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Publicly Identifying With Christ

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Publicly Identifying With Christ

Water Baptism and Your Responsibility

The church often struggles under the results of the cancers of traditionalism, legalism, denominationalism, and faddisms. For example, there was a season when certain denominations worked with the state to make laws, “declaring that anyone who accepted adult baptism after being baptized as an infant would be subject to the death penalty.” (The Foundation Series for Youth, Believer’s Baptism; Publish by Brethren in Christ, Writer Owen Alderfer) The secret to overcoming the cancers that afflict the church is to have the spiritual heart that reflects a life that says, "It is not what I want, but what God wants for me." When a person's heart is set on God's heart, that person does not focus on what he or she wants in the baptism celebration ceremony, but their focus is on what pleases God.

I would propose to you that the Lord is not bound to the doctrine of men, but longs for Christians to have Holy Spirit illumination of God’s Word about water baptism.

Jesus gave clear instructions to His church, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28: 18-20)

Water baptism was administered by John the Baptist. (Matthew 3:5-12; John 3:23; Acts 13:24) Water baptism was sanctioned by Christ's submission to it. (Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22) Jesus adopted baptism into His ministry. (John 3:22; 4:1) Water baptism is the appointed ordinance of the true Christian church. (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16) Water baptism is to be administered in the names of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

Just what does the Word of God say about Water Baptism? What is the purpose of this declaration? What is your responsibility?

Sacrament of water baptism is a very important step in the Christian’s life

After accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, the sacrament of water baptism is a very important step in the Christian’s life. In Matthew 3:13-17 we read of Jesus being baptized. The Bible says, “…Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you.’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now, it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” “Righteousness” (δικαιοσύνη dikaiosúnē) here is conformity to all of God’s standards for the believer. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament)

Christ is the standard for Christians. Jesus was not being baptized for the repentance of sin, for He never sinned. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26) This baptism for Jesus was an ordination, He publicly was fulfilling God’s standard for Him – thus opening the gates of heaven for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to accomplish God’s will for Him. (Matthew 3: 16; 4: 1-11) Jesus’ baptism forever changed the way His followers would look upon the celebration of the Christian's rite, water baptism.

When we receive Jesus Christ as personal Savoir and Lord, through faith we become children of God, and when you are baptized you are identifying yourself with Christ publicly. (Galatians 3:26-29; Act 10:1-47; Acts 8:26-39) The baptism celebration ceremony is a public proclamation of who you are uniting yourself with. It is like when some kind of ceremony is performed in the exchanging of a wedding ring. There are witnesses to whom you are pledging yourself to. Before a soldier can were the uniform, there is some kind of ceremony performed were the soldier makes a public proclamation of loyalty.

From the earliest time in church history to now, the Body of Christ has used symbols to communicate her faith and life. One of the symbol's of repentance and receiving the new life promised in Christ is water baptism. (Acts 8:36; 10:37) A wedding ring is an outward symbol that a person is married to someone. The person God has given them, to be their partner throughout life down here. The wedding ring is received during a public ceremony of some kind. A military uniform is an outward symbol that a person is involved with a particular branch of service. There are regulations on the wearing and caring for those uniforms. Military personal are expected to wear those uniforms on the appropriate occasions, just as Christians are expected to participate in the act of baptism. The celebration of the Christian’s baptism is a symbolic act saying, “I am dying to self-centeredness and sin-centeredness for the righteousness of God and Christ-centeredness.”

Mode of this Christian celebration

Jesus and His disciples spoke of the importance of baptism. However, the New Testament is not altogether clear as to the mode of this Christian celebration. Baptism ceremonies are performed in fonts, baptistries, in lakes, streams and even the oceans. Christians throughout history have been water baptized through different methods, such as sprinkling, the pouring of water over the head three times, immersion going straight down, forward and backwards. The key significance is that the person has accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord by faith. (Acts 18:8; Ephesians 2:8-10) The person to be baptized has in repentance (Act 2:38; 3:19; 17:30) turned from his old life and put on the new one in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). The new believer is hungry to be taught the things of God and has asked to be baptized. (Acts 8: 26-39)

What is spiritually key to enjoying a baptismal service is the motive of the person's heart in the baptism ceremony, not the mode. How do we know this?

