Baptize ~ 20200816 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
08/16 Baptizing Them (Mt.28:19; Romans 6); Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20200816_baptize.mp3
We have been looking at the Great Commission found at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. Looking at obeying Jesus, at what it means to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus.
After the service today we are going to have some baptisms, and this morning I want to look at why we baptize, who we baptize, and what baptism means.
The Command to Baptize
It is this command of Jesus to his followers that compels us to baptize. We baptize followers of Jesus in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus' command here is simple: 'make disciples of all nations'. That is the command. If disciples are to be made from every nation or every ethnic group, then 'going' will be necessary. A disciple is a student, a learner, or a follower. There are two primary things Jesus commands that we do with his disciples. We are to baptize them and teach them. Baptism is the initiatory rite that indicates to everyone that they are beginning the life of a disciple, following a new Master. Teaching them all that Jesus taught is the continuation of the process of disciple making.
Jesus is clear as to what his disciples are to be baptized into. In that day it was common for someone who was not Jewish by descent but wanted to worship the God of Israel to be baptized into Judaism as an indication that they had left their old gods behind and had turned to YHWH. John, who was know as 'the baptist' or the one who baptized, came with a radical message. He preached a baptism of repentance - calling Jews to turn from their formal outward religion and prepare their hearts for the radical transformation that the Messiah would bring.
Jesus here tells his followers to baptize disciples 'in (or into) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'. Jesus does not tell us to baptize into an -ism or a church or a group, but into a name; into a person, into a relationship. One's name stands for one’s character, nature or reputation. The word 'Name' is singular, as Israel was so clearly taught that 'the Lord our God is one Lord'.
There is one name, one character or nature, one God. And yet Jesus tells us that we are to baptize into the name of three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is one of many reasons why orthodox Christianity since the time of Jesus has held faithfully to the doctrine of the triune God: One God eternally existing in three distinct persons. We baptize into the one Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The duration of this command is also stated by Jesus in this verse. How long are we to make disciples, baptizing and teaching? And where does the authority lie? Jesus said 'all authority has been given to me'. I have no authority - Jesus has all the authority, and Jesus said 'I am with you always'. The person who does the baptizing is nothing. Jesus retains his own authority. Jesus said 'I am with you always, to the end of the age'. So as long as this age lasts, we will go on making disciples, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that he has commanded us, with the confidence that he promised to be with us.
Who Can Be Baptized?
What is the prerequisite for baptism? Baptism is to be done in the disciple making process, so it is for those who have become disciples or followers of Jesus.
Peter said that repentance was what must precede baptism. To repent literally means to turn. I was going in this direction trusting in my good works and thinking I was fine with God, but then I felt the weight of my sin and recognized my good works are filthy rags in God's sight. Jesus apprehended me and I had to turn around and leave my good works behind and cling to Jesus alone and what he accomplished for me on the cross to forgive my sins. A few verses later, Luke tells us that:
When Peter proclaimed the good news that 'everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved' (v.21) and that the crucified Jesus is the Lord that we must call out to for salvation (v.36), those who received this word turned and became followers of Jesus and were baptized.
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas 'what must I do to be saved?', they told him:
Belief in Jesus as Lord brought salvation to each individual in this household. In response to their faith, their trust in Jesus, they were baptized.
Those who believe in the Lord, those who call out to Jesus for salvation, who repent or turn from whatever they were trusting in to Jesus, those who become disciples or followers of Jesus are baptized as a public declaration of their new faith.
What Is Baptism?
We've looked at Jesus' command to baptize disciples, and we've looked at repentance and faith (turning from whatever you were holding on to and depending on Jesus alone) as the biblical prerequisite for baptism, but just what is baptism and what does it mean? A definition of the word itself will be helpful. The word is actually an untranslated carry-over from the Greek language that the New Testament was written in. Rather than translate the word with an English word that has the same meaning, the Greek characters were simply replaced with English characters and [βαπτίζω] became 'baptize', a new word in our language. When we study how the word [βαπτίζω] was used in New Testament times, we find that it means 'to dunk, dip, plunge, immerse or submerge' in water. It might help us understand what the Bible is saying if we translate the word 'baptize' with the word 'immerse' or ‘plunge’.
