In the times before Jesus, Gentiles who wished to join the Jewish faith, The Law of Moses, were made to undergo immersion in water as an initiatory step, to be 'washed' into the community, but never with all the Judaistic rights. All the Levites who served at the Temple also underwent immersion in water, at the beginning and during their ministry terms at the The Temple.
The idea of ceremonial washing or cleansing is recorded repeatedly in the Mosaic Laws for rites of purification. John The Baptist used the initiation and purification act into an ethical quality that water baptism had not been before. It was changed from a ritual to a moral act as a commitment to personal devotion to Christ as a disciple.
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ, the one sent to prepare the way for Christ and called on people to be baptized but added a personal repentance of sin. This caused personal action for the acquittal of sins, a commitment to change, ready for the coming Messiah of whom John the Baptist preached.
Jesus was baptised by John at the age of 30, but not for the vindication of sins, nor for repentance of any sin for He was without sin, born of The Holy Spirit and not of the race of Adam but he did have a human birth of a virgin. He was baptised to fulfil all righteousness.
This water baptism was the beginning of Jesus' full time ministry and his immersion in water was witnessed by God the Father who spoke, "This is my son whom I love, in Him I am well pleased," and by The Holy Spirit who lighted upon Jesus in the form of a dove. All priests in ministry in those days under the law of Moses were washed, fully immersed for service at the age of 30.
Baptism is from the Greek word 'baptizo' (pronounced bapteezo) which renders full immersion under water, submerge; baptism that is given to an infant is a ceremony where the parents dedicate their children to God's care until they are at an age of understanding to make their own personal acknowledgment of sin and of repentance. They are then able to know why a belief in Christ as Lord is to be professed personally by each individual. To be baptised is a Christian responsibility.
After Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension the disciples continued to baptize new converts and by the end of the 1st Century the mystery of The Godhead had been revealed and baptism was done as Jesus had command to baptise disciples of the nations in the name of God The Father, God The Son and God The Holy Spirit. Believer's continued to associate water baptism with repentance of sin, not just sorrow, but for a real change of heart and mind, urged by The Holy Spirit. Water Baptism is not Salvation.
A mature individual acknowledges sin and confesses publicly that he/she was a sinner, confesses sin, and with the immersion in water symbolizing the washing away of the old life (death to old nature) and rising with Christ (to newness of Life) becomes a member of the Body of Christ, and are baptised into Christ by The Holy Spirit (by a circumcision of the heart). For the Christian, water immersion is more than repentance, it is the work of The Holy Spirit as Paul explains in Romans chapter 6, which distinctively points to an old nature and a new nature.
Water Baptism was ordained by Christ Himself.
Baptism has many steps, it follows a conversion, a confession, usually public. There is a turning away from death to Life with Christ as Head and Lord of the person's life. It is an act of obedience and belief in the commands of Christ. This Christian obedience is not forced or legalistic but action coming from a sense of willingness and of knowing. Christian were not expected to perform any religious ceremonies, however, water baptism was a command to be obeyed by every beleiver.
The Word of God decrees it. Jesus said to John at His Baptism, "I must do all that is right", so John obeyed and baptised Him. All believers mentioned in the New Testament were immersed in water.
Two gifts are given at water baptism, the forgiveness of sins as one confesses the Lordship of Christ and the promised Holy Spirit.
Water Baptism is not a means by which we enter into a covenant relationship with Christ but it is a symbol of such, for it is associated with belief and obedience. It is a righteous act. Baptism shows what happens as a result of a believer's union with Christ which comes through trust and belief (faith) and are united with Christ in the resurrected Life, just as we are united with the nature of mankind through Adam, and this is how it is symbolized. It is a reminder of the old self put to death.
Represents the outward sign of an inward heart. It is an antitype or picture of resurrection, as well as portraying the believer's death to sin and resurrection to walk in a new life.
Water baptism is representative of Death to self and Alive to God.
Not only does baptism represent a burial, (going down into) and a resurrection (coming up out of) there is a symbolism of separation also, separation from the old life, a symbolic identification with Jesus. Moses led Israel through the 'waters of baptism' by way of the passing through the Red Sea, leaving 'Egypt' behind, the life of slavery and bondage- a vivid picture of a sinner in bondage to the power of the world today, but is led out of bondage by Jesus in the waters of baptism.
In baptism the bible also shows us that we are saved from death, by rejecting the old life and turning to God. Peter explains this in 1 Peter 3:18-21. The ark being Christ, the instrument of salvation and the waters being judgement to the world and Noah was separated and saved from the world.
Water baptism is figurative in giving a fresh start, closely linked with repentance for sins which must be confessed to be forgiven by God the Father in the Name of Jesus. The water is used characteristically by God as a separation from the bondage of sin. This is an old principle that runs through the Bible, but in baptism it is to be shown by an outward act to help a believer remember that the old nature is legally dead.
Water Baptism is associated with beleiving The Gospel Message and becoming a member of The Body of Christ. It does not matter who baptises others but in whose name the application is carried out. Water Baptism is a representation of being clothed with Christ as one would put on a garment.
At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the Baptism of The Holy Spirit was recognized by Jesus. The Holy Spirit Baptism gives the believer entry into the Spiritual Body of Christ, a condition of personal righteousness. The Christian continues in renewal through the Word of God and The Work of The Holy Spirit.
|SCRIPTURES Romans 6:4, Acts 19:1-17, 2:38, 1 Peter 3:18-21.
QUESTIONS 1] How are believers baptised into Christ? 2] Is Baptism of Water and Baptism of The Holy Spirit connected? 3] Is Water Baptism necessary? 4] What are two things that Water Baptism symbolises?