The Sacraments: Baptism
Baptism is Important
the ‘grace’ available to man in baptism is said by the New Testament writers to include the following elements: forgiveness of sin, Acts 2:38 and cleansing from sins, Acts 22:16, 1 Cor. 6:11; union with Christ, Gal. 3:27, and particularly union with Him in his death and resurrection, Rom. 6:3 ff, Col. 2:11 f, with all that implies of release from sin’s power, as well as guilt, and the sharing of the risen life of the Redeemer, Rom. 6:1–11; participation in Christ’s sonship, Gal. 3:26 f; consecration to God, 1 Cor. 6:11, hence membership in the Church, the Body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27–29; possession of the Spirit, Acts 2:38, 1 Cor. 6:11, 12:13, and therefore the new life in the Spirit, i.e. regeneration, Tit. 3:5, Jn. 3:5; grace to live according to the will of God, Rom. 6:1 ff, Col. 3:1 ff; deliverance from the evil powers that rule this world, Col. 1:13; the inheritance of the Kingdom of God, Jn. 3:5, and the pledge of the resurrection of the body, Eph. 1:13 f, 4:30.
The use of water as an instrument for religious and physical cleansing is prevalent throughout the Pentateuch. Those who had committed certain defiling offenses were required to immerse themselves in water in order to ritually purify the body. Examples of such offenses include:
• Touching a corpse (Num 19:10–13; 31:23–24; Lev 11, 22:4–6)
• Eating or picking up a dead animal (Lev 17:15)
• Nocturnal and seminal discharges (Lev 15:6–8, 11–12, 13, 16)
• Coming into contact with a menstruating woman’s items (Lev 15:21–22, 25–27)
• Contagious skin infections (Lev 14:8–9)
Beyond these cleansing rituals, several other practices were required in order to partake of eating sacrificed animals (Lev 8:19–21) and temple worship (Lev 15:31). Certain impurities could be only removed by using running water (Lev 14:5–6, 50–52; 15:13; Deut 21:4).
Baptism: A New Identity
Within Israelite historical consciousness the exodus held a central place. The exodus was recalled as the major formative event in Israelite history. It was seen as the event in which Israel was created; their history as a people was perceived to have begun at the exodus. As a result, the exodus was recalled as that which formed the identity of the Israelite people; they were people who had once been slaves but had been saved from slavery by the Lord their God