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Baptism

26th April 2008, mgh

 

1) Baptism and Salvation

For Jesus Christ and his followers salvation was a vital concern and they had no doubt that salvation was salvation from sin and its consequence, which is death. God requires a person to acknowledge sin. In the Garden of Eden a lamb was offered to cover the disobedience and sin of Adam and Eve. By the Law of Moses, the people of ancient Israel gained forgiveness through the sacrifice and pouring out of the blood of unblemished animals, and, a confession of their sins. With the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the perfect and sinless son of God, this practice was no longer required, as Jesus fulfilled the requirements of all the sacrificial offerings for sin under the Law.

However a new way was instituted for the acknowledgement and forgiveness of sins and the first step along the way to salvation and the hope of eternal life. The Apostle Paul explains that there is a need for a covering for sin.

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:7-8)

Paul explains that Adam's disobedience was sin and brought condemnation on Adam and death, which passed on to all, because “all have sinned”.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)

The Apostle Peter told the Jews who had crucified their Messiah about the way their sins could be forgiven and blotted out.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 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? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:36-38)

Peter also explains that the prophets had long ago prophesied that their Messiah would suffer at the hands of the Jews and that baptism would be the means of forgiveness of their sins if they truly repented.

But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. (Acts 3:18-22)

Paul taught that through baptism, one puts on Christ as a covering and is figuratively clothed in the skin of the sacrificial animal provided by God, in a similar way that Adam and Eve were literally clothed with the skin of the lamb that was slain in the Garden of Eden. As well as baptism, faith was an important requirement of the faithful.

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

Baptism as a Burial

Paul explains the significance of baptism. as a burial to past sins and a resurrection to a life of dedicated to service to God.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:3-6).

Baptism is a symbol of sacrifice. Just as Jesus gave up his life on the cross, the true believer, by submitting to baptism publicly shows that he will figuratively “crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof.” (Galatians 5:24) This is the person's declaration that he/she will subordinate their will to perform the will of God. Baptism becomes the first act of obedience by which the believer humbles self to please God.

In explaining the act of baptism as representing a burial, the apostle Paul had shown in Romans 6 that just as Christ died and was buried, and rose again to a new life, the believer, acknowledged that he is a sinner and that the wages of sin is death. Desiring to be associated with the risen immortal Christ, baptism symbolised death to sin and a symbolic burial with Christ and thus “baptism unto death”. (Romans 6:1-11) Having risen from the waters of baptism it is then imperative that one walks according to God's requirements.

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