Lesson 6 Should You Be Baptized?

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1 Lesson 6 Should You Be Baptized? THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF BAPTISM Much symbolism surrounds the subject of baptism. We need to understand that symbolism to know why God leads us to baptism. 1. Did God condemn sin in the flesh with His Son Jesus? Rom. 8:3-4. How? Heb. 4:15. Why did He die? 1 Cor. 15:3. What happened to His dead body? Verse 4; Rom. 8:11. COMMENT: Christ "condemned" sin by living a sinless life, and then He died for our sins. His death paid the penalty of sin that we have incurred. After being in the grave three days and three nights He was "quickened" by the Holy Spirit that is, made alive. His resurrection shows that He triumphed over sin and death. 2. Is baptism symbolic of one's death, burial and resurrection from a "grave"? Col. 2:12-13; Rom. 6:3-6. Also read verses COMMENT: Just as Christ died for our sins and was buried, our baptism is symbolic of the death and burial of our old sinful life. And as Christ was resurrected in newness of life, our coming up out of the waters of baptism is symbolic of our rising up from our "grave" to a new life free from the guilt of past sins. Baptism as these verses show, pictures the death, burial and resurrection found in Christ Jesus, and His rising up to begin a new life. Let's look deeper into this new life to better understand the important symbolism of baptism. Going down into the water pictures the death of Christ and death our old self. Likewise, being "buried" (immersed) in the water clearly pictures the burial of Christ, and our old sinful life. And coming up out of the water pictures Christ's resurrection and our commitment, to walk in newness of life", by obeying God s law. After baptism we profess ourselves as dead, as far as sin is concerned, but alive through God and His Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:11-12). After baptism and the "laying on of hands", Christ begins to live within us through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9-10). The apostle Paul said: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20) Water baptism is an ordinance of Christ, by which we symbolically express our faith in Him as our personal Savior. Baptism is also a symbolic expression of our repentance from sin and

2 desire to totally destroy and "bury" our old sinful life. Baptism clearly shows our realization of our own sins. It is an outward acknowledgement that our old self must die, so that we might rise to live a new life of spiritual obedience to God. Baptism shows our total surrender to God. It symbolizes the burial of the old sinful self and the beginning a new life surrendered to the will of God. JOHN'S BAPTISM Just before the beginning of Christ's ministry, God commissioned John (known as John the Baptist") to administer the "baptism of repentance". Let's understand what it was, and exactly why it was instituted. 1. Was John a prophet of God? Luke 1:63, 76; Matt. 11: For whose ministry was John sent to proclaim and prepare the way? Luke 1:76; Matt. 3:1-3; 11: Did John baptize with water? John 1:26, 31, 33. Who sent John and gave him authority to baptize? Luke 3:2-3; Matt. 21: COMMENT: John was commissioned by God to baptize repentant believers in water. Baptism then, as it is today, is an outward sign of repentance. It pictures being washed and cleansed from past sins. After Christ's sacrifice, baptism took on even greater meaning (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12-13). 2. What was the message John preached? Mark 1:4-5; Matt. 3:2, 11. What was the purpose of his message? Luke 1:16-17, 77. COMMENT: John's message was the "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins". The people John baptized had responded to his preaching by repenting of their sins, and they were forgiven by God. But they did not receive the Holy Spirit at that time, because it was not made available generally to mankind until after Christ's resurrection and ascension to heaven (John 7:38-39). Luke 1:77 clearly states that John was sent to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins (forgiveness)." John was preaching repentance from sin. His message was preparing people to receive and obey Jesus Christ when He began His ministry. A NEW TESTAMENT COMMAND Now that this foundation of understanding has been laid, let's learn what Jesus Christ commands us to do concerning water baptism. 1. Was Jesus baptized? Matt. 3: * *

