"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path". Ps 119:105
Reading: Romans 6
In our last study we saw that belief and understanding of the gospel, followed by obedience to God's commands were essential to salvation. We read the words of Jesus after his resurrection, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.' (Mark 16:15-16)
We see at once, then, that Scriptural baptism can only take place when a man or a woman is able to understand and obey the word of God. Then it is an essential condition of our acceptance with God.
We have the example of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, who was a 'good' man by any standard (see Acts 10 v 2), yet God told him to send for Peter, 'he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.' (Acts 10 v 6) Peter came, and taught Cornelius about Jesus:
One thing still was necessary,:
From this and the other records in the Acts of the Apostles it is plain that God has laid down three essential conditions for salvation: knowledge, belief and baptism. (Read Acts 2 v 37-38, 41; Acts 8:35-38; Acts 16 v 25-33)
This English word has been taken directly from the Greek word 'baptizo' which means to dip, plunge, or completely immerse in liquid. It is used in Greek in the art of dyeing. In order to dye material, it has to be completely dipped into the dye, so that the material is wholly changed in colour.
The use of this word throughout the New Testament makes it clear that sprinkling or pouring water is not sufficient. Scriptural baptism requires a complete immersion in water. So we read of Philip when he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, 'They went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.' (Acts 8 v 38)
We read also of John the Baptist, that he baptized in Aenon near to Salim 'because there was much water there.' (John 3 v 23)
The Significance of Baptism
If we read the New Testament carefully we shall find that baptism has a four-fold significance.
1. Washing away, cleansing:
We find the same symbol used even in the Old Testament, together with the figure of a change of colour.
2. Association with the death and resurrection of Christ
As we are completely covered by water in the act of baptism, we symbolically die, and as we rise from the water, we symbolically rise to a newness of life. In this we associate ourselves with the death and resurrection of Jesus. The apostle Paul writes of this:
In baptism we undergo a figurative resurrection to newness of life, a change of outlook which is an essential part of our obedience to God. Jesus said:
Paul also wrote to the believers at Colosse of baptism:
3. We are united by baptism into Christ
We are united by Baptism into Christ and so related to Christ and to the promises which God made through him:
Paul writes again of the change which takes place at baptism:
4. A change of masters - a call to separation
Please read at this point 2 Corinthians 6 v 14-18; l John 2 v 15-17
God is not pleased with the idolatry of the world. Men and women naturally are the servants of sin. When we are baptized we change our service:
In baptism we begin a new life of obedience to God which relates us to the promised gift of God.
We reject utterly man's way, the way of the world. In baptism we turn unto God's way, obeying the gospel - 'the power of God unto salvation.'
The Example of Noah
This is what Noah did. The world of his day was filled with violence and wickedness. Noah built an ark, and when the rest of the world were destroyed by the water of the flood, Noah and his family entered the ark and were saved:
The judgment of the wicked when Christ returns will be sudden and final as it was in the days of Noah. As Noah in the ark was saved, so we, if we are 'in Christ' shall be saved. We have seen that the way to be in Christ is through knowledge, belief, baptism and continued obedience.
How Important Is Baptism?
Many feel that provided that they change their way of life for the better there is no need to submit to this act. How wrong they are, how ineffective all their efforts to do right. Consider the case of Naaman the Syrian. (2 Kings 5 v 1-27) Elisha the prophet, a man of God, told him to wash in the river Jordan to cure his leprosy. At first he refused, but when his servant persuaded him to obey the specific detail given by God, he was cured at once.
If we obey the word of God as closely as we can, we too can be cured and start afresh. But we may wonder about subsequent mistakes and sins, that is those committed after baptism. As we have seen earlier, in baptism we are associated with the death of Jesus Christ and this event was a once-and-for-all-sacrifice for sin, and those things which we do wrong in our new life in Christ are forgiven by prayer through our new-found Saviour. When we repent and ask for God's forgiveness, all our sins and errors are blotted out from the record and therefore we can go forward daily confident that if we try to do right, God has promised to mercifully forgive us.
God has offered us this wonderful opportunity through His Word. Do you yet feel the need to start your life again? With your experience of the mistakes you have made and the desire to erase some of the dark patches of your previous life, here is a unique opportunity to start again, not this time on a life that leads to the grave, but on the road to immortality and the glorious kingdom of God. God's way is the only way by which you can be reconciled to your Maker.
This is the importance of baptism. It is an essential act of obedience, an essential part of God's way of salvation.
To get to know God's word properly we need to read the Bible for ourselves.
Study 15 Questions
These are for you to answer for yourself if you wish, or you can note the correct answer to each question and send via email to: Bible Light Please give the number of the study that you are sending the answers for.