Prophet in the River

Lesson: 8
If the first thing it talks about in the gospel is baptism and the last thing it talks about in the gospel is, "Go ye therefore, teach all nations, baptize," then it must be important.
When you post, you agree to the terms and conditions of our comments policy.
If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.
To help maintain a Christian environment, we closely moderate all comments.

  1. Please be patient. We strive to approve comments the day they are made, but please allow at least 24 hours for your comment to appear. Comments made on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday may not be approved until the following Monday.

  2. Comments that include name-calling, profanity, harassment, ridicule, etc. will be automatically deleted and the invitation to participate revoked.

  3. Comments containing URLs outside the family of Amazing Facts websites will not be approved.

  4. Comments containing telephone numbers or email addresses will not be approved.

  5. Comments off topic may be deleted.

  6. Please do not comment in languages other than English.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or by Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate.

Jëan Ross: Good evening, friends. Welcome again to "Prophecy Encounter," coming to you live from Sanford, Florida. I'd like to welcome those of you in the audience tonight. Delighted to see you out again this evening as we reach this very important final culmination of our Bible study experience. I'd also like to welcome our friends joining us across the country and around the world for this in-depth prophecy seminar. Pastor Doug is going to be looking at some interesting prophetic truths, some of these expanded truths in Bible prophecy. We're just delighted that he is here to lead us in our study, so why don't you join me as we warmly welcome Pastor Doug Batchelor.

Doug Batchelor: Amen, thank you, Pastor Ross. Welcome again, friends. We're very thankful to see each of you here. We want to welcome our friends that are joining us for this "Prophecy Encounter" series, where we're looking at the foundational teachings of the Bible through the lens of Bible prophecy. And we call it a prophecy encounter because the purpose of prophecy is that you might have a personal encounter with God. If we're only studying Bible prophecy so that we can, you know, have our curiosity about the future satisfied, it won't do you any good. You know, the Bible says the devils believe and tremble. You need to have a personal encounter with Jesus, a relationship with Him. And that is the reason why we're having this special study tonight called, "A Prophet in the River."

Now, when you talk about the river, we're thinking principally about the Jordan River, and if you look in the Bible at the different experiences in the Jordan, they all tell us something about the plan of salvation, and it does tie into prophecy, as you'll see. There's a number of miracles that happen in the Jordan River in the Bible. For example, before the children of Israel enter the Promised Land, when they were still coming out of the wilderness, the border really between the wilderness and the Promised Land was the Jordan. And God wanted to test their faith, and He said, "You've got to get across that river," but it was flooding in the spring. He said, "Here's what I want you to do. The priests are to put the ark on their shoulders." They carried it on these poles. "And I want them to march off into the river." Now, when they left Egypt, God parted the sea before they started walking, but before they got to the Promised Land, He wanted to see, "Have you learned to trust Me? I want you to start walking before I part." So, the priests obediently--and they're carrying this virtual golden anchor. They were going to sink if there wasn't a miracle. They started walking off into the river. When their feet touched the water, the waters at that point flowed down. The waters ahead began to wall up and just created a great big dam, an invisible dam, and the ground dried before them. He parted it so they could cross over.

Now, the Jordan in the Bible represents death. You know the Jordan River is the lowest river in the world? Where the Jordan River runs into the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth. It's over 1,300 feet below sea level. It's a symbol of death, and it's also connected with baptism and salvation. So, here before they got into the Promised Land, God works this miracle. The whole nation passed by the priests who are holding the Word of God. It's like their lives were passing in review as they went from the wilderness into the Promised Land.

Then the next interesting miracle is related to Elijah. Now, you know Elijah's in heaven right now. He didn't die the death of normal men. God went down. You know the song, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." He was caught up to Heaven in a fiery chariot. And before he was caught up, Elijah said, "Please, let a double portion of Your Spirit be upon me." And because he sought, Elisha--the spirit of Elisha fell upon Eli--sorry, spirit of Elijah fell upon Elisha, and then he ascended to Heaven. And that's what happened with Jesus, and it happened right after Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan. Jesus, before He ascended to Heaven, He promised the Holy Spirit, didn't He? And then after He ascended, the Spirit came. Then, Elisha takes the mantle, the robe that falls from Elijah. He goes back to the Jordan River and he strikes the river, which is flowing now. It parts again and he walks across on dry ground. And the Bible testimony is the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.

What made it possible for Elisha to cross? The mantle of Elijah. What makes it possible for you and I to get across the Jordan? The robe of Christ, His righteousness. You know, the only thing Jesus left behind was a robe. Joseph's brothers stripped him of his robe, covered it with blood, and presented it to the father to cover their sin. And it's the blood-stained robe of Christ that we present to the Father to cover our sin. It was the robe of Elijah that made it possible for Elisha to cross over. It's the righteousness of Christ that makes it possible for us to cross over. But then there's more miracles in the Jordan. You've got a story where they're building a place for the prophets there by the Jordan River, and someone's chopping wood, and the ax head flies off. And it was a borrowed ax, and axes with iron were very expensive back then. Sinks in the river, muddy river. And they said, "Alas, what will I do? It was borrowed." Elisha takes a stick from a tree, cuts off, he throws it in the river, and the iron began to float. Now, usually iron sinks. It takes a miracle to make iron float. We usually sink under the weight of our sins, don't we? But through that stick, a symbol of the cross, thrown in the river, something that would normally sink, floats, and we are able to swim. Didn't Jesus walks on water? And when Peter kept his eyes on Christ, he could do the impossible. Bible tells us that through God's help, He will either move mountains or part oceans, but you can do the impossible. So, the iron floated.

