansed of all their sins in the blood of Christ? Let met put it this way. The blood of Jesus Christ’s gains God’s approval for repentant sinners to be “delivered . . . from the power of darkness, and . . . [to be]  translated  . . . into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). However, God’s approval of the repentant sinner is only ratified the moment he or she is baptised by immersion in a lot of water in public, AFTER they had been saved. Surely, this gives the “whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” kind of baptism precedence over Jesus’ kind of baptism.

I hope you can see that, although the adherents to baptism by immersion in water proclaim that baptism has nothing to do with salvation, they are inadvertently or deliberately exalting baptism above salvation, because “it is the clearly expressed will of the Lord Jesus for His disciples (all those who’d already been saved), and therefore should possess marked interest for all who desire His approval.

If baptism by immersion in large quantities of water, like a river, a large tub, a swimming pool or whatever, was the will of Jesus Christ for his disciples [including Judas), the Holy Spirit would at least have mentioned it somewhere in Scripture.

The fact is, however, that there is no record in Scripture that any of the disciples went to John the Baptist to be baptised in the Jordan. (John 4:1-2).

Some may argue that the disciples must have been baptised because they themselves baptised new converts (Acts 8:35:39).

As matter of interest; If the phrase “come up out of the water” meant that the convert must be immersed in water and then come up out of the water, it would follow that both Philip and the eunuch were baptised, because Acts 8:39 clearly says that they both came up out of the water.

Among his band of disciples only Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, not to set the example of how future converts should be baptised, but to fulfil everything which He had come to accomplish (Matthew 3:13-17).

The righteousness Jesus had to fulfil (completely accomplish the right thing) was to end the old of which John the Baptist was the last prophet and to bring in the new.

Dr Ironside continues to write:

Baptism certainly is connected with the sphere of profession; that is not disputed, but insisted on; only let there be profession and not infantile unconsciousness.

The Word is simple: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal.3:27).

This can only be true of professed believers, who, in this act, publicly put on Christ, or, in other words, acknowledge Him as their Lord.

That it is not, properly speaking, a Church ordinance, but a Kingdom ordinance, I also admit and teach, because, unlike the Lord’s supper, baptism had a place before the Church began, and will have one after it has been taken to heaven; but whether tribulation saints will enter into its import as Christians can is very questionable. (Emphasis added)

Paul often used traditional military and traditional Roman dress codes to illustrate Christian values and truths. Most Christians are thoroughly accustomed with Ephesians 6 where he uses Roman body armour to describe the spiritual armour of God.

He uses something similar when describing what it means to be clothed with Christ in Galatians 3:27.

When a youth came of age in Roman society he was given a special toga which demonstrated that he earned the full rights of his family to be honoured as an adult.

The entire nation of Israel were kept under the disciplinary teaching of the Law and as such were regarded as children being tutored to receive Christ as their Messiah (verse 24).

Jesus Christ, having fulfilled the law (including the old Jewish law of baptism as it was administered by John the Baptist), has given us the right to no longer be regarded as children under the Law but as adult sons through faith, never to be reckoned again as being under a Jewish slave-guardian.

Paul reminded the Galatians Christians that they no longer needed to be UNDER the Law but that they had been COMPLETELY ENVELOPED (covered, clothed) with Jesus Christ (who had fulfilled the Law) the moment they were baptized into Him spiritually by the Holy Spirit.

What we need to discern is whether Paul was referring to the ordinance of baptism by immersion in water or spiritual baptism with the Holy Spirit into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, i.e. salvation proper.

Ironside seems to think it refers to the ordinance of baptism subsequent to salvation since he says it can only “be true of professed believers, who in this act [baptism], publically put on Christ, or, in other words acknowledge Him as their Lord.”

The act of baptism by immersion in water in public is therefore equal to the putting on of Christ like a new garment. Whoa! That’s dangerous, very dangerous it suggests that water baptism itself is salvation proper.

A more careful and thorough reading of the passage shows that Paul did not maintain that the putting on of Christ like a new garment occurs in public when the professed believer acknowledges Him as Lord through baptism.

Paul simply said: The moment you were baptized into Christ, that was the moment when you put on Christ.” (Isaiah 61:10). The verse says it so plainly and clearly in the Amplified Bible:

For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ.

Water baptism cannot possibly bring a repentant sinner into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One.

