Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Six reasons why Baptism is a must

1 Peter 3:21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

The reason for laboring over this issue of baptism is due to the significance of the practice and the widespread confusion over the issue.  I hope that in the past several days the reader has found clarity on this issue.  1 Peter 3:21 represents the final mention of baptism in the New Testament.  We have noted three reasons so far why baptism is significant for Christians:

1. Jesus mandated it, by modeling it and commanding it
2. Its method is that of faith in Christ first, followed by baptism of the believer throughout the Gospels, Acts and Epistles .
3. Its mode is meaningful, conveying the primary meaning of "immerse, dip".  This pictures the saint publically proclaiming their identity in Christ's death, burial and resurrection, something of which they would had done in a prior commitment of faith and repentance. 

Today we are going to wrap up this study of baptism by noting why baptism is a must for believers.

1. Baptism enables one's Public Profession of Faith. 
Jesus states in Luke 9:26 that if anyone is ashamed to mention Him before men, He will be ashamed to mention Him before His Father in Heaven.  As we already saw in 1 Peter 3:21, baptism enables the believer to "pledge a good conscience" before God or "unto God". 

2. Baptism places a mile marker in a Christian's life
Baptism is often like a mile marker in a Christian's life.  Just like Jacob, who took a stone and anointed it with oil to remind him of God's first encounter with Him, baptism functions as a "stone of remembrance for the believer. (Genesis 28:18) 

Or better yet, God gave Abraham the Covenant sign of circumcision to remind him of the covenant he had been given by God. (Genesis 12:1-3;15; 17)  Certainly passages such as Colossians 2:12-13 draw such a parallel between baptism functioning as such a sign to the believer, signifying the prior work God had done in circumcising their hearts, and transforming their lives by grace through faith alone.  Just as circumcision was given to Abraham to point to a prior work done in His life, baptism has been given to the church to testify of the work of grace done and receive by faith prior to the baptism. 

3. Baptism pictures the saint's connection to Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 10:2-4 reads - "and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3and all ate the same spiritual food; 4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ."  Baptism here speaks of "in connection with or association with" a covenant head.  For the Jews in the Old Testament, they were connected with the covenant head of the Old Covenant - Moses; whereas the New Testament Christian is connected by faith to their head - Christ.  Sadly those Old Testament saints who crossed the red sea did not have saving faith accompanying journey.  If they would had, they would had seen the one to whom they needed to be ultimately connected to.  Even though Christ accompanied them by means of the rock, yet Christ was not truly "in them". 

4. Water Baptism portrays the invisible work the Holy Spirit worked in his uniting of the saint to Christ in conversion
1 Corinthians 12:12 reads - "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."  To be baptized here speaks of the Spirit's work of uniting the formerly lost sinner to Christ through saving faith.  This work is the "Spirit baptism" whereby the new converted Christian is tied into the wider body of truly converted saints.  This is an invisible work of grace at salvation.  Spirit baptism is made "visible, illustrated, pictured" by water baptism.  It is not two baptisms, but rather two parts of one baptism. (Ephesians 4:5) The Spirit baptism is another term for the believer's salvation, whereas water baptism is the believer re-enacting for physical eyes the prior work done in the heart at saving faith. 

5. Baptism promotes the Gospel
Baptism goes hand and hand with the preaching of the gospel.  The preaching of God's word present the word which alone can convert and save sinners. (Romans 10:9-15)  It is through the scriptures that the Holy Spirit penetrates the human heart, whereas in baptism we see pictured what takes place in the human heart.  Baptism on its own does not produce saving faith, rather it pictures it. 

6. Baptism prioritizes obedience to Jesus Christ
When a Christian convert goes into those baptismal waters, they are picturing a fully obedient Christian.  In the presence of the reading of or preaching of the scriptures, the Holy Spirit can take such a picture and press it before the child of God.  The picture points to the reality, the master, to whom all Christians owe their allegiance.  We are reminded too that love for Christ is chiefly expressed by obedience to Christ. (John 14:15,21,23).  This is why Christ has ordained the church to be the administrator of believer's baptism, since loving submission to Christ the Bridegroom demonstrates most effectively a people transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:25-26; 1 Peter 1:15-16)

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