And then, the last miracle we're going to look at, or one of the last I should say, is regarding a Syrian general, wasn't even an Israelite, by the name of Naaman. Good man, mighty man, but he came down with a deadly case of leprosy. And Elisha the prophet said, "Go wash in the Jordan River seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you again." And so, he dipped in the river finally. He was stubborn at first. Covered with leprosy, maybe even missing fingers and toes. Washed in the Jordan seven times, and finally he came up the seventh time and he was clean. That's a miracle. Flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child. By the way, did he receive the blessing after he washed the second time, or the fourth time? When was he going to get the blessing?

Do numbers matter to God? When God told Joshua, "March around the city of Jericho once for six days, seven times on the seventh day, and then you'll see a miracle," did they get the blessing after the first time or the third time? They had to do it the number that God prescribed. So, when God says, "I bless the seventh day," do you think God means what He says? Yeah, He's in charge. He obeyed. He went down the seventh time, he came up, leprosy was washed away and he was clean. Now, that ought to make you think, because leprosy in the Bible is a type of sin. Someone came to Jesus once, covered with leprosy. They said, "Lord, if You will, you can make me clean." He reached out, and He touched them, and he said, "I will. Be clean," and their leprosy was gone, that quick.

How quickly can God wash away our sin? When we come in faith, right away, and said, "Lord, if You will." Is He willing? "You can make me clean." Believe. He says, "Be clean." That's what he said to the leper, and he was clean. How did the world come into existence? God said, "Let there be light. Let there be land. Let there be an atmosphere," and it happened. Now, that leads us a good segue into our first question about tonight's study.

What New Testament prophet washed people in the Jordan River? Answer, you can read about this in the book of Matthew, chapter 3, verse 1, 5, and 6. And it says, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea." Now, it talks about John the Baptist there in Matthew chapter 3, but if you read the story in the Gospel of Mark, you realize that the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John begin with John the Baptist. John the apostle's different from John the Baptist. Gospel of Mark, Gospel of John started with someone baptizing. Why did they begin their Gospels there? How does the Old Testament end? The Old Testament says, "Behold, I send you Elijah the Prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord." And Jesus said, if you can receive it, that John the Baptist was Elijah who was to come. He came in the spirit and power of Elijah. The angel Gabriel told John the Baptist, "Father, this child is going to come in the spirit and the power of Elijah." It was prophesied that he was going to come, and Revelation tells us there's going to be another wave of the spirit and power of Elijah in the last days. So, this does relate to prophecy, but we're going to talk a lot about baptism tonight. We're going to talk about what John talked about. If it's important to Jesus, should be important to you. If the first thing it talks about in the gospel is baptism and the last thing it talks about in the gospel is, "Go ye therefore, teach all nations, baptize," then it must be important.

Now, you're probably think, "Oh, Pastor. Now, I came to this seminar, 'Prophecy Encounter,' I want to read about prophecy." Do you realize prophecy's not going to do you any good if you have not committed your life to the Lord? As a matter of fact, if you come to a series of studies like this and you have not committed your life to the Lord, you're even more culpable in the judgment. Isn't that right? "To whom much is given, much is required." God's given you this knowledge so you can follow it. It says also in Mark chapter 1, verse 5, "John the Baptist shows up as the prophecy has foretold. And there went out to him all of Judea, and Jerusalem. And they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins." So, here's this other miracle. This prophet appears at the Jordan, but then he'll end up with seven miracles in the Jordan before we're done. Karen and I were counting them tonight on our way here.

What glorious Bible ceremony symbolizes the "washing away" of the leprosy of sin? You can read in Acts chapter 22, and this is relating to the conversion of the Apostle Paul. He said, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Now, is it clear to everybody Jesus came to save us from our sin? Has God created a ceremony, an institution, by which we submit our lives to Him and our sins are washed away? It's a ceremony that represents that. What's it called? Baptism. Baptism is as important to a Christian as a wedding is to a marriage. Did you get that? And this is not Pastor Doug's teaching, this is what the Bible teaches. Call on the Lord, being baptized, washing away your sins. They're all connected there.

Third question: according to the Bible, how many different kinds of baptism are acceptable? Well, you can read there in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 5. It's pretty clear. It says there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. I believe there's one faith we are baptized into. I believe there's one Lord that we serve. "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one." Are there are a lot of counterfeits? You know, the devil is a master of counterfeits. The devil has a counterfeit for virtually every truth of God. Have you learned that? There's a true gift of tongues, there's a counterfeit gift. There's true Christian love and then there's Hollywood love, which is counterfeit. God's got a true Sabbath day and there's a counterfeit Sabbath day. You name a truth of God and I can almost always say, well, here's the counterfeit. And there's also a counterfeit for baptism. And in the counterfeits, the devil is trying to rob the power of the teaching. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

So, what is baptism? What does it mean? Right in the word, it tells you something about the true form of baptism, what it means, and why it's important. It comes from the Greek word "baptizo," and "baptizo" means to immerse, to plunge, to dip under water. It's talking about a cleansing. Baptism encompasses a new birth, it's like a wedding, and it's also like a burial. Of course, not in that order. You'd have the burial, and then you'd have the birth. And you'll see as we go along here through this study why it's important, and some of you might be praying about this. We're going to give you an opportunity to think about your decision at the conclusion of this presentation. You can read in Colossians chapter 2, verse 12, "Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also we are risen with him through the faith in the operation of God, Who has raised Him from the dead." So, it's a symbol of a death, a burial, and a resurrection.

