Those who ridicule God’s command to be baptized in order to be forgiven would do well to consider at least seven occasions when God used water to separate those who followed Him from those who rejected Him.
The first outstanding example is the flood. If one only read the Old Testament story, he could easily see that principle. It is made more certain, striking and significant when we read of it again in Hebrews 11:7 and especially in 1 Peter 3:20-21 where we are told in specific terms that the water that saved them from the wicked world is a type of the baptism that saves us.
The second outstanding example of the use of water to separate God’s people from others is in the story of Israel crossing the Red Sea. In Exodus 14:30, we find, “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians and they saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore.” Paul referred to this in 1 Corinthians 10:2 when he wrote, “They were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”
The third example is in Judges 7 where God had Gideon’s army to undergo a “water test.” Those who were watchful and careful and lapped the water in their hands were separated from those who did not. There are many lessons we can get from that story, such as the fact that God does not need large numbers to do any job He wishes to do, but our lesson today is simply that He used water to choose His warriors. The others he rejected.
One of the most outstanding examples is that of Naaman, the leper, in 2 Kings 5. He was commanded to go and dip seven times in the Jordan to cure his leprosy. Many sermons could be preached on the necessity of doing what is commanded, where it is commanded and in the manner it is commanded. Those are all very important lessons. No river but Jordan would do. No use of water other than dipping would do. No number but seven times was proper. One could scoff at the whole process and call it “a water cure” or any other term he may choose. The simple fact is that although he was cured by God’s grace when he accepted it in obedient faith, water was the point or place where the cleansing was done.
In John 9:7 when Jesus told the blind man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, those who stood by might have scoffed and said, “Water cannot give sight. There is no power in the water, so forget it, or wait until you are cured to wash.” It is clear for any who will read it honestly that washing in the pool of Siloam stood between the blind man and his recovery. Whether they or we can see any sense in it, an honest student cannot miss the fact that Jesus used water as a test of his faith and as a means by which he received sight.
In John’s baptism, we find another strong example of the use of water separating those who rejected God and those who received Him. Luke 7:29-30 says, “And all the people when they heard, and all the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, being not baptized of him.”
The greatest and most significant water test God used is the one in Mark 16:16, where Jesus plainly says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” If one simply wants to do God’s will and reads that in connection with the cases of conversion, such as Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16, where it plainly says that baptism is for the remission of sins, to wash away sins, one can see that God is still using the water test to separate His people from those who reject Him. Have you passed God’s water test?