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2018-12-30 Matthew 3:13-17 What Is Baptism All About?

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What is Baptism All About? (Mt 3:13-17) Read Matt 3:13-17 -- We are about to witness the first baptisms in our new building so I thought it would be a good time to briefly talk about – what is baptism all about? Some people are a little afraid of it. It is said that when St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in mid-fifth century, he accidentally leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and stabbed the king’s foot. When Patrick saw the blood and realized what he’d done, he begged the king’s forgiveness. “Why did you suffer this pain in silence?” he asked. The king replied, “I thought it was part of the ritual.” But, of course, it wasn’t and baptism is certainly not to be feared, but is rather a privilege. So, rather than following some tradition, let’s review briefly what the Bible says. I. What is Baptism? The Bible actually speaks of two different types of baptism. There is the baptism in the Holy Spirit and water baptism – Spirit baptism and water baptism. We tend to separate these as though they were unrelated. But they are very much related -- so much so that I prefer to think of them as two aspects of the same thing. Let me suggest 2 words to help define them – reality and ritual. Reality defines the baptism of the Holy Spirit by which we are placed into the body of Christ initially the moment that we accept Him as Savior and Lord. Ritual is the act of water baptism giving outward evidence of the inward reality that has already occurred. Reality & Ritual. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, or immersion in the Spirit, is the act by which Christ unites us with His body when we repent our sins and receive Him as Savior and Lord. I Cor 12:13: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Every true believer has received this baptism. The Bible says in Rom 8:9, "If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of His.” If you are a Christian you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit; He is in your heart, and nothing can ever change that. That’s the reality. The ritual is water baptism and in the NT it always follows Spirit baptism immediately as an indication of the reality of the faith that has been placed in Christ. By means of the ritual of baptism, we express the inward reality of our faith in Christ. Thus, the reality and ritual of baptism. II. Who Should be Baptized? 1 The very simple biblical answer to this question is -- believers. Believers. Tradition and practice have totally confused this issue. Many people – perhaps even most people – believe that it is unbelievers who should be baptized. They believe that baptism is a means of salvation rather than an expression of salvation and therefore it is unbelievers who need to be baptized. But, Beloved, that is not what the Bible teaches. The belief that baptism saves is tradition, not Scripture. And it is utterly false. An almost mystical and magical quality is assigned to baptism. In ancient times, as Christianity gained in popularity, whole armies were baptized en masse by marching them through bodies of water in the sincere belief that it would save them. But baptism does not save. It cannot. Scripture teaches over and over that works are excluded as a means of salvation. The Bible says, “For by grace are you saved through faith and (even that faith is) not of yourselves; it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” There is not a word about baptism in that most definitive of salvation passages. Baptism shows what’s been done – it doesn’t actually do it. No outward ritual ever conferred salvation on anyone. Salvation comes by grace thru faith. Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not by works done by us in righteousness, but according to his mercy.” Baptism is an outward act of obedience showing the faith to be real! Every example of baptism in Scripture follows a clear profession of faith. For example, after Peter's sermon at Pentecost, the day the church was born, we read in Acts 2:41, "So those who received his word were baptized.” First faith in Christ, then baptism. When Philip preached in Samaria, Acts 8:12, "But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” The pattern is they believed and then were baptized. The most convincing proof that baptism doesn’t save is the thief who placed his faith in Jesus on the cross. Lu 23:42: “’Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43) And [Jesus] said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” No baptism, but he was saved. Where possible baptism should follow faith; but it’s a result, not a cause. III. Why Should One be Baptized? 