Let us compare these three verses:
“AND I KNEW HIM NOT; BUT THAT HE SHOULD BE MADE MANIFEST TO ISRAEL, THEREFORE AM I COME BAPTIZING WITH WATER.” John 1:31.
“YE MEN OF ISRAEL, HEAR THESE WORDS; JESUS OF NAZARETH, A MAN APPROVED OF GOD AMONG YOU BY MIRACLES AND WONDERS AND SIGNS, WHICH GOD DID BY HIM IN THE MIDST OF YOU, AS YE YOURSELVES ALSO KNOW.” Acts 2:22
“BUT I HAVE GREATER WITNESS THAN THAT OF JOHN; FOR THE WORKS WHICH THE FATHER HATH GIVEN ME TO FINISH, THE SAME WORKS THAT I DO, BEAR WITNESS OF ME, THAT THE FATHER HATH SENT ME.” John 5:36
Certainly there is no reason why any student of the Word of God should misunderstand the plain language recorded in John 1:31. Here the significance of John’s water baptism is clearly and specifically stated; that “Christ might be made manifest to Israel.” The Greek word here translated “manifest” is translated , in John 7:4, “shew”: “shew thyself to the world.”
Now by way of comparison. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God.” This word “approved” in the Greek is “apodeiknumi”, and literally means “to show off or to put on exhibition”. Without the prefix “apo”, the Greek word is translated “shew” 23 times in the New Testament Scriptures.. For example Matthew 16:21, John 14:8, I Corinthians 12:31 and: James 2:18.
In Acts 2:22, we learn that God was placing His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, on exhibition in the midst of Israel; that is, He was showing Him off; by miracles and wonders and signs. According to John 5:36 quoted above, these supernatural works of Christ were to bear witness that the Father had sent Him. According to the plain statement of Jesus of Nazareth, He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew 15:24.
Therefore, whatever new meaning may have been given to miracles and signs, as well as to water baptism, after the death and resurrection of Christ, it is plainly taught in the Four Gospels that both miracles and water baptism were to shew Christ to Israel.
In this connection we read in John 10:41, that John the Baptist did no miracle. We also read in John 4:2 that Jesus of Nazareth did no baptizing. We read in Luke 1:16 and 1:80 that John’s commission and message was to Israel. In Acts 13:24 Paul confirmed this.
We may be sure, therefore, that the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, like the testimony of John the Baptist, was specifically, if not exclusively, for the children of Israel. And the diligent student of the Word of God has observed that signs, wonders, miracles, supernatural demonstrations, and manifestations are inseparably connected with water baptism.
We quote Luke 3:3:
“And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” In this verse, as well as in Matthew 3:11 and Mark 1:4, we are taught something of the significance of John’s baptism with respect to Israel, sin and repentance. It was baptism of repentance for (unto) the remission of sin.
There is little or nothing said about water baptism, or signs, and miracles in the closing year of the Lord’s earthly ministry. In fact, there is no record of any Israelite having received water baptism after the statement of Christ, recorded in Luke 12:50, which we quote. “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished” Perhaps the explanation of the absence of both miracles and water baptism is Matthew 16:20, which we quote “Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.” If twelve apostles were to no longer tell to Israel that Jesus was the Messiah, there was no further need for signs or water baptism until this order was rescinded and the Twelve again testified that Jesus was the Messiah; for signs and water were to shew Christ to Israel. After Christ’s prayer on the cross for Israel, God instructed the Twelve to again shew Jesus, as Messiah, to Israel. Acts 2:36.
In Mark 16:16 to 18 we find the commission which the resurrected Christ gave to the Eleven. Most assuredly we again have signs and water baptism connected. We quote these verses: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” There are many baptisms in our day, but no signs except “counterfeit signs”. On the day of Pentecost we learn by reading Acts 2:36 that the twelve apostles were doing what they were forbidden to do in Matthew 16:20. They were testifying that Jesus was the Messiah. As they were filled with the Holy Spirit and fulfilling the will of God, the Lord must have rescinded the order of Matthew 16:20. And therefore, immediately follows the same message of baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins. We quote Acts 2:38:
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Now let us bear in mind that it was the supernatural demonstration on the day of Pentecost, as well as the message, that caused the Israelites to say, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The Jews require a sign I Corinthians 1:23. The Jews always had signs and baptisms. Hebrews 9:10.