And yet Ironside seems to think so. Listen again carefully to what he says: “This (Galatians 3:27) can only be true of professed believers, who, in this act, publicly put on Christ, or, in other words, acknowledge Him as their Lord.”

He says in effect: “All who profess to believe in Jesus Christ (“infantile unconsciousness” cannot profess anything) can and will only put a stamp of approval on their professing faith (and thus obtain the aproval of God), and make it true when they publically put on Christ in this act (baptism by immersion in water) and thus declare Him to be their Lord.

Jesus Himself does not think too highly of people who profess to be believers and acknowledge Him as lord in public (Matthew 7:22).

I’m not suggesting that Ironside was lost. I am merely saying it is dangerous to propound something contrary to what Paul teaches in Galatians 3:27 because it can and does indeed mislead millions into an erroneous soteriology.

Paul never even once mentions that the putting on of Christ must of necessity take place in public.

Ironside sanctimoniously taps those who are guilty of eisegesis (to read something into the text that is not there) over the knuckles but fails to see his own eisegetical blunders.

Yes, of course, if the putting on of Christ is a baptismal ritual, then it must be done in the public eye, as all the adherents to baptism by immersion in water so demand.

However, if the putting on of Christ is salvation proper then it need not be in public. Most salvations occur in private where the repentant sinner is alone with God to reason with Him (Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 11:28).

Dr Ironside continues:

I am not wholly ignorant of what esteemed brethren? to whom I am indebted for much, have penned on “Household Baptism,” etc., though I remember that others, equally gifted and godly, have differed radically from them; so I would beware of following either unless I have a clear Scriptural basis for so doing.

I confess that while reading the books of the former, their theories seemed very plausible and had certain charms for me; but when I turned from their writings to the word of God I could not find the theories.

It seemed to me that they had read their teachings into Scripture, not out of it; rather eisegesis, than true exegesis. (Persons desirous of investigating the question of the baptism of children in households, in order to weigh what may be said for the practice, will find the leading arguments clearly and graciously stated in “Christian Baptism,” by Waiter Scott; “Reasons for my Faith as to Baptism,” and “A Review of Objections to Household Baptism,” by F.W.Grant. “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge.” The principle, at least, of this verse is doubtless applicable here.)

I ask an equally careful comparison of my statements in the following pages with the unerring guide, the Word of Truth. ” Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. ”

Oakland, CA, April, 1901

The “esteemed brethren” who “have penned on ‘Household Baptism” are those who argue that the household baptism of Cornelius and his family must have included infants. Whether “infantile unconsciousness” forbids infants to be baptised, remains to be seen in the next edition of my series on “The Importance of Spiritual Baptism.” – Thomas Lessing

Read:  Importance of Spiritual Baptism (Part 2)

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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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Sally Forth

The aforementioned exposition was by H.A. Ironside long since gone to his reward.


Certainly the blessed Trinity is very CLEARLY taught in Scripture; I am in perfect agreement with you there.
I am only contending for the truth, that is all.
My point is that the precise origin of the Church (Matthew 16.18) does indeed have a crucial impact on the timing of the rapture, for those who have the eyes to see it (it may well be that you can see this?).
As I said in an earlier post; If the disciples ask the question of the time of the Lord’s return in THAT chapter as the founders of the New Testament Church, then the pre-tribulation rapture theory becomes untenable. The disciples on the Dispensational scheme, must therefore not be identified with the Church, but with the nation of Israel. Dispensational theologians MUST do this to maintain their pre-trib rapture theory.
Even your “Bible Knowledge Commentary” man, John Walvoord said that “there is not a single clear scripture that teaches pretribulationalism”.
The Bible teaches that Matthew 24.31, 1 Corinthians 15.52 and 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17 and Revelation 11.15 is the SAME event; i.e. the Second Advent.

I am happy to continue our conversation in a cordial manner, that is.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


You have not answered me…


On the other article you said it is “downright disobedient” for a Christian to not get baptised. Making it a sin for a Christian to not get baptised because disobedience is a sin. Is it a sin to not get baptised in water? You also said it is ‘a leap right over a cliff’ aka suicide for someone not to get baptised. (

If it’s got nothing to do with your salvation (as you have so stated), then why is it a sin / suicide not to get baptised?

Also you keep judging Thomas as someone who does not take communion – you are wrong and need to say sorry, he is also not an ulta-dispensationalist and you have accused him of being this over and over – please say sorry, because he is not. I informed you via email that Thomas does not add another dispensation and you actually said you were not accusing Thomas of this and now you post this articles by Ironside accusing Thomas of just that!!

