The typical baptism of christianity happens after someone makes a decision, prays a prayer, “accepts” Christ, or any of a multitude of christianese euphemisms for salvation that aren’t actually salvation.
Such a person declares that he has been saved because of something he did or said, and then he is scheduled for the big step of getting in front of some folks to get wet. In most “churches,” that step then allows the person to join the club, hold a position, and be solicited for money at least weekly.
Because the “church” lacks spiritual understanding, being a counterfeit of the true faith, most have no idea what the correlation is between the physical and the spiritual—the foreshadow and the real substance. They don’t realize that in several of those constructs in scripture, both the physical and the spiritual are called the same thing, and yet, are different.
“Jew,” “Israel,” “covenant,” and “circumcision” demonstrate the physical foreshadowing of the spiritual. With each of those terms, there is a physical aspect that was a foreshadow of a future-revealed spiritual real substance. The actual meaning is always the spiritual, as the physical only presents a picture, or shadow, of the real thing. “Ark of the covenant,” “temple,” “tabernacle,” and “priesthood” are also all physical foreshadows of Messiah’s bride, whose name is Y’isra-el.
“Baptism” is also one of those terms. Water baptism was an ordinance under the law, and it foreshadowed the cleansing of the Holy Spirit, which is the true meaning of baptism. When Messiah Yahoshua was baptized with John the Baptist as His witness, He demonstrated both the physical foreshadow under the law (water), and then the spiritual real substance (Holy Spirit).
Even John the Baptist said, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the straps of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). Obviously, he knew the difference between the physical foreshadow (water) and the spiritual real substance (Holy Spirit). The “fire” refers to the menorah in the temple, as the temple is a foreshadow of Messiah’s bride (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Baptism in water, at the most, can be an invitation to the Holy Spirit. It is not a declaration of anything that has purportedly already happened. Christianity uses it as a “post-event” declaration because christianity doesn’t teach the true meaning of being born again, but a counterfeit of it that is declared solely by man.
In the admonition to “repent and be baptized,” the “repent” part refers to the only sin that condemns: the singular condition of unbelief, which is the condition into which all humans are born. It is a dead spirit due to Adam’s sin that is passed to all mankind. It has nothing to do with multiple sins of the flesh that have been committed, as they have nothing to do with salvation. To repent of unbelief simply means to believe. The “be baptized” part happens at some point after one believes (because simply “believing” is not salvation).
The “be baptized” part refers to receiving the Holy Spirit. And, those who have the Spirit reproduce others with the Spirit, which is why the disciples were told to go and baptize others. It had nothing to do with getting wet, physically. We see Peter and John doing just that in Acts 8:17. The Samaritans had already believed and had gotten wet physically, but were not saved yet. Peter and John did not put those folks in water again after they prayed over them and the Samaritans began to receive the Holy Spirit, each by the will of the Father, and in the Father’s time.
This diagram of the tabernacle in the link below shows just how christianity perverts the true meaning of baptism. In the outer courtyard are the brazen altar (the sacrifice) and the laver (baptism). To be saved is to receive the covenant. So, where, in the progression shown, is the covenant?
It is not in the outer courtyard, as christianity falsely teaches, but is in the Holy of Holies. The altar represents identifying with the sacrifice, and the laver represents being cleansed from the sin that condemns (repenting of unbelief, which is to believe).
The perversion of baptism by christianity would require another place in the tabernacle BEYOND the Holy of Holies, where a water baptism could take place—and that place would need to have room for an audience.
Moreover, christianity’s false baptism would preclude the thief on the cross from being saved, for he did not get himself all physically wet in front of people after he believed. No, he received the only baptism that is necessary—the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Just as christianity counterfeited the Passover Seder with its Lamb-less knockoff called “communion,” and created a false salvation that is declared by man and “confirmed” by written words in a human translation of the scriptures, so too does christianity have baptism all wrong—getting untold millions of people wet for no good reason.
In the end, christianity replaces the Holy Spirit with a pool of water and an English translation of scripture, since their counterfeit is missing the true role and authority of the Holy Spirit in its religion. And, countless millions of misguided christians will be so shocked on that day when they hear, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
For more information: Christianity’s Holy Spirit – Some Water and a Book