Archives For baptism

 

When most people speak of baptism, they are referring to baptism in or by water.  The form of this baptism varies between the Christian religions – some practising full immersion, others pouring or sprinking.  Some baptize only those who have professed faith in Christ, others baptizing newborn children.

With this variety of practise in mind, what is correct?  What does the bible say about the history and practise of baptism?

Baptism is rooted in Jewish ceremonial cleansing traditions, as prescribed in the book of Leviticus for a variety of conditions or transgressions that result in a person being or becoming unclean.  The Jews of the Old Testament era were commanded to be fully immersed for cleansing after coming in contact with a dead body, after childbirth or menstruation, for certain skin conditions such as psoriasis, and even after eating certain types of meat.  A thorough study of Leviticus reveals several more uses of full immersion for purification.

The most famous “immerser” of the New Testament was John the Baptist.  John instituted the Baptism of Repentance as given to him by God.  Many people came to John, repented of their sins and were baptized by immersion in the waters of the Jordan river (see Matthew 3).  Jesus was baptized by John as well, which was the beginning of his public ministry.  John’s ministry was to prepare the way for Jesus, to point people to Him.  John recognized that his baptism was incomplete and that the baptism of the coming Christ would be a baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire (Matthew 3:11).

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he reminded his disciples that John bapized with water, but that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1).  He commanded them in Matthew 28:19 to make disciples and to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

As seen throughout the New Testament, baptism is reserved for those who have repented of their sins.  The second chapter of Acts records that about 3000 people “received his word and were baptized.”  The prerequisites for baptism in the New Testament, which most Christian religions agree upon, are faith and genuine repentance.  Only then is water baptism appropriate, as baptism itself does not save a person.

The question remains, what is baptism?  What’s the purpose?  Jesus not only was baptized, but commanded others to be baptized as well – why?  Baptism is a picture of what happens in a person when they are saved.  Salvation itself is a baptism as described here and in Romans 6:3-4 – “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, in order that, just as  Christ was raised from the dead by  the glory of the Father, we too might walk in  newness of life.”

These verses do not speak of water baptism, but baptism into Christ.  When a person accepts Christ, they are taking on His death – death of the old, natural self, only to be reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit into a new creation.  Read Romans 6:4 again – “We were  buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as  Christ was raised from the dead by  the glory of the Father, we too might walk in  newness of life.”

Public water baptism is ordained by Christ as a confession of what has already taken place inside a person.  When a person first enters the water they are standing, then they are immersed, then they are raised up out of the water.  The old person enters, they are placed under the water to symbolize death and cleansing, and raised up again as a symbol of being new and clean, and alive in Christ.

Have you ever experienced what Christ died to give you?  Have you experienced this new life that He offers?  You can have it right now!  The bible says in Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Pray right now – ask for forgiveness and a new life, turn away from the old things, turn toward Christ and follow him.  Then follow in the footsteps of Jesus and be baptized in water to show the world what he has done for you!

 

I began a conversation recently about what the bible has to say about different types of baptism.  A friend of mine reminded me of a passage from Ephesians chapter 4, which says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (vs 4-6).

I told him that he had given me the perfect place to start the discussion regarding baptism into Christ.  I think he got confused at that point so I promised him I would send him the link then we could speak about it more.

Baptism into Christ is also known as salvation.  There is only one baptism in the context of verse 5, because verse 5 is talking about salvation.  Because of the work of the Spirit in our lives, we can know God, though his grace, and through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus.

What is the role of the Spirit in salvation?  It is two-fold:  the Spirit convicts us of sin, and then he leads us to repentance.

There was a time, according to Ephesians 2:1, when we were dead in our sins.  A sinful person has no knowledge of God in their heart, and no inclination to move toward God in their mind.  When mankind fell in the very beginning, our kind began a journey of self-discovery that led to separation from God.

What we took in with our senses became truth, what our minds constructed was reality.  We hear of God, we may even see him at work in the world, but we tend to explain these things, these miracles, away.  This is generally call science, which we made to explain the things God does in the physical world.

When we chose Knowledge over Life in the garden, we could no longer see what God intended for us to see.  We became blind to the spiritual realm.  We can’t “know” ourselves into a right relationship with God.  The work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, in baptizing into Christ, involves lifting that veil so that we get a glimpse of what is Real, what is True, what is Eternal.  The work of the Spirit in convicting us of sin is to show us who we are without Christ, and at least a little bit of what God offers if we will follow him.

