Reasons of Ritual

Scripture: Romans 6:3-5, Ephesians 4:5, Acts 8:35-39
The Bible teaching of baptism celebrates the birth, marriage, and death of a person giving their life to Christ. But there are many distortions of baptism in existence today. What does the Bible teach about this "one" baptism?
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Few people would ordinarily be able to celebrate the three greatest events of life on the same day, but hundreds of thousands of people are able to observe such an anniversary every year in America-the birth, the marriage, and the death of an individual are all represented in the observance of Christian baptism. Let's read it now in two texts of he Bible. First of all, in Romans 6:3-4. "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

Please notice that a death to sin is involved in baptism as well as rising to a new life or a new spiritual birth. In Romans 7:4 the newborn Christians is described, as being married to Christ in relationship of baptism and conversion, but these are all the theological meanings of baptism. What does it mean to a casual observer who may not be acquainted with the spiritual language of Christians and of the Bible? Now lets square up to the questions that intelligent people are asking- are we immersed in the waters of baptism just because it seems to be the way to get initiated into a pleasant Christian society, or perhaps because our friends are doing it, or even because our parents or pastor wants us to do it? Intelligent people also are asking this-why do some people immerse candidates while other churches will sprinkle every person with water, or another will sprinkle water over a whole group and even if not one drop falls upon some individual in that group he's still considered to be baptized? On the other hand, some churches pour water over the head of each prospective member, then there's infant baptism and adult baptism.

The devil has delighted in making the simplicity of Christianity the most complicated maze of confusion in history. Only he could make such a muddle out of the simple truth found in Ephesians 4:5. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." The evil one carefully developed a similar false belief to the true in order that the truth could lose its effect. Before a true prophet arose, he sent false prophets in an attempt to discredit the true prophet. The devil was even glad to have his false prophets found out, and then the sneer of the people was on the prophet, even the one who claimed to be the true. Even in paganism with its confusion of many Gods, many religions had ceremonial washings or baptism as the devil masterfully counterfeited the true. Who is right then, friends? What does the Bible say about the true un-counterfeited baptism? Surly it must speak clearly about a doctrine so widely accepted by all churches.

The very first Biblical reference to baptism is found in the story of John the Baptist, that voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Yes, you could have expected that, wouldn't you? The record is found in Luke 3:2,3. "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Now what was John the Baptist's reason for baptizing people, friends? Did you see it in Luke3:3? It said, "Preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." You see, he saw it as a washing away of sins in preparation for standing before a righteous Lord, a cleaning up of the life, to prepare the way into the royal family of Heaven.

Now what was John's method of baptism? Sprinkling? Pouring? Oh no, my friends not at all. Why did he have to go to the deep places in that meandering shallow River Jordan if he was only sprinkling or pouring? Read John 3:23 to verify that fact. "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim; because there was much water there". Now this was a town that was on the banks of the Jordan River and it was deep enough to immerse a man in that water. See him baptizing Jesus there. You'll find that story in Mark 1:9, 10. "And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straight way coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him." Now if Jesus came up out of the water, then certainly he must have been down under the water, immersed by John as an example. As John says in another place in 1 John 2:6, "He" that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk even as he walked."

It was th same with Philip also who was sent to speak to that Ethiopian. See him in Acts 8:35-39. "Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and 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, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of 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 away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing." Now the translation for the Biblical word "baptism" is "Baptizo" and it is the most definitive evidence for immersion that you will find anywhere.

Listen to the demonstrative Greek shoemaker in St. Louis, Mr. Paulos, as he suddenly dropped the shoe he was working on when he was asked what the word Baptizo meant. Responding excitedly to anybody who was interested, in his mother tongue, he said - and he had to use his hand because he couldn't talk without that - "Why, Baptizo means to dip under, duck it under, like when you dye a dress." Isn't that good friends? What would you ladies think, if one of your neighbors was dying a dress and she just sprinkled a little dye on it or just poured it on the dress a little bit. Oh no, we must be plunged under and be dyed completely in the blood of Jesus Christ. We are to be buried with Christ in baptism and thereby alone can we enter into the death and burial of Jesus Christ. Then we also may experience the gloriousness of His resurrection. Baptism has a meaning but there is no meaning to the imitation that is followed by so many.