Some people say that God has created a new Sabbath day in honor of the resurrection. Is there a Scripture anywhere that says that God's created new Sabbath to honor the resurrection? No Scripture, but did God do something to commemorate the resurrection? Baptism! It's a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection. You didn't need a new Sabbath, there was nothing wrong with the old Sabbath, but it represents Jesus went into the tomb, he came out with a glorified body. It's like a burial of the old man and the birth of the new man. Now, you realize that if you do not die before you're born again, you're bipolar, spiritually. Paul said I die daily, right? But if you die every day and you're not born again every day, then you're more dead than alive. You with me? And so, being a Christian is not only dying to self, it's being born into Christ. He doesn't want to stay dead. You know, a lot of religions always portray Jesus on the cross, and I'm very thankful for what He did on the cross, but you can't always picture Jesus on the cross, because He's not on the cross right now. It almost makes Him look like He's dead.

You heard about the boy that was having terrible problems with math, and so the parents decided to send him into a Jesuit school that had a great reputation for their math program. And he was just failing, failing, failing, and he went into this school, and within a week, he was getting straight As. Parents were so amazed, and they went and they talked to the teachers. And they said, "Whoa, what are you doing?" They said, "We don't know. He's just been very cooperative." And they talked to the son and they said, "What turned you around?" He said, "Well, when I went into the class and I saw that guy hanging on the plus sign, I knew you were really serious about arithmetic." I shouldn't joke really about that because--but you have to admit that--I used to go to Catholic school, and I was Jewish background, and everywhere I saw this cross. I said, "Why would you worship a God that's dead?" And there wasn't enough emphasis on Jesus being a living God. He's alive.

Number four: how was Jesus, who is our example, how was He baptized? Now, a Christian's a follower of Christ. Might want to ask the question, why was Jesus baptized? Was it for His sin? No, He was baptized as an example for us. I'll say more about that in a minute. How was He baptized? This is the seventh miracle in the Jordan. "Jesus came and was baptized of John in the Jordan River." And the Bible tells us that they needed a river. Now, there's a lot of different methods of baptizing today. Sometimes they sprinkle a little water, they pour, some people say baptism's only spiritual and they speak words, and they even have some pastors you can call over the phone. They say they baptize you over the phone with words. It's the dry cleaning method, evidently. And so, they've got all these different--some sprinkle salt, and a lot of churches--there's a lot of counterfeit baptisms out there, but the Bible's pretty clear about what happened. It says, "He was baptized by John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened," that's a miracle, "and the Holy Spirit descending." All of the miracles about the Jordan River in the Old Testament tell us about salvation because it's connected with salvation.

The New Testament in Matthew and Luke begin with the birth of Jesus. Mark and John begin with baptism and the ministry of John the Baptist. And it's a starting--when does Christ's ministry begin? With His baptism. He lived 33 1/2 years but He was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism. The method was immersion, and that means He went down under the water. It symboled a washing, a death, because you hold your breath, and then walking in a newness of life. And it says also, you read in John chapter 3, verse 23, "Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there." So, if the biblical method of baptizing is to sprinkle a little water, then why would you need a river? You could baptize with a canteen. You could do it in the city. You could do it by a well. But it says they needed a river. They needed a river with much water, in other words, deep enough where people could be immersed. And all the people came down to the river to be baptized.

Now, some have asked me, "Well, Pastor Doug, does it have to be fresh water?" I think you could probably point to some cases in the Bible where people were baptized in the ocean. The idea of the symbol is to be immersed, consecrate your life to the Lord, say, "This is it. I want to make a public declaration of my surrender to Jesus," and you come up to walk in a newness of life. It says, "They came and they were baptized." They went down in the water, came up out of the water. Another example, you read about this in the book of Acts, chapter 8. How did Philip, the deacon, later become evangelist, baptize the treasurer of Ethiopia? And it says there in Acts 8, verse 38 and 39, "Then they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; And he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away."

Now, if you're wondering about the importance of baptism, it is so important that God told Philip, he's an evangelist, he said, "I want you to go down to the desert. There's someone there that needs to commit their life to me." And he makes this long journey down to the desert, he finds the treasurer of Ethiopia. Having worshiping in Jerusalem, he believed in Jehovah, didn't know about Jesus. He's on his way back, reading the prophecies of Isaiah about Jesus. He doesn't know what he's reading, and here Philip hears him reading out loud, and he says, "That's the very prophecy about Christ." He says, "Would you like me to explain what that means?" He said, "Please." First hitchhiker in the Bible. He gets up in the chariot with him, rides along. He says, "Oh, He's the Messiah. I want to commit my life to Him." He says, "You need to be baptized." He said, "There's water right there." That may have been the ocean, because they were going by Gaza. He says, "What will prevent me?" And he said, "If you believe with all your heart, you might." As soon as he's baptized, they come up out of the water, Philip is beamed, for lack of a better expression, to Caesarea, to another town. He is transported by the Lord. In other words, it was so important to the Lord that this one man get baptized before he goes to Ethiopia that he brings Philip down there, and after he's done doing it, he sends him on his way. So, baptism was a priority to the Lord. It meant make a decision to consecrate your life to the Lord.

What other truths are symbolized, question six, by baptism? Well, you can read for one thing, it says in Romans 6, verse 4, "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death," same principle we saw earlier in Colossians, "that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. Even so also we should walk in a newness of life." Baptism represents a turning point. And some people say, "Well, you know, I want to get baptized, and eventually I'm going to, you know, stop doing some of the bad things I'm doing." No, John the Baptist said, "Repent and be baptized." You repent and you turn from these habitual sins before baptism. You'd be surprised how many people come to me and say, "Pastor Doug, I just think if you baptized me I could stop, you know, running around, misbehaving, using drugs." I say, "No, that's not how it works." You commit your life to Jesus, you turn away from sin, you repent of your sins, and then you get baptized. People came to John the Baptist. He said, "Before you're baptized, bring forth fruits that are meat for repentance."

