BAPTISM! Why is this sacrament so misunderstood by so many people? It is the entry rite into the Church, and it replaces the Jewish entry rite of circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12). The baptism that we undergo today is much different than the original baptism of John the Baptist, which was only a baptism of repentance. The Baptism of Jesus Christ not only forgives all sin, but gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit as well. In John the Baptist's baptism, the penitents actually confessed their sins to their baptizer, which is another proof text for the Catholic sacrament of confession. The bible never says that baptism is only "symbolic", which some protestants today believe it is. The Holy Spirit IS NOT SYMBOLIC, but real!
A foreshadowing of of NT baptism was given to us in the OT when Naaman the Syrian washed 7 times in the Jordan to cleanse his BODY of the blight of leprosy (2 Kings 5). This directly points to the more perfect new covenant, where water cleanses our SOUL of the blight of sin.
In the Bible, water and the spirit together always means a new creation:
Genesis 1:1, where the spirit of God moved over the water, creating the new earth;
Genesis 8:8-9, The dove released by Noah over the flood waters from the Ark, before the new beginning of mankind;
Exodus 13:21-22, The pillar of fire (the spirit of God) over the Red Sea protecting the Israelites on the way to their new home;
Matthew 3:16, The baptism of Jesus, where the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, descended from heaven onto Jesus. This sacrament therefore makes us reborn in Christ, with the Holy Spirit coming down into us, living in our body, his temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Here is what the Bible says about the necessity of Baptism:
1 Peter 3:20-21: who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"
John 3:5: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
John 3:22: After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.(**NOTE- As if to confirm that He was talking about Baptism in John 3:5, Jesus goes out and baptizes people 17 verses later in John chapter 3. This is the only place in the Bible where Jesus baptizes).
Mark 1:4-11: John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Mark 1:9-11: In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."
Acts 2:38: And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19:2-6: And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
(**NOTE - Here we see the difference between the initial baptism of John the Baptist, a kind of early form of confession, and the later Baptism of Jesus, where the Holy Spirit actually comes into you and makes your body His temple.)
"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin."And to reiterate the Baptism-Crucifixion link, we have the following verses as well;
Mark 10:38-39: But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
(**NOTE - Here Jesus is talking about his crucifixion).
Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(**NOTE - Paul was never physically crucified; as a Roman citizen, he was beheaded).
Galatians 5:24: And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the the flesh with its passions and desires.