LINKS (if at http://missionoutreach.org/Raised1a60): FOREWORD. People live on the earth. A good force created the earth and each of us. The good force is God. People can be good or we can be bad. Doing bad things is sin. God invites all to join Him in being good and rejecting bad. People must act to reject badness. God has spoken to tell us how we can choose good over evil. We live and later will die. Two destinations lie ahead. Heaven is for those who serve God on earth. Hell is for others who chose to be bad. People are free to choose. God gave the Bible to guide us to Him. The Bible tells how we can please God. This book explains God’s call to goodness. We who do bad things are sinners. If we want to please God we will turn away from all bad things. We will choose to live as God’s unique Son lived while on earth.
PREFACE. Three Bible passages in particular speak to the need of bad people changing. Witness 1, Witness 2, and Witness 3. We explain our plan for study of “new birth” into Christ. Changing from bad to good involves a complete change of ownership. To follow Jesus means making HIM our Lord. He calls for us to experience a new birth of water and spirit if we want to be His followers. In any birth, Birth follows conception. Of course it’s the same sequence in the new birth into Christ.
INTRODUCTION tells of John the Baptist. God sent a prophet to prepare the way for Jesus to teach and then to open the way for bad people to change and become good people. John baptized Jews with
Baptist baptism and won many converts to repentance and baptism for remission of sins. One who came to John was Jesus. Jesus was baptized. His baptism was unique. This is followed by some background facts.
What did Jesus say about new birth? It's Jesus & Nicodemus who first discuss a new birth of water and spirit. We note His statement. We speak to the new birth of water and to baptism in His Spirit by Jesus. Then we speak about what JESUS told His apostles to do to bring others into God's family. Mark words the commission differently.
Early Disciples Were Born Again. The apostles obeyed Jesus. They proclaimed gospel truth. They baptized those who believed. The Gospel message saves. The new (Christian) baptism is not John’s baptism.. And God’s GIFT was given then and promised also for all who later obeyed the gospel. Samaritans then were saved. We learn something when two SIMONS met. Then Philip met an Ethiopian and both were glad. Later, Paul was reborn. And Cornelius was visited with surprising results. Speaking of surprises, A jailer was jolted, then baptized! These are the reported conversions. What did we learn?
Apostles speak, so we can understand conversion into Christ. What shall we think? If we believe, we should admit it. Repent or perish! are the choices. We are all baptized INTO Jesus as we’re born again of water and spirit. So Why do we baptize? And Why do we assemble? The NEW Birth converts sinners into saints in the making. Then as ONE body we grow. And we should keep learning. Disciples are learners. Some wonder, “When are we saved?” The new birth is of water AND spirit.
Baptism cleanses from sin It’s new and different from any other baptism. Work it is NOT. It IS serious business. Baptism must be by free choice. Baptism is always by immersion. The apostle says baptism is
putting on Christ.
Paul met controversy in Galatian churches when enemies came with a different gospel. This is what Paul taught that some didn’t like. Is it salvation by Jesus PLUS something? The word means spirit OR breath. God Breathes to start each new life when sinners are saved. * Conception’s
Seed, is God’s WORD. * Are Only Some Elected To Salvation?, * When is God’s Spirit given? * People baptize people,
And CONCLUSIONS. *
Victor Knowles Speaks to the Question. *
A Warning. Some Seek To Bypass NEW BIRTH. *
Cecil May Jr. ON GOD’S WORD. * David Faust Offers Hope.
SCRIPTURES: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15,16,
John 3:3-5, John 3:3-8, Acts 2:36-41, Acts 2:42,
Acts 11:1-17, Acts 16:32,33, Romans 6:1-4, Romans 6:1-23,
Romans 6:12-19, Romans 10:8-17, Romans 10:9,10,
1 Corinthians 1:13-16, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13,
1 Corinthians 12:12,13, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8,
1 Corinthians 15:12-28, 2 Corinthians 1:21,22,
2 Corinthians 5:14,15, Galatians 3:5, Galatians 3:26,27,
Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 2:1-10, Ephesians 2:4-10,
Ephesians 4:1-6, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 2:6-15,
Colossians 2:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Titus 3:5-7,
Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 5:14, Hebrews 10:19-26,
James 1:17,18, 1 Peter 3:15-22.
