Summary: Baptism is significant in that it represents the forgiveness and cleansing from sin that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Baptism is significant in that it represents the forgiveness and cleansing from sin that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Purpose of Baptism:
• Water Baptism identifies the believer with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
“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.” Romans 6:4 (NIV)
• Water Baptism is an act of obedience for the believer. It should be preceded by repentance, which simply means “change.” It is turning from our sin and selfishness to serve the Lord. It means placing our pride, our past and all of our possessions before the Lord. It is giving the control of our lives over to Him.
• Water Baptism is a public testimony - the outward confession of an inward experience. In baptism, we stand before witnesses confessing our identification with the Lord.
• Cleansing - “And this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 3:21 (NIV)
ILLUSTRATION: The Un-baptised Arm
Ivan the Great was the tsar of all of Russia during the Fifteenth Century. He brought together the warring tribes into one vast empire.
Busy waging his campaigns that he did not have a family
No heir to the throne
Ivan said to them that he did not have the time to search for a bride, but if they would find a suitable one, he would marry her.
The counsellors and advisers searched the capitals of Europe to find an appropriate wife for the great tsar. And find her, they did. They reported to Ivan of the beautiful dark eyed daughter of the King of Greece. She was young, brilliant, and charming. He agreed to marry her sight unseen.
The King of Greece was delighted. It would align Greece in a favourable way with the emerging giant of the north. But there had to be one condition, “He cannot marry my daughter unless he becomes a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.” Ivan’s response, “I will do it!”
So, a priest was dispatched to Moscow to instruct Ivan
Arrangements were concluded, and the tsar made his way to Athens accompanied by 500 of his crack troops--his personal palace guard.
He was to be baptised into the Orthodox Church by immersion, as was the custom of the Eastern Church. His soldiers, ever loyal, asked to be baptised also. The Patriarch [Father/Priest] of the Church assigned 500 priests to give the soldiers a one-on-one catechism crash course. The soldiers, all 500 of them, were to be immersed in one mass baptism. Crowds gathered from all over Greece.
The priests were dressed in black robes and tall black hats, the official dress of the Orthodox Church. The soldiers wore their battle uniforms with of all their regalia--ribbons of valour, medals of courage and their weapons of battle.
Problem: The Church prohibited professional soldiers from being members; they could not be killers and church members too.
W/ diplomacy the problem was solved quite simply. As the words were spoken and the priests began to baptise them, each soldier reached to his side and withdrew his sword. Lifting it high overhead, every soldier was totally immersed-everything baptised except his fighting arm and sword.
That is a true historical fact: the un-baptised arm. What a powerful picture as we baptise two young people. We must choose to give over all of our lives in baptism not just the bits we don’t mind giving up, while still clasping to areas where we want to remain in control.