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Baptism

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Matthew 3:11–17 NIV
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 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. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Today we are taking a detour. We have been studying through 1 Peter. Today we will be setting that aside to talk about Baptism.
We have a number of children in our church who have received Christ, and have been talking about baptism with their parents, and at Kids Club on Tuesday evenings.
These children do believe in Jesus as their savior, and want to be baptized, so we will have a special service on Sunday, June 11th to baptize them.
I thought it appropriate today to talk about baptism as we look forward to that baptism. I want us to understand what baptism is, and to encourage anyone here who has not been baptized to consider being baptized.
As often happens, there is a lot of different teaching among different groups about baptism. There are different groups with different traditions regarding baptism. We are not going to get into the different traditions. Rather, we are going to look to God’s word for direction.
What is Christian baptism? From where does it come? What does it signify? Who is to be baptized? Why be baptized? These are some of the questions we need to consider this morning.

Christian Baptism - What are its roots?

Ceremonial Washing
Signs of Covenants
Christian Baptism has its roots in two different practices in the Old Testament.
1. Ceremonial Washing
The Mosaic Law had a lot to say about being clean or unclean. There were animals that were clean, and those that were unclean. There were foods that were clean, and those that were unclean. A dead body was considered unclean.
In order to participate in worship at the temple, people had to be clean, clear from ceremonial uncleanness. This was all to help them learn about God’s holiness, and perfection — as was the case with the whole law — to remind them of their need for cleansing from sin.
Numbers 19:17-
deals with this.
Numbers 19:17–19 NIV
“For the unclean person, put some ashes from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh water over them. Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave or anyone who has been killed or anyone who has died a natural death. The man who is clean is to sprinkle those who are unclean on the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify them. Those who are being cleansed must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and that evening they will be clean.
There are a number of passages in Leviticus and Numbers that deal with this concept of ceremonial washing and bathing to become ‘clean’.
This is the basis for what you see in the gospels when it speaks of the pharisees washing their hands when they return from the market place, and before meals.
It is also the root of the practice of proselyte baptism. Jews were considered clean. Gentiles were considered unclean.
For a Gentile who wanted to become a Jew, a man would have to 1) be circumcised, 2) take on the ‘yoke’ of the law, 3) be ‘born again’ by a ritual baptism. There have been baptismal pools found by archaeologists in the steps leading up to the temple for this purpose. This baptism to be ‘born again’ was referenced by Jesus when talking with Nicodemus in .
These baptisms were identifying. They identified the person who was baptized as being clean, ready to worship the One True God.
Then there was John’s Baptism.
Matthew 3:11–17 NIV
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 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. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
When John came baptizing, he told Israel to repent, and be prepared for the coming of the Lord. People who believed his message were baptized. What did they believe? Repentance is a change of mind. A recognition of one’s sinfulness, or disobedience to God, and a change of mind in wanting to follow the Lord. Repentance comes as one believes God’s word. Faith is necessary for forgiveness. All who believed John’s message and repented were baptized.
When John came baptizing, he told Israel to repent, and be prepared for the coming of the Lord. People who believed his message were baptized. What did they believe? Repentance is a change of mind. A recognition of one’s sinfulness, or disobedience to God, and a change of mind in wanting to follow the Lord. Repentance comes as one believes God’s word. Faith is necessary for forgiveness. All who believed John’s message and repented were baptized.
This identified them as believing John’s message to receive forgiveness, looking forward to the Messiah, the lamb of God who would take away sin!
John told them that he baptized them with water. But another was coming who would baptize with fire and the holy spirit. Another, better baptism. Another better identification.
So, one root of Christian baptism stems back to the ritual washings to be ceremonially clean. It identified that the person was spiritually clean.
John’s baptism identified people as having repented, believing his message they looked forward to the Messiah for forgiveness of sin.
Baptism is a means of identification.
Signs of Covenants
Christian Baptism also has its roots in the Signs of Covenants.
God at times gives signs, outward things that can be seen which identify a person as being under his covenant.
Matthew 3:11–17 NIV
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 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. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:11–17 NIV
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 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. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:11
For example, the Rainbow...
Genesis 9:8–17 NIV
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
Genesis 9:8-17
After the flood, God gave the sign of the rainbow as reminder that He would never again destroy the world by flood.
After the flood, God gave the sign of the rainbow as reminder that He would never again destroy the world by flood.
Then, to Abraham...
Genesis 17:3–14 NIV
Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
God gave the circumcision as a sign to Abraham and his descendants. The sign showed that they were distinct from the world. It identified them as being descendants of Abraham, and recipients of God’s covenant.
Colossians 2:11–12 NIV
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
This new circumcision, the cutting away of the flesh was pictured in the Old Testament circumcision, but now done spiritually. God removes the sin from us when we receive Christ as our savior. It is no longer the identifying part of us. We were sinners, through and through. We were identified as slaves to our sinful nature. But when we are saved, God removes that identity. He takes us out of slavery to sin, and puts us into Christ.
Baptism is a sign of our identity in Christ. Something we can look to and remember what Christ has done for us.
Just like the rainbow did not save Noah, nor us. It is a sign to remind us of how God saved Noah, and promised not to flood the earth. Just as circumcision did not make the covenant with Abraham, but rather was a sign, a reminder that God made this covenant, so too, baptism does not save us, but rather is a sign, a physical reminder that God saves us through Jesus death and resurrection.
Christian baptism has its roots in ceremonial washings, which identified as person as being ‘spiritually clean’ and able to participate in worship.
Christian baptism has its roots in the signs God attaches to His covenants. Reminders that He saves. Reminders that He is at work for us.

