Eleven things about Christian Baptism
By Nelson Thomas, Mumbai
Two ordinances for the Church:
Baptism - once to obey. Matt28:1820
Lord's Supper till Christ returns. Luke 22:19, 20.
I. Meaning of the word.
The word baptism' is a transliteration of Greek word baptizo' meaning to dip in'; to immerse'. Cf. 1Cori 10:2 all were baptized in to Moses . They passed through the sea overshadowed by the cloud.
II. Various baptisms
1. Jewish baptisms: - Hebrews 9:19 ; 6:2. Ceremonial; - For converts.
2. John's baptism: - Matthew 3:6 of repentance. Cf. Acts 18:25 ; 19:17. Ob. Some of those who took John's baptism never even heard of Jesus Christ. It was introductory preparatory.
3. Baptism of Jesus: - Matthew 3:3 unique. To fulfill all righteousness .
As an example.
To identify with the people- as a Jew / perfect man.
Being anointed for the redemptive work. (At 30years Levites were cleansed and anointed for priestly work. Cf. Num 4:3; Exod 29:47; Lev 8:6, 836.)
4. Baptism of Christ's disciples. John 3:26; 4:1, 2.
Signified a confession and loyalty to Jesus as the Messiah but not all followed! Cf. John 6:66; 7:31ff.
5. Baptism of suffering. Luke 12:50; Mark 10:38
Metaphorically used referring to Christ's death.
6. Baptism of the Holy Spirit. John 1:33
Fulfilled in Acts 2. cf. 1Cori 12:13 ; Rom 8:9, 11 believers were incorporated into a spiritual body-the Church.
7. Baptism of fire. Matt 3:11
Refers to future judgment. Cf. Matt 13:42 50; 1The 1:8
The above three kinds of baptisms are used metaphorically.
8. Christian baptism. Matt 28:1820.
Distinct one of the ordinances for the church. Cf. Luke 22:19, 20.
III. Importance of Christian baptism
a. Commanded by Christ. Matt 28:1820; Mark 16:15,16. Based on His authority. - Must obey - no option.cf.vs.18.
b. Preached by the disciples. Act 2:38, 41;8:36 38 as part of the gospel truth.
c. Practiced by the disciples. Acts 2:41;8:35,36;10:47 ,48;16:13 15;18:8.
d. Explained by the disciples. Rom 6:35;Gala 3:27 ; Colo 2:11,12;1Pet 3:20,21.
- If Christ needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness we too need to be baptized.
IV. The candidate- who should be baptized?
- Not an infant or adult. Notice the following verses and see the state of those who got baptized in the first centaury.
1. Matt. 28: 19, 20:- Disciples who were taught in the word and following the master.
2. Mark 16:16:- Believers cf. Act 8:12, 3638; 18:8.
3. Act 2:37 , 38, and 41:-Convicted, repented and saved.
4. Act 9:18 :- Heard Christ's voice and acknowledged His Lordship. V. 7
5. Act 10:47 :- Who got the Holy Spirit already- not after baptism.
6. Romans 6:3- 5; Colo 2:11,12:- Already dead and received new life.
Without such inward experience already, any number of baptisms makes no use no difference.
V. The minister who should give baptism.
- No special person is necessary. Notice:-
cf. Matt. 28:19:- Commanded the apostles.
Acts 8: 39 Philip, a deacon baptized the Eunuch on the way.
1Corinthaians 1:14 , 15:- Paul avoided giving baptism.
Any one saved, baptized and living a testimonial life and who could do this spiritual service for God's glory could baptize a believer. Of course the local assembly has the freedom to decide.
VI. The place - Where shall we take baptism? River Jordan only?
Not specifically told. But need water for immersion. Cf. John 3:22, 23; Matt. 3:1317; Act 16:13 15, 33; 8:12 , 13.
VII. The mode / Method How? Sprinkling or pouring?
When we study the meaning of the word as well the significance of it, the mode of baptism can not be anything else other than immersion. Both the candidate and the minister go into the water. Cf. Mark 3:16; John 3:23; Act 8: 38 , 39.
VIII. The Significance of baptism.
What is the spiritual meaning behind baptism? It is not for salvation. Salvation is only by grace not by works. Eph 2:8. Already saved, born again. Now baptism is an outward expression of that inward experience. It is a sign, symbol. What is the truths baptism signifies?
1. Our submissiveness to Christ. Matt. 28:19. -To Christ's command. - As an obedient disciple. Cf. Rom 10:9 Acknowledging the Lordship of Christ.
2. Our love for Christ. John 14:23 - by obeying His commandment.
3. Our testimony. Gala 3:27 . Publicly bearing Christ. All could see our testimony with baptism. Ob. Uniform doesn't make one a police man, but uniform testifies who he is! Cf. Act 8:37 It is a proclamation too. At baptism many could hear as we confess our faith in Christ. Cf. John 12:42; 1Cori 15:3, 4.
4. Our identity. Romans 6:3; Colo 2:11, 12. An expression of our union with Christ.
This is the most important aspect of baptism. A believer is already died with Christ. He / she has already experienced it at conversion. Even the burial and the new life also is his / her experience. Now the same spiritual, inward experience is being shown outwardly as sign.
Not only it is an expression of our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, it is also an acknowledgement that the old man and his ways are dead. Cf. 2Cori 5:14 17. Declaring to the world that a believer is dead to the world, sin, self and Satan.
IX. The result / out come.
Though it is not for salvation etc, obeying any commandment of the Lord leads to blessings in the life of a Christian. Some specific results are found in the word.
1. 1Peter 3:21 :- A good conscience . Of obedient heart. Ob. Disobedient children stay away from parents! Obeying Christ's directive makes our conscience clear and bold.
2. Gala 3:27 :- A new testimony. Special attention even a strange look from some - as wear Christ.
3. Acts 8:34 :- Gladness.
4. Acts2:41, 42:- Full fellowship with the local church. Cf. 49
5. Matthew 3:16:- Heavenly Father is pleased . Cf. Luke 3:22; 12:8 heaven rejoicing.
6. John 14:21c, 23c.:- New revelation special communion of the triune God.
7. Matt 4:1:- Devil troubled! Evil forces will be against the newly baptized believer. So, be careful.
X. Consequences of rejecting baptism.
Apart from losing all the above mentioned seven results, four more things are noteworthy.
a. Affects spiritual progress and joy. John 14:2123.
b. Affects assembly fellowship. Acts 2:41 , 42.
c. Affects discipleship. Matt 28:19
d. Its disobedience and rebellion. Luke 7:30.
XI. Responsibilities of the baptized.
By baptism his / her responsibilities are increased!
1. To the world walk new. As testified by true.
2. To the assembly as joined to the local church.
3. To self be on guard stay close to the Lord- satanic attack possible at any time. Eph 4:27- fight and win. Cf. 1Cori 2:11 ; 1Peter 5:8
4. To the Lord . Be faithful as promised till death. Rev 2:10c.
Failure now - more shameful / dishonor to God. Be cleansed / restored immediately.
Practically show to the world what we claimed to be about our identity at baptism. Rom 6:36.
World is watching and even waiting to trap a Christian be on guard always.
Better not to be baptized if not sure of one's salvation new life.