Originally published as Baptism part two 3/13/2012
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If you have not read Baptism: What It Is and Is Not part 1- you can find it here.
What exactly is baptism anyway? Lets look at what the bible has to say about it.
First I want to look at Baptism pre-Jesus. John the Baptist was obviously baptizing before the disciples of Jesus were doing it. There is a difference though in John the Baptist’s baptism, and the baptism of Christ. When John baptized, he did so with water, but his baptism was looking forward to the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 3:2-3 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, repentance means to turn away from, to change what we are doing. To repent is to truly be sorry for what we have done wrong, and then turn from that behavior, that action, and change our ways. John’s baptism then was symbolic of repenting before God and turning from sin with commitment to God to live life not in sin any longer, but to do good works and live a life of truth and obey the Lord and His commands Luke 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance…
John also said that his baptism was not the same as the one to come, Luke 3:16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
What exactly is the baptism of Jesus about as compared to John’s baptism? Yes John was the one who baptized Jesus (Luke 3:21), but Jesus did not need the baptism of repentance, as Jesus never sinned. Jesus did this to fulfill all righteousness Matthew 3:15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. What exactly that verse means, does not matter in this context, what matters is that Jesus stated His reason for being baptized and it can’t be the same as ours.
The baptism of redemption (baptism in the name of Christ) is very different from that of John the Baptist; baptism of repentance, it is actually rather complex in nature. Colossians 2:11-12 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Much happens in baptism. The picture is of sinking into the water, and then rising up out of it. Immersion in the water is symbolic of our sinful nature, “the old man” being crucified with Christ. Our sinful self, our fleshly being is buried with Christ in the grave. Our sinful nature, the one we have thus far been a slave to; that we had to obey without a choice…the power of that sinful nature is now broken. We are no longer required to obey our sinful nature, but are free to walk in the spirit.
Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Our new life is begun. As we are raised out of the water, we are born again. Again, the water and the baptism are but symbols of what is happening or has already happened. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we are raised from our previous state of being spiritually dead, and are reborn into a new existence…we are now forever more spiritually alive through Christ. Note what it says in Romans 6:4…we too may live a new life. This is our spiritual birth, for some their real birthday. Romans 6:5-6 is even further conformation of this, it reads as follows; If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
So in Jesus, our actual nature is changed. We are no longer slaves to sin; we are free to walk in the spirit instead. Our flesh, or our Adamic nature no longer rules us; Christ has given us control through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What about the type of baptism? We see in the bible that when people were baptized, including Jesus, it was by immersion. Matthew 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
Note the wording of the above verse, “he went up out of the water”, which makes a very strong case for being immersed in the water. I believe immersion is the way to go. However, that being said…if another form of baptism is used such as sprinkling with water…the main thing is being baptized, not the way a person is baptized. Remember…baptism is an important “symbol” of what has occurred internally through your new relationship with Jesus.
Next time we will look at when we should be baptized.