FOREWORD: A favorite Bible verse for most who know Jesus is John 3:16. It reads,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 – (ESV). Some who read the verse emphasize the word
believes. The correct emphasis is on
HIM, Jesus, God’s unique Son. This book aims to help readers see that emphasis. It is good for us to realize that humans are not perfect. We CAN be wrong. We CAN misunderstand what we hear or read. On the other hand, we can learn truth and walk in truth. Some things are wrong. Some people are wicked.
Those who now know there is a God, a God who hates and punishes wrong-doing, may
put sin to death by turning away from sin and seeking a new birth as a Christ-follower. Jesus tells of the need (John 3:3-8). Every sinner needs a new birth of water and spirit. Here we discuss new birth and the life which follows. A first step toward eternal life in Christ is to realize that God is good. Jesus came to earth to help people know that God is love. He punishes sin. He rewards those who choose the
good life. God is good. People also can be good. We choose. Either good or bad. Selfish or unselfish. Usually most of us are both good and bad.
It’s SINNERS who are offered new life by Jesus. We speak here about the new life He offers. Repentance is essential to changed life! Both Peter (Acts 2:38) and Paul (1 Corinthians 12:12,13) point out that God’s
gift of eternal life in Jesus is given to us following our new birth of water and spirit. The new birth of spirit is called repentance. This is more than just a change of mind! Repentance is a change of the will. It’s a change of intention and direction. No longer selfish. Now selfless. Death to sin must precede the NEW life in Christ. Love of self must go.
Who knows better than Jesus does what is required to enter His kingdom? We do well to learn from HIM. Salvation comes to those who believe in Jesus, that He lived as a man on earth after having been the actual and active creator of the earth, that He was put to death and then He Himself was raised up into NEW LIFE. Realizing our sin, we’re saved by faith in Jesus when we turn away from sin and choose new birth to make HIM our Lord for life. Then we can enjoy life with JESUS! We serve Him and enjoy it because we love Him. The NEW LIFE is lived in love. Jesus loves us. Jesus wants us to love one another. He wants us to love even the unlovely and the unloving, just as He does.
Here we point to simple scriptural truths concerning entering life with Jesus. In Bible quotations in this study,
Spirit is sometimes changed by this author to
spirit. The original Greek does not capitalize the word. Translators do capitalize when they think the meaning is God’s Spirit. When I see the translators are wrong, I choose to remove their capitalization. I explain my thinking about this in the study in this book,
Were You Elected to Salvation? God invites ALL to come and be saved! He doesn’t “give” faith to some and not to others. He freely offers GRACE to all. Every person is welcome to hear, believe, and obey the gospel of Christ and be saved! Let’s think more about the life which comes by dying to sin and being RAISED INTO NEW LIFE.
new birthof water and spirit. ... He said,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.Nicodemus said to him,
How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?Jesus answered,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of spirit.John 3:3-8 – (ESV) as edited.
babes in Christ.
good newsof Calvary’s death and the resurrection of Jesus is
the gospel.Sinners are saved only if each believes and is led to OBEY the good news that Jesus loves and can save. Do we understand? Do we believe it? Those who obey JESUS live. Those who DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL will be eternally lost.
You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. ... unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God ...(John 3:3-5 – ESV, emphasis added).
You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.Paul and Jesus both know this and say so. That’s #1 and #2. The message of the cross draws ALL. Only SOME hear the gospel, obey the gospel, having chosen to enter. Others reject God’s call and are lost. If Jesus did it all, then every sinner is saved at birth – no NEW birth needed! Who dares to say Jesus was wrong? Some bravely do, and some seem to know nothing of the new birth of water and spirit Jesus says is preparatory to being RAISED INTO NEW LIFE.