Let me see if I could illustrate it this way. Ladies out there, how would you think about a guy who proposed to you and he said, "I love you. Would you marry me? I think if we could just get married, I'll stop dating the other girls," as though the wedding ceremony is going to suddenly make everything okay. The baptism is a ceremony, but it's a ceremony that represents you have made a commitment, that you love Jesus, that you're repenting of your sins. You see He's died for your sin and you want to follow Him, amen? And so, yeah, the changes should happen before baptism, but it doesn't mean everything changes. In other words, there's still growth that happens after baptism. And so, we commit our lives to Jesus. You're still going to grow in Christ. You're going to learn--you'll make mistakes, but you want to have your life committed. You want to turn away from the sins that are dragging you down. You don't want to be a captive. We should walk in a newness of life. "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death," when we surrender, "we will be united certainly in the likeness of His resurrection." So, we're crucified with Christ to the old ways and we're born again to walk in a newness of life.

So, as I mentioned before, God didn't need to establish a new Sabbath to explain the death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is to commemorate the resurrection. It also commemorates a birth. You know, when you come out of the water and you take a breath, isn't that a sign of a birth? I've been there for the birth of our children, and when they're born, you're going, "Breathe, breathe," you know? Take that first breath. And you know, the doctors used to swat them on the posterior. They do other things now to try and get them to shriek and breathe real good. And sometimes a new birth is associated with tears, and sometimes there may be tears of repentance, tears of joy that are connected with that new birth. So, baptism encompasses that new birth and the child being there in that envelope of water, and it's a washing.

How important is baptism? Now, this is--the reason I'm talking about this is because I want to prioritize in a seminar like this what Jesus would prioritize. Christ said in Mark 16:16, this is pretty clear, "He that believes and is baptized will be saved." Wow. "He that believes not shall be damned." Now, you notice he doesn't say, "He that believes not and is not baptized." Will there be people in Heaven that were not baptized? Sure. A lot of Old Testament characters that, you know, we weren't hearing about the hearing of baptism there through much of the Old Testament. It's largely a New Testament teaching. We know that many of the Essenes and the religious Jews in the time of Christ did practice washings and baptism. We've even found some ancient baptisteries I'll show you pictures of. But the thief on the cross who died by Jesus when Christ was crucified, he didn't have time to get baptized.

Sometimes I go to hospitals, and I visit with people, and talk to them about the Lord in the closing hours of their life, and they're all hooked up to hospital machines, they accept Jesus. Can they be saved or do I have to try and find a way to go immerse them? Of course God'll save them. I've been in prisons where they will not allow a baptism for a person on death row. Will baptism be an obstacle to their salvation if they totally surrender to Christ? No. You know why? because Christ got baptized, not for His sin, but I think that in the same way Jesus died for our sin, for those that can't be baptized, they get credit for His baptism. But if you can be, you should be. Why wouldn't you want to? And again, Christ said to Nicodemus in John 3, verse 5, "Except a man is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven." Doesn't that sound like a priority to you? And what's important to Jesus ought to be important to us.

Now, you need both births if you're going to be saved. "Unless you're born of the water and born of the Spirit." And there's some churches that only emphasize water baptism, but Christ said you need Spirit baptism. They come together. Peter said, "Repent every one of you and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Now, it may come at different times.

So, what blessed ceremony can be compared to baptism?" That's our question number eight there. It says in Galatians chapter 3, verse 27, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ you have put on Christ." It's like a marriage. Again, Ephesians 5, verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her." Now, this is easier maybe for women to relate to than men, but men too. When you're baptized, it's like you're being married to Christ. You're committing your life, and a marriage is a covenant. Baptism is typically done publicly, marriages are done publicly, right? And some people say, "Well, I'm kinda embarrassed. You know, do I have to get baptized in front of people?" Let me ask you a question. Ladies--I always address the ladies in this. You get more votes that way. If a guy said, "I love you. I want to marry you. But do we have to do it in front of people?" Would you begin to wonder? What's the matter? You ashamed? Right? Did Jesus die for us publicly? It doesn't mean you need to have a thousand people, but just like at a wedding, you need witnesses. It's something--you're letting people know, "I'm giving my life to Jesus." But it's supposed to represent--you go down to the water, you come up, you're washed, and it is a beautiful ceremony, representing a new birth.

I remember hearing a story about this one man in Northern California, and he had lived a pretty wild life. And he told the pastor, he said, "Look, when you baptize me," he said, "I just--" he said, "I want to have a prayer while I'm under water." He said, "Just usually, Pastor, you just put them under momentarily, you bring them right up. You just, you know, don't hold them under there." And he said, "You know, I just--between me and the Lord, it'll mean a lot more to me. Just when I'm down there, just leave me a second." He said, "I'll give your hand a couple of quick squeezes, you can bring me back up." He said, "Let me have a prayer while I'm down there." Problem was, he hadn't told any of his family on the shore that were watching this. So, he came down, the pastor said, "In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit," and he put him under. Ha ha ha. And the people are going... and they're getting ready to tackle the pastor, and finally he squeezed his hand, brought him back up again, and all was well. But he was so serious, he wanted to have a prayer, and I thought that's beautiful. I've actually had someone ask me that too, but I didn't--hopefully it was a short prayer.