Sally Forth

Deborah, I have not meant to accuse Thomas of anything. You say I keep judging him on communion. I don’t even recall mentioning that.

Thomas kept demanding that I produce Scripture. I have limited time and when I saw the article by Ironside it provided all the Scripture references and since Ironside is a respected Bible scholar I thought it filled the bill. I don’t have the time to parse them all out and dissect the article. The references are valid and deserve a response.

Now regarding ultra-dispensationalism. Some ultras do not believe in the ordinance of communion, SOME DO. So there was no accusation if you say I was implying Thomas is ultra and even some ultras believe in the Lord’s Supper. But they ALL disavow the ordinance of water baptism. Thomas may not be ultra, but he DOES share one of their beliefs and the Scriptures given do apply. If it was a mistake to post it, then feel free to delete the post and in fact, feel free to delete all my posts regarding this issue. I am NOT saying Thomas is ultradispy.

I did answer the “leap over the cliff” remark to Thomas but it was not posted. I explained that it was a figure of speech and not to be taken literally. It was a poor choice of words, I am sorry.

I have tried to be respectful of Thomas throughout this discourse. I have tried to defend a truth in which I deeply believe to be commissioned by our Lord. But I NEVER EVER implied that Thomas was not a believer or less a Christian because he has not been baptized. Anyone who has an ounce of pride in being baptized is insulting our Lord and cannot even be a believer. Perish the thought!

I am not an enemy and do not judge Thomas for his belief – that is between him and the Lord.
We have so much in common with standing against false teaching and teachers and Calvinism/Reformed. Why can we not disagree agreeably on this issue?

I hope I have made myself clear. I go in peace and will not trouble you again.

Sally Forth

Sorry, but I wanted to review the context of my statement of “leaping over a cliff”.
Thomas said:

Was Paul baptised by immersion? The text in Acts 9 doesn’t seem to say so. It simply says that Paul arose (stood up) and was baptized. He was probably seated on a chair or on his knees when he stood up (arose) to be baptized. It does not say that he was immersed in much water.

My response:
This is a leap right over a cliff. Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, immersed – He set the example. The very definition of “baptize” means to immerse. The Apostle Paul would surely have followed the Lord’s example of being baptized – to suggest otherwise is to suggest he was “baptized” unbiblically.

Thomas went off in left field when he speculated that the Apostle Paul may not have been immersed. I was quite shocked that he would make such a statement and I considered that quite a leap. I should not have said over a cliff, but it was only a figure of speech. All I meant was that it was a dangerous to leap to such a conclusion with no biblical support. That was all – no other intent.

Why that one comment was singled out, I do not understand. I felt that I needed to further clarify. Also, I wanted to acknowledge that I did mention the Lord’s Supper in connection with ultradispys, but did not mean to imply that Thomas did not believe in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

As I said, you are more than welcome to delete any and all of my comments. And you will not have to deal with me anymore.Obviously you don’t need my permission as this is your blog and you can do as you wish. I simply wanted to state that I am fine with that. I believe I have answered all your questions to the best of my ability and have not evaded anything. You may not agree, but I can’t help that and you are entitled to your opinion as is Thomas. Again, I am not your enemy simply because I hold to a different interpretation of the significance of water baptism. I am not alone in my thinking as quite a few doctrinally solid Bible scholars hold to this view as did Dave Hunt.

But it is what it is and again, I leave you in peace and will not contend on this issue any longer. I just felt the need to further clarify and not leave loose ends.