Now what was Jesus' relationship to baptism? He, Himself, was baptized b John, of course. Then, as recorded in John 3:22, He also baptized others. He said to inquiring Nicodemus in John 3:5, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of God." And then lastly in his parting words, He said, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Don't you see here, friends that a person must be taught before he is baptized? Is it possible to teach an infant all things Christ commanded? Can that child repent? Can he believe? Of course not. A baby can't meet any of those requirements nor can a Godfather do it for him. He must, when he comes to his own age of accountability, work out his salvation with fear and trembling. Infant baptism has no Divine authority: in fact it wasn't even practiced until hundreds of years after Christ. It didn't even become an absolute dogma of the church until 1200 A.D.

Now so far, we have learned this much about baptism: First, a person old enough to be taught and repent and believe is eligible. Second, baptism means to immerse the whole body under the water. Now that we see the form or method or ritual of baptism, let's see if we can find the reason for it.

God never asks us to do anything that is unreasonable. I am going to make a strong statement now. It might shock you. It may cause you to think. The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary doesn't mean one single thing to you or to me personally, unless we are buried with Him in baptism. Romans 6:3-5 is my authority for saying that. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into hi death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been panted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." There it is. The death of Christ, His burial and His resurrection doesn't avail at all in our cases unless the blood is applied, unless his death and burial become a personal matter in our lives. Now how is that accomplished, friends? Through baptism, of course. Do you know that the Cross is mentioned only thirty times in the Bible as critically important as it is, but do you know that baptism is mentioned eighty times. I think that we should be very careful about minimizing the importance of baptism, don't you? Now why is baptism so important? Because it points back to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are even yet some people who ma say that they don't think the actual form itself is of any great importance. "After all," they say, "what difference does it make; a little water or a lot of water, so long as the heart is surrendered." I'll tell you, friends, that it is just the difference between eternal life and eternal death because it is the difference between obedience and disobedience. Now look back at that Cross for a moment. Before the Cross, a man looked foreword in faith to the coming sacrifice of the messiah for sin, this they did by the sacrifice of lambs at the Temple in accordance with the extremely detailed instructions of God. The man on this side looks back to the Cross of Christ, the Messiah. No longer does he slay the innocent lamb, for Jesus has fulfilled all those types, but he goes down into the watery grave as instructed by the detailed rules and illustrations of Christ. How important is it? Friends, hear Jesus saying this to you right now: "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5.

Let Christ speak to you as he did through the devout Ananias to Saul. "And now, why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16. It is important ; very, very important. Watch that man as he goes down into the watery grave and comes up out of the water. Now his sins are laid on Jesus. Through baptism we enter into the type and symbol of Jesus' own death. As the Scripture says, "He hath put on Jesus. A new spirit is in him." God doesn't leave a vacuum after sin has been washed away so that seven devils will enter in instead of the previous one. Oh no, Jesus puts his own spirit into that man; a new power is born in him. The sound reasoning for baptism is manifold. It symbolizes first, death to sin; buried with Jesus and resurrected to life, real living. Second, cleansing and separation from the world. Third, union with Christ and with His visible church. Fourth it is a planning of a new life in you that will grow into Christ's likeness.

Ask yourself these giant questions today. Have I been truly baptized? Not by the counterfeit, but by the true baptism? Was it a personal decision of my own at an intelligent age? Was I immersed into the water as was my Savior? And then if you have been truly and biblically baptized, ask yourself also these questions: How far have I walked with Jesus since my baptism? Won't you renew and revitalize your baptismal vows just now? Remember that day of your first love of your Lord and your faith? Mature that love by walking and talking with Him now and serving Him now. It is the only way to be prepared to meet Jesus when He comes.

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