What command did Jesus give to His people just before He ascended to Heaven? The last words of Jesus, you can read this in Matthew 28, verse 19, He says, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." You notice, last Words of Christ, "Go, teach, baptize." The last Words of Christ ought to be a first priority for Christians, right? In other words, encourage people. Teach them the Word of God, and then do what after you teach them? Encourage them to make a decision. That's why we include this in a seminar like that. If you say, "Pastor Doug, I just wanted prophecy," you take it up with Jesus. He told me to go and to teach. I teach the prophecies, but then I invite people. Now, have you committed your life to the Lord? Knowing what the beast is, and knowing what the mark of the beast is, and some of you don't know that yet because that's tomorrow, that won't save you. The only thing that's going to--there are going to be a lot of people in Heaven that did not understand the nuances of prophecy, but there won't be anyone in Heaven that didn't commit their life to Jesus and love Him, and that's why this is so important.

Where did all these other counterfeit forms of baptism originate? Where'd they all come from? Oh, some of them from different traditions. You can read about this in March chapter 7, verse 8. It says, "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." Christ said they often lay aside the commandment. We've learned that about the Sabbath and other things, where people lay aside the commandments of God to follow popular traditions. And you know, if you go back and you look around the Middle East, it is really clear from history and even archaeology that the only method of biblical baptism in the beginning was immersion. Here's a picture of a 1st century baptistery in Philippi, and it's really clear that it had steps going into it. It was in the church. Here's one from--it's in the Negev Desert, built during the Byzantine time. It's a baptistery in the shape of a cross, again, with steps going into it. And they used to have to fill them by hand so they didn't make them too big. That was between 300 and 500 AD. Here's a 5th century baptistery in Emmaus, and you--maybe you can read about that, Luke 24, the Road to Emmaus. The town actually means "Hot Water," so they had springs near there. Christians were baptized. You go to Italy, even in Rome. You know what that is? It's the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There, you see it on the screen there? I've been there. If you turn around from where that picture is, there's another church in the same courtyard. It's a round church, looks kind of strange because the church is not really made for gatherings. That whole beautiful facility that's over 1,000 years old is built for one thing, baptizing. In the middle is a big baptistery for immersion. So, even in Rome 1,000 years after Christ, they were still baptizing by immersion.

But gradually, things began to change. As with everything, it was sort of a creeping compromise. It started out with someone say, "Well, look, since baptism is a symbol, symbols are very important, but this person's sick, they really can't get baptized." And so, the pastor said, "Well, we'll dip a sheet in water and we'll go wrap them in the sheet, and it'll be as close as we can get." And they meant well, you can understand that. And then, someone would have a sick baby and they'd say, "I'm afraid that my baby might die and they haven't been baptized," so they'd sprinkle some water on them or they'd pour some water on them. And then the nobility would make--they'd want to get baptized, but they'd say, "You know, it's really not dignified for us with all our expensive hairdos and stuff to get baptized in front of everybody and come up all dripping wet like a cat." And they said, "Can you do something a little more elegant?" They said, "Well..." They said, "It's a symbol, right?" "Yeah." And they told the priest, "Well, then just sprinkle a little water on me. We'll call it baptism." And that did it. At first it was pouring, and then it was sprinkling, and it gradually changed through compromise and--you know, you can rationalize anything if you want to.

For instance, when you celebrate the Lord's supper, you have bread, you have grape juice, right? Most of you have that in your churches, right? That represents--the bread represents what? The body of Christ. And the grape juice represents His blood. But they're symbols, right? It's not actually the physical body of Jesus. We're not cannibals. And it's not the real blood of Jesus. It's symbols. So, I heard of one pastor that said, "It's just a symbol, so we're going to have the Lord's supper. Y'all come Wednesday night. We're going to have hamburgers and Coca-Cola. And we'll--and it will be--we'll just--it's just a symbol." Now, I don't know about you, but I think that's sacrilegious.

So, when you take--if you lose the exact command the way it's given, you lose the beauty of the symbol. And when you sprinkle on somebody instead of immerse them, you're losing the whole symbol of the new birth, the washing, being immersed in the Spirit, and you're not following what Jesus said. Even if you don't understand the nuances of it, always do what Jesus says and you'll be saved, amen? So, all these traditions came in and began to substitute. Matter of fact, you can read in history, it was not until the Council of Ravenna in 311 AD that sprinkling--that's 311 AD--1311 AD. I knew I read that wrong, 1311. Over 1,300 years after Christ. It wasn't until the Council of Ravenna that sprinkling and pouring were officially accepted as equally valid as immersion in the rite of baptism. And so, you could do both. Eventually, they gave up immersion for the more convenient sprinkling, and it's just--it's one more of the many examples where the church has drifted away from the teachings of Jesus. And what do we want to happen before Christ comes? We want to come back to the Bible, right? Come back to the teachings of Christ.

So, number 11, what does the Bible say about those who put the teachings of men before the truth of God? Christ was pretty clear. Matthew 15, verse 9, "In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." There's a lot of examples in churches where they're teaching man-made commandments, but they're just traditions. And He says, "They're worshiping Me in vain." You know what that means. They're wasting their time. They're inventing their own religion. He wants us to follow His word. Matter of fact, Paul says in Galatians 1:8, you can't misunderstand this, "Even though we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed." Paul knew grievous wolves would come in and they would begin to corrupt, and compromise, and dilute, and pervert, and change the pure teachings of God so that they could take away the power of the gospel, water it all down, compromise with Pagan religions. God wants us to return to the word, to the truth. Truth will set you free.