As ever, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to reply to my comments, certainly I do appreciate it.
Having said that, at this moment we are “poles apart”, I cannot agree with what you teach regarding the timing of the rapture.
I am NOT “following Sally Forth’s example”, I would rather “cut to the chase” as it were, and use few words (my own). I need not comment on Ironside, apart from the fact that I certainly DON’T agree with his pre-trib rapture teachings. And I certainly would NOT reprove any believer that hadn’t received a so-called “believer’s baptism”.
In fact, like you, as I have said before, I believe the Bible very CLEARLY teaches infant baptism. This IS, as you know, not a “Believer’s baptism”. And I KNOW that you wouldn’t discourage any believer that hadn’t received infant baptism (like me) to be baptised as an adult. Essentially baptism is nothing more than a church ordinance,(I went through it) important though it is, like the Lord’s supper? That said, as you rightly articulate, these ordinances, can in no way be pre-requisites for one’s salvation.
Dispensational theology ever since it originated with Darby has undergone many and varied refinements, like you, I used to be pre-trib, studied Darby, Sir Robert Anderson, Kelly, Gaebelin, Schafer, Walvoord, Ironside and a whole host of others. But, I just couldn’t accept the way they separated Israel from the Church, OT believers from NT believers, law from grace, their teachings on two Second Comings, their shenanigans over the trumpets and Matthew 13.30, just for starters.
I am glad you claim that you are not an “ultra-Dispensationalist”, like E.W.Bullinger? Even Ironide called Bullinger’s teachings Satanic.
Ironside only went part of the way. In my humble opinion, I believe that the Scriptures teach that Dispensationalism in all it’s forms is utterly unbiblical.
Please understand that we can say the “Pre-Messianic dispensation” age, or “Messianic dispensation”, the TWO great ages.
I haven’t a problem with the word “dispensation”, only with “Dispensationalism” as a theology.


Does Paul teach a pre-trib rapture?
Why did he worry the Thessalonian believers about the Antichrist if they were going to be “raptured” beforehand?
Can you honestly make sense of pre-trib teachers treatment of the trumpets?
I believe the Scripture teaches no such thing as a pre-trib rapture. I locate 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17 as the SAME event as 1 Corinthians 15.52, Matthew 24.31, and Revelation 11.15.
The Bible teaches that the great tribulation is of 31/2 years duration. That Antichrist will break his covenant with the “many” after the first half of this “week”, Daniel 9.27.
After the darkest night of Israel’s long and wretched history the glorious millennial 1000 year reign of Christ will commence.
I believe the Bible clearly teaches that at the start of the millenium the New Jerusalem, the millenial City will be visibly seen, it will be the residence of those who rise in the first resurrection. Those that are “left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem” shall occupy the earth Zechariah 14.16.
Indeed God has not finished dealing with Israel.
Certainly I believe Israel and the Church are one in Christ.
Luther, Calvin et’al were used mightily of God. The Reformation was a mighty work of God. Ofcourse there IS much apostasy in nominal Protestantism as you well know. There is NO middle ground between Calvinism and Arminianism. There are many so-called self styled “Biblicists” that say they are neither one or the other. How can this be?
I can expand upon these things, but shall be a little busy in the next couple of days or so.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


>> Luther, Calvin et’al were used mightily of God. The Reformation was a mighty work of God. Ofcourse there IS much apostasy in nominal Protestantism as you well know. There is NO middle ground between Calvinism and Arminianism

Ahh yes, a Calvinist, just as I thought. Calvin was used mightly by God to murder people? What kind of God do you believe in. You don’t need to expand on anything jrdavis, we understand the evils of Calvinism all to well and have written many an article showing the doctrine up for what it is – a doctrine of demons.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


Again, you never answered my question…I will remove the suicide part to make it easier for you to answer.


On the other article you said it is “downright disobedient” for a Christian to not get baptised. Making it a sin for a Christian to not get baptised because disobedience is a sin. Is it a sin to not get baptised in water?

If it’s got nothing to do with your salvation (as you have so stated), then why is it a sin not to get baptised?

Sally Forth

I, like many believers who value sound doctrine view the Great Commission as a command from the Lord which includes seeing that new converts are baptized and taught the precepts of Christlike behavior and conduct and how to live their lives for Him. If we disobey the Lord, then it is sin.

After one is saved, one is under grace. I have stated very clearly that those who view the Great Commission differently are under grace. As Christians we will sin, although grace is not a license to sin as the the Apostle Paul reminds us.

I, like many others, believe the Bible teaches baptism by immersion as an act of obedience and identification with Christ as a picture of his death,burial and resurrection. It has no salvic significance, but it does have significance in the life of a believer in my view.

It is not legalism. If you and Thomas choose to believe otherwise, that is your prerogative. But honestly, I find it quite sad that you have been swayed from your original belief. But again, that is your choice. I make no judgements – that is between you and the Lord.

I find it curious that you do not question Thomas’ “leap” that prompted my response in the first place of the Apostle Paul not even being immersed.

I have answered all of your questions to the best of my ability. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

I do not wish to contend about it anymore but wanted to respond to your question although I felt that was already answered but didn’t want to ignore your request.

