Friday, January 25, 2008

On Baptism....

Our Precept Ladies class is studying "The Sermon On The Mount" right now. Last week we did our overview which basically included Matthew chapters 1-7.

We camped for a while in Matthew 3. Here's the text, so you can follow along with me as I share what I learned:

Mat 3:1
Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
Mat 3:2
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Mat 3:3
For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!' "
Mat 3:4
Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Mat 3:5
Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan;
Mat 3:6
and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
Mat 3:7
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Mat 3:8
"Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;
Mat 3:9
and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
Mat 3:10
"The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 3:11
"As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Mat 3:12
"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Mat 3:13
Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan {coming} to John, to be baptized by him.
Mat 3:14
But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"
Mat 3:15
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.
Mat 3:16
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove {and} lighting on Him,
Mat 3:17
and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

First I want to challenge you to find the answers to a few questions...

1.) What was John telling the people to do before he baptized them?
2.) How many were baptized that didn't first do as he was emploring them to? Or, to use the words straight from Scripture, that he was "preaching" to, to do so?
3.) Why was he telling them to do this?
4.) What was his response to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming for baptism?
5.) Why was John not baptizing them, too? What were they lacking that had to come first?
6. ) What were the Pharisees and Sadducees banking on to give them entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven?
7.) What were they missing?

Here's the biggie...the thing that God showed me through His Word, which is so powerful. I hope and pray that you will see it too.

If there was something special in the water that would have saved people, John would never have kept anyone from being baptized. John's whole reason for being, was to make ready the way of the LORD, and to proclaim to the people their need for repentance.

There are people today who think of baptism in much the same way that the Pharisees thought about having Abraham for their father. They believe that baptism is what saves.

If baptism saves, in and of itself, then Jesus died in vain.

Do you see it? If water was all that was needed for salvation, why then didn't John baptize the Pharisees? Why in the world would he refuse them?

What was required of them FIRST? It's the same thing that is required of anyone who accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

There is another place in Scripture, where Paul actually says that he is thankful that he didn't baptize any of a particular group in the church of this:

1Cor 1:12
Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."
1Cor 1:13
Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
1Cor 1:14
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
1Cor 1:15
so that no one would say you were baptized in my name.
1Cor 1:16
Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
1Cor 1:17
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

Now, if baptism alone saved, do you really think the Apostle Paul would have been thankful that he didn't baptize people?

So, I'm guessing that you're wondering if I believe in baptism? Do I believe it is important?

You betcha! I believe that it's a Biblical precept, and an act of obedience on the part of the believer.

Just as I don't believe that someone can say, "I went under the water, so I'm all good", and live however they choose..not bearing fruit in keeping with repentance; I also don't believe that someone who truly belongs to Jesus Christ would refuse the first act of obedience that He asks of us.

In Him,


janan said...

I got baptized "into a church" when I was 8 years old. My most vivid memory of it was that I cried because my pastor told me I could no longer eat bacon.

Fast forward to the age of 44 when God saved me. For awhile afterwards, I thought since I had already been baptized, I wasn't supposed to do it again. The Spirit had begun to convict me and I had been studying the scriptures, but it wasn't until I heard an evangelist talk about getting baptized "on the right side of the cross" that it realy clicked in my head.

I could hardly wait to be baptized after that and can still remember how clean I felt when I came up out of that water!

In Beth Moore's Jesus the One and Only study (again), she talks about John the Baptist baptizing unto repentance in the Jordan River, and how - metaphorically speaking - the people's sins - their repentance - were being washed into the waters. And then Jesus, when John the Baptist baptized Him in the same waters, came up out of the water "wearing" the sins of those who had repented. Isn't that beautiful?


Anonymous said...

