Lucia's Blog: WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL PATTERN FOR BAPTISM?
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, May 25, 2020

WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL PATTERN FOR BAPTISM?

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;  for he who has died is freed from sin."
Romans 6:3-7



Satan has placed stumbling blocks at numerous points before the humble man who seeks the favor and communion of his beloved Creator. One of those points is the water baptism of Acts 2:38.  We must understand the issue of Scriptural Baptism.  Even though nearly every church practices something that they call "baptism," if we don't get this right, we may stumble into eternity unprepared to meet our God.  Let's take another look at the Bible teaching on baptism.

The Greek word for baptism baptisma means to plunge or immerse.  Baptism is the process of being immersed in water.  Notice how Jesus was baptized. 
"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?'  But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him.  After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water"  Matthew 3:13-16.  

There is no doubt that baptism is a burial in water.  This is precisely what the early church practiced.  They obeyed the commands ordained by God to be saved from sin.  One must be baptized.  There is no other way.  In the Book of Acts, we find many examples of baptism for the remission of sins, thus to be saved from sin.  Three thousand Jews were baptized, Acts 2:41.  The Ethiopian eunuch confessed Jesus as Lord. Then he was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 8:38).  After he was baptized, he "went on his way rejoicing."  The Philippian jailer was baptized after an earthquake (Acts 16:33). After he was baptized, he "rejoiced greatly."

The baptism that saves has four essential elements:
  1. The correct manner - immersion.
  2. The correct authority - in the name of Jesus Christ.
  3. The correct purpose - for the forgiveness of sins.  
  4. The correct person - the repentant believer who is seeking forgiveness of sins.  

I.   WHY BAPTISM?

A very critical question that shows the need for baptism.  Although many denominations would agree that baptism is commanded and is important, they still disagree about the necessity of baptism and its purpose, according to God's will.

  • The Purpose of Baptism:
The purpose of baptism is forgiveness of sins.  Many Scriptures speak of baptism as a way for us to ask God to forgive us for the sins we have committed against Him.

In Acts 22:16, Ananias told Paul,
"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name." 

Ananias told Paul that the way we call on the Lord is through baptism, asking God for our sins to be washed away.  He describes baptism as the process of calling on the Lord’s name. Ananias also describes baptism as God's way of washing away our sins.   When we put these two things together, it is evident that baptism is the process by which we ask God for the forgiveness of our sins.

Baptism, which is like the water of Noah's flood, now saves us.  Baptism doesn’t save us by removing the dirt from our bodies. Rather, baptism is our appeal to God for a clear conscience. Baptism saves us through Jesus Christ, who was raised from death to life (1 Peter 3:21).
"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

And though baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience,” we must understand that such an appeal is a request we are making of a judge. That is the idea of the Greek word.  It literally means “an inquiry, a question.” Thus baptism is asking God for a clear conscience.  Peter’s argument is that baptism is not something we do to wash the body.  Rather, baptism saves us because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  He has opened the way for us to God for a clear conscience through His sacrificeBaptism is the way our sins are removed after we arise and are baptized, washing away our sins.  Paul taught the Colossians that through baptism, our sins are removed.
"In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13).  

In baptism, our sins are circumcised (cut off; put off). Sins cannot be cut off without baptism.

  • Baptism Unites And Clothes Us With Christ:
Baptism not only removes our sins, but it also unites us with Christ.
"As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
"What should we say then? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:1-5)

So why is it that so many argue that we can be forgiven of our sins without baptism?  The Scriptures tell us that we cannot be united with Christ unless we are baptized.  We are united with Christ and forgiven of our sins at baptism.  This is how we ask God for the forgiveness of our sins.



  • Why Denominations Do Not Believe Baptism Is Essential to be Saved:
    • Although our denominational friends baptize, they do not believe nor do they teach that baptism is essential for salvation. Listen to their own words about baptism.
          "Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of ‘baptismal regeneration’; but it is essential to obedience since Christ has commanded it"  (Edward T. Hiscox, D.D., The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches).

            With this statement, they are showing their confusion.  Sadly, this is the position that many religious groups take. They claim that baptism is not essential for salvation but that one must do it because it is commanded.  So, is baptism essential, or is it not?  Well, let us examine the arguments they make against baptism as being essential for salvation. 

              • The blood of Christ Remits Our Sins, Not Baptism:
            I agree with their statement since the Word of God says so.
            “For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). 

            The blood of Christ does offer the forgiveness of sins. Without the blood of Christ, there would not be forgiveness. But this argument is not valid once we substitute it with God’s requirements. For example, it would be absurd to say,
            “The blood of Christ remits our sins, not faith.” 
            Or,
            “The blood of Christ remits our sins, not repentance.” 

