Summary: Teaching of the meaning and method of water baptism prior to a baptismal service for new converts.
By Pastor James May
Matthew 3:4-6, "And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."
This is the first account we have of water baptism in the New Testament. Water baptism is not taught as an ordinance in the Old Testament because this was an ordinance of the New Testament Church. Since being born again was not possible until the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there was no reason to teach baptism in the Old Testament. There were types and shadows of water baptism such as when the Children of Israel left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea and when Joshua crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land after 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai.
Matthew 3:11, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:"
Matthew 3:13-17, "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."
The baptism in water of John the Baptist was a baptism unto repentance and acceptance of the gospel of the coming Messiah who John had not met yet. When Jesus came on the scene and asked John to Baptize him in the River Jordan, John suddenly realized who and what his baptism was all about.
Water baptism is a symbolic burial, by which the new Christian publicly declares they have died, and are now beginning a new life, in Christ.
Baptize is the English form of a Greek word that means to immerse or to place something into something else.
In water baptism, the believer is put completely under water, then immediately raised out of the water.
Water baptism is a statement of faith: my old life is behind me -- I am a new person, with a new life.
Water baptism is a sign of repentance -- repentance means change -- a change so drastic that the old person is "buried."
It does not make you acceptable to God. As a work of righteousness, trying to obtain a good standing with God, it is worthless.
Water baptism is a way of giving testimony to what has happened inwardly, and a clear commitment to turn from the old life.
Water Baptism is For Your Benefit more than God’s.
Water baptism outwardly demonstrates what has happened inwardly. Water baptism helps you to grasp the reality of the spiritual truth that the old "you" has died.
Water baptism is only as important as the participant believes it to be. Water baptism is their confession, and a public commitment. Unless the person really believes they died, there is no need for a burial.
It is not something we must do to impress God, but something to impress on our mind what happened to us inwardly. Water baptism is for our benefit -- not God’s.
Water baptism is about death -- your death. ("Death" is the end of something.) Water baptism is your public declaration of your death. It is a public confession of faith: I have died to my old life and my old ways.
By being baptized in water you are saying that you have died to sin, selfishness, and the world’s ways. Water baptism is a public burial of the old life. This is why we baptize through total immersion and not sprinkling of water or pouring of water over the body. When you bury a dead body, you don’t sprinkle dirt on it and leave it. Neither do you throw a few shovels of dirt on the body and leave the rest uncovered. You bury it completely and cover it completely so that no one can tamper with the body or steal the body for some perverted practice. If your old man is really dead, lets bury it completely. I don’t want a dead hand or a foot left out. Put it all under and make sure that the old life of sin is dead and buried for good.