We Must Undergo A Baptism
March 19, 2014
Jesus told His disciples that He had “a baptism to undergo.” (Luke 12:50) In the same breath He told them that He was distressed about it until it be completed. (same verse) He also said that He came to bring, not peace on the earth, but division. (v. 51) We know that He was referring to the fact that some would believe in Him and His Message and some would not believe. Jesus also said that He had “come to bring fire on the earth” (v. 49), and in adding, “and how I wish it were already kindled!” (same verse), we can understand that He was anticipating the spiritual fire that would come as a result of His death and resurrection.
The way we learn God’s Truth is by comparing Scripture with Scripture, thereby letting it interpret for us. We are told that Jesus had a baptism to undergo. The baptism was His death and resurrection, as well as all that He accomplished by going through it. 1 John 3:8 tells us, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” The devil’s work is deception, sin, hatred toward God, and all that is evil. Christ’s death and resurrection “drove out the prince of this world” (see John 12:31), a reality for all who look to Jesus in faith. (v. 32 & 3:14,15) This is to step into Christ, and if we abide in Him, we not only are kept safe from the evil one (1 John 5:18), but are made fully equipped to overcome anything the demons attempt against us. (Luke 10:18-20)
Many believers in Jesus complain that they are not able to overcome sin and the power of the devil. But what is often not understood is that it is not enough to believe in who Jesus is. Even the demons know He is the Savior of mankind. (Luke 4:41) Jesus taught that in order to be set free we must know and adhere to His teachings / the Truth. (John 8:31,32)
The whole of God’s Word attests to, and teaches, the Truth. This includes what Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles taught as it is written in Scripture. One of these core doctrines is that we must be born of the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3-8)
Unfortunately, what being born of the Spirit (born again / born from above / born of God) means is often not taught. In fact, when someone does experience it, teachers often inform them that the privileges of the Kingdom, which the Word of God says are theirs, are really not theirs. Disillusioned, and left ignorant and thus weak, people who began with the Spirit turn back to the principles of this world. (Gal. 3:1-3 // Col. 2:8,20) But, if people would hold to the Truth, and know it well, they would see that they are truly free.
Why are people often kept bound? I believe that it is the lack of teaching concerning the baptism that we, with Christ, must undergo. It is a painful baptism just as His was, but in rising up from the water (the death –Rom. 6:1-14), it is glorious, it is freedom, it is real Life. The baptism is death to Self and all that is not holy, and it is a cleansing unto purity. It is to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:16) which comes by way of genuinely uniting with the Lord / becoming “one with Him in spirit.” (1 Cor. 6:17) This is what John the Baptist referred to when he said of Jesus, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16) And it is what Peter referred to when he said, “Then I remembered what the Lord had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” (Acts 11:16) For as Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.” (19:4) Repentance is only one step. We must also be baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus so that we may be born of God –that is, be baptized with and into the Spirit. (v. 1-7 & 2:38) Water baptism, which is commanded of us, is the public statement of this death to the old life and this resurrection to the new life, but the submersion in the water is only a symbol of the real thing –a submersion into Christ’s baptism.
This baptism must happen. There is no way to belong to Christ without it happening. So what does it entail?
It entails believing the Message and repenting (renouncing / turning away from) all sin. (Mark 1:15) It entails dying to sin (Rom. 6:2) and living for God. (v. 11) “The death He [Jesus] died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.” (v. 10) We, having been buried with Him through baptism, were baptized into His death. (v. 3,4) And being united with Him in His death, we are also raised with Him, so that we may live the New Life. (v. 4,5) Jesus, the sinless One, “died to sin once for all” (v. 10 again) and so all who unite with Him by undergoing this baptism die to sin as well. This means that sin –the sinful nature– has been taken away (Heb. 9:28) and we are free. (Rom. 6:7)
So the baptism entails a circumcision (Col. 2:11,12) –a cutting off of the sinful nature– which is done by Christ by our choice to enter into His baptism and resurrection. (same verses) This choice we make by our faith and our confession of faith (Rom. 10:9,10), included in this, our “pledge of a good conscience toward God.” (1 Peter 3:21) This is the entrance to salvation (same Rom. & Peter verses), and following through (faithfully upholding) our pledge till the end, is our completed salvation. (Mt. 24:10-13)
So, Jesus had a baptism He underwent. He did it not as a necessity for Himself, for He was (and is) God and had no sin of His own. It was our sin He took, died to it for us, rose victorious over it (and over death and all evil) and invites all mankind to, by faith, choice, and submission, identify with Him in this baptism. If we do, He Himself will plunge us under the waters and raise us up as “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17) that have now been “born of God.” (1 John 3:9)