            Yes, the blood of Christ remits our sins. No one will disagree with this. The question at stake is: how can we have access to the blood of Christ? The blood of Christ does not take away our need for faith, belief, repentance, or confession.  By the same token, the blood of Christ does not take away the need for baptism.  Moreover, the language used in Matthew 26:28 is the same as Acts 2:38
            "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. Both scriptures say these things are “for the forgiveness of sins.'" 

            Often the argument that is made is that the word “for” does not mean “unto” but "because of."  Thus, we are baptized because our sins are forgiven. However, it makes no sense to use the definition given in Matthew 26:28 to make this claim.  So, did Jesus shed His blood for many because their sins were forgiven? No, the blood of Christ is for forgiveness.  And baptism is also for forgiveness of sins.

              • Baptism is a Work, And We Are Not Saved by Works:
            There is so much confusion about this!  Why?  Because we are using the same words, and thus are failing to communicate. This confusion began with the Roman Catholic church since they do not regard baptism as an act of faith. Rather, the Roman Catholic church regards baptism as a sacrament, a meritorious work not contingent upon faith. But that is not what the Scriptures teach about baptism! Sadly, many believe that is what we teach about baptism when we simply say that baptism savesThose who teach we are not saved by works do not believe this completely.  Why?  Because while they declare that salvation has nothing to do with what we do, everyone understands that there must be something that we must do to be saved. We understand that we must believe in God and believe that Jesus is the Son of God to receive God’s Grace. Is that not our work? It is because that is something that we must doBut it is not a work if you believe the Roman Catholic term that it is some sort of sacrament that merits salvation. The same is true with repentance, confession, and baptism. These are God's conditions for receiving His Grace. Repentance, confessing our sins, confessing Jesus as Lord, and being immersed in water does not earn anything. But they will meet the conditions God has commanded to receive the benefit of the blood of Christ shed for us.

            Further, the Gospel tells us that it is not us doing the work in baptism, but God.  Listen to Paul’s words.
            "In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses (Colossians 2:11-13).

            Paul declares that baptism is our act of faith in the working of God. God does the work when He cuts off the sins of the flesh from us.  What we do in baptism is to ask God to remove or take away our sins, showing our faith in God that He will indeed remove our sins.  That simple!


              • Paul Was Not Sent to Baptize; Therefore, Baptism is Not Essential to Salvation:
            "For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, 'I follow Paul,' or 'I follow Apollos,' or 'I follow Cephas,' or 'I follow Christ.' 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power""  (1 Corinthians 1:11-17).

            Our friends use 1 Corinthians 1:11-17 to make this argument.   This passage indeed shows the importance of baptism and also demonstrates that baptism is essential to salvation.
            “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17).  

            We must rightly handle this passage well to understand what Paul is saying.  We must acknowledge that Paul is using a figure of speech here.  Paul is using an ellipsis, which is commonly used throughout the New Testament. An ellipsis is a figure of speech where certain words are not directly expressed but are understood. To understand this better, let us read 1 Peter 3:3-4.
            "Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight."

            In our text, Peter is not saying that women should not wear clothes. Why?  Because Peter is using an ellipsis to say that a woman should not only adorn themselves with these things but also with a gentle and quiet spirit. By using the ellipsis, Peter wants women to acknowledge that the higher priority must be on the inner self, not the outer. Thus, the ellipsis has the intended effect of drawing emphasis. Let me give you another example.
            "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you" (John 6:27).  

            Here, Jesus was not saying to not work for food, for that would contradict 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
            “If any will not work, neither shall he eat.”  

            Here we have another ellipsis. Jesus is saying that we should not work only for food, but for food that endures for eternal life. The ellipsis puts the emphasis on spiritual food. Our focus must be primarily on the food that endures for eternal life.

            Now, let us go back to 1 Corinthians 1:17. When Paul stated that Christ sent him not to baptize, he was not declaring that baptism was not important, not essential. Christ taught Paul not to baptize only, but to preach the Gospel also.  I must stress that the ellipsis puts the emphasis on Paul preaching the Gospel. Why do you suppose that is the emphasis? Because Paul emphasizes that anyone can baptize, but not everyone can preach the Gospel at that time because they had the revealed Word of God given to them through the Holy Spirit. Paul was not denigrating baptism, but rather he was stressing that the apostles had a more significant role of preaching the Gospel.

              • The Thief on The Cross Was Not Baptized, so we do Not Have to be Baptized to be Saved Either:
            We must stress that we don't know if the thief had been baptized by John the Baptist or by one of Jesus' disciples.  The fact that he could understand some things about Jesus is an indication that he might have been baptized rather than not.  The thief asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom. This criminal accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Don't you suppose that perhaps he had heard some of Jesus' teachings to know this? The bottom line is that we do not know if he had been baptized.

