Summary: This is a look at the three baptisms mentioned in the New Testament.
November 4, 2007
Title: Baptism, The Next Step
When your kids were little did they ever play church? I used to love it when our girls did that. I remember Charlotte telling me that she played church as a child with her brothers and sisters. I can’t think of anything better to play can you? How many funerals have there been for pets that have gone on to their reward (whatever that might be for pets)! Our girls used to play communion – I don’t know who got to be the priest! There was a little boy whose family attended the Assembly of God church in their town and after being absolutely amazed as he watched a baptism service, and listened to the pastor talk about baptism and what it meant, and how it should be by full immersion, he decided to try it on a family pet when he got home. So he filled the bathtub with water and went to get Boots, the cat. After saying a few words to the pretend congregation it was time to baptize Boots, so he picked her up “I baptize you in the name of the Father and….” Boots wasn’t too agreeable to what was going on. “I baptize you in the name…” “Yeooooow!” Finally after getting a firm grip on the cat he decided this was the time. “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and…” Did I tell you that boots had not been declawed? There was no way she was going into the water and with the door being closed there wasn’t to many places that either of them could go to get away from the other. After getting Boots settled down the boy thought he would try just one more time (because he wanted Boots to make a public profession of her faith) and one more time Boots refused. So the little boy reached down into the tub, got some water in his hand and threw it on the cat and said, “Fine, be a Methodist then!”
Now that gets me to where I want to be. I want to speak to you about baptism and I want you to look with me about what the Bible says it is and what it isn’t. In the process I want to talk to you about the three types of baptisms spoken of in the scriptures. Each one can have a direct impact on your life. Each one is a step that is necessary for you to be the Christian that God desires you to be. Listen today and allow the Lord to minister to you through His word.
I. THE BAPTISM OF JOHN. Mark 1:2-4, 2It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”—3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. There’s no mention of baptism in the Old Testament but by the time of Jesus it had become a regular practice. In order for us to see what baptism meant to the Jews we have to first understand Jewish theology. The Jews believed and still believe that they are God’s chosen people – they are! If they are God’s chosen people then they are already saved because of their heritage as sons and daughters of Abraham. If they are already saved then they have no need to be baptized. However, any Gentile convert had to go through the baptism ritual in order to have the filth of the world washed from them. Jewish baptism has never been taken lightly, but in ancient times immersion was to be performed in the presence of witnesses. The person being baptized made special preparations by cutting his nails, undressed completely and made a fresh profession of his faith before the designated "fathers of the baptism". This is possibly where churches, sometime later, got the term Godfathers. The individual stood straight up with the feet spread and the hands held out in front. The candidate would totally immerse themselves by squatting in the water with a witness or baptizer doing the officiating. Note the New Testament points out the fact that Jesus came up straightway out of the water (Matthew 3:16). This was the form of baptism that John was practicing. Notice though that to John baptism was more than a ritual. It also required a change of heart. 4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John went a step further than traditional Jewish baptism because he was calling all men – even Jews – to confess their sins and be baptized for forgiveness. No doubt that this is where some Christian denominations get their belief that baptism itself can wash away sin. However we know that it is not the ritual that saves but only faith in Christ. I’ll get to that later. Even the ancient Jews, as they baptized converts, recognized that water can purify the body only if the soul has first been purified through repentance and righteousness. I want you to listen to some of these terms I use in this next sentence and see if you recognize them. The baptismal water in Jewish literature was referred to as the womb of the world, and as a convert came out of the water it was considered a new birth separating him from the pagan world. John 3:1-5, 1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”