Number 12, but doesn't the baptism of the Holy Spirit replace baptism by immersion? No, and they weren't meant to replace. They go together. And Peter said to them, and I think I quoted this to you earlier, in Acts chapter 2, verse 38, "Repent, And be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Peter puts them together, doesn't he? Be baptized and--for the remission of sin. You'll be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Now, we need both baptisms. You need to be born of the water, born of the Spirit. And someone said one time, "Born of the water? Well, that must mean being born of a woman." But born of the water means water baptism. How many here were born of a woman? You know, these days you gotta ask, because they've got some new strange test tube things happening, and you don't know what's going on. But just about all of us have been born of a woman, so why would Jesus say, "Unless you're born of a woman and born of the Spirit." He's talking about baptism. You read the whole context of the Gospel of John, he's talking about the ministry of John the Baptist and baptism. He's saying, "You need to be born of the water," you choose, "born of the Spirit," God picks the timing for that, "if you would enter the kingdom of heaven." Children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt, you read in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul said they followed Moses out of Egypt. They sacrificed a lamb, accepted Jesus. They went to the Red Sea, they went through the Red Sea, they were baptized in the sea, and then the fire of God came down. A pillar of fire, baptized in the fire. So, they had water baptism, they had fire baptism, and then they entered the promised land. We need both baptisms.

How many of you know about the sanctuary, the Jewish sanctuary? Let me give you a little test. When you first went through the door, one door, Jesus is the door, first thing you saw when you went in the sanctuary was what? Altar, right? Fire. And then what was the next thing? Altar with water, a laver. Before they went into the presence of God in the Holy Place, they went by the fire and they went by the water. And before you go to Heaven, you got Spirit baptism, you got water baptism. Now, they may not always come in that order. They may come at the same time. You have an example in the Bible where the disciples were baptized by water first, John the Baptist, at Pentecost they're baptized by the Spirit. Then you got the story in Acts chapter 10 where Cornelius, this Roman centurion, and his family, they're baptized by the Holy Spirit. And you know what Peter says right away? "Wow, you guys are getting the cart ahead of the horse. You gotta get baptized in water now." So, he didn't say, "Oh, you've been baptized by the Spirit. Who needs the water?" Peter said, "Now you need water baptism." So, you needed both. You needed the baptism of God and the baptism of your choice and your surrender. And so, both baptisms are still very important according to the Bible.

Number 13, according to Scripture, what must a person do before he or she is baptized? There's some biblical criteria. Well, for one thing, you need to understand the teachings of Jesus. Now, as I mentioned, it doesn't mean you understand everything. Jesus said, "Go therefore, teach all nations, baptizing." Before baptism, there should be some foundational teaching where a person understands the basics, and most churches have, you know, some--even the Catholics have a catechism. There's a teaching class. There's--some have a baptismal class where you go through the foundational teachings. You should understand the place of the Bible, the Godhead, the coming of the Lord, what the Christian life means, and be willing to say yes to those things. You may not understand everything, and there's more teaching that comes later, but you're saying yes to the principle teachings of the gospel. Secondarily, you need to not only understand them, you need to believe them. That's really important. "Believe" means, of course, you accept with your heart, but "believe" means be live. A lot of people misunderstand the word "believe." The Bible says that devils believe. The devils know that Jesus is real. The devils know that he died for your sin. The devil even knows He loves you. It won't save him. Devil knows God is love, it's not going to save him. It's just in the cerebral knowledge. It's a fact. "Believe" means to be live. "God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever be lives in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." That means a willingness to not only say, "I think it's true," but a willingness to follow.

So, if people say, "Lord, Lord, I believe you're the Lord," and they don't do His will, they're not believing in Him. When Jesus says, "Come to me," and you say, "I'm coming, Lord," but you don't--Christ told the parable about that. He said, "Which of them did the will of his father?" And so, He wants us to follow. So, believe in His teachings. You remember the story I alluded to earlier in Acts where Philip baptized the Ethiopian treasurer. And he said, "Here's water. Can I get baptized?" You know what Philip said? "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And then you've got the story of this Philippian jailer. There's an earthquake. Paul and Silas are in prison. This earthquake opens all the prison doors and the jailer, he's ready to kill himself, and Paul says, "Don't hurt yourself. We're all here." And he's the one who's just whipped Paul and Silas and put them in the stocks. They forgive him, and he's so moved by the power of the angel that opened their doors, he takes them into his house, he washes their wounds, they preach to him. He said, "What must I do to be saved?" They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." Now, what do you think they meant by that? Believe the teachings of Jesus. Be willing to follow Christ. That's what it means.

There's a lot of cheap preaching about what it means to believe these days. Believing means--John the Baptist said to repent. If you believe and you repent. "Whoever confesses and forsakes his sin will have mercy." It means being willing to turn. Repentance is a u-turn on the road of life. That means you turn, you change directions. Agree to turn from a life of sin. Of course, I just referenced that. Romans 6, verse 5 and 6; Luke 3, verse 7. John the Baptist--you know the first thing that John said when he started preaching? First word, "Repent." What was the first word out of Jesus' mouth when He started preaching? Repent. It says, "At that time, Christ began to preach saying, "Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." How often do we hear good messages on repentance? That means you look at the cross, you see Jesus is there for your sins, and it hurts you, and you're sorry.

So many messages today are just all feel good. It's all positive thinking. But you know, before you can really feel good, you gotta feel bad. The Bible says, "Humble yourself in the sight of God and He will lift you up." But before He lifts you up, you've got to admit your sin. Confess your sin. Turn from your sin. God can't save you from your sin until you acknowledge your sin. And if you say, "Lord, I can't change. You gotta help me. I'm helpless," that's when you really begin to get a new beginning is when you realize you're helplessness. Martin Luther used to say, "God creates from nothing, so until you become nothing, He can do nothing with you." Until you realize how helpless you are, you fall broken like Peter, and you weep. Peter went out and wept bitterly after he denied Christ. That's when he was a broken man and that's when he was Spirit-filled. You come to the place where you realize how weak you are, that you can't change without God's help. So, that's what it means. Be willing to repent. Don't get baptized if you're not sorry for your sin. Repent of past sins, and that would involve confession. How many remember every sin they've committed? That's right. Do you have to repent of all of 'em by name? We're in trouble. But you could start with categories. God even gives you an outline in the Bible. You can call on the Ten Commandments, and just look at them, and go through the Ten Commandments. Say, "Lord, I'm sorry for my sins. I have broken these commandments." And say--pray that prayer of David, "Lord, search me, try me, see if there's any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Ask Him to reveal to you where you may need to make a change. And accept Christ as your personal Savior. He's not just the Savior of the world, He's saving you from your sins.