Baptism is an Illustration of Death, Burial, and Resurrection
Water immersion or baptism is a picture of what spiritually happened to us when we trusted Christ. We have been immersed into Christ Jesus, and specifically plunged into his death. Going down into the water pictures our death and burial with Christ. It is an effective picture, because if the one doing the baptizing is not strong enough or not kind enough to bring the person being baptized back up out of the water, the picture will become a reality. Jesus referred to his coming crucifixion as a baptism in Mark 10:38-38 and Luke 12:50. Coming up out of the water illustrates our resurrection and new life as believers. Paul is arguing in Romans 6 that we cannot continue to live in sin because we have died to our old sinful way of life, and we are now alive to God in Christ Jesus. As disciples of Jesus, we will live differently, not because we are under a new set of rules, but because we have a new resurrection life in us that has different desires. Paul goes on in the next verses to describe our baptism with Christ as being united with Christ:
We are united with Christ in his death; being plunged into Christ connects us with him. We are plunged into his crucifixion. The old me is dead and buried. We are now set free from sin; I am no longer under its power. I have died to that which once held me captive. We are united with Christ in his resurrection; Because I am connected with him, I become enveloped in his resurrection power.
Baptism is Similar to Circumcision as the Sign of the Covenant
In Colossians 2, baptism is compared to circumcision, the sign of the old covenant. Circumcision was the cutting off of physical flesh; in Christ, our fleshly nature is put off.
This resurrection power comes to me 'through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Jesus from the dead.'
Paul goes on to describe our desperate condition and what God did:
Baptism, like salvation is passive; it is something done to you, not something you do. God made us alive. God dealt with our sins at the cross. God united us with Christ. God saved us. Salvation is God’s work. We don’t save ourselves. We trust in another to save us. In baptism, we show up, we participate, but it is something done to us, not something we do. We are at the mercy of another.
Baptism Follows Justification by Faith
In Galatians 3, Paul explains that all the promises of God come not to law keepers, but to those who believe in Jesus. We are justified (we receive the verdict of ‘not guilty’) by faith; by trusting in, depending on the righteousness of another.
Justification – being declared ‘not guilty’ – comes through faith in Jesus Christ. But justification changes us. As we are immersed into Christ, we become so saturated with Christ, that we wear Jesus around and drip him all over everyone we come in contact with.
Baptism Unites with the Body Of Christ
Paul goes on:
Our immersion into Christ destroys all ethnic and social and economic barriers. Because we are united with Christ, we are now united in a spiritual connection with our brothers and sisters.
Baptism Pictures Washing Away Guilt
Peter compares the ark that brought Noah and his family safely through the waters of God’s judgment with baptism.
Baptism is primarily a symbol; it's an acted out picture. It is a picture of bathing or cleansing, but not dirt from the body, but a clean conscience before God. When we trust Jesus and his finished work for us on the cross, our sins are washed away. Baptism is an acted out picture of what happened when we believed in Jesus. When we cry out to God in faith, our conscience is washed clean by the blood of Jesus and we are free from guilt because ‘Christ suffered once for sins the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God’ (1Pet.3:18).
Baptism in Water or Baptism with the Spirit?
This raises the question 'what is the difference between baptism in water and the cleansing of the conscience by faith in Jesus?' John the baptist said:
So there is a distinction between water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism. John did the water baptism, Jesus would do the Holy Spirit baptism. John immersed people in water to symbolize their repentance. Jesus would submerge and saturate people with God's Holy Spirit. Jesus, when he appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, told them:
The disciples experienced this, and when Peter preached his first sermon, he said:
The gift of the Holy Spirit is given in response to repentance and faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Water baptism is a picture of this spiritual reality.
Jesus commanded us to baptize believers because baptism is a symbol rich in spiritual significance.
It illustrates our baptism by Jesus with the Holy Spirit when we believe in him.
It pictures our connection with Jesus in his death and resurrection, demonstrating that we are dead to sin and have new resurrection life so that we can live pleasing to God.
It demonstrates our connection with all other believers.
Baptism is done in response to repentance, turning from our way to God's way, and faith or trust or belief in Jesus as Lord and King, and his finished work on the cross – where he took the punishment in full for my sin.
In baptism, we are identified with the name of the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – as being owned by him.
By being baptized, we are declaring to all that we are now disciples, followers of Jesus, submitted, committed and devoted to him.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org