Jesus’ greater command is that we love one another. It has been my intention to try and be respectful and civil throughout this discourse. If I have failed in any way I apologize.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


>> but it does have significance in the life of a believer in my view.

What significance would that be? What happens to a person when they are baptised in water that is significant to the believer – some scripture would be nice to back this up.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


>> find it curious that you do not question Thomas’ “leap” that prompted my response in the first place of the Apostle Paul not even being immersed.

I have checked this information by going to scripture and testing what Thomas has said. Also looking at many many websites on what they have to say on the issue. Unlike yourself who just surmises that Paul was baptised in water – the bible does not say so.

“We will now take a moment to establish that, in fact, there is no record of Paul ever being water baptized. There are only two passages in the entire New Testament that mention Paul being baptized. But which baptism did he receive?

Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

We must keep in mind that the same Greek word is used for both baptism with water and baptism in the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament including by such individuals as John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Paul. So, we cannot simply assume that the word “baptism” in verse 18 refers to water baptism. And we have also established that the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” would have been synonymous with “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, from this chapter itself, we find strong evidence that the baptism Paul received was baptism in the Holy Spirit, not water baptism.

Notice that in verse 17, Ananias states there are two things he has been sent to do. First, he has been for Paul to receive his sight. Second, Ananias says he has been sent so Paul would be filled with the Holy Spirit, which unequivocally is a reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit. Then, immediately following that statement, verse 18 records that scales fall from Paul’s eyes and he gets up and is baptized. The logical assumption is that 18 is recording the occurrence of both items Ananias was sent to accomplish. And there is no reason from the context to assume otherwise. So, judging from just this passage in chapter 9, we would assume Paul’s baptism was not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. PLEASE CONTINUE TO READ HERE

Sally Forth

Regarding the “leap” comment you apparently failed to read Thomas’ comment thoroughly. Here is what he said:

• Thomas said:
Was Paul baptised by immersion? The text in Acts 9 doesn’t seem to say so. It simply says that Paul arose (stood up) and was baptized. He was probably seated on a chair or on his knees when he stood up (arose) to be baptized. It does not say that he was immersed in much water.

Thomas is not denying that Paul was baptized, but just not in much water.

Now as to the significance of ordinance of baptism for the believer:

1.It symbolizes Jesus dying on the cross. As the person is lowered into the water, 2. it symbolizes Jesus buried in the tomb. As the person is raised from the water, 3. it symbolizes Jesus rising from the dead.

By surrendering to baptism, one is expressing the desire to identify with His burial, death and resurrection. It is done out of love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and His command which is not law, but instruction.

It is not about what it does for the believer, it is about obedience to Christ’s command. The believer has been baptized in the Holy Spirit in the unseen, and is demonstrating it visibly in this way as well as by the changes in our lives.

In certain works-oriented and pagan religions it calls for courage to come out and declare what has taken place in one’s heart and to count the cost. One can secretly receive Christ, but baptism brings it out into the open. Those who are converted out of works-oriented religions are called to repent of their dead works. That includes infant baptism or any other way of achieving salvation.

There is a reason that our Lord gave this commandment when giving His “marching orders” to reach the world with the Gospel. He knew that baptism would be important in the lives of the converts, not as a benefit for themselves, but as a demonstration and yes, a celebration of their salvation.

Surely people who have a burden for the lost and reach out to them with the uncompromised Gospel and then disciple new converts in the faith and lead them to the waters of baptism properly taught are doing the Lord’s work. They take Jesus at His Word in the Great Commission. I see no room for quibbling or criticism. That, in my view is causing division.

I have not blindly accepted the status quo as you suggest. I have done my due diligence and my research. And I too, have read the views put forth online by those who believe that water baptism ceased and is not applicable today. I don’t buy it.

Additionally, I have asked a pastor and trusted friend of long standing who is independent of any denomination or association and takes a strong stand against false teaching and false teachers and doesn’t hesitate to call it out and expose it. He knows the Word, divides it rightly and studies it thoroughly. He confirmed to me that this notion of negating water baptism is unbiblical and a distortion of the Great Commission.

I love the truth and have stood up for it and counted the cost. I say that not to pat myself on the back but to simply say that sound doctrine and rightly dividing the Word means everything to me. I state this with humility because God hates pride and without Him I can do nothing.

I would lovingly exhort you to read Dr. Ironside’s complete article entitled “Baptism: What Saith the Scriptures”.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


Ironside was a great preacher and yes he has gone to heaven, but unfortunately on the issue on baptism he got it wrong.

Sally Forth

As did Dave Hunt, who heads a very long list of other heros of the faith who have gone to their reward, some of them martyred for their faith had this blind spot about water baptism. If Ironside’s exposition on baptism be so easily dismissed, what about his other teachings? Either he was Spirit led or he was not.

Have you ever wondered why Satan would put so much effort into deceiving people into the false practice of baptismal regeneration and infant baptism? Why would he bother corrupting a false doctrine?

Then there were the Anabaptists who apparently wasted their lives defending a false teaching.

Obviously you and Thomas are entrenched in this belief and I see it as fallacious. Never the twains shall meet and further discourse on this topic is fruitless.

We are all under grace and the Lord wants us to love one another even when we disagree. Grace and peace to you both.

Thomas finds the ordinance of water baptism ludicrous? The impact of that statement is just breathtaking.

Sally Forth

Thomas said:

Do you really think Jesus referred to John the Baptist’s baptism in his Great Commission when John himself said that his water baptism was merely an unworthy shoe bearing baptism? You must be kidding!!!

You obviously are confused as to the function of the baptism of John the Baptist and that of the Church.

Thomas, I have answered every one of your questions. I just have not given the answer you want.

As I told Deborah, you are obviously firmly entrenched in your view as I am in mine. When we have passed beyond seeing through a glass darkly we shall see clearly who is right.

In the meantime the Lord Jesus’ greater command is that we love one another and that the world will know us by our treatment and love for one another. We are in the family of God but we disagree on this point. I am not alone in my view as shown by Dave Hunt and Dr. Ironside’s and other heros of the faith’s view on baptism. But the greater issue is to extend grace and peace even to those who with whom we disagree. The important thing is to reach the lost with the true Gospel and disciple them and not create division on the baptism issue.

One last thing. I would like for you to read Ironside’s complete article on baptism and refute it point by point and not simply dismiss it out of hand. That would demonstrate fairness to a man who loved the Lord and exposited the Word in sincerity, do you not agree?

As for me.I have said all there is to say. Grace and peace.

Sally Forth

Just when I think I am done with this discourse it takes a turn that I cannot ignore.

I have never in my life heard such Scripture twisting and coming from one who purports to have a handle on the truth.

Oddly enough, your pointing out that Paul stood up to be baptized is the very verse that is used by those who defend and promote the baptism of infants!

Yes, the Lord Jesus freely welcomes all the little ones who are not as yet accountable and exempted from judgment as they are incapable of making a decision for themselves.

To baptize an infant as one would do with one who has made a profession for Christ would be to perform an act on behalf of the child, just as the Roman Catholics and others do. There is no salvic properties in the waters of baptism – that has been clearly stated – that is not the purpose. If the candidate for baptism has not made a profession and does not understand the purpose and significance of baptism it is just an empty exercise.

You perceive yourself an an authority on the truth, but I am sorry to say that you are deceived. You do not understand the significance of the baptism of John the Baptist and how it differs from the baptism perfromed in the Church.

Your last comment has exposed your confusion – to refute Ironside by saying he is going against what the Lord Jesus said regarding children because he negates infant baptism is absolutely shocking.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not judging your heart, I am judging your faulty exegesis.

It is with a heavy heart that I can clearly see that there is no hope in reasoning with you and once again I have to say that any further discourse is fruitless.

Nothing you say from this point will prompt me to respond. As always, I leave in peace, but with a deep sense of grief and sadness.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


>> If Ironside’s exposition on baptism be so easily dismissed, what about his other teachings?

That your problem, you seem to think that if you are wrong on baptism what else can you be wrong about? It does not work like that Sally. Ironside and Hunt are not infallable, and they can make mistakes. And this is one of them. As for the rest of what they believe, from what I know of, it’s fine.


I must say that as a relatively new child in Christ that my eyes have been opened. I had always thought that immersion in water was a requirement for believers but it seems I was caught into the doctrines of men as many have been. Keep up the good works, Thomas and Deborah, and don’t be discouraged. :-)

Deborah (Discerning the World)


Thank you so much! I believe this is a doctrine that has been taught to pastors by institutions for donkeys years and and they have just taken it as being the truth, never actually testing to see how truthful is was. But when you sit down and actually look at it, study scripture, look at this whole topic from all angles the Holy Spirit shows you the REAL TRUTH and you are amazed at how you ever believed a ‘man made doctrine’ for so long.