Now, in light of the things that need to happen before a person's baptized--believing, being taught, repenting, confessing--should babies be baptized? Now, I know people think, "Well, Pastor Doug, you telling me my baptism when I was a child is no good?" You know, Jesus, when He was a baby, was brought to the temple and dedicated by His parents. It's a misnomer if you call that a baptism, because baptism requires repentance, confession, teaching. Jesus was dedicated as a baby, but baptized as an adult, right, as our example. And so, every baby should be dedicated, but every individual needs to make their own decision when it comes to baptism, because you need to be taught, you need to repent, you need to believe, and these things a little infant can't do.

Is rebaptism ever proper? Yeah, there's a couple examples in the Bible. You can read in Acts 19 where Paul is going through Ephesus, and he ran into 12 believers up there. Interesting number. And he said, "Have you heard about Jesus?" They had heard about the preaching of John the Baptist, but they hadn't heard about Jesus yet. "They said, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. He said to them, Unto what then were you baptized? And they said, We were baptized unto John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized verily with the baptism of repentance, saying that the people should believe on Him which should come after him, that is Christ. Now after they heard these things, then they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and they were filled with the Holy Spirit." And so, they were baptized by immersion, nothing wrong with that, but they needed rebaptism.

I've been baptized twice. Now, I was born in a Catholic hospital. I don't know if I got baptized back then, but I don't remember that. Who knows? I was born in St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank, California, and someone told me that some of the sisters there used to baptize the Jewish babies. That's a rumor. I don't know if that's true. So, that would make it three, but I don't know that. But I was living in a cave, I told you that, reading my Bible, accepted Jesus. And one day, some people came hiking by my cave. And they took off their backpacks, we got to visit, and I found out they're Christians. They said, "Do you believe?" They were very enthusiastic Christians. Back then, they would call them Jesus freaks. They were people that had given up marijuana and LSD, that found Jesus, and they were very enthusiastic. And they said, "Brother Doug, you've accepted?" I said, "I did. I read the Bible. I believe in Jesus." "Have you been baptized?" I just--I was at the point I hadn't even studied that yet. I really didn't know. They gave me a really quick study on baptism and said, "Unless you're born of the water--" you know, they didn't teach me. I said, "All right, yeah, if you say so." They took me right there in the water.

Outside my cave, I had a pool that came from the melted snow. It was a great cave. I had a waterfall, a pool. And it was from melted snow, so I got in there. I felt born again, I'll tell you right now, when I came out of the water. I came walking on the water when I came out of there. And then they left. They went hiking back up on the mountain. I said, "Praise the Lord, I'm baptized. Now what? I gotta go tell my friends." I went to town and I said, "Let's get some beer and celebrate. I just got baptized!" And we celebrated a little too much, and before the day was over, I was in jail. And there I was in jail, telling the other people in my cell, "Man, praise the Lord, I got baptized today." I tell you, it was a pretty rough beginning. And so, I just think people gotta get grounded in the faith a little more before you baptize them, amen?

And so, a little later, years later when I studied--and this good, godly pastor, he was like 87 years old when he baptized me. And he just labored with me and studied with me every day, and finally I got it, what it meant to be a real Bible Christian, and I was baptized. By the grace of God, I never drank since then, I've never smoked since then. You know, and I had problems with drugs, never smoked anymore pot. The Lord saved me. And so, that's why I don't have patience for people who say God can't save you. Don't tell me that. He can save you from your sin. He's not done with me, but don't make excuses for sin, because God, man, He saved me and He can save you from anything, friends, amen? And it's like that preacher said one time, "I'm not what I oughta be, but praise God I'm not what I used to be," you know? And I look at Jesus, and I say I don't know how I can be--no, wait, how is it? I look at myself, I don't know how I can be saved. I look at Jesus, I don't know how I can be lost. He's the author and the finisher of your faith. He'll finish what He started.

So, is baptism connected with being part of a church? We had a question about this earlier. Yeah, you read in Acts chapter 2, verse 41, it's pretty clear. It says, "And that same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Notice they're counting when they baptize. A good shepherd counts the sheep. "There were added three thousand souls. And praising God, having favor with all the people." And it goes on and says, "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Notice the connection. They're being added to the church. They're being saved. The church is the body of Christ. You're part of a family. You're part of a fellowship. You're part of a group. You're part of a people. It is--you're part of a body. It is important that you get connected. And I know there's people that watch our programs around the world, there's no local group they can go to, and you do the best you can if you're isolated. But if you have people you can gather with where you can have strength, that's very important, very wholesome. And again, Colossians 3:15, "You're called into one body. He is the head of the body, the Church." So, all of this is encompassed in what it means to be a Christian. "For by one Spirit we are all baptized." That's 1 Corinthians 12:13. "One Spirit we're all baptized into one body." So, if I refused baptism, whose counsel am I refusing? Pastor Doug's? It says in Luke 7, verse 30, "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." Rejecting the counsel of God. This is what the Lord tells us. Friends, we want you to be ready for the last days and that's why we teach these prophesies. The best way to get ready is to surrender your life to Christ. And there are some here that maybe you were baptized, and you've drifted for years, and you need to be remarried.

