Restore >> Bible guide sets >> Someone Cares contents ..
Someone Cares Series
Having identified God's remnant church, the true follower of Jesus will want to know how to join it. Jesus said: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16).
Generally one joins the church through baptism, though those who previously have been baptized may join by receiving Jesus as absolute Lord of their life and accepting the Biblical principles upon which the church is built. In this lesson we will learn the meaning and importance of baptism, as well as the way Jesus showed it should be administered.
1. What two things are involved in being born again?"
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, there hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, now tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again.
When Jesus speaks of the new heart He means the mind, the life, the whole being. To have a new heart is to have a new mind, new purposes, new motives. There is a daily, hourly dying to selfishness and pride. The selfish spirit is to be cleansed from the soul.
Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin.
2. Through what rite do we "put on Christ?"
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
We put on Christ by baptism into the faith of His death and resurrection. If Christ, the spotless and pure Redeemer of man, condescended to take the steps necessary for the sinner to take in conversion, why should any, with the light of truth shining upon their pathway, hesitate to submit their hearts to God and in humility confess that they are sinners, and show their faith in the atonement of Christ by words and actions, identifying themselves with those who profess to be His followers.
3. What does baptism represent?
"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 6:3-5).
The repentant believer who takes the steps required in conversion commemorates in his baptism the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. He goes down into the water in the likeness of Christ's death and burial, and he is raised out of the water in the likeness of His resurrection—not to take up the old life of sin, but to live a new life in Christ.
By our baptismal pledge we avouched and solemnly confessed the Lord Jehovah as our ruler. We virtually took a solemn oath, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, that henceforth our lives would be merged into the life of these three great Agencies, that the life we should live in the flesh would be lived in faithful obedience to God's sacred law. We declared ourselves dead and our lives hid with Christ, that henceforth we should walk with Him in newness of life as men and women having experienced the new birth.
4. Why was Jesus baptized, and what was God's response?
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:13-17).
Christ was our example in all things that pertain to life and godliness. He was baptized in Jordan, just as those who come to Him must also be baptized.
How thoughtlessly we have read the account of the baptism of our Lord, not realizing that its significance was of the greatest importance to us, and that Christ was accepted of the Father in man's behalf.
Jesus did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account. He identified Himself with sinners, taking the steps that we are to take and doing the work that we must do.
As Jesus went up out of the water, the promised sign was given; for the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God, like a dove of burnished gold, hovered over the head of Christ and a voice came from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The voice of God was heard in answer to the petition of Christ and this tells the sinner that his prayer will find a lodgment at the throne of the Father. We are to come in faith, believing that we shall obtain the very things we ask of Him.
5. Was Jesus sprinkled, or immersed?
"And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:" (Mark 1:10).
There is only one mode of baptism authorized by the Scriptures and that is immersion (Ephesians 4:5; Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:38, 39). When we arise from the water, we are to feel we are not of this world, for we have risen from the watery grave into a newness of life.
John proclaimed the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 3:1, 2, 6) and called the people to repentance. As a symbol of cleansing from sin he baptized them in the waters of the Jordan. Thus, by a significant object lesson, he declared that those who claimed to be the chosen of God were defiled by sin, and that without purification of heart and life they could have no part in the Messiah's kingdom.
6. If Jesus Himself was baptized, should any of us consider ourselves too important to be baptized? Should pride prevent anyone from being buried in water for Him, when He was buried in a tomb for us?
No matter how faultless may have been our lives, as sinners we have steps to take. We are required to repent, believe, and be baptized.
Christ was wholly righteous; yet He, the Saviour of the world, gave man an example by Himself taking the steps which He requires the sinner to take to become a child of God, and heir of heaven.
7. In the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices pointed to Jesus' death. Were these sacrifices effectual without faith on the part of the worshipper?
"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4).
Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. To many it has been a mystery why so many sacrificial offerings were required in the old dispensation, why so many bleeding victims were led to the altar. But the great truth that was to be kept before men and imprinted on mind and heart was this, "Without shedding of blood is no remission." In every bleeding sacrifice was typified "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." God's people, whom He calls His peculiar treasure, were privileged with a two fold system of law; the moral and the ceremonial. The one pointing back to creation, to keep in remembrance the living God who made the world, whose claims are binding upon all men in every dispensation, and which will exist through all time and eternity,. The other given because of man's transgression of the moral law, the obedience to which consisted in sacrifices and offerings pointing to the future redemption. Each is clear and distinct from the other. While the Old Testament is constantly pointing forward to the true offering, the New Testament shows that the Saviour, prefigured by the typical offerings, has come.
