Baptism is a ceremonial ordinance of divine origin which enables a believer to publicly declare his or her faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) by being momentarily submerged in water. It is an initiating service which symbolises:
- Spiritual cleansing
- The burial of the past life
- And a resurrection to the new
Consequently Bible baptism is not for infants but rather for believers who are old enough to have repented of past sins and are thereafter desirous of walking in newness of life by the power of their risen Lord.
According to the Saviour’s instructions all new converts should be baptised. Therefore, those believers who discover that they have not been properly baptised (immersed) ought to take earnest steps to correct this.
It should be remembered here that though the immersion ceremony is purely symbolic, for there is no virtue in the water used, the service itself is nevertheless a very essential and dramatic declaration of faith in Yeshua the Saviour. For the truth is that the believer at this service not only declares his/her need for spiritual cleansing, but is also baptised into the Church and not necessarily into any denomination or sect. Indeed the new convert at his baptism “puts on Christ.” He/she becomes part of Christ; that is, part of His body, the Church!
The baptism we are considering in this lesson is, of course, the ceremonial washing in water, otherwise called the BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE. At this baptism the baptizer is normally an elder, deacon or minister of the Church; and the medium is water. The real baptism, however, is the BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. In that the baptizer is none other than the Messiah and the medium is not water but the Spirit of Yahweh. When baptised in the Holy Spirit the believer is not ceremonially cleansed by being immersed in water, but rather he/she is totally saturated and submerged by the Saviour in the Spirit of the living God. He/she is, consequently, cleansed through and through to a degree of purity and power that extends well beyond our ability to properly describe. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the subject of Lesson 20.
- It is the express command of Jesus Christ that every believer of the gospel be baptised. (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:37-38)
- And to set us a perfect example He was baptised Himself in the Jordan. (Mark 1:9-10, Matthew 3:13-17)
- Baptism is vital to salvation. (Mark 16:16)
- The main prerequisite for baptism is faith in Jesus. (Acts 8:35-37)
- The leaders of the early Church obeyed the Master’s command in Matthew 28:19-20 by baptising all new converts. (Acts 2:41, Acts 16:33)
- Baptism by immersion was obviously the method they used. (Acts 8:38-39, John 3:23)
- Water baptism is a type of burial and a rising again to walk in newness of life. It points to the real baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 6:3-5, 1 Peter 3:20-21)
- At his/her baptism the believer in Jesus becomes a member of the Church. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
- At baptism the believer “puts on Christ” and becomes a child of Abraham – a true Israelite. (Galatians 3:27-29)
- Believers in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus) should not needlessly delay being baptised in water (immersed). Acts 22:16.
Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland