Yes, in fact, Scripture teaches us that baptism has nothing to do with being born again. I have often asked people who believe in “baptismal regeneration” (the belief that one is born again when they are baptized) to show me one scripture that supports their view. The verse they usually point me to is John 3:5 where Jesus told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of WATER and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (NKJV). They go on to tell me that the “water” in this verse is speaking of “water baptism.” The problem with this is that the word baptism is not mentioned, and every time water baptism is spoken of in Scripture it has nothing to do with the New Birth. In the four gospels water baptism is always connected with “repentance” and not with being born again. A good example of this is found in Mark 1:4-5: “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, CONFESSING THEIR SINS.” When one was baptized they were “confessing their sins” and thus expressing their need to be forgiven. It didn’t result in forgiveness (or the New Birth), but it expressed that they were sinners. If they truly meant it, their hearts would then be prepared to receive Jesus Christ as their Messiah and by receiving Him they would be “born again.” John 1:12 declares, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Let’s go back and take a closer look at John 3:5. When I tell people that the word “water” has nothing to do with “water baptism,” they usually ask me, “Then what does the word water refer to?” I am happy to point them to several scriptures which show us that the word “water” is used as a symbol for the “Word of God.” Psalm 119:9 reads, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” We use literal water to cleanse our body, but the Word of God is used to “cleanse our ways!” The Word of God cleanses us MORALLY so that our ways are pleasing to God. In John 15:3 Jesus told His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you.” Again, the thought here is one of “moral cleansing.” This thought is brought out even more clearly in Ephesians 5:25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and CLEANSE HER WITH THE WASHING OF WATER BY THE WORD.” This “moral cleansing” begins with being born again and it continues each day as we allow the Word of God to “cleanse our ways.” So, when Jesus said “one is born of the water and the Spirit,” He was referring to the Holy Spirit using the Word of God to impart new life to us the moment we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is one more verse that I would call your attention to that proves that we are born again by the Word of God. 1st Peter 1:23 states, “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever.” Could words be plainer? I think not! Peter goes on to say in verse 25, “The word of the LORD endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached unto you.” It is in the Word of God that we learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ and as we saw earlier the moment we believe the gospel we are born again.

In light of what we have seen, I think it is fitting to close by quoting the words of the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 1:17-18: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (241.1) (DO)