There is much debate within Christianity on the proper mode of baptism. There are several ways to interpreting Scripture. One is to do a word study.

Example: According to Strong's Concordance - word βαπτίζω, ‘baptizo,' is translated as... “baptize” 76 times, “wash” twice, “baptist” once, and “baptized" once. It means to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk). It means to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe.

However, there is one Scriptural indication that baptize (baptizo) was translated as (baptismos) in Hebrews 9:10, meaning "various washing" and it is connected to the sprinkling of blood. It was through the shedding of Jesus' blood, Christians are redeemed. Biblically, the prototype of sprinkling of blood on certain items was the symbol of being sanctified to God, or rather covered by the blood of Christ.

I personally agree with many other denominations, immersion is the best mode of Christian baptism. I am in agreement with Rev. Matt Slick, "we should be careful to assert that baptism can only mean immersion..." in regard to the Christian Baptism Ceremony. This is especially important when we look at the whole of Scripture in regards to being adopted in the family of God, becoming children of God, and accepted by God through the shed blood of Christ.

A true studier of God's Word would consider the whole of Scripture in regard to being saved through the blood of Christ, meaning we are purchased through Jesus, who gave His life on the Cross for the redemption of our sins.

The sacrament of water baptism is a beautiful illustration of the cleansing of God's elect from all their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son. I think Satan works hard to get Christians debating over the mode of baptism. Thus keeping them from grasping the heart of water baptism. The writer of the Book of Romans wrote it so clearly, “…don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-23)

The symbolic act of water baptism is symbolizing outwardly, the inward dying to the sinful nature to take up a new life, one full of the Lord's leading and blessings. Water has been used symbolically many times in the Old and New Testament to represent God's cleansing power. I love that truth proclaimed by Ezekiel, who is writing on behalf of God, explaining the new birth, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and laws. (Ezekiel 36:25-26) Jesus said you must be born of "water and Spirit..." (John 3:5)

In his teaching on modes of baptism, Rev. Robert Harch pointed out several Scriptural references regarding purification and dedication unto the Lord being performed through the sprinkling or pouring of blood or water. (Exodus 12:22, Hebrews 11:28; Exodus 24:6-8; Hebrews 9:10, 13,14 19, 21,22; Leviticus 4:6; 9:9; 14:6-7; Numbers 19:18-21)

Any church wanting to enjoy a baptismal service to its fullest, will cast of the cancers of traditionalism, denominationalism, and legalism, so the person being baptized may be Holy Spirit illuminated of the joy of the Lord.

Rev. Robert Harbach writes, "The reformed and Presbyterian churches do not rebaptize members who have been baptized by immersion. Their baptism is regard as valid." If churches who sprinkle or pour at their water baptism celebration services can regard immersion baptisms as valid, then churches who do immersion baptisms should respect baptisms that are done differently. The Lord is not looking at modes, He is wanting His children to publicly indentify with Him as an expression from their heart.

Considering the whole of Scripture, when approached through a heart of repentance and performed in the Names of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, all modes of water baptism should be regarded as valid. The doctrine of man should submit to the grace of God.

You are expected to live the life

Once you have through repentance received Jesus Christ and identified with Him through water baptism, you are expected to live the life. Romans 6:3-23 says, “…don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let the Holy Spirit prick your spiritual heart with this question. What are you dying for? Each of us is spending our lives on something, the flesh, the world, Satan or Christ.