Dear Jesica,
I first want to say I appreciate your searching spirit and openness to His Word and the Truth it holds. As I was reading your thoughts on baptism, I was reminded of how important it is to "rightly divide the Word of Truth". John was not baptizing unto salvation but unto repentance. After Jesus death, burial, and resurrection, then baptism was an integral part of salvation's plan (please study Romans 6th chapter dealing with this concept). Also, after Christ's death, the Word says the Old Law was nailed to the cross, so the New Covenant only came into being then, so we as disciples of Jesus believe in Him as the Son of God, repent, then as Paul tells the Romans in 6:3 and 4, we are "buried with him in the likeness of His death and raised to walk in newness of life". Also, the story of Priscilla and her husband Aquila took Apollos aside and shared with him that since he had only had John's baptism, he needed Jesus' baptism "for the remission of sins", Acts 2:38-41. I know 1st Peter 3:21 baffles a lot of sincere people when they read it: comparing the water of baptism with the water which carried the ark of Noah to safety, it says, "therefore, baptism does also now save us!"
My thoughts and prayers are with you as honestly and sincerely "study to show yourself approved before God..." so you won't mislead as a false teacher in your important blog.
Jo (Mother, Gramma, Missionary)

Stephanie said...

Our pastor spoke about that in his message today. Here's an abbreviated version... Faith, confess, believe (Romans 9:30-10:11). Obedience follows. Leads to a desire to free ALL PEOPLE with the message of Jesus (Rom 10:11-13). And a passion to love people and speak about the good news of Jesus (Rom 10:14-15). We gotta live it and speak it, baby! And somewhere in there he said Baptism doesn't save, Jesus does, it's just the act of obedience after confessing and believing.

Jes said...

Dearest Janan, Jo, and Stephanie..

Thank you all for your comments on the post.

Janan..I love the quote from the evangelist. That makes so much sense. Baptism has to be an act of obedience born from belief and repentance, and the quote that you shared pierces right to the heart.

Jo..thank you for visiting my blog, and for your heart for Jesus. Even though we may have different understandings of baptism, it is clear that you love the Lord and His Word, as do I, and I want to welcome you here.

It seems that you and I both understand Scripture to tell us that repentance is necessary, in order for one to receive Jesus as Savior.

That really is the heart of this post.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were trying to earn their way into the Kingdom by their own righteousness, and man's righteousness will never be enough to earn him a place in the Kingdom.

There are many well meaning people who believe that they are saved, simply because they went under the water.

One can go under the water with a hard heart, and come up out of the water with a hard heart.

The water itself does not save, but rather the life of Jesus is what saves, and allows us to walk in newness of life. Praise God! :)

His death reconciled all mankind to the Father, once for all, but we must receive that reconciliation, through faith and belief in Jesus. In order to do so we must repent (have a change of mind about sin and righteousness)
of our sins, and become slaves to obedience instead of slaves to sin. (Romans 6)

I believe that baptism is essential. No doubt about that.

It's just that if water itself is what brings salvation, then why did Jesus have to come and die on the cross for my sins? Why is His resurrection so important, if water alone could save me?

Even if water saved, the Word doesn't say that it reconciles man to God, as Jesus' death did.

Thus, I believe that Scripture teaches that it's by His death we are reconciled, and by His life that we are saved.

Yes, I believe baptism is clearly important to God, and thus must be obeyed...but the H2O alone could never save mankind.

That's the real heart of what I'm trying to say. If someone is banking on water to save them, apart from Jesus, they are going to be terribly disappointed.

Again, thank you for visiting. My heart is to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of love, and I pray that you know that you are loved here.

Steph...thanks for your comments too. I agree with your pastor. I do believe that one of the first fruits of someone who has believed, repented and confessed, is a desire to walk in obedience to God, through Christ.

I know a person who is so convinced that they are saved, yet absolutely refuses to be baptized. There is no fruit of repentance in their life, none at all. It's clear that they haven't really turned from sin to serve Jesus as Lord and Master. Sin is still master over this person. But, they are clinging to "I believe that Jesus died for me" (head knowledge) much the same way that some cling to works or water, apart from submission to Christ, to make them righteous.

This person refuses to obey Jesus in a simple thing like baptism....head knowledge won't get anyone to heaven, separate from obedience.

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! Thank you again for visiting!

In Him,