Three reasons to be rebaptized. One is if you've never been baptized biblically. It's been sprinkling, or pouring, or rose petals, or something. You need to do it by immersion, by Jesus. Second reason is if you've divorced yourself from the Lord. It doesn't mean you missed church for a few weeks or you backslide. You don't have to run and get baptized every time. But if you've really publicly turned from God, you need to get a new beginning. Third reason is like Acts 19, you come into a whole new knowledge of what it means to be a Christian. It's like I knew this Baptist pastor. He came to a series like this and he heard about the Sabbath truth. He said, "Wow, Pastor Doug." He said, "You know, I was baptized by immersion as a Baptist, and I could join your church by profession of faith," but he said, "I'd just assume I get baptized in all Ten Commandments now," and he was rebaptized. And so, a lot of people never regret that. And so, if you've got some doubt, talk to a pastor and they'll guide you on that, but it's really important.

When Jesus was baptized, what did the Father say? Now, was Christ baptized for who? Not for His sin, to give us an example that we should walk as He walked, what we should do. Baptism is so important to Jesus, he said, "Watch this. This is what I want you to do and this is what I want you to experience." "It came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee. And He was baptized of John in the Jordan. And there came a voice from Heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And you can read there in Matthew chapter 3, it says when Jesus was baptized that the heavens were parted for Him. The Holy Spirit came down. This is what God wants you to experience. You come to Christ, your sins are washed away, it's a land of beginning again. How many of you wish you could get a new start? I'd like to live my life over knowing what I know now. I don't want to start over and just make all the same mistakes. I want to have my memories so I don't make the same mistakes. But you do get a new beginning. You become a new creature. That feeling of all your sins being washed away because God promises it. Jesus heard the Father say, "Thou art My beloved Son." For you, he declares, "You are adopted." You are His beloved child in who He is well pleased. He looks upon you as though you have never sinned. Isn't that a wonderful concept, friends? And He wants you to have that experience.

The heavens are open. The heavens are open for you. They heard a voice. God'll speak to you in a certain way. And even temptation came to Christ, but He was victorious because God gave Him the power of the Spirit. Holy Spirit will come into your life. Now, for those that are here, we want to give you an opportunity to respond. We've got a card that we'd like to pass out. Those who are watching--I'd like to invite our ushers to do that now. Those that are watching, you can just go to the "Prophecy Encounter" website. It's simply You can let us know if you would like to make a decision. You may have a local group you're meeting with, and your group leader will give you some of these cards. But let me quickly read these decisions to you, and this is what we'll be asking you here. And when you get your card, hopefully you got a device to fill this out. After you fill out your card, if you want us to pray for you, you can also write that down. Leave it with the ushers at the door.

Here's the questions. Realizing I'm a sinner, I repent of my sins and accept Jesus as my personal Savior. You think, "Is it that simple, Pastor Doug?" I just say yes. It starts with a decision. Don't worry how you're going to live tomorrow. Say, "I feel Him calling me and I want to surrender my life to Him." You can't live the Christian life without the Christian spirit. So, you come just as I am, amen? Next question. I love Jesus and desire to follow His example of baptism by immersion. When you're baptized, you're following Christ. That's what a Christian is. If you've not yet been baptized biblically, or maybe you know that God's asking you to be rebaptized, you may want to check that spot. And then some might fit into this category, I've wandered away from Christ and I choose to rededicate my life to Him and be rebaptized.

And then finally, I'm considering baptism, but you have some questions. Nobody's going to force anybody to do anything. It's like a marriage, you don't want to be forced into it. It's because you love the Lord. It's your decision. But you might want someone to talk to about this. Go ahead and mark that. Please put your name on your card. And some of you, there's even a way you can do that online. You may have some prayer requests you want to send in to the Amazing Facts group. We'll be happy to pray for you. But you have an opportunity right now to get a new beginning. Perhaps you'd like to hear your Father say, "You are now my beloved son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased." You might want to have all of your sins washed away. You might be longing for that new birth to commit your life to the Lord. And then a power comes into your life. Christ began a life of ministry after baptism. He gives you the Holy Spirit, not so you can sit at home and say, "It's wonderful to be saved," He wants to give you the Holy Spirit so then you can become His witness, amen? He said, "I will send you the Holy Spirit," Acts chapter 1, "that you might be my witnesses."

So, baptism is about coming to the Lord, and then you go for the Lord. He fills you with the Spirit. There'll be temptation along the way. Even Christ was tempted. But praise God, He overcame by the Word of God, and you can be an overcomer. That's what it says in Revelation. "To him that overcomes." How many of you would like that experience? We want you to have that new beginning of baptism. I know there are some who are struggling right now with this. You've heard the Lord calling you. You've thought, "One of these days, I've gotta make a decision." Well, how long are you going to wait? Best time to listen to God's voice is when you're hearing God's voice. The best time to follow God's will is when He's revealing his will. Today, if you hear His voice, don't harden your heart. Don't wait, friends. You're feeling the battle between your Savior and that devil, and you've got the tie-breaking vote, amen?

Can I pray with you before we close? Father in heaven, we've been talking about what it means, in a very simple sense, to surrender our lives to You. And I know there's a lot of people, thousands here and out there, that are watching and want to make that decision. I pray Your Holy Spirit will speak to their hearts right now and encourage them that You've got good plans for them. You want them to experience the peace and the rest that comes from knowing that all of their sins are washed away. And I pray that they can have that experience where they come up out of the water, and all the sins are gone, and they get a new beginning. We thank You and ask in Jesus' name, amen.

Share a Prayer Request
Ask a Bible Question



Prayer Request:

Share a Prayer Request


Bible Question:

Ask a Bible Question