3 COMMENT: Even though Jesus had no sins to repent of, He was baptized to set an example for us to follow. 2. After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples what they were to preach to the world. Did He command them to baptize those who repented of their sins? Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16: What are they to believe? Mark 1:14-15; Acts 8:12. COMMENT: The gospel (an Old English word meaning good news) that Jesus Christ commands His Church to preach includes the good news that He is our Savior-You must hear and believe the gospel, accept Christ as your Savior, repent of your sins, be baptized and remain faithful to God then you will be saved. You will be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11). Those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are born from above, born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3, 5). 3. What was Peter's command to believers on the Day of Pentecost? Acts 2:38. Were those who repented then baptized? Acts 2:41; 8:12. COMMENT: After Peter had preached his first sermon to the Jewish people in Jerusalem, God sent him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He was sent to the house of Cornelius, a very devout man. (Acts 10) Peter then preached the gospel to Cornelius, his family and his friends (verses 24, 34-43). 4. What did they receive while they were hearing Peter's message- even before they were baptized? Verses Was this a special sign from God? (Acts 11:17-18) COMMENT: Those who repented were ordinarily baptized before they received the ' Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). But God changed the order of doing things in the case of Cornelius and his group. They were the first Gentiles of the New Testament to be called and converted; God gave them His Spirit before baptism as a special sign to Peter and the other apostles to prove that He had also opened the way of salvation to Gentiles. 5. What did Peter command should be done to Cornelius and all who had received the Holy Spirit? Acts 10: COMMENT: Peter, following Christ's instructions (Matt. 28:19-20) had Cornelius and all the other new believers baptized. Baptism is important to God, otherwise He would not have made it a command to be obeyed by those He call to become His disciples. THE METHOD There is great confusion in the religious world regarding the proper method of Christian baptism. Some "baptize" by sprinkling, others by pouring water over the heads of new converts and some require complete immersion. It is interesting to note that the word "sprinkle" occurs only a few times in the New Testament, always in connection with the blood of Jesus, but never referring to baptism. The word "pouring" is also mentioned several times, but not once as a form of baptism. The word "baptize' comes from the Greek word baptizo. (Recall the New Testament was written in Greek) In translating the Bible into English, the translators left this word untranslated.

4 The literal translation of baptizo is "immerse'. It means to "plunge into". It does not mean "sprinkle" or "pour". The Greek word for sprinkle is rantizo and for pour is cheo. God inspired the writers of the New Testament to use the word baptizo, meaning to immerse, when referring to baptism. Therefore, immersion, being placed completely under water- is the proper biblical method. Baptism symbolizes the burial of the old self. Only total immersion can properly symbolize death and burial by any stretch of the imagination. Let's notice what the Bible teaches concerning the proper method of baptism. 1. Why was John in the area of Aenon? John 3:23. COMMENT: John would have needed only a cupful of water to sprinkle or a pitcher full to pour, but baptizing requires "much water". 2. How does the description of baptism support the definition of baptizo as immersion? Matt. 3:16.. COMMENT: We know Jesus was put down into the water because He "came straightway out of the water". \ 3. When Phillip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, did they both go into the water? Acts 8:38. COMMENT: Phillip went into the water, because there was no other way he could plunge the eunuch into the water. Had sprinkling or pouring been the practice, Phillip would have needed only to bend over the water's edge and scoop up the water in his hands. The definition of the word baptizo clearly shows that immersion- being placed completely under water- was the method of baptism practiced by the New Testament Church. "IN THE NAME of..." Water baptism is an outward sign of repentance. It demonstrates one's willingness to put away his or her old way of life and to walk in God's way of life from that point forward. Its meaning is symbolic in the sense of the believer's acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus and of a commitment to "walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). 1. Jesus instructed His disciples in Matthew 28:19 to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." What does this mean? COMMENT: The key expression in verse 19 is the phrase "in the name of. The phrase...is frequently used in reference to payments made ' to the account of someone'... The usage is the same in connection with Matt. 28:19, where the meaning would be "baptized in the name of or payable to Father, Son and Holy Spirit". The one who is baptized becomes the possession of and comes under the protection of the One whose name he bears. Jesus is the name that represents this. So you'll see in Acts 2:38-39, that Peter instructed then to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Now if this difference is going to cause

