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Baptism

Baptism was a common Jewish practice long before it became a Christian practice. The basic Hebrew meaning of baptism is identification. In Judaism, when a Gentile underwent the process of conversion to Judaism, he would be baptized and, by doing so, he would identify himself with Judaism and the Jewish people.

Those who were baptized by John were identifying themselves with John's baptism unto repentance and with the message he proclaimed concerning the soon coming King. Their desire was to acknowledge their innate sinful condition and by an act of faith, (baptism), they were expressing their intent to set aside sinful tendencies and grow in their faith and awareness of God.

Following the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, baptism became the method by which Christians identified themselves with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Water baptism is not the means by which people become part of the family of God but rather, conversion takes place when one is “born of the Spirit” as recorded in John chapter 3. Water baptism is an outward expression of one’s inward faith that Jesus is who He claimed to be, the Son of God whose death atoned for the sins of mankind.

What is the ceremony of baptism and why is it significant?


1st-
We should recognize that Jesus instructed His disciples to continue the ceremony of baptism:


Matthew 28:17-20
18) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.


2nd-
We should recognize that baptism is fundamentally a ceremony but it is unique and different from most ceremonies. Most ceremonies common to man impact the kingdom of this world but the ceremony of baptism touches both the kingdom of this earth and the Kingdom of Heaven. How does this ceremony touch earth and heaven? Because it is an act that takes place on earth before human witnesses but it also witnessed and valued by God.


Consider the following verses:


Romans 10:9-11
9) . . . if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10) For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11) For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

Matthew 10:32-33
32) “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
33) But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in Heaven.”


Luke 12:8-10
8) "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.
9) But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.


Hebrews 12:1-2
1) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


Another key element of baptism is the act of repentance.


In the book of Acts chapter 2, Peter preached the gospel, and we are told that the people were cut to the heart and they asked Peter the question, what must we do to be saved?


Acts 2:37-39
38) Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Repent
Q: What is this act of repentance?
A: Repentance involves rejecting and turning away from a former godless manner of existence.


Q: What would motivate a person to turn away from their former manner of life?
A: Coming to the realization that their former manner of life is sinful, selfish, unfulfilling and void of meaning.


Q: How does one come to this realization?
A: By the influence of the Holy Spirit.


The process of repentance and conversion comes as a result of listening to the message of the gospel presented by a person who has, themselves, already gone through the act of repentance and conversion. This usually takes place in a setting where a Pastor, Teacher or Preacher teaches about the love of God as expressed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit moves upon the heart and mind of the person in a manner that causes them to be awakened spiritually. The person begins to grasp the concept of a living, loving God who expressed that love by providing salvation through the death of His Son who willingly gave His life for those needing salvation. The person becomes conscious of their sinful condition which caused separation from God. This sense of separation creates a longing in the heart of the one to be near to God. Through a faithful act of prayer and heart felt surrender, the person prays for and receives the Holy Spirit into their heart. The bible refers to this time as, (your day of visitation or your day of salvation). Luke 19:44 and 2 Corinthians 6:2.

Repentance is an acknowledgement of ones sinful condition and a realization and acceptance of the fact that we need forgiveness for our sins and we need God in our lives to help us change so we might become people who practice righteousness rather than practice lawlessness.

In view of these facts, we can understand why young children should not be baptized. People have to have an awareness and an understanding of their sinful condition if there is to be true repentance. If children are unable to fully comprehend the essence of sin and how it affects them and what it means to repent, they should not be baptized.

The biblical model for Baptism reveals that the person being baptized should be fully immersed in whatever the they are being baptized in.


When we baptize we use the method of full immersion. Why?
Because of the symbolic nature of full immersion.


Romans 6:3-7
3) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5) For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7) For he who has died has been freed from sin.


Colossians 2:11-14
11) In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12) buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13) And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14) having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:12
12) buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

This verse states that we are buried with Him in baptism and then we are raised with Him through faith.

Think of it this way, how much of your life do you want to give to God? Do you say, Lord I just want to give you my feet so I’ll just stick my feet in. Or you might say, I don’t want to get my hair wet so baptize me up to my neck. No, if you want to have all that God has for you, then you need to give Him all of you. If you want to live a full and rich Christian life, you need to give Him all of you and so that’s why we want to baptize all of you not just part of you.

We also need to tell you that going down into the water of baptism is just the beginning. As you come up out of the water you will begin a growing process. A process where you learn to give Him not only your body but your thoughts and all of who you are. Rest assured, this process takes time but it should begin at the time the person first receives the Holy Spirit. The only thing that hinders the continuation of this process is the individuals willingness to participate in the process.

Some people feel that once they are saved, the changing process is over. This is not the case. Oh, it's clear that the most important part of the process is complete but every Christian is called to a life of change and transformation and this is a lifelong process.

Those who willingly participate in this process find a greater level of meaning, purpose and peace in their lives. If you want these things, you need to grow in your love for God, grow in your knowledge of God and apply the things you learn to your life.

1 John 2:5-6
5) But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
6) He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.


I am persuaded that this life is simply a test and the Bible is God's manual for effective living. In the test of life, God will place many challenges before us but there is one KEY question that God pays special attention to.


If you can find that single, vitally important question and answer it correctly, you get a passing grade for every challenge that God places before you. The question is this, Did you learn of the Lord Jesus who died for the sins of mankind and did you open your heart to receive Him as your Lord and Savior?

So the act of baptism is an act where you declare and acknowledge before man and before God that you understand your need for forgiveness. Baptism is your willing act of repentance, your turn towards God for the help that only He can give so you can live a more godly life.

Baptism is your statement that you gratefully accept the gift of salvation that God the Father has made available to you through His Son Jesus Christ.


2 Corinthians 1:21-22
21) Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,
22) who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.


Ephesians 1:13-14
13) In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.


Ephesians 4:30-31
30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Your Conversion is Recorded in Heaven !


Revelation 21:27
27) But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an
abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.


The Believer Has an Inheritance in Heaven !


1 Peter 1:3-10
3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4) to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5) who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
8) whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.

After completing the process of salvation and baptism, you are given the authority to go out as representatives and ambassadors of Jesus Christ to tell others of the benefits they can receive through a relationship with the Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

 

Concerning the question of who is qualified to baptize: Nothing in the Bible requires the baptizer to be an ordained minister, or an elder, or even a deacon in a local church. Traditionally, those who perform baptisms are men but there is nothing in scripture that adamantly declares that baptisms are to be performed by males only. Any Christian in a right relationship with the Lord is qualified to baptize.

Concerning the question of where baptisms should take place: Due to the fact water baptism has all too often been connected to a specific denomination or as the means to joining a specific church, baptisms should be performed in a neutral location such as a beach, lake, river, or perhaps a private swimming pool. This may help separate the ritual from other non-related issues such as church membership, etc.



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