            We must understand that we live under the New Covenant, which did not become valid until after Jesus' death.  Jesus' New Covenant required His death before coming into effect.
            "For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives" (Hebrews 9:16-17). 

            The  Law of Moses was still in effect, and it did not command baptism. After Jesus' resurrection, the Gospel required baptism of water into His death that we might be raised to walk in newness of life.
            "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
            "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" (Acts 2:38).

            CONCLUSION:

            Baptism is how we ask God forgiveness when we have our sins cut off.  In baptism, we unite ourselves with Christ. Baptism is simply a condition of God’s Grace, not a sacramental work that merits salvation. The blood of Christ saves when sinners obey the terms of God’s Grace.  To benefit from the blood of Jesus and God's Grace, we must first believe in the Lord, repent of our sins, confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins.  You can rest assured that after we meet all the requirements ordained by the Lord Himself,  God will extend His Grace to us, and forgive our sins.

            A brief note of clarification.  Nothing is ever written about the qualifications of the one who physically does the baptizing or, for that matter, who does the teaching that leads one to be baptized.  Baptism is not a priestly act, nor is it a church sacrament, concepts that have no authority in the Scriptures.  If the validity of baptism depended on the righteousness of the one performing the baptism, it would be necessary to know the heart of the baptizer as well as the heart of the one who baptized the baptizer, tracing a lineage of righteous baptizers all the way back to the apostles.

            The blood of Jesus forgives sins when one is baptized (Acts 2:38).

            Consider the following Scriptural teachings about baptism:
            1. Baptism is a burial.  We are baptized into His death, our death to sin, and resurrected in His resurrection, our resurrection, being born again (Rom. 6:3-7; Colossians 2:12-13)
            2. Baptism is commanded (Acts 10:48)
            3. Baptism requires immediate action  (Acts 22:16)  
            4. Baptism is for those who believe (Mk. 16:16; Romans 10:11, 16-17) 
            5. Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38)
            6. Baptism makes us holy and righteous (justified) before our God (Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5-7) 
            7. There is ONLY ONE baptism (Ephesians 4:5)
            8. When we are baptized, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ that redeems us from sin:  spiritwater and blood (I John 5:8; Acts 2:38)
            9. We are clothed with Christ in Baptism.  We put on Christ (Gal. 3:27; I Corinthians 12:13) 
            10. Baptism saves us and gives us a good conscience toward God.  This means a pure heart in full assurance of faith.  Baptism is the heart's response to God (1 Pet. 3:21; Hebrews 10:22)
            11. Baptism requires the proclaiming of the good news of Jesus (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 10:14-15)

            Every conversion to Christ in the book of Acts involved baptismNo One was forgiven of their sins apart from baptism or before being baptized  (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:15; Acts 8:38; Acts 9:18; Acts 10:48.  Notice that Cornelius was not forgiven of his sins until he was baptized as commanded by our Lord Jesus (Acts 11:14; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:3-5 and Acts 22:16) 

            What the Bible says about baptism is not difficult to understand if we approach the Scriptures without prejudice.  Those who have not been baptized into Christ are not saved, are not in the kingdom, are not in the body of Christ, have not put on Christ; have not been justified, have not been buried with Christ into death to be raised to walk in newness of life and have not received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

            I hope this arrangement of Scriptures is helpful to your understanding of the Bible subject of baptism.

            Baptism is the only way to see the kingdom of heaven and to be in it.

            Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”'  John 3:3

            May we approach God's Sacred Word with understanding and without prejudice that we might understand God's plan of salvation for us.  May we never take for granted God's Grace and Mercy toward us but instead walk in His Light as He is in the Light to be with Him one day in heaven.


            P.S.  I leave with you the words of a favorite hymn that we sing on the occasion of baptism.


            A New Creature

            Buried with Christ, my blessed Redeemer, 
            Dead to the old life of folly and sin;
            Satan may call, the world may entreat me, 
            There is no voice that answers within.

            Chorus
            Dead to the world, to voices that call me, 
            Living anew, obedient but free;
            Dead to the joys that once did enthrall me -- 
            Yet 'tis not I, Christ liveth in me.

            Dead unto sin, alive thru the Spirit, 
            Risen with Him from the gloom of the grave,
            All things are new, and I am rejoicing, 
            In His great love, His power to save.

            Sin hath no more its cruel dominion, 
            Walking "in newness of life," I am free --
            Glorious life of Christ, my Redeemer, 
            Which He so richly shareth with me.


            Luci

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