In John 16, Jesus is telling the disciples that it is almost time for him to go.  I’m sure there were some confused looks.  Other verses that you can look up on your own indicate that the disciples thought Jesus would usher in a new age and bring with him the Kingdom of God.  But Jesus basically said, no that’s coming at a later date that only the Father knows.

Jesus said, “But  if  I go,  I will send [the Helper] to you. And when he comes, he will  convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:7, 8.

Can we convince our own selves that we are sinful?  Can anything we do on our own lead us to God?  If so, Christ would not have needed to die – if our knowledge can lead us to repentance, it was all for nothing.  No – the Spirit shows us our need, and at that point we have a choice.  We can see the Truth and choose to walk away, or we can choose to accept the salvation that the Spirit offers.

When we decide to follow Christ, the Holy Spirit becomes one with our spirit, he renews us, brings us to life.  Titus 3:5 says, “he saved us,  not because of works done by us in righteousness, but  according to his own mercy, by  the washing of regeneration and  renewal of the Holy Spirit.”  Regeneration is what the Spirit offers us.  Regeneration is bringing to life that which was once dead.  Just like God breathed into Adam, so the Spirit breathes into us when we accept Christ.

At that point, we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ.  I Corinthians 12:13 says, “For  in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and  all were made to drink of one Spirit.”  By the Spirit, we are baptized into the Body of Christ.

So, to be baptized by the Spirit into Christ means that you are saved, by the grace of God, through the sacrifice of Christ.  But it is by the work of the Holy Spirit in each individual that it all comes about.

My understanding of this process that I began all those years ago is recent.  Oh, I knew the concepts, was tested on them and wrote papers about it in college and seminary.  That was my problem though – I approached God through knowledge, while my spirit wasted away.  I was saved, but I did nothing to nourish my spirit, even thought I was challenging my mind.

Don’t fall for that – we are created in God’s image - body, soul, and spirit.  We must engage God through all three if we are to know Him and experience all he has for us.

How Many Baptisms?

April 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

Is there more than one type of baptism?  If you’d have asked me two years ago, I would have said, “What?”  I grew up thinking and believing that a person was saved, then baptized, and that was all there was.  What I am learning now is, I was wrong about that.

Personal study over the last 4-5 months has shown me that there are several different types of baptism in the bible, maybe as many as seven, and three that have to do with Christ followers.  The ones I won’t be talking about, at least not right away, are the baptism of Moses, and the baptism of John the Baptist, although I will give a brief explanation of them.

John was the forerunner, the one who prepared the way for Christ.  And how did he do that?  He preached repentance and instituted water baptism; in fact, never before had people been given the opportunity to be baptized for the remission of sin.  His baptism was from God, and his mission was to let the people know that the long awaited Messiah was already in their midst.  John told the people to repent and be baptized because the Kingdom is at hand.  And many people did repent and were baptized.

Moses was a type of “Christ” or deliverer in the Old Testament.  The baptism of Moses happened when the people of Israel passed through the Red Sea.  You can read about it in Exodus 14 and in I Corinthians 10.  Although the Israelites never got wet, the did pass through the waters, led by the cloud that God had sent to lead them.

There are several more types of baptism which I may combine into one post later on, but what I am leading toward is the three distinct types of baptism having to do with Christians in the New Testament all the way up to the present.  These three are Baptism into Christ, Water Baptism, and Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38 mentions these three baptisms -

“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 will receive  the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Over the next few days I will examine these baptisms and discuss what the bible says about each.  This is as far as I will go for now – my point in this was to introduce the topic - but do some digging on your own.  Pray that God would open your mind to what His Word says about these things.

What I have experienced in the very recent past, and am still experiencing, is real.  It’s not weird, doesn’t involve rolling on the floor or foaming at the mouth or even speaking in tongues.  Although I am open to the latter, it is not something that I have experienced.  What I do know is, everything in my life has changed, very recently.  I have hope where before there was none.  I have peace where before everything was just too hard.  I have joy where before all I could do was complain.  I have experienced this because I heard about it, saw it in other people’s lives, and decided to ask God for what I was missing.  It is just that simple – “Ask and you will receive.”