We turn now from the second chapter of Acts to Acts 19:1 to 7. Here we have the last Scriptural record of baptism of any of the Lord’s disciples. After these disciples received water baptism they received the Holy Spirit, by the imposition of hand’s, and immediately spake with tongues. In 19:12 we have the record of mighty signs. Between Acts 19 and Acts 28 we have no record of water baptism and the record of very few signs. However, by reading Acts 28:5 to 10, we learn that there is a record of miraculous healing after the last record of water baptism. By reading Romans 6:3 and 4 we learn of the abiding baptism, “not made with hands’’.
We also learn by comparing I Corinthians 12:8 to 11, wherein we find listed sign-gifts to members of the Body of Christ, that more emphasis is placed upon these gifts than upon water baptism, in the special ministry of Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. It is interesting to compare I Corinthians 1:14, “I thank God I baptized none of you, but” and I Corinthians 14:18, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all”. We would particularly emphasize the words of Paul “I thank God”. Any honest student of the Word must acknowledge that Paul was more thankful to God for speaking with tongues than for baptizing with water. Most Christians make much of water today and wholly ignore signs, (many ridicule tongues).
In every Scriptural record of water baptism there is in the same chapter, if not in the immediate context, a record of either a supernatural manifestation or some other Jewish sign or program.
How strange, therefore, it seems that men of God, who claim to be expositors of God’s truth, contend so earnestly for some kind of water baptism and are wholly indifferent as to whether members of the Body of Christ exercise any of the sign-gifts that are mentioned in the Bible after the last mention of water baptism. I Corinthians was written after the last recorded baptism in Acts 19:1 to 7. Signs were in the church as late as 58 A.D. What has become of them? We have held on to the water and let go of the signs. But we can’t explain why. Hold on to both or give up both.
Surely we should have more respect for the consistency and sincerity of the Pentecostalists who are contending for the signs with the water, than for the ability of our socalled leading Fundamentalist Bible teachers who have to resort to church history rather than to the Word of God for the explanation of the absence of signs and miracles in the spiritual program of the Body of Christ in this age. Many of them tenaciously, and sometimes belligerently, contend for water baptism, although there are more than a dozen different interpretations among them as to the mode, formula, and signification of the water ceremony. They think they are proving their practice by the Bible; but in reality it is by tradition.
We give here every reference to water baptism in the New Testament Scriptures. Search these Scriptures and find one where water baptism is a witness to the world and then mark every one proving that water baptism is both efficacious and meritorious: Matthew 3:7 to 16; Mark 1:4 to 9 ; Luke 3:3 to 21; John 10:40; Mark 10:38 and 39; Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:5 – Acts 2:38 to 41 – Acts 8:12, 13, 16, 36, 38 – Acts 9:18 – Acts 10:47 and 48 – Acts 11:16 – Acts 16:15,33 – Acts 18:8 – Acts 19:3,4, and 5 – Acts 22:11; I Corinthians 1:17; Romans 6:3; I Corinthians 1:3, 14, 16 – I Corinthians 10:2 – I Corinthians 12:13 – I Corinthians 15:29; Galatians 3:27; Hebrews 6:2 – Hebrews 9:10 (washings); I Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 4:5; Acts 18:25. Refer to I Corinthians 10:2; “baptized unto Moses”, and I Peter 3:21, “Noah in the ark”. We are sure that the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, and Noah with his family, did not get wet. They were all saved from the water.
We are all sure that the baptism of Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12 and Ephesians 4:5, is the same baptism and if water, then we are saved by water. If so, then Romans 3:26 and 3:28, Ephesians 2:8 and 9 and Titus 3:5 to 8 are not true.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.