Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7th - Baptism

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Pastor Aaron Preaching
Middle School Bible Study
Bethany in Indianapolis
Hannah's Friend's Family

Text – 1 Peter 3:21 sort of...

This week we're going to do a spin-off lesson from 1 Peter 3:21, this is a topical lesson on baptism, not what Peter intended, but a wider look at the whole Bible. I apologize for having to do this, when I chose Peter I thought he spent more time on Baptism than he does, and I really want to do a lesson on baptism.

The first lesson we can learn just based on the shortness of baptism in Peter's epistle is that it is not something that he is really emphasizing. That doesn't mean it's not important, it's just that it's not the most important thing to him, he has been much bigger on faith and holiness and exalting Christ than on this ordinance. When we get to people who think you have to be baptized to be saved this will be a good argument against that, as some epistles don't even mention baptism.

So let's start with what is baptism. Remember from last week that baptism is not synonymous with water and water is not synonymous with baptism. So what does baptism mean? Immersion. The baptism we're going to look at today is immersion in water, but I really want to smash it into your brain that you can be immersed into Jesus Christ without being immersed in water, and as we talked about last week, baptism into literal death and the subsequent resurrection only corresponds to baptism in water. A great example is Pentecost:

Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Substitute, "Repent and get wet in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins." It doesn't work, we must be immersed into the character and work of Jesus Christ, covered totally by his grace. When Peter said be baptized in Jesus he wasn't thinking of water, rather of Christ's merits.

So moving on to water baptism; baptism throughout history, even amongst Baptists, has varied in how we do it. The biblical type is immersion in water, being dunked. Our official Southern Baptist position is,

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper. (BF&M2k, Article VII)

There are three types, and all three can be supported by the Bible, although immersion is definitely the way the Bible describes it and which captures Peter's intention, so let's read his passage,

1 Peter 3:20-21 in [the ark] which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ...

Along the same lines, Paul looks at the elders going to see God on Sinai a baptism, and he calls the baptism the Israelites went through to escape the Egyptians was an immersion as well, albeit they didn't get wet,

1 Corinthians 10:1-2 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

This one is totally backed up by the Ethiopian Eunuch's baptism,

Acts 8:36-39 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

He came up out of the water, not opened his eyes after effusion or sprinkling. Philip here breaks one of the fundamental rules of baptism, which is to remember to bring your baptizee back out of the water!

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

But, Presbyterian's sprinkle, many Baptists through history have poured, so let's look at those and why they could come up with things like that.

Titus 3:4-6 When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior...

It's still totally symbolic, but see why many Baptists have poured through history. John Smyth baptized himself this way, and the reason he's important is because many in his group came over to America after the Pilgrims and became Baptists.

The third kind can also be called effusion, although it's really sprinkling.

Ezekiel 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.

While I am thoroughly about immersion, if a person is actually saved then either sprinkling or effusion keep the intent of baptism, showing a cleansed heart by the work of Christ, reconciliation with God, and the hope of glory.

In the first century someone put together a catechism or teaching to train new converts into Christianity. Some people think it was Matthew, I think it was just a good friend or disciple of Matthew. It's called The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles or Didache for short. The Didache was written between AD50 and AD65, but was never considered scripture, but it also doesn't contradict scripture, and since it is an early church document we do well to read what it says; here is what it says on baptism:

Didache 7:1-4 Concerning baptism, baptize thus: Having said all these things beforehand, immerse in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit, in flowing water. If, on the other hand, you should not have flowing water, immerse in other water, if you are not able in cold, in warm. If you should not have either, pour out water onto the head three times in the name of Father and Son and holy Spirit. And prior to the baptism, let the one baptizing fast; and the one being baptized fast one or two days prior to the baptism; and any others who have the strength.

So if the means is not rock solid and set, then the motive, symbolism, and purpose must be more important than the mode. Let's look at the purpose of baptism.

Matthew 3:11 I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John's baptism was by water, it did not save, but was an outward expression of repentance. Jesus baptizes two ways, believers in the Holy Spirit, and unbelievers in the fire of Hell. Jesus would come to save, but John's baptism was a demonstration before men, right after John said this we have proof of the purpose of baptism.

Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, to keep the command of baptism. The Bible isn't totally clear, in my opinion, of exactly which commands Jesus fulfills here, albeit there were diverse washings and many precursors to baptism which point to Jesus and the resurrection. In this one moment of baptism Jesus likely fulfilled many different washing and sanctification commands.

