Coming to Christ and Baptism

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Since the fall of men it has been debated to the point of bloodshed what God requires of men to be found pleasing to Him. Some like Adam’s son Abel were not hesitant to offer the first born of his flock, as well as the fattest to the Lord as an offering, while Cain brought forth of his bounty from the earth as an offering. Yet it is clear from the scriptures that Abel’s offering was considered by God to be “a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” God’s words to Cain regarding his offering was rather simple, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lieth at the door.”

Le 2:1 And when any will offer a meat [grain] offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: 2 And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take there out his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour [aroma] unto the LORD.

Now many have reasoned that the displeasure God had with Cain’s offering was that it was a bloodless offering, yet scriptures tell us that God accepted such offerings. So it is clear here that the problem was not in that which was offered . . . rather the trouble was with the one making the offering. Today however, God is not asking for us to make these types of sacrifices, He is however still looking for that which Cain obviously lack in his offering to God and that for which “the Lord respected Abel and his offering.”  But on this I will touch briefly a bit later.

Since the crucifixion of Christ when a sinner yields to the Holy Spirit’s conviction that their sins have caused them to fall short of God’s righteousness in their life, that simple acceptance of God’s judgment against them is sufficient to bring them to the point where true reconciliation with the Redeemer can begin through repentance. But this is only a starting place, the beginning of a new life, a new birth where they can continue on to grow in wisdom and stature before God.

To experience this quickening of hope, they must believe wholeheartedly that there is indeed a God to whom they are accountable and that without God granting them repentance they are in a state of condemnation because it is impossible satisfy the demands of His righteous judgments being spiritually dead and in a fallen state due to their sins. This awareness of their sins is not merely a belief that they have made poor choices and are therefore victims of such, rather it is a piercing conviction that they have rob God what was due Him because they have rejected Him either out of selfish desires or fear of what other may think of them or perhaps do to them. Either way their life choices have been contrary to that which would have pleasing to God. All this is evident of the working of God’s Holy Spirit in the world and is a truth that resonates throughout God’s creation.

Psm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Since Adam all men have been influenced by God’s handiwork, working a conviction there is something greater than themselves from which they have come and therefore indebted to. Yet the adversary of God, the father of lies, works tirelessly to blind men in attempt to keep them from the God who created them. Regardless of the relentless efforts to mislead them, they are still without excuse before their Creator. There is no lie of the devil or weakness of humanity that can render the power of truth unable to set free, or the Holy Spirit unable to convince, or God’s grace to abound. As Paul the Apostle said, “The gospel . . . is the power of God.”

Ro 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Therefore, those whose hearts have been truly pierced by the conviction of sin and now hunger for a right standing with God, such are the ones who will find themselves at a threshold where they can taste and see that the Lord is good and abundant in mercy. It is not the promise of a better life, rather forgiveness that draws them closer to the cross where they are persuaded mercy awaits them. These are driven by the sorrow that they have failed God and not just their own selves or others, though doubtless they can see failure elsewhere. These are the broken and contrite, the poor in spirit who aware of their own spiritual deficit are crying out for forgiveness and mercy, who believes that their prayers will only be answered at the foot of the cross by the Lamb who was slain for their sins. Yet this is where the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity has made available a gateway for “whosoever” to enter in and find peace, rest and reconciliation to God.

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

At this point when coming to Christ there is no need for understanding of great revelations of the mysteries of God for a sinner to find forgiveness. Only a simple understanding and sincere acknowledgment of their sins against their Creator with a conviction of the truth of glorious Gospel that a payment sufficient to satisfy all the demands of God’s righteous judgments against them has been made by the sacrifice on the cross for their sins. At Calvary every sinner is offered an equal opportunity to return to God, not of his own strength and mere will alone, but by an empowerment of a grace afforded him freely by the same God to whom his debt is eternally owed. This free offer of grace is extended when the truth which convicts them of their sin also reveals the need to surrender to His majesty; they can either receive the truth with a love and commitment to it . . . or reject it. For no man can return to God of their own will and might, for they are sold under the control of sin. It is only when they humbly acknowledge the truth with brokenness and contrition that God offers them repentance that they might be saved.

Ac 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.