Galatians 5:19-25 says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

In Dr. Charles Swindoll book, “The tale of the Tardy Oxcart” we find the true story about what happens when we set our own external acts of worship over God's righteousness. The article was written by Haddon Robinson with the title, “What Jesus Said about Successful Living”

“Joe Bayly, the late Eternity magazine columnist, visited some Germans who were religious and who had been devoted soldiers in the German army during World War II. Two of them had been put up for promotion to become second lieutenants in the Nazi Army.

They were told that their promotions would be accepted. However, there were conditions to the promotions - both of them would have to join the Officers’ club and attend some weekend dances.

This was a major problem, the conviction of two candidates – they had been taught by the church dancing was wrong for it could lead to immorality. The two faithful soldiers turned down the promotions.

Later in their military careers these same two men were assigned to the death camps where thousands of Jews were stuffed into ovens and killed. Even though they did not directly participate in the slaughter, they knew what was going on.

When Jo Bayly talked to the two soldiers years after the war, they looked back on their experience with no regret, convinced that they had made the right decisions. For them, not conforming to social pressure and refusing not to dance was an act of righteousness. And conforming to patriotic mass murder and remaining silent while thousands of Jews burned in ovens left them with no feelings of unrighteousness.” Hadden Robinson wrote, “When we set our own standard of external righteousness, we are capable of any evil.”

Let the Holy Spirit place this truth deep within your heart. Do not set your life on the conjecture of man about water baptism. Set your heart on what the whole of Scripture teaches about God and Jesus’ righteousness. Touch the holy things of God with holy hands.

Baptized opens the spiritual heart to more of God’s will

Obedience to Jesus mandate to be baptized opens the spiritual heart to more of God’s will and empowerment in your service to Him. Matthew 3:16 says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him.”

In Matthew 4:1 we read, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” The primary reason for the temptations of Jesus after His baptism was so we could have a Lord who has been tempted as we are, yet He did not sin. Because He was victorious over Satan’s temptations, (Hebrews 4:15) we can, “…approach the throne of God with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

To be tempted (πειράζω peirázō) means to experience trials, to prove either a good or bad sense, soliciting to sin. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament) The purpose of this tempting is to learn the true nature or character of a person, to cause someone not to succeed at the endeavor God has called them too. (Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)

There is a misconception in Christendom – many think that just because they obeyed the command to be baptized that they will no longer face trials and temptations. The promise is that when trials and temptations come, we have Jesus in whose Name we are baptized, He will send His Holy Spirit to empower us to overcome (Romans 8:34) and comfort us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Jesus was tempted for three reasons: 1.) To learn obedience - the control of His body, mind and spirit. (Hebrews 5:8) 2.) To secure righteousness – the ideal perfection for mankind to look to. (2 Corinthians 5:21) 3.) To experience all the infirmities of human life so that He can comfort us, thus enabling us to comfort others as He has comforted us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Jesus showed us how to beat the temptations of Satan and the trials of life. Jesus’ victory over temptation enables us to trust in the promises in God’s Word and seek the whole counsel of Scripture as we face the lies of the devil, the world’s lures and the seduction of the flesh. When we trust in Christ to overcome Satan temptations, we find ourselves prepared to be used by God.

Satan's first temptation to Jesus had to do with overcoming the flesh. Our Lord overcomes the temptation by informing the devil that man lives by the whole counsel of God's Word. (Matthew 4:4)

To prepare God's children for service to Christ's church, the Holy Spirit has given gifts (1 Corinthians 12) to the servants of the Lord. A mature Christian must ask these questions, “Am I exercising my gift for myself?" Or, “Do I sacrificially use my gift for the good of Christ and others?" No Christian is beyond the temptation of using Spiritual gifts selfishly. Christians must depend upon the Holy Spirit to enable them to use their Spiritual gift for Jesus Christ and exercise the gift sacrificially for the good of others.

Jesus second temptation from Satan was to use sensationalism to prove He was the Son of God. (Matthew 4:6) God expects us to take risk in order to be true to Him, when called to. He does not expect us to take risks to enhance our own prestige. Ministries have often used glorified testimonies to draw attention to their church. They often let people know of the risk they take to accomplish their vision. Jesus quoting “..do not put the Lord your God to the test” shows us that “God’s rescuing power is not something to be played and experimented with, it is something to be quietly trusted in the life of everyday living.” (Daily Bible Study Series)

Satan’s third temptation to Christ was to not stay on course of His Father’s plan. Satan was saying, “If you just worship me, you can by pass the cross and all its pain.” Since Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the prince of this world, (Ephesians 2:2) he was telling Jesus, “I can accomplish God's will for you.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) Jesus answer, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matthew 4:10) is the Christian’s victory. God’s word, His Son and walking instep of the Holy Spirit, requires Christians to worship the Triune God in Spirit and truth, trusting the whole of Scripture.

God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit had met before the creation of the world - they made a plan for the redemption of mankind and the earth. (Ephesians 1:4) Jesus knew the plan, He was not going to change the plan, no matter what.

If Christians seek the Lord whole heartedly, God will reveal His plan to them. Do not let anyone change that plan. Do not let any temptation turn you from achieving His high calling upon your life. God’s Word has a promise, “…in view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Let the Holy Spirit examine your heart with these questions? 1.) Do you take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ? 2.) Do you make decisions based off the whole counsel of God’s Word? 3.) Are you a good “Berean” one who takes what you hear and compares it to the Word of God? 4.) Is what you say, do, and envision for the Lord’s glory, or yours? 5.) Do you sacrificially exercise your Holy Spirit gifts to point people to Christ and for the good of all mankind?

Water baptism is a duty and rite of all who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Alastair Brooks' Baptism Testimony: May 22, 2011

"My parents are Christians, they took me along with them to our village church, which I remember mainly as a challenge in sleeping on wooden pews. I am very grateful to my parents for my upbringing, teaching me, so I can grow up with an understanding of many of the Bible stories.

I am especially thankful to them for taking us to the 'new wine' summer conferences, which are Christian holiday camps with church services and children's activities for the week. It was at one of these services I came in contact with the alive and meaningful good news about Jesus. During an evening service the preacher invited those who wanted to become Christians to come to the front. I went forward, accepted Jesus with great joy.

I believed in Jesus, however, I failed to walk in step with the Holy Spirit of Christ. I would defend Christianity and its ethics in discussions with friends. For the most part being a Christian to me meant adopting a philosophical framework.

I knew that this conflict between believing and not acting was wrong and unstable. My religious way of living moved me to seek the Lord only a few times a year and in times of crisis. Like hunger being satisfied, once things had resolved, I would no longer want Jesus to have any say in my life and things would return to the way they were.

Since finishing school, the Lord has been working in my life, changing me. I now know His plan is the best one, and that means a full time living relationship with Him, trusting and serving Him. There are still many times in the past few years when I have made decisions based off of fleshly desires, a world few and even after listening to lies of the devil. However, the Lord's chastisements opened doors to find His faithfulness to forgive and mold me into His image.

Why am I being baptized? People have been surprised when I've said I'm getting baptized, assuming I was baptized years ago. My wish to be baptized is testament to the Lord's unfailing love, the work He has done in my life through His sacrifice and the work He continues to do through His Holy Spirit.

Jesus is real, He didn't die just for me. We have all done wrong, angering God and we will be judged according to the lives we have lived. We face death and separation from Him for that wrong doing. God has made a way for us to be right with Him, He sent His only son Jesus to die in the place of those who believe and place their trust in Him.

I believe that Jesus, as witnessed by the Gospels, is the Son of God and in dying on the cross He took the punishment allotted to me for my wrong doing. There is nothing in me that deserves this salvation or makes me eligible to approach the Lord, I am entirely dependant on His grace. I am looking forward to the new creation, when Jesus will come back again to make things right forever, and by His grace I hope to serve Him faithfully until that time.

After your baptism celebration ceremony, what will be your testimony before the eyes of those in this world, God and Christ?

Let us Pray!

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