2 Two reasons: It is instructed by Christ and as such is one test of obedience. And it is our primary means of identifying with Christ – thus, showing outwardly to the whole world our inward commitment to Him. A. Instructed by Christ Among the last instructions Christ gave to his disciples were these recorded in Matt 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Beloved, it's really unequivocal. The clear instruction of our Lord is that we be baptized as believers. It is, therefore, a question of obedience. B. Identification With Christ In baptism we are saying, “I accept that Jesus did not die for His own sins, but for mine. His death is mine, and so I accept him as my Savior.” This is the truth that baptism depicts for all the world to see: Rom 6: 4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Baptism says, “I accept His death as mine; his burial as mine and His resurrection as mine. He’s done for me what I could not do for myself.” Based on that it’s an outward statement of our intent to conduct ourselves henceforth in keeping with a new life in Christ rather than the old life dedicated to self. And there's one other way in which it identifies us with Christ. Jesus was baptized by John. Why? John's was a baptism of repentance. Why would a sinless Jesus want to be baptized by Him? I spent years not seeing that. Why was Christ baptized? Then one day I was studying II Cor 5:21: “For our sake he (Father) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It hit me, He identified with us, yet without sin, so He could pay our penalty. He "became sin for us." It was like a lightbulb clicked on in my head. Why was Christ baptized? To identify fully with the sin of mankind. In his baptism He was saying, “I am willing to be sin for you.” Now, if he was willing to be baptized to identify with us in our sin, how could we not want to be baptized to identify with Him in His righteousness? How could we not want that? Why baptism? To obey Jesus’ instruction. To identify with His righteousness. 3 IV. When Should One be Baptized? Simple answer. As soon as possible following placing one's faith in Christ. With children it’s wise to see if actions affirm a heart change. But in the NT it always occurs immediately. The “when” is now! Soon as possible. If you’ve not been baptized as a believer, you should give careful thought to our Lord’s instruction in this regard. V. How Should One be Baptized? Biblical Answer – Immersion. The meaning of the word “baptize” literally means "to plunge, dip, immerse.” That is the standard and only meaning ascribed to the word whether found in Scripture or outside of Scripture. There is, by the way, a Greek word for "sprinkle" which could have been used had it been intended. All examples in Scripture indicate baptism by immersion. According to Mark 1:10, when John baptized Jesus, He "he came up out of the water.” That’s the Lord’s own example. We are told in John 3:23 to John the Baptist was “baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there.” There is simply no case of New Testament baptism when the mode is not immersion although in virtually every case some other mode could have been used and would have been easier to use. Theologian Wayne Grudem summarizes this way, "The practice of baptism in the New Testament was carried out in one way: the person being baptized was immersed, put completely under the water and then brought back up again. . . . Baptism very clearly pictures death to one's old way of life and rising to a new kind of life in Christ. But baptism by sprinkling or pouring simply misses this symbolism." Certainly there could be exceptions if someone couldn’t physically be immersed, but if possible, that’s best. VI. Where Should One be Baptized? Anywhere that there is sufficient water. That was the only NT requirement. Sufficient water. Chuck Smith baptized thousands in the Pacific Ocean in the heyday of the Jesus People movement. I've seen or known of people being baptized in rivers, lakes, streams, swimming pools, spas – even baptismals. It’s the symbolism and the testimony that matter. 4 Conclusion – Some Presby pastors were at a conf in Scotland and during free time set out to explore the area. Presently they came to a river spanned by a temporary bridge. Not seeing any sign, they began to cross only to be stopped by the bridge keeper who came running after them, warning them not to cross. One of the men yelled back. “It’s okay. We’re Presbyterians from the conference.” The bridge keeper yelled back, “I’m no’ caring aboot that. But if you dinna get off the bridge, you’ll all be Baptists!” Well, we’re not trying to make any Baptists today, but we have the wonderful privilege to witness these brothers and sisters following the Lord in baptism, demonstrating outwardly the reality that’s happened inside. One final thought. Often when I ask people about their relationship with Christ their first instinct is to tell me when they were baptized or start looking for their baptismal certificate. This is scary to me, because on the issue of salvation, beloved, baptism is not the issue. The only issue is, have you repented your sin and asked Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior. After you've done that, we can talk baptism all we want, but until then, baptism means nothing. What have you done with Christ? That's the question we will face at the judgment seat of Christ one of these days. If you've never done so, accept him today as Savior and Lord. Let’s pray. 5
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