He also publically demonstrated his obedience to God.

This is why Presbyterians baptize babies, not thinking that the baptism saves them, but as a setting the baby apart for God, dedicating the baby to a godly upbringing and training in righteousness. It's wrong, but at least they have a reason for doing it. The reason it is wrong is that a person has to be baptized, dedicating themselves before mankind to God, of their own volition.

I read a cool story of baptism in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia right before the war started in March of 2003. A soldier had gotten saved and wanted to make a public profession of his faith before all of his fellow soldiers because he had been a great sinner before he got saved and he knew it would be a powerful testimony for his fellow soldiers to see. The problem was there was no rivers or lakes or water and they were going to war the next day, so they called everybody around, explained what was going on, and poured a canteen over his head. The motive was way more important than the mode.

If there is one thing that I dislike about our church building is the baptismal pool. We're setting people apart that we already know are set apart. Baptism should be done as a testimony to the world in Lake Acworth or the Chattahoochee river or somewhere where unbelievers will see and be witnessed to through this obedience.

When Jesus was baptized, besides him just being set apart, he also accomplishes something for us in his baptism. Jesus had to keep every command for us so that he could give us his perfect righteousness after he took our sinfulness upon himself. If he weren't baptized then he couldn't pay for that sin for those who weren't baptized. Consider the Thief on the Cross; was he baptized before he died? No, but Jesus was baptized and his act of righteousness was attributed to the Thief. Think on this for just a moment, Jesus doesn't have to pay for sins we didn't commit, for example, he didn't have to pay for my sin of eating shellfish or ham, because that command was superseded and you can't break a law that isn't a law. So our baptism is obedience to the law, and if we aren't baptized it is sin and will keep us out of Heaven, except that Jesus was baptized for us.

Now something we need to stop on for just a second is how many baptisms there are, because the Apostle Paul is very clear there is only one baptism, but John talks about at least three, one of repentance, one of the Holy Spirit, and one of fire, this is a hugely important part of baptism that you'll run into with the godless Pentecostal movement,

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

He is speaking of one baptism among believers, the initial and irrevocable immersion into the church and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There is no second baptism when someone speaks in tongues or falls over or claims to hear from God. That baptism doesn't exist, at least not from the Holy Spirit. At best it's made up, at worst it is Satan masquerading as an angel of light.

Other crazy beliefs are churches that believe that baptism saves you. These are the Church of Christ and parts of the Lutheran church. They've picked one command to hold to and have ignored all others. There are a ton of commands they could have picked, like "Telling the truth saves you." or "Confessing Christ saves you." or "Taking up your cross saves you." There are at least 613 commands we are required to do to be saved, and we've failed to keep most of them, and just keeping one perfectly, say baptism, isn't going to overlook the others. We need Christ's perfect obedience and the Holy Spirit giving us a new birth. They hold very closely to Peter saying "Repent and be baptized" and 1 Peter 3:21 where it says baptism now saves you, but we've looked at both of those verses and have seen that Jesus saves through his death and resurrection, not the act of being baptized.

An extreme example is the Catholic tradition of "Last Rites" which is a second baptism, but they can't call it a second baptism because Paul says there is only one. When a Catholic dies they have one final washing in hopes that their sins are washed away, something which can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit and not some outward work. I heard another story of a Catholic soldier who was killed in Iraq, and the Chaplain didn't have any water so he gave the soldier Last Rites with saliva. Here the motive wasn't symbolic, but an effort to be perfected by works of the flesh, and Paul is expressly clear that this severs a person from grace, so that they have no part nor lot in Christ. (Gal 5)

My last page of notes were lost in cyberspace, so I followed this outline for the last five minutes or so:

Our current traditions descend from the Swiss Brethren, who were a club reading books in other languages, picked a good book in Greek, the New Testament, and all of them were converted:

Conrad Grebel - First Baptist Martyr, died in of illness he caught in prison
Felix Manz - Baptized to Death
George Blaurock - Run out of Zurich, later burned at the stake
Michael Sattler - Tongue cut out because he wouldn't stop preaching, burned at the stake

Bad Anabaptists - Munsterites: polygamists and cannibals

Reason we're not anabaptists today: The ana means "re", and we don't baptize babies, so we're not "re" baptizing adults.

-Be Baptized
-For a Future Raising to Walk in Heaven