Problems: Many people teach and believe that baptism in water is not necessary for the remission of sins. Another group of people feel that the Great Commission Baptism is not immersion in water. Still another group believe that their baptism in their respective religious groups are sufficient and therefore there is no need to repeat this ceremony that involves water.
Purpose: This lesson seeks to help evangelists and sowers how to present in a more positive way and in a more forceful way the need to obey Christ in this Great Commission Baptism.
Suggested opening statement by the sower in the conversation with the truth seeker
“I’d like to share with you an important lesson that is found in the Bible. Because of your religious background which is supplemented by the series of lessons we have studied, I feel that you’re now ready for this lesson. I know that you have faith in God and that you want to obey Him. You want to be acceptable to God, don’t you?” (Pause. Expect some reaction from the truth seeker).
A.Use of Water in the Old Testament Religious Ceremonies Was Given by God
Sower: “The importance and use of water in the religious ceremonies is not new. In the OT, the use of water for religious cleansing ceremonies and also for health reasons are given in the Bible. God was the source of the command to use water.”
(Note to the Sower: If possible, have the truth seeker read the passages. After reading one passage or cluster of passages,, ask all the appropriate questions suggested below and get an answer).
Q: Is the use of water a command of God?
Q: If the subject person disregarded the use of water where it is commanded, would God be pleased?
Q: Where did the cleansing power reside, in God or in the water?
Q: Where cleansing and / or forgiveness of sin are involved, did the cleansing or forgiving take place before or after the application of water in the ceremony?
Q: Do you think the people in the O.T. considered the use of water where it was commanded a meritorious act or an act of obedience to the authority of God? (See Exodus 19:1-8; Leviticus 20:8)
- Exodus 29:4; 40:12; Lev. 8:6 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Leviticus 1:9 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Leviticus 6:28 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Leviticus 11:32 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Leviticus 14:5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,16,17,18,21,22,27 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Leviticus 16:4,24,26,28 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Leviticus 17:15-16 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Leviticus 22:15 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Numbers 19:7,8,13,17,18,19,20,21—Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Numbers 31:23-24 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
- Deuteronomy 23:9-11 – Read and ask the appropriate questions.
Internal conclusion stated by the sower: “We have seen that God gave the commands where in many situations Israelites were to use water. God being an authoritative God must be obeyed. This should be our attitude today.”B. Water Was Used in the Baptism of John
Sower’s comment: “Let’s move on to the time of Christ before the effectivity of the Great Commission Baptism. We now notice the ministry of John the Baptist who was sent by God. Let’s read some passages and we will answer the questions given below:
- Was the use of water in baptism a command of God?
- If the subject person disregarded the use of water, would he be pleasing to God?
- Where did the cleansing power reside, in God or in the water?
- Do you think John the Baptist and those who submitted to water baptism considered baptism as an act to merit reward or was it an act of obedience to God’s requirement?
- John 1:49-34 – John was sent by God and commanded to baptize with water.
- Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:4,5; Luke 3:3-14 – John preached demanding cleansing of a person’s life.
- Matthew 3:13-16 – Jesus submitted himself to water baptism. This is a special case. Ask the following:
- Matthew 3:5-6; Mark 1:4-5; Luke 3:3 – Is there a possibility that the 12 apostles of Jesus were among those many who were baptized by John the Baptist?
- Luke 23:40-43 – Is there a possibility that John baptized one of the two criminals at the cross?
- Acts 18:24-26 – Apollos, an evangelist, knew only the baptism of John, was taught more about Jesus.
- Acts 19:1-7 – The baptism of John at that time was no longer applicable. In John’s baptism those who repented of sins looked forward to the coming Christ and the coming kingdom of God.
C. Christ Gave the Great Commission Baptism After His Death & Resurrection
The Levitical system of using water in cleansing and ceremonies in relation to sin was replaced by the water baptism of John the Baptist. Then the water baptism of John the Baptist was in turn replaced by the Great Commission baptism of Christ. Just like the 1935 Philippine Constitution was replaced by the 1972 Martial Law Constitution and then this was replaced by the 1987 Constitution during the time of President Aquino.
(1) Hebrews 9:15-18 – Christ is the mediator of a new covenant.
(2) Hebrews 7:22-28 – New covenant more effective than the first.
(3) Hebrews 8:13 – When God contemplated the change of a covenant in the time of Jeremiah, some 700 years
before Christ’s birth, the Mosaical covenant was becoming obsolete.
(4) Colossians 2:16-19 – That Mosaical system is no longer the basis of judgment.
(5) Matthew 28:1-4; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-16 – Christ resurrected from the tomb.
(6) Luke 6:46; John 12:45-50 – Christ is LORD, His words and teachings will be the basis of judgment.
(7) John 1:17– Love and grace came through Jesus Christ
(8)Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16 – The Great Commission baptism in water was given by Christ. Disciples
have to go out and preach to all nations and tribes. Those who believe should be baptized in water.
Internal Conclusion: This Great Commission of Christ is a command for all nations.