And this too is a truth which the deceiver of humanity would try to blur and distort to mankind, that their repentance must be a turning away from bad things and a commitment to do good things . . . yet even that falls miserably short of God’s desire for all men. God’s desire is that we return to Him from which we are fallen. We must seek that which is His will and not just that which religion would hold out as a standard of good. We are called to holiness, not mere goodness, to be partakers of His nature and not just conformists to list of do and don’ts. Hosea shows us the heart of effective repentance as the prophet gives prophetic utterance to the remnant of Israel seeking to be reconciled to their God.

Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.

Here is the witness of one’s conviction by God’s Spirit, the awareness that God’s has allowed the repercussions of sin to work death in us, so that we could learn the true consequences of our sins that it might stir forth a hunger for His righteousness. God’s judgments are designed such so as to persuade us that our only hope can come from the One we have sinned against. Here there is no remedy to be found by changing our habits, but by our returning to Him.

1Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Everyone who seeks to return to God with a humble acknowledgment of their sins will naturally abandon those things whereby they were before led astray. But there are many religions that are but snares for those seeking peace and freedom from their guilt and shame by directing their confidence to merely trying to be good. Such is a lie and a false light of hope for peace by turning from bad habits to religious activities, working out their own righteousness through vain works and not coming to a complete surrender to their Creator. Therefore I am always compelled to tell men that true repentance is a returning to God and not just a turning away from perceived sin.

Nonetheless, though an honest confession of one’s guilt and sins against their Creator and a sincere belief in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is sufficient to bring all men to the Gate of Eternal life, it is by no means where hope ends. Rather it is only the threshold, an access given us into a walk with the Spirit of Jesus Christ dwelling in us, the hope of glory that will begin and perfect a work in us if we remain yielded to His leading.

Ro 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Because of the cross men are given an opportunity, by a choice for which they are accountable, to be free from their sins and receive divine enablement to yield themselves unto God’s Spirit. It is important that we embrace the truth when it is offered to us, whether it is convenient or not and continually seek a greater understanding so we can grow and be transformed as partakers of God’s holiness and life.

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.

The verses above reveal that believers should have an understanding of these fundamental Christian truths. It is unfortunate that these precepts are not being taught in some churches nowadays. Nevertheless, they are as follows –

  • An understanding of the principles of the doctrine of Christ.
  • Repentance from dead works
  • Faith towards God
  • An understanding of the doctrine of baptisms
  • An understanding of laying on of hands
  • An understanding of the resurrection of the dead unto eternal judgment

While it is not my intent to expound on all these things here and now, I will briefly address them so as to identify the basic concepts of each.

First, “the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” which refers not to the “teachings” of Christ, as the word “doctrine” is singular. This is a reference to “the teaching of Who Christ was” and not what He taught. This is revealed with some certainty in the following passage.

1Tim 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Next, is “repentance from dead works.” Now the tendency of many is to assume this is repentance from sin which works death in us. But this passage is nearly in the center and heart of the book of Hebrews which was written to convince the Hebrew believers of the passing of the old covenant. Here the author skillful shows how the prophetic workings of the ceremonial laws which were fulfilled in the sacrificial death of Christ and are therefore no longer required by God. Their design was simply to be prophetic actions pointing to the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. To continue in them after Christ’s death would be a prophetic “crucifying Christ afresh.” From that time forward the life the believer now lives by “faith towards God” in the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus and His Spirit ability to guide and keep us.

Ro 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

By his death Jesus brought an end to the Mosaic ceremonial sacrifices and oblations whose purposes were to signify the sacrifice of the Lamb of God which alone would ultimately take away the sin of the world. A reading of Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 should be sufficient to guide believers to “repentance from dead works,” or to abandon the dead rituals of the Mosaic Law for faith in God via Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. It is here that we can see the defining difference between Cain and Abel’s offerings to God.

Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

The difference was not in what they offered to God, rather in how it was offered. It is clear from scripture that “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure” and “To [faithfully] obey is better than sacrifice.”

1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Ho 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Mic 6:7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

Next is “the doctrine of baptisms.” It is clear from this verse that there is more than one baptism mentioned here, but what they might all be are not defined here. But from other scriptures we can readily address three. First is water baptism, second is a baptism by/ or of fire, and third is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. All these “baptisms” are individual events or processes that are instrumental in our ultimate and total immersion (baptism) into Christ and His Kingdom.

