WHAT ABOUT BAPTISM?
©Copyright 1996 Randall D. Hughes
Baptism comes from the Greek word "baptizo" which means "to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet), to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge, to wash, to make clean with water." It is clear from it's definition baptism is more than just a sprinkling. Not only from the Greek definition do we find this, but also in its usage in Scripture we can see this is true. For "we are buried with him in baptism…" Rom. 6:4. So it is clear a complete submerging is what is referred to in the Bible.
Baptism in the Bible actually began in Exodus. While there are those who say the Old Testament has no significance for us today, the New Testament tells us otherwise. Gal. 3:24-25, tells us, "…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ…" The law is our teacher, yet "…we are no longer under a schoolmaster." Lets look at the first command to wash, and its significance.
Under the law they had the Tabernacle. There are many types and shadows in the Tabernacle correlating to our experience with God. The Brazen Altar was for offering sacrifices. The Laver was for the Priest to wash before entering the Tabernacle. The Candlesticks were the only source of light in the Tabernacle. The Table of Shew bread was for the bread the priest would eat. The Altar of Incense was to offer incense upon. And the Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God.
Some quick types that we find in the Tabernacle. The Altar is were we die out to the will of the flesh in repentance. The Laver is where we are washed in baptism. Recall the definition of baptism included washing. The Candlesticks give the light of revelation on the Bread (God's Word). The Altar of Incense is our praise. And then we reach the dwelling place of the Presence of God when we are filled with his Spirit and he dwells in us.
The reason we looked at all of this is for the importance of the symbol of baptism here. Exodus 30:20-21, says the priest were to "wash with water that they die not…" This was so they could enter the Holy Place. Do you want to enter the Holy Place? Do you want God's Spirit to dwell in you?
You may say, "well, that's just some ones idea. It all could just be speculation." There is yet another Old Testament type of baptism, that being the covenant of circumcision.
God first made this covenant with Abraham in Gen. 17:9-14. Circumcision is the removal of the flesh of the foreskin. All males had to be circumcised or those who remained uncircumcised "shall be cut off from among his people." To be a part of the Children of Israel you HAD to be circumcised! Otherwise you were unable to associate with the people of God!
After Israel wondered in the dessert for forty years, they were ready to go into the Promise land. Before they could conquer the Promise land, all males born in the wilderness had to be circumcised. Joshua 5:2-9. When this is done, God said, "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you." Egypt is always a type of sin in the Bible. We must remove sin from our hearts before we can enter the Promise land!
How important was this covenant? Moses, the meekest man upon the earth, the one chosen by God to lead his people out of Egypt. After being chosen to free Israel, God almost killed him. Why? Because he had failed to circumcise his sons! Ex. 4:24-26.
One other important aspect of this covenant was it was to be performed on the eight day after birth. It was this time the child was given his name. The name given to him would determine if he had a part in the family inheritance. The critical nature of this is obvious in Luke 2:59-61. Here the family is arguing over what John the Baptist will be named. The family gave him his father's name, Zacharias. (Do you bear your Father's name?) But his mother said, "not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, there is none of thy kindred that is called by this name."
So before we look in the New Testament, lets review what we have learned from our schoolmaster. 1. The Priest must wash before he could enter into the Holy Place. 2. The High Priest must wash so he could enter the Holiest of All. 3. The consequence of not washing was death!
With the covenant of circumcision we learn: 1. Without this covenant you were not a part of the chosen people of God. 2. It is a type of the removal of the reproach of sin. 3. The removal of this reproach was required to be able to conquer the promise land. 4. The lack of the circumcision of his sons almost cost Moses his life. 5. The name given when circumcised was crucial to the named individual receiving the family inheritance.
Now we will look at baptism from the New Testament. John the Baptist was the first to baptize in the New Testament. He told his audience that his baptism was not sufficient. But there would be a baptism to follow his, Matt. 3:11. In Matt. 3:13-17, Jesus was baptized of John "to fulfill all righteousness." What was this? All priest must wash before they could minister, so Jesus had to be washed so he could begin his ministry. Jesus was baptized, and we are admonished to "follow his steps." 1 Pet. 2:21
Jesus spoke of the importance of baptism in Mark 16:16, when he said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned." It is obvious from this reading that the unbeliever was not baptized. Of course, to be baptized and not believe would not do any good either, Col. 2:12.
Jesus eluded to the importance of baptism again in John 3:5, when he told Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." From what we have gleaned from our schoolmaster, water, (washing), would have to be baptism.