5 a major split in your church then, just baptize your new converts in the name of all: Father, Son, Holy and Jesus. That should settle the matter. LAYING ON OF HANDS 1. Why did Peter and John lay their hands on repentant persons in Samaria after their baptism in water? Acts 8: COMMENT: Even though the people had been previously baptized in water, they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. This shows that the Holy Spirit is not given at or by water baptism. In Acts 2:38 shows that the Holy Spirit will be given after baptism. The Bible shows that the Holy Spirit is given to a person as a result of prayer and the laying on of hands of a minister of God following baptism. Notice the sequence: first repentance; then water baptism; next prayer together with the laying on of hands; then receipt of the Holy Spirit. And as we just learned, the receiving of God's Spirit "immerses" or puts the person into the Church (the spiritual body of Christ). Notice the example in Acts 8, the people had been baptized days or even weeks before by Phillip, who was a deacon in the Church, but they had not received the Holy Spirit. God did not give His Spirit to these Samaritans until the apostles Peter and John prayed for the receipt of the Holy Spirit and laid hands on them, thus upholding the authority Jesus had placed with His apostles. The physical act of placing one's hands on someone doesn't transmit the Holy Spirit to them. Only God can impart the gift of the Holy Spirit to a baptized person. But God has established this physical ceremony as a symbol of His recognition of those He has chosen to work through. SHOULD YOU WAIT? Unfortunately, many put off baptism; they feel they are not yet spiritually ready. Some even think they must be perfect before being baptized. But how could a person be spiritually perfect before he receives God's Holy Spirit, which enables you to grow in grace and knowledge and to be gradually transformed by the renewing of your mind. 2 Pet. 3:18; Rom. 12:1-2). A person can know he' has sinned and lived contrary to God's will, even though he may not have spiritual understanding of His will. God leads people to repentance before they receive the Holy Spirit. You do not need a great deal of Bible knowledge to repent and be baptized. The order of events in Jesus' instructions to his apostles was to 1) preach the gospel, 2) baptize repentant people, and 3) teach them the commandments (Matt. 28:19-20). Sincere heartfelt repentance and belief are the only prior conditions for baptism given in the Bible. If a person 1) knows that God commands baptism, 2) realizes that they should be baptized, and 3) has repented, then they should be baptized as soon as a servant of God is available. For those who want the precious blood of Jesus Christ to blot out their sins, who really want to make a commitment to obey God, here is good news...

6 FELLOWSHIP IN CHRIST'S BODY If you believe and are baptized, you will receive the Holy Spirit and become a member of the body of Christ. You do not join a local Church as you would a lodge or social club. It is God who calls you out of the world. As a member of Christ's body you will have the joy of meeting with others with the same mind. You will be able to attend worship and fellowship with those who have begun to walk in the newness of life, finding support and encouragement as you begin your new life in Christ. Some people pride themselves on being independent. They feel they don't need a church or minister to instruct them. Some feel they don't need the fellowship, the sharing, the group worship or that sense of togetherness that people in a local congregation enjoy. These attitudes are not biblically supported. The Bible tells us: "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting (encouraging) one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:24-25) We need the fellowship and encouragement of others in the faith. We all need to learn to love one another. This includes getting to know them through fellowship. The local congregation is the physical body of Jesus. Together, we are the physical instruments through whom Christ does His work of preaching the gospel to the world. If there were no organized Church with eager members and co-workers joined together, Christ's message to the world would not be proclaimed, and publications such as this course would not be produced. As you approach baptism, be thankful there are many people who have surrendered their lives to God's will. Be thankful that God has called a worldwide spiritual family to help and encourage you, pray for you and worship with you. If you have repented and are ready for baptism, you will yearn for the fellowship and opportunity to share the Christian life with others. You will look forward to participating in worship and receiving instruction in God's way of life. If you would like an appointment with a minister to discuss baptism, write to us, addressing your letter to our office. "May God grant to you the humility and spiritual courage to act according to His will."

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