That’s very true Deborah, and how sad it is that people would rather not look for themselves! Strangely, since being genuinely saved and even before, I had always known that it was the baptism of the Spirit that was essential to salvation, yet I could not put two and two together to understand how important immersion really was as far as a believer’s life was concerned. It has certainly lifted (what I can clearly see as) an unnecessary burden on me seeing as how virtually every church around here is either institutionalized in the classic sense (Anglican, Methodist, Catholic) or subscribes to Word of Faith pentecostalism and/or Rick Warren’s purpose driven agenda.


I would certainly agree with you that Harry Ironside’s teaching on the subject of water baptism is confusing and contradictory, most especially to those who may be misled as to any salvific or re-generational powers conferred upon such an ordinance, this is almost tantamount to Popery? And this from one who is held in very high esteem by many. I can well understand why a contributor on this thread raised the question about his other teachings.

Obviously I am at variance with the “Church and the kingdom” being two separate people groups. As you know I believe in ONE called out body of redeemed people from Adam to the Great White Throne. It has been said by some on this thread that we are now “under grace”, not “under law”. Not true; people of every age have ALWAYS been under God’s grace! Was it not by the grace of God that Israel was delivered from the hand of Pharaoh? Does not His Word teach us that it WAS His “mighty hand” Deuteronomy 5.15 (and many other Scriptures beside) that ALONE delivered His people? It was as a redeemed people God gave them laws by which to live. Are these not the same laws that will operate in Christ’s coming millenial reign? The oblations offered (according to the Mosaic Law) were for particular sins that the Israelite’s committed. Hebrews 10.4 says that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins”? The Old Testament believers were looking to/for their Saviour/Messiah (Genesis 3.15, 1 Peter 1.19-20, Revelation 13.8 etc) we look back to Him. Yet there are many Dispensational theologians (and therefore their followers) that would have us believe it WAS possible for Old Testament believers to be SAVED by temple sacrifices/rituals? We may NOW begin to understand why many, today, believe in baptismal regeneration? Was there a genuine offer of the kingdom at Christ’s first advent?
As pre-millenial believers we can at least discuss these things without labelling each other as heretics?

As you well know, water baptism has taken on a meaning of it’s own (a bit like Bishops and Deacons etc): how deep? How warm? Should it be running water in a river? Sea/Lake etc? It need not be such a divisive issue? But there are some well meaning people who have contributed on this forum who have been “institutionalised” as it were, and may feel disenfranchised by some of your comments? Just because the Roman Catholic and apostate Protestant Churches perform infant baptism doesn’t negate it’s ceremonial function as a Church ordinance. Of course, we cannot call this a “believer’s baptism”. In fact is it not true that even though Baptist Churches don’t baptise infants; they will still “dedicate” them? As both these ordinances have no efficacy, at all, whatever is the difference?
Does not Colossians 2.10-12 teach us that water baptism is but an ordinance not disimilar to Old Testament circumcision? How many ritually unsaved circumcised Old/New Testament Jews pre figure many in Christendom? Surely, are not true believers circumcised “WITHOUT hands”?
Also, certainly, I DON’T believe in a second separate “second conversion” as taught by those of the Pentecostal/Charismatic persuasion….
May we all grow in grace and truth.

Deborah (Discerning the World)


Yes, I have heard of a few people who’s water baptism turned out to be a disaster, in one example, a young girl went to be baptised and another girl, the daughter of the pastor was laughing and making jokes the whole way through. The young girl tried desperately hard to take the whole baptism seriously but could not help laughing at the other girl. It has haunted her her whole life; was her baptism real? what does it mean for her salvation? As she grew much older and studying scripture she realised that baptism in water was not needed – that what the church taught was false. This person was my mother!

Now I believed that baptism was a necessity, and I have been baptised. And I always looked back to the day of my baptism instead of the day I was saved. After learning the truth from Thomas, I spent 4 days going back and forth through all the scriptures on the matter and it hit me like a ton of bricks that this was indeed a false teaching. I then spoke to my mom about it who informed me of what she knew all along.

So how many people out there have had baptism’s where the baptism either became a burden because it did not run smoothly and you spent your life wondering if you were baptised, or you looked back to your baptism in big shiny lights and totally dull down the day you were saved. See how easy it is for works to overtake faith. I was one of those at fault and since finding out the truth I have asked Jesus for forgiveness.

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