What is the purpose of baptism? Jesus spoke in Luke 24:46-47, he mentioned remission of sins? Could this be the purpose of baptism? Jesus speaking in the third person (grammatically of course), "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Well, it doesn't specifically mention baptism here…
Yet, the only place in the entire Bible that repentance and remission of sins is preached is Acts 2:38! And it says, "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Here there is a direct link to remission of sins and baptism. According to Strong's the word "remission" means: "Freedom, pardon, deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission." In general, baptism is the means God uses to pardon our sins. A difference between forgiveness and remission is this. Every month the credit card bills come in. A very small percent of the total is paid and they forgive the debt for another month. It is not until the debt is paid in full that it is remitted! When we repent we are forgiven. But when we are baptized, the sins are washed away, remitted, paid in full. No debt remains!
In Acts 22:16, when Saul was baptized, Ananias said, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." So here the Bible specifically mentions baptism as the means to wash away our sins!
How important is it really? We have already read Jesus' words in Mark 16:16, yet in 1 Pet. 3:21, Peter compares baptism to the flood. How Noah and his house were saved by the "water" lifting them above the destruction. "The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" Peter places great emphasis on baptism in Acts also. We have already looked at Acts 2:38, but he commands Cornelius and his house to be baptized in the name of the Lord," in Acts 10:47-48.
So, we can see the importance of baptism in the shadow of the Old Testament. It is our washing. Except we have been born of water we cannot enter the kingdom of God! This is consistent with entering the Tabernacle.
It removes the effects of the works of the flesh like circumcision removes the flesh. Col. 2:11-12, makes a direct correlation between baptism and circumcision. "In whom we are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised you from the dead." Notice this is all possible by "faith in the operation." It is God who is doing the wok in baptism. We just simply obey. In Titus 3:5-6, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." If one is baptized without faith in God to perform the work, one is just getting wet! Our actions do not save us! But obedience to God who is doing the work "through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Titus 2:11, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men," yet all are not saved. Why? All have not obeyed!
The Scripture said that a child was named when he was circumcised. This is also true with baptism! In virtually every baptism mentioned in the Bible, the phrase, "in the name of…" is mentioned. Here are a few:
Acts 2:38---------------------"…in the name of Jesus Christ"
Acts 8:16---------------------"…in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Acts10:48--------------------"…in the name of the Lord."
Acts 19:5---------------------"…in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Acts 22:16-------------------"…calling upon the name of the Lord."
Luke 24:46-47---------------"…Christ…and remission of sins…in his name."
Matt. 28:19------------------"…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
If there is any doubt to what the name of the Lord is look in Acts 9:5. Here Saul ask, "Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus…" The only verse that seems to break the flow is Matt. 28:19. However, it does mention a SINGLE name that can refer to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In light of the other verses do you wonder what that name might be? Jesus said, "I am come in my Father's name…" in John 5:43. In John 14:26, Jesus said, "…the Holy Ghost…" would be sent "…in my name." Acts 4:12 says, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The Bible is very emphatic in its emphasis of one name above all others! The single name given preeminence is none other than JESUS!
In Eph. 3:15, we learn, "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named with that name." To receive the family inheritance, one must be named with the family named. It is incredible that there is so much emphasis placed on this one name in Scripture, and yet many fail to see it's need in baptism. We will go through an overview of the some of the remaining verses relating to Jesus name baptism.
Rom. 6:3-4-----------------"Buried with him" (Who was buried? Notice not them!)
1 Cor. 1:13-----------------Were you baptized in the name of the one crucified?
Gal. 3:27-------------------"…baptized into Christ…"
Phil. 2:9-11----------------God has exalted Jesus name above every name
Col. 2:12-------------------"Buried with him…" (Who was buried? Not them)
Col. 3:17-------------------"word or deed, do all in the name of Jesus" Does baptism count as all?
Eph. 1:20-23--------------Christ above all and every name not only in this world, but also that to come."
There is not found in all the pages of Scripture, a single baptismal service where an individual is baptized any other way, but in THE NAME OF JESUS! Yes, the New Testament reveals the same importance, the same emphasis, as the Old Testament when dealing with the issue of baptism. It was so important to the Apostles that they baptized at midnight, Acts 16:33 & 25. In the desert, Acts 8:36-39. They commanded individuals to be baptized, Acts 10:47-48. They re-baptized individuals baptized in another way, Acts 19:1-5. Yes, it was very important. It was important to the priest in the Old Testament. It was important to Jesus. It was important to the Apostles. And it is still important today! Have you obeyed?
©Copyright 1996 Randall D. Hughes
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