On the part of the worshipper in the Old Testament times, faith was required equally as much as now.
8. In this respect, baptism is like those sacrifices. While baptism is necessary, can baptism itself, without faith, save us?
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
Baptizing infants is meaningless because they have no faith. An infant can be dedicated to the Lord, as Jesus was as a baby, but baptism is meaningful only when it expresses the believers faith.
Not one that in penitence and faith has claimed His protection will Christ permit to pass under the enemy's power.
9. At Pentecost, what did Peter tell the new converts to 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, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).
Repentance, faith and baptism are the requisite steps in conversion. Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He has made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
10. What were the new converts "added" to when they were baptized?
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ... Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:41, 47).
Before man can find a home in the church, before passing the threshold of God's spiritual kingdom, he is to receive the impress of the divine name, "The Lord our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6).11. What symbol represents the church?"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22, 23).
All of God's people upon the earth are one body, from the beginning to the end of time. They have one head that directs and governs the body. "The head of every man is Christ." God, who put all things under the Saviour's feet, "gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body" (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22, 23). The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend on man or be controlled by man.
12. What are we to be baptized "into?"
"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" (1 Corinthians 12:13).
We are all baptized into Christ's body, the church, by the Holy Spirit. Christ recognized no distinction of nationality or rank or creed. The scribes and Pharisees desired to make a local and national benefit of the gifts of heaven and to exclude the rest of God's family in the world. But Christ came to break down every wall of partition. The life of Christ established a religion in which there is no caste, a religion by which Jew and Gentile, free and bond, are linked in a common brotherhood, equal before God. He made no difference between neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies.
13. What is given to those who are baptized?
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 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" (1 Corinthians 12:7-12).
Later in the history of the early church, when in various parts of the world many groups of believers had been formed into churches, the organization of the church was further perfected so that order and harmonious action might be maintained. Every member was exhorted to act well his part. Each was to make wise use of the talents entrusted to him. Some were endowed by the Holy Spirit with special gifts.
In their different lines of work, they all have but one head. The same Spirit, in different ways, works through them. There is harmonious action, though the gifts differ.
14. What are we to do with these gifts after we are baptized?
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. ... Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (John 15:2, 8).
Judas did not become transformed and converted into a living branch through connection with the true vine. This dry sapling adhered not to the vine until it grew into a fruitful living branch. He revealed that he was the graft that did not bear fruit—the graft that did not, fiber by fiber, vein by vein, become knit with the vine and partake of its life. The dry disconnected sapling can become one with the parent vine stock only by being made a partaker of the life and nourishment of the living vine, by being grafted into the vine, by being brought into the closest relationship possible. Fiber by fiber, vein by vein, the twig holds fast to the life-giving vine, until the life of the vine become the life of the branch and it produces fruit like that of the vine.
15. What was Jesus' last commission to the disciples?
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Paul accepted this commission, He realized that upon him rested the obligation of laboring for all men—for Jew and Gentile, learned and unlearned, for those occupying high positions and for those in the most lowly walks of life. There must be no withholding on our part, of our service or our means, if we would fulfill our covenant with God. The purpose of all God's commandments is to reveal man's duty, not only to God but to his fellowman.
16. On one occasion, what did Paul do to those who had been baptized before learning all of the gospel?
"And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 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. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:3-5).
Rebaptism is a matter to be treated as a great privilege and blessing. When a soul is truly reconverted, let him be rebaptized. Let him renew his covenant with Him.
When these converts received baptism at the hand of John, they did not fully comprehend the mission of Jesus as the Sin Bearer. They were holding serious errors. But with clearer light, they gladly accepted Christ as their Redeemer, and with this step of advance came a change in their obligations. As they received a purer faith, there was a corresponding change in their life. In token of this change, and an acknowledgment of their faith in Christ, they were re-baptized in the name of Jesus.
Jesus said, "Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father" (Matthew 10:32). God gives us the opportunity to develop a faith-relationship with Jesus, and then as we learn how to publicly confess that relationship through baptism by immersion, salvation is conditional upon our obedience.
Would you like to request baptism today and begin to prepare for that wonderful event? And while you are preparing for baptism, will you pray that God will show you what gifts He has given you to be used in service for Him and His church?
|Next: "Christ Cleanses
Page created: 7/26/98 Updated: 08/10/2006
Copyright © Project Restore, Inc. 1998