On Water Baptism

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? [John 3:1-9 KJV]

Drawing on this text the Roman church makes the claim that a person is regenerated by the "water of baptism". This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church states it:

537. Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and 'walk in newness of life':[Rom 6:4 .] Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him. Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God. - Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 2nd Ed., 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference [My emphasis]

"Swoops down" from heaven? Hunh? Scripture testifies that the Holy Spirit came in the appearance of a dove at the Lords baptism but, aren't they taking this a bit too far?

For the Christian, being born again isn't about getting wet. When an unregenerated sinner is dunked in the water, all that results is that he gets wet. There are no changes in his relationship with God. It is God who through His Holy Spirit first regenerates us without a cause. He does this while we still were sinners;

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8 KJV

The baptism of believers is the outward sign of this regeneration - a public profession of faith, something that the Catholic Catechism also teaches. However, the water itself does nothing. Rome errs by insisting that water baptism is the act (or work) that regenerates a person and makes him a child of God, For them water baptism is "how to become born again," which makes it nothing more than a good work and thus disqualifies one. For Rome it is the means to an end. For the Christian we are FIRST regenerated by God, washed in the Spirit and made His child by adoption. THEN we make a public profession of this belief. We follow the Lords example and are baptized. You see baptism is NOT necessary for salvation. A person could be a believer, truly born again, but never be baptized and go directly to heaven at the end of his worldly life. On the other hand, a person could be baptized, yet go directly to hell when he dies! Thus, though we follow the example of Jesus, water baptism is not necessary. The water plays no part in the salvific process.

Rome interprets this part of the passage ["Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."] incorrectly. Mama Church claims that the water spoken of here is baptism. The word baptizmo is not found in this passage! The operative word is WATER and it refers to our physical birth. You disagree? Even Rome (not intentionally I'm sure) agrees with me. Read it for yourself:

694. Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As 'by one Spirit we were all baptized,' so we are also 'made to drink of one Spirit.'[1 Cor 12:13 .] Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified[Jn 19:34 ; 1Jn 5:8 .] as its source and welling up in us to eternal life. - CCC, Op. cit.) [My emphasis]

Baptism does nothing to gain or secure eternal salvation - that it a free gift:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

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