Come join us because what Jesus did on the cross has already saved you.Hear the apostle Peter:
... ‘Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls(Acts 2:36-41 – ESV, emphasis added).
work of the Spiritnot spoken of in any related conversion experience.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation(James 1:17,18 – ESV, emphasis added). Paul had said,
You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.I hear James affirming that JESUS saves and that belief in and obedience to His Word of truth (His gospel) brings us into new life. This is explained more fully later in this study. Here you will read what the bible says about how sinners were and are RAISED INTO new life with Christ.
in the wildernessin Judea. Judea was where most
John the Baptist,he began baptizing God’s people,
Jews,who had come to hear John and who wanted to please God and participate in the promised kingdom. The message John proclaimed prior to baptizing his repentant Jewish hearers was that a promised new kingdom was
at hand.In preparation for that kingdom, all Jews were called to repent of sin and be baptized. Jews, he said, were to return to the ways taught by God through Moses and God’s prophets of old. Those who did repent were immersed in water. All who accepted John’s baptism were likely candidates to soon afterward enter the promised kingdom.
church.The church is really an assembly, which is what the Greek word means. And it is a separated and organized group, all loyal to the one King and Lord, Jesus. These baptized Jews, however, did not form a church! The church was a future promise. It was after this that Jesus said,
I WILL build my church.
already did on the cross.That’s how it was done then. That’s how it must be done now.
You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.Can anyone other than Jesus save from sin? Jesus and Paul agree that dying to sin must precede being raised into new life.
obeying the gospel.Something is required of seeking and asking in order to receive cleansing by the blood of Jesus. In this study I point out the minimum required for
new birth.Perhaps some have in mind passages which might seem to promise salvation prior to completion of the new birth. Many verses point out that faith in Jesus is essential FOR salvation. None promise salvation by faith ALONE. According to Jesus, required also for conversion into Him is NEW BIRTH of water and spirit. Inspired and reported examples of conversion into new life with Christ in apostolic times are considered in this study. We will point to several Bible passages about conversions to Christ after first inviting consideration of some pre-Christian initiatory and cleansing ceremonies.
mystery(secretive) religions in the first century, a baptismal ceremony inducted new members into the religion. And many religions included various
washingsaimed at purification from sin. Since their purpose was to cleanse from sin they were similar in some ways to acting in obedience to the Christ to seek salvation in Him. In some cases,
cleansing wateror other material was sprinkled toward (and/or over) persons seeking cleansing. In other cases, the entire person or the person’s hands were washed to remove possible contamination.
Jewishreligion in the first century A.D. by being circumcised and baptized. Jewish proselyte baptism associated the proselyte (any Gentile who converted to the God of the Bible) with Judaism. The purpose of proselyte conversion was to make the converted Gentile a part of the people of God who commonly were called the Jews. These were the community established and perpetuated by faithfulness to the covenant between God and chosen descendents of Abraham.
baptized into Mosescommitted those freed slaves who crossed the Red Sea to accept Moses as their leader in bringing God’s people out of Egyptian bondage. Paul wrote about this:
assembly(a church family) for us who would become His disciples. Shouldn’t teaching of Bible truths always be in simple words most people might understand?
Baptist baptismof repentant Jews. He sent His disciples into villages throughout Judea to inform of the coming kingdom, to join His voice with that of His cousin John. Immersions were performed by John, or by a disciple of John or, later, by a disciple of Jesus. Those who experienced Baptist baptism as repentant Jews expecting a kingdom which would soon come were not aware of Jesus, the King. John made clear that although he baptized in water, the coming King would later baptize in two different elements – in fire, or in the Holy Spirit.
You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?And they said to him,
We are able.And Jesus said to them,
The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism wth which I am baptized, you will be baptized ...(Mark 10:38,39 – ESV, emphasis added).
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING THEM in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, TEACHING THEM to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age(Matthew 28:16-20 – ESV. Emphasis added).
caught off balance.Indeed, both confused and off-balance they were. But these disciples (apostles) who were with Jesus in Galilee now were convinced that Jesus had been RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. His friends and followers had fully expected Him to become a king on this earth when it had never been intended to be so. Only now did they understand, and still they did not completely understand. They all were Jews. They now knew that Jesus had risen from the dead, regardless of how dreadful His death had been. They had seen Him alive again. After he had died, they had heard Him and talked with Him. They had eaten with Him. His resurrection could not be doubted. Yet His future plans were not clear to them. He was not doing what they had planned and dreamed He would do. They were Jews. They wanted Jews to again have an earthly kingdom! That had been their dream and hope.
people groupsrather than
nationsas such. Note how Mark tells of the great commission with which Jesus sent forth His apostles: Mark 16:15,16  And he said to