The “laying on of hands” addresses the witness of faith as seen by Jesus and His apostles by the laying on of hands in healing the sick, Ac 28:8,  and assignment of responsibility and accountability through the ordination to leadership, 1Ti 5:22, Ac 6:6, and the imparting the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, Ac 8:17; 19:6.

Lastly, believers are to have a basic understanding of “the resurrection of the dead unto eternal judgment.” All men are accountable and all men will be judged as witnessed by the scriptures –

Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

However, the purpose of this study is to reason the significance of water baptism by gleaming from the truth of the scriptures things that will aid us in our faith and confidence towards God.  Therefore, regarding baptism I would earnestly say that repentance is foremost as an acknowledgment of our fallen sinful state as we seek to turn around our lives and to return to a relationship with the only wise God our Savior. This we see in John’s baptism in preparation of the hearts of the people for the coming of our Savior.

Mt 3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.

Now most of us who were exposed to Christianity were familiar with the church’s practice of baptism. What many do not know is the Jewish origin of it or the importance immersion in water signified to them. The Jews had a purification ritual called “mikvah” whereby water immersion was required of those who became ritually defiled by their contact with a corpse. They had to use the mikvah – water immersion before being allowed to again participate in activities within the Temple.

Water immersion was also required for other believers wishing to convert from paganism to Judaism as a witness of their conversion. Such bathing and immersion in the mikvah represented a change in their status in regards to purification by removing the filth of the flesh, bringing restoration and qualification to religious participation in the life of the community. Once cleansed by the mikvah it was ensured that the cleansed person would not impose uncleanness on others or property. Therefore those hearing the preaching of John were pierced through their heart with the truth of their sins and lack of faithfulness towards God.

Yet neither John’s baptism nor that of the great commission was intended to restore the people to Judaism, rather to God Himself. It was a call to return to God, to publicly declare Him alone worthy of all glory and honor with a humble confession of sins and surrender.

Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mr 16:14 Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen. 15 And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Now in Mark 16:16 we can see that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Are we here to believe that water baptism is part of a formula, a contributing instrument of our salvation, which assures us of eternal life? If so why then doesn’t the Apostle Mark say “he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned?”

What is it that our belief and baptism “saves” us from? Is it hell? Or is it the things that weigh and drag us down to hell . . . our sins?

Mt 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.

One of the passages I like to use as a perspective to show the benefit of baptism and how Jesus, not the baptism, saves us from our sins is in I Corinthians.

1Cor. 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Before God delivered the Israelites they were slaves in Egypt to Pharaoh. There they were oppressed under bondage and forced to work while being forbidden from receiving the benefits of their labor.  This was a grievous breach of God’s desire for them.

1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 2Ti 2:6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

Therefore God raised up Moses, as a type and shadow of Christ, to lead the captives free. After the blood of the Passover lamb was applied to the door posts and lintel the destroyer was obliged to pass over the house of Israel, yet killed the firstborn of the Egyptians. This represents the power of the blood of the lamb to stay off the destroyer. It was the lamb’s blood applied to the door posts and lintel that created a means of exodus for God’s people out of their captivity to the Red Sea where the scriptures say they “were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

What I appreciate about the Red Sea is it is serves as a distinct divider of time and space in the lives of the Israelites. It is there today, a present reminder of the life they lived on one side of it and a testimony to the fact they choose to go through it to follow God (the Cloud) to the fulfillment of His promises. It serves as a proverbial line in the sand, a separation between two sides and proof of a decision defining the past from the present.

But for believers it is even more than just that. As believers and redeemed sinners, we were once held captive by our sins. Yet a price was paid that obliged the destroyer to spare us the judgment due us.  Yet had the Israelites had not obediently followed Moses and the Cloud and passed through the Red Sea what would it have matter? They would not have inherited the promise land. What inheritance is there in a world that perishes with the using and holds people in bondage?

Ex. 14:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so. 5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? 6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: 7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. 9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea . . .

But because of their obedience, God open up the Red Sea and allowed them to pass through it on dry ground, yet Pharaoh and his men and chariots pursued them in a desperate attempt not to let them go. Such it is with the repentant believer, neither the world nor the god of it wants to see men set free. It is with great effort that the powers of darkness try to hold on to the souls of men. Never willing to let go, the powers of darkness pursue with great hostility and attempt to attack the very thing that opens up to deliverance to mankind in the first place, their faith in God.

