This discussion is inspired by a very misinterpreted verse in the Bible, Ephesians 5:26. Most preachers that I have heard refer to this as the "Washing of the Word." In others words, the word of God is symbolized as water. This is a gross error. The Word of God is symbolized as a sword, a hammer, bread, and even fire, but never as water. Water is typical of the Spirit and the Blood. The Water of Life, and the Water of Death. The Holy Spirit is symbolized as the Water of Life and the Water of Baptism represents the death and burial of Jesus Christ. It is through Baptism that the Blood of Christ is applied to one's heart and life. One's sins are washed away through water baptism in the name of Jesus. In Eph. 5:26, it states that two different things take place, Sanctification and Cleansing. We are set apart (sanctified) by the Word of God, through obedience to it. We are cleansed by water baptism in Jesus' name. The verse might better be translated "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water (according to) the word" instead of "by the word." When the Acts 2:14-36 message is preached (the Word) and peoples' hearts are pricked and they ask what they should do to be saved and a preacher gives them the New Testament plan of salvation (Acts 2:38-39)(again the Word) and people obey it by repenting of their sins and getting baptized in the name of Jesus, then Ephesians 5:26 is fulfilled. They are sanctified by the word of God and cleansed by the water of baptism in Jesus' name. Pretty straight forward if you ask me. Why can't men of God see this? Actually, men of God do see it. :-)
Several very interesting things happened in April of 97 when I paid our local Sierra Vista, Church of God, the one on Taylor Street, a visit. I went to an evening service to give the pastor a book called "God's Chosen Fast," along with some tracks on baptism in Jesus' name and the oneness of God and a letter that I had written challenging all of the pastors in Sierra Vista to return to the original plan of salvation ( Acts 2:38 ) as preached by the apostles. The pastor wasn't there. There was a nice time of singing and worship which was followed by a message in tongues and an interpretation. The interpretation was given by two individuals, one immediately after the other. The message was, draw closer to me and I will show you things that you do not know and I will sanctify you and cleanse you. Well, this was certainly interesting to me because that is why I went there, to tell the pastor what he must do to sanctify and cleanse his congregation. He needed to preach the Acts 2:38 message and then baptize some repented souls in the name of Jesus.
I came back the next Sunday night and listened to the pastor's preaching. He was really on fire and everybody was all excited, and I was totally disappointed by his obvious "canned message." After the sermon, I introduced myself and my wife (which he had meet on a previous occasion but he had not met me) and we talked for a few minutes. He had to leave for a previously made engagement and I remained and began talking to a man named Norman Wicker. We were having a good conversation about the deity of Jesus Christ when a lady in the church said that it was time to lock up and that we would have to leave. I told Norman that we could continue our conversation outside, but as we began out the door, the lady pulled him back inside and said that I was of a cult and that he should not talk to me. She began yelling at me saying that all I ever talked about was Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I responded by saying that Jesus was all that was worth talking about, that he was the Father, the Mighty God and that she was an anti-christ. I also told her that Norman was old enough to take care of himself and we went down the sidewalk to the front of the church. No sooner did we get down in front of the church, than the lady came down and began reviling me with all sorts of accusations and I told her that I was a son of God. This unleashed even more insults from the woman and finally my wife told her that she should watch her mouth and speak more respectfully toward me. This so infuriated the woman that she grabbed my wife by the neck and began choking her. I walked off to the side with Norman and watched what was happening. Norman said, "I think that woman is trying to choke your wife," and I concurred. My wife put her hands up into the air and began praising God and jumping up and down. The other lady finally took her hands off of my wife. She had been rebuking my wife all the while in Jesus' name, trying to cast out the evil spirit that she thought was in my wife, and went back into the church. Norman and my wife and I continued talking about the Bible and baptism. Norman said that he had been a member of the Salvation Army in England for many years and that they didn't even baptize people and that those people were good, God fearing people and that he new that they were as saved as anyone. I disagreed. It was late and we parted on cordial terms. I liked Norman. He was about 70 years old, and had pastored and been a missionary in Africa for many years. He was also an excellent church pianist.
When the pastor heard what had happened he called me and apologized. I asked him if he was aware of the tongues and interpretation that had taken place during the evening service the week before and he said no. I told him that he should find out because it was significant and that when he did, he should give me a call. Well, he never did call back and about two months later he left town.
The following are a series of supporting scriptures on sanctification and cleansing.
Eph. 5:25 -27, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word
which I have spoken unto you. This is obviously referring to their obedience
to his word. James 1:22 But be ye doers of the
word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Hebr. 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Luke 3:3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
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.
Num. 19:9 And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. Num. 19:13 Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.Num. 19:20 But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean. Num. 19:21 And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.Num. 31:23 Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.
This set of Old Testament verses is a type of new testament water baptism in Jesus' name.
Min. Charles G. Marlowe