What is Baptism? (II)

Last week I wrote about the spiritual significance of baptism, what it means, and why it’s important. I hope I was able to clear up some confusion on the matter. Here I’d like to strengthen a few points and then get into the actual act of baptism.

Faith, Repentance, and Baptism

“To this One all the prophets testify that through His name everyone who believes into Him will receive forgiveness of sins.”   Acts 10:43

There are hundreds of New Testament verses describing faith and repentance as the sole requirements for forgiveness. The particular verse above was preached to the house of Cornelius, who believed and had received the Holy Spirit. These believers were then implored to be baptized because they had believed and the Spirit affirmed this.

The verses needed to prove forgiveness of sins by faith alone are abundant, but an explanation is still required for a few seemingly incoherent verses:

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and each one of you be baptized upon the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”   Acts 2:38

“And now, why do you delay? Rise up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”   Acts 22:16

As mentioned in my last post, baptism is separation, transfer, and deliverance from the world. The unique cases of Acts 2 & 22 tie in perfectly with this truth. The Jews in Acts 2 had just 50 days earlier crucified the Lord! Saul, on the road to Damascus, was fervently persecuting Christ. Both peoples were at the center of Satan’s plan, full enemies of God.

Their need to disassociate from the world and the kingdom of darkness was absolutely central to their entering into the Lord and His kingdom. Thus, baptism was the central exhortation by Peter and Ananias. In fact, neither Peter nor Ananias even mentioned belief or faith in the Lord. The Jews at Pentecost and Saul’s  sins were deeply rooted in Satan and the world, and their sins needed to be washed away in their separation from the world via baptism.

Emergence from God’s Wrath

“Who had formerly disobeyed when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared; entering into which, a few, that is, eight souls, were brought safely through by water.”   1 Peter 3:20

We are all born under the wrath of God (Eph. 2:3; Jn. 3:18-21). Condemned in sin, one with Satan, lovers of the world, we all are headed for the judgement we deserve (Rm. 3:23; Jn. 8:44; Jn. 2:15; 1 Thes. 1:10). This is the exact same situation Noah faced in his days. Judgement was coming upon all the earth, and there was none found right among all of men (Gen. 6:5-7). However, Noah was one who lived by faith and was considered righteous before God (Heb. 11:7).

Noah knew of the wrath coming and was not to simply be taken from it. He was to go through it, yet come out victorious. The flood came upon Noah and his family in the same way it came upon the rest of the earth, yet they “were brought safely through.” We too are under God’s wrath positionally, and need to be brought through safely. All will enter the water, but only some will emerge like Noah. This is why Peter compares the two:

“Which water, as the antitype, also now saves you, that is, baptism, not a putting away of the filth of the flesh but the appeal of a good conscience unto God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”   1 Peter 3:21

We Are Dead!

Our testimony and declaration in baptism is that we have entered into the wrath of God, in Christ, and emerge from the wrath with Christ, saved. We must know the gospel of Romans 6:

“Are you ignorant that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? We have been buried therefore with Him through baptism into His death…Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves…So also you, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus.”   Rom. 6:3-11

Our old man is crucified, judged, and dead in Christ. We must be like Joseph and Nicodemus, who saw Christ’s dead body and recognized it needed to be buried (Jn. 19:38-42). We are dead, but we must be buried and enter into the Lord’s full salvation. Baptism is the burial, and emergence is our resurrection. We are now in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:30). Hallelujah!

Mysterious as it may be, the scriptures are consistent in the truth displayed: baptism is a critical step in the Lord’s salvation (Mk. 16:16). We mustn’t argue with the Word or seek a way around them, and just as much so, we can’t go beyond the full revelation of the Bible and refuse the unbaptized acknowledgment of eternal life (Lk. 23:43; Acts 10:47). I’ll probably need another post on this… Hope this was helpful though!


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