Ex 14:10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD. 11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

Yet even here God’s grace and mercies abound, as He asks for us to simply trust that what He has begun, He will complete.

Ex 14:13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

I think we all need to reflect on what Moses said above to them, for it is a testimony to the effectual working of our baptism in Christ as well.

Ex 14:15 And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. 21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians. 26 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.  29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.

God swallowed up the Egyptians in the Red Sea and destroyed them. Likewise, when we obediently follow the cloud (Holy Spirit) of God through the Red Sea (water baptism) after Moses (Jesus, our Redeemer) all of our enemies, our past, our oppressors, they too follow us into the water, but they cannot follow us out the other side. Our baptism serves a powerful legal line in the sand dividing time and space between our past life as captives of sin serving Pharaoh and his men (Satan and his minions) and followers of Christ.

Once we are baptized, we too “shall see them again no more forever.” Now it is important to keep that in context . . . because we are talking about the time prior to baptism. Those things which have power over us before then have no more power over us now. However, that cannot negate other principles set forth in scripture.

Ro 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

We can always choose to slide backwards . . . away from the freedom God secured for us.

2Pe 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

This is also evident from the words of Paul in I Corinthians –

1Co 10:5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Yes, even after their baptism, after eating “spiritual meat . . . all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” they later displeased God through faithlessness. But it was only them . . . not the Egyptians, who were to blame.

God has afforded His people every grace and necessity to reach His promises. He was/is their protector, provider, and their very substance for life. The only thing that caused them to fail was their own hearts and lack of faith. They failed to continue to love His truth, to seek His face and His righteousness. God has promised He would never leave us and nor forsake us.

2Co 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

In the following passage Phillip puts forth to the eunuch the only condition he needed to be baptized. It is most likely repentance was not mentioned here because it was apparent he was hunger for the truth for the reason that he was intensely studying the scriptures and had been in Jerusalem to worship. Plus we know Phillip was led by the Holy Spirit directly to this man in the first place.

Ac 8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

It is also noteworthy that in the great commission that men are instructed to baptized in “the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

This is how many churches perform their baptisms quoting the phrase and thus sanctioning the baptism “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” This practice has caused significant debate amongst believers as to whether that is a “name” or a phrase containing titles, for there are three titles mentioned and only a singular name alluded to. To me it is a debate that will never be won by either side and is not worthy of too much deliberation. For we have sufficient scripture documenting what name was used to sanction the baptism of believers in the book of Acts.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

 Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

 Acts 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

 Acts 8: 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

 Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

 Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Another point worthy of clarifying is the ceremony of baptism is “an immersion” into something far more significant than mere water. As we saw in I Corinthians the Israelites “were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” Today, believers via the water are baptized unto Christ . . . or through our obedience to the conviction of the Hoy Spirit and the written word of God we are “immersed” into Christ and joined unto His body.

1Co 12:12  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14  For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

 Gal. 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

It is important for believers to embrace the significance of this truth and to live their lives immersed in Christ. Nowadays it is really easy for believers to get immersed into everything going on around them and to then compartmentalize Christ into their life. I often remind myself that Jesus is to be more than a part of my life, He is my life.

Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.

Jesus made a statement worthy of great consideration, “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” To be with Christ is to be immersed in Him. Letting Him be the purpose of our life and not merely giving Him a time slot in it. The exhortation has never changed and is in fact the greatest commandment that men are to love God with their whole heart and not just part of it. The evidence of love has always been one’s commitment. Too many are merely in love with their own concept of love, but their actions and choices betray them. Many have confidently declared their love for God while their commitment is to themselves and the things of this world.

John 14:23 . . . If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

Nevertheless, it is a glorious thing to be immersed in Christ, to be part of the Body of Christ, filled with the hope of Glory.  We all begin this journey with Christ alone when we first came to that place of crying out to Him.

Ps 120:1 – In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and He heard me.

But in His faithfulness to His body we are soon immersed in His body . . . with the promise that we shall stand in His holy city of peace.

Ps 122:1 – I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. 2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together.

Peace

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