BAPTISM MESSAGE by Sarah Barry
"GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM..." (Why be baptized?)
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
1. We baptize because Jesus commanded it.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...”(19)
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”Mark 16:16
2. We baptize because Jesus was baptized.
Luke 3:21: When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
God was pleased when Jesus was baptized. Jesus’baptism marked the beginning of his ministry. He accepted his mission and set his face toward the cross.
Jesus had a sense of history. He accepted John’s ministry as a part of God’s ongoing redemptive work, and he stepped into that history when he was baptized by John. So Matthew says:
“Matt 3:13-15: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John, but John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”Jesus replied, “let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”then John consented.”
What does baptism mean?
The Gospels speak of two major kinds of baptism–John baptized with water and Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
Mk 1:8: “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
1. John’s baptism: Mk 1:4,5: “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judea countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
John 1:29-31: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me. I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel. “
John’s baptism is a baptism for repentance of sin. Washing with water represents the cleansing of the inner person. Baptism itself does not cleanse. It cannot solve the sin problem. Jesus who died as the Lamb of God for our sins, rose to life and who baptizes with the Holy Spirit is the only one who can cleanse us of sin and make us free. Jesus’first disciples were first baptized by John. (Jn 1:35 ff)
1Peter 3:20b-22: “...in it (the ark of Noah) only a few people, eight in all were saved through water, and this water symbolized baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ...”
2. Jesus’baptism: John 1:32-34: John testified: “...the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
The baptism of the Holy Spirit applies the gospel to our hearts and lives and brings about the new birth. We are born again by the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:3). This work of the Spirit became possible after the death and resurrection of Jesus (Jn 7:38-39)
In Acts 2, Peter proclaimed Jesus’death and resurrection. He concluded his first message in Jerusalem with an invitation. “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...”(Ac 2:38) verse 41 says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3000 were added to their number that day.”
In Acts 10, Peter was sent to preach the gospel to Cornelius, a Roman centurion. When he went and preached, Cornelius and his family and friends repented and believed the gospel and the Holy Spirit fell on them. Peter saw that they had received the Holy Spirit, so he commanded that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Even though they were all Gentiles, no requirement was placed on them other than repentance and faith in Jesus. (10:43) In this case, baptism was not a prerequisite of the gift of the Spirit. Baptism affirmed the work of the Holy Spirit.
There are other kinds of baptism mentioned in the New Testament. Baptism with fire (Lk 3:22); Jesus baptism of suffering and death (Lk 12:50)
There are several examples of baptism: John 4:1,2 (Jesus’disciples baptized); Acts 8:12,13 (Samaria–Simon the Sorcerer);8:35-38 (Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch); Acts 16:31-33 (Philippian Jailor and his household); [Some disciples in Ephesus – Acts 19:1-7]
3. Baptism and the covenant relationship: In the Old Testament, the ceremony which confirmed the covenant relationship of God’s people with God was circumcision. It was commanded of Abraham. He himself was circumcised at age 99. His son Ishmael was circumcised at 12 or 13. Isaac was circumcised according to God’s command at 8 days. All the male members of the household of Abraham were circumcised. It was a sign and seal of the covenant between God and Abraham–God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham’s offspring.
At the last supper, Jesus said, “this is the new covenant in my blood.”We have a covenant with God that is sealed by the blood of Jesus. When we are baptized, we enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus and with the body of Christ, the Church. Baptism symbolizes our commitment to Jesus and to his Church.
The children of believers are a part of the family of God. It is for this reason that we baptize the infant children of believers, at the request of their parents. Parents who want to have their infant children baptized must make a commitment and promise to pray for their children and teach the Bible to them and raise them as obedient children of God. Of course, when they reach the age of accountability, children raised in Christian homes must make their own personal decisions to accept God’s grace in Jesus. No one is saved by baptism. We are saved by faith in Jesus alone, and by God’s grace alone. (Eph 2:8-9;Acts 16:31-33)
Paul made it clear that baptism should not become a divisive matter in the Christian community. There was a danger even in Paul’s day of people attaching too much importance to the ceremony of baptism itself. Paul said, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I’m thankful that I did not baptize any of you except (several)...I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel...”(1Cor 1:13-17)
When we repent and accept Jesus’shed blood for forgiveness of sins and welcome the Risen Christ into our lives, the Holy Spirit works in us to give us the new birth, to begin the work of changing us into the image of Jesus.
In Romans 6, Paul uses the symbolism of baptism to teach us the deep meaning of being a Christian. “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”(Ro 6:3-5)
Baptism by the Holy Spirit applies the gospel to our lives. Water baptism symbolizes our identification with Jesus in his death and our identification with him in his resurrection. When we repent of our sins we die with Jesus to sin; when we accept the risen Jesus into our hearts we rise to new life with Jesus. So baptism symbolizes our union with Christ. We are in Christ; he is in us.
The mode of baptism sometimes has been a matter of dispute among Christians. Some churches insist that immersion is the only proper way to baptize; others baptize by sprinkling and others by pouring water on the head. The passage in Romans 6 can be interpreted to suggest immersion (buried with Jesus in baptism). But old pictures show Jesus standing with John waist deep in water while John pours water on Jesus’head. The prophecy in Ezekiel 36:24-27 looks forward to the New Testament with a promise: “for I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”I believe that we should not dispute about the mode of baptism. Jesus command was simply, “Baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Because of the command of Jesus, and based on his authority, today we baptize those who have come forward in sincere repentance of sin, making a profession of their faith in Jesus. We have asked them to memorize the Apostles Creed and write a short testimony confessing their faith. Only faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. The Bible says, that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. Those who will be baptized today have been examined by our elders and shepherds. By their baptism they are declaring that they are Christians. They belong to Jesus and are members of the Church, his Body.
In some countries, and at some times in history, a person who was baptized received a death sentence.There is no such danger to us. But we must know that when we make this commitment we must die to ourselves and live for Jesus. Those who have come forward for baptism have made a decision to follow Jesus and be his disciples. Baptism is not the end point–it is the beginning. Jesus said, “If you hold on to my word you are truly my disciples.”We who belong to Christ’s body, the church, also make a commitment to pray for you and encourage you in your life of faith, for we become true family.