What does Christian Baptism signify?

Colossians 2:12 NIV
having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Christian baptism began after Jesus died and rose again.
Jesus, the night before he died for us, initiated the New Covenant. He told His disciples this while eating their last supper. He gave them the last bread and cup of the meal, and told them that it was this cup that was the symbol of the New Covenant in His Blood, which He was giving for the forgiveness of sins.
Then, Jesus died. Hebrews tells us that all covenants are ratified in blood. the New Covenant was ratified in Christ’s blood. Then Jesus rose again.
Now, the New Covenant is in effect. The New Covenant is that anyone who believes in Jesus, they trust His death and resurrection for their forgiveness and new life in Jesus, they will be saved!
Christian Baptism was then commanded by Jesus, I believe, as the sign of this New Covenant.
Matthew 28:19 NIV
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,
Paul later spells out how this baptism signifies God’s work to establish the new Covenant.
Colossians 2:11–12 NIV
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
This new circumcision, the cutting away of the flesh was pictured in the Old Testament circumcision, but now done spiritually. God removes the sin from us when we receive Christ as our savior. It is no longer the identifying part of us. We were sinners, through and through. We were identified as slaves to our sinful nature. But when we are saved, God removes that identity. He takes us out of slavery to sin, and puts us into Christ.
Baptism is a sign of our identity in Christ. Something we can look to and remember what Christ has done for us.
Just like the rainbow did not save Noah, nor us. It is a sign to remind us of how God saved Noah, and promised not to flood the earth. Just as circumcision did not make the covenant with Abraham, but rather was a sign, a reminder that God made this covenant, so too, baptism does not save us, but rather is a sign, a physical reminder that God saves us through Jesus death and resurrection.
Next Question...

Who is to be baptized?

For this, we have the command of Jesus. Disciples are to be baptized. We also have the example of the early church in Acts.
Acts 2:38–41 NIV
Peter replied, “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Ac 8:12, 16, 36, 38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15, 33; 19:5; 22:16; Col 2:12

Ac 8:12, 16, 36, 38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15, 33; 19:5; 22:16; Col 2:12

Acts 8:12 NIV
But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 8:16 NIV
because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 8:36 NIV
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”
Acts 8:36
Acts 8:38 NIV
And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
Acts 8:37 NIV
Acts 8:38
Acts 9:18 NIV
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
Acts 10:48 NIV
So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Acts 10:
Acts 16:15 NIV
When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Acts 16:
Acts 16:30–34 NIV
He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
Acts 16:30-
Acts 16:33 NIV
At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.
Acts 19:1–5 NIV
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Colossians 2:11–12 NIV
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Who should be baptized? Those who believe in Jesus as their savior.
Those who were Jews were baptized. Those who were Samaritans were baptized. Those who were Gentiles were baptized. Everyone who believed was baptized.
Those who have received other baptisms, were baptized in Jesus’, or Christian baptism when they believed.
Who should be baptized. The scriptures are clear. Everyone who believes in Jesus should be baptized. It is commanded. That should be enough. Then, there is also the example of the early believers.

Why be baptized?

First, it is not to be saved. Scripture is clear that salvation is by faith. Baptism follows as the sign.
So, if it is not to be saved, why be baptized? Jesus said this is what is supposed to happen. That should be enough.
I think it is one of the first steps of obedience as believers. God does save us on the basis of faith from our sins. He saves us by His grace through faith, apart from works. He gives us a righteousness apart from law, apart from work on our part.
However, He also saves us not just so we can be righteous, and get a ticket to heaven. He saves us to live righteously as His children. He wants us to identify as His children, and obey Him.
Remember the old hymn?
Trust and Obey, there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.
Faith and obedience go hand in hand. James mentions that if we have faith, our works should show it!
Paul says in Ephesians,
Ephesians 2:8–10 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Baptism is one of the first works we are to do.
Those who obey have the benefit of being obedient. What does that give you? Well, think of your relationship with your parents. When you were obedient, what was your relationship like? And when you were disobedient, what was your relationship like?
I think the same is true of our relationship with Christ, and with our Father.
John
John 14:21–23 NIV
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Do you love Jesus? Do you love the One who loves you so much He suffered and died for you? Obey His commands! If you do not obey, it shows you do not love.
John 14:24 NIV
Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Why be baptized? Because you love Jesus and want to obey Him.
Why be baptized? So you will have the sign of the New Covenant. You will be identified with Christ in His death and resturrection. You will have that reminder of the great salvation which God has covenanted to you!
Why be baptized? Why not? Because you do not love Jesus?
Let us all take this step of obedience if we have not. Let us all learn to walk in trust and obedience, and true fellowship with Him who died and rose again for us! Let’s show our identification with Him, and let everyone know, I love Jesus! I will Follow Jesus!
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