D. The Great Commission Baptism Was Implemented and Obeyed
(1) Acts 2:1-37 – Tell the story of the Day of Pentecost then read Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.”
(2) Acts 8:9-13 – The people who believed were baptized.
(3) Acts 8:26-40 – The Eunuch was taught about the Christ of Isaiah 53, accepted Christ and was baptized.
(4) Acts 9 – Tell the story of Saul, the persecutor, his experience at the road to Damascus and then his baptism in
Acts 9:17-19. “Then he got up and was baptized.” Acts 16:22 says of Paul, “Why do you tarry, arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.”
(5) Acts 10:9-18 – Cornelius and household believed and were baptized.
(6) Acts 16:11-15 – Lydia and household were baptized.
(7) Acts 16:16-34 – The Jailer and household were baptized.
(8) Acts 19:1-7 – Those who were previously baptized (immersed in water) in John’s baptism were baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus. Religious immersion with a wrong understanding about Christ necessitated another immersion in the name or authority of Jesus.
Internal Conclusion: Because baptism is a command of Christ, the early disciples obeyed the command. It was not debated and it was not counted as a meritorious action. It was a command that was obeyed.
E. Purpose and Meaning of Baptism in Water Explained
Sower’s introductory remark in this section: “Every person is a sinner and bound to the hell fire which is the spiritual death, the punishment of sin. But if we believe that Jesus Christ died for us, was buried for us, was resurrected for us, then we have hope to avoid hell. This three events are the pillars of our preaching and our salvation as taught in 1 Cor. 15:1-5. But that is not all. Christ requires other steps to show our surrender and obedient faith in Him.”
(1) Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16 – Christ requires evangelists to go out and teach people and touch their minds and hearts with the gospel story of death, burial and resurrection.
(2) Romans 10:9-10 – The taught and believing person after being persuaded in mind and heart of the gospel story should now make a confession through the lips and the tongue, an oral confession. This confession is necessary for salvation, says Apostle Paul.
(3) Romans 6:1-11 – A person who has been persuaded in mind and heart and who has confessed with tongue and lips should also involve his entire body to make the confession about Christ. In water baptism the body of the believer makes a drama, a physical and visual confession that:
a) Christ died physically – In the mind and heart, a believer must say he is dead to sin.
b) Christ was buried – The believer must now be buried, buried in water.
c) Christ resurrected – The believer must come out of the water and live a new life.
(4) Galatians 3:26,27 – A person who has faith and is baptized unites himself in the death of Christ and PUTS ON CHRIST. This putting on Christ, as if a person wears a mask with the face of Christ and his clothes are those of Christ, happens at the point of baptism. After baptism God looks at a person and sees not a sinner but sees the image and the merits of His Son Jesus Christ.
(5) Colossians 2:12 – Water baptism is a burial. At the point of baptism, a believing person joins the burial of Christ in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. Coming out of the water is dramatizing the resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem that happened 2000 years ago.
(6) 1 Peter 3:21 – An analogy of the O.T. Flood and Ark of Noah is made here. Sin was wide spread (Gen 6:5). Sin was punished by means of a mighty floodwater. The floodwater separated the 8 people who had faith and entered the Ark. BAPTISM, says apostle Peter, is like that floodwater that now separates a believing person and makes him enter the Family of God, the Kingdom of God because God is going to punish this world with fire (2 Peter 3:7-11). In baptism, tell the truth seeker to look at his sins and look at the holiness of God (1 Pet 1:15,16; Romans 3:23). Ask the truth seeker if he can insist to be with a holy God in heaven without obeying a simple ceremony that demands a physical drama enacting the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior. Ask if the O.T. believers disregarded the washing and bathing.
F. Sower’s Appeal
To one who was baptized an infant: “Perhaps you were given a ‘water ceremony’ when you were an infant at 8 days old. That was not a correct, acceptable baptism because your heart and mind were not touched by the Gospel Story of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. As an infant you did not use your tongue and lips to make the confession of faith. As an infant, your body did not make the physical and visual drama of death, being buried and coming out of the water. You need to imitate those disciples who thought that the “water ceremony’ of John the Baptist was acceptable. You need to undergo the right mind set which is centered in Christ’s authority, right form which is immersion in water and right direction which is to be added to the Family of God, the Kingdom of God.”
To one who was taught that water baptism is not related to remission of sin and uniting with Christ: “Some Bible teachers told you that baptism in water is not related to remission of sin and uniting with Christ in His death. That is not a correct explanation and succession of events. Mark 16:15-16 tells of succession of events: preach the gospel story, faith springs in the heart of a person, he is baptized and salvation or remission of sin happens. In Acts 2:38, the succession of events: there was gospel preaching of Peter, there was repentance from the heart, there was baptism, then there was remission of sins. Acts 16:22 tells of Paul who was knocked down from his ride along the Dasmascus road, became blind, felt physically exhausted three days, told the gospel story of death, burial and resurrection of Christ. He was told by Ananias: ‘Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.’ Saul had a religion based on the Old Testament, and had ceremonies, but he needed to be baptized with Christ in his mind and heart.”
By Eusebio Tanicala, 2004