Understanding Christian Baptism
This is a brief summary of Gods design for us to be in covenant relationship with Him.
God is a maker of covenants, which is basically a treaty, agreement, will, or testament.
Peace with God is obtained through a covenant relationship-- THE NEW COVENANT!
Hebrews 1: 1,2 says "in the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and is various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe."
Hebrews 8: 6 says, "But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises"
A covenant has 3 parts to it:
Parties = whom the covenant is between: God and man.
Terms = what man agrees to do for God in entering the agreement.
Promises = what God promises to do in entering the agreement.
God has made this opportunity for an intimate relationship with Him possible by sending us Jesus.
We enter this covenant (becoming party to) by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, confessing Him as our Lord and Savior, repenting of our sins, and being baptized (immersed) into Christ. This is how we become party to the covenant.
Christian baptism is in essence the covenant pledge. The waters of Noah brought death to the sinners in his time. The same water saved Noah, by God's grace. Water was judgment and water separated the living from the dead. So, in Christian baptism, we pledge to God our lives and God pledges admission to the covenant. In respect to the water that saved Noah, 1 Peter 3: 21 says, "this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also, not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Jesus commanded we be baptized (Mark 16:15). The Apostles instructed the first believers in Jesus (Acts 2: 36-38) to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. The early Church baptized all who believed, usually immediately (Acts conversions). In every conversion, baptism was an immediate response.
I am spending time on the understanding of baptism because many believe it is just an outward sign of inward grace. NO WHERE IN SCRIPTURE WILL YOU FIND THOSE WORDS!
Being baptized is a visible, God-chosen, and God-commanded response of our Faith. It is not a work, but an act of FAITH.
It is our pledge of allegiance to God of our devotion and life---COMMITMENT TO HIS LORDSHIP!!
The word pledge in the Greek is the same word that was used when two businessmen would enter into a deal. The seller made a proposition and the buyer considered it. If he accepted it he stood and said, "I pledge that I am going to live to the terms of this agreement." This was done before witnesses, and that pledge made it finalized and made it binding.
Baptism is to participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. When we hear the Gospel, we can either accept it, or reject it. There is no neutral ground. We answer yes or no. If we choose to say yes, we finalize the covenant by being baptized. The agreement is then binding on both parties. This pledge is like signing your name on the dotted line of the covenant.
The Greek word for baptism meant to be fully buried, immersed in water. That is why we at LCC require immersion. There should be no more or less required for local Church membership than what was required to join this covenant with Christ.
Baptism is our UNION with Christ. Galatians 3:27 says, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed (put on) with Christ."
Baptism assures us of the cleansing forgiveness of our sins. Acts 22:16 says, "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name."
Baptism represents our identification with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection, guaranteeing our own resurrection! Romans 6:5 says, "If we have been united in Him in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection."
Again the emphasis of this brief study is on the importance and significance of Christian Baptism. We must understand this is one of the means God has given for us to become party to the covenant. Once we have entered covenant, we are to keep the terms in order to receive the promises.
The terms of this covenant are twofold: Please read the scriptures below:
1. Christlikeness-- Clossians 1: 28, 29
2. Reconciliation-- 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
The promises of keeping covenant are:
1. Remission of sins-- Acts 2:38
2. The Holy Spirit-- Acts 2:38
3. Ministry-- Ephesians 4:11,12
4. Eternal life-- John 3:16
Biblical Reasons for being Baptized
Proposition: The following were reasons for, or motivation to or results of being baptized and reflected in the various texts.
1. To follow the example of Jesus. Mt. 6: 14-16
2. To allow preachers to obey the great commission. Mt 28: 18-20
(Since preachers were commanded to baptize Christ's Disciples, it follows that the disciples must allow themselves to be baptized.)
3. To receive remission of sins. Acts 2:38 / Acts 22:16
4. To receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:38
5. To unite with Christ's death. Rom. 6: 3-6, Col. 2: 11-13
6. To enter into the Christ. Gal. 3:27
7. To enter into the Church. 1Cor. 12:12
8. To reenact or picture the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Rom. 6: 3-6
9. To "put on" Christ. Gal. 3:27
(The parable of Jesus about the people coming to the wedding feast without the proper clothes may apply here.)
10. To participate in the resurrection of Christ. Rom. 6: 3-6
11. To covenantally pledge allegiance to Christ. 1Pet. 3:21
(The Greek word denotes a signing of an agreement, a pledge or oath made to another, or an answer to a question put to one regarding conditions to which one was agreeing.)
12. To display unity with the one world Church of Christ. Eph. 4: 4-5
13. To participate in the New Birth. Jn. 3: 3-5. Titus 3:5
Conclusion: Baptism in water, for the remission of sins as an oath of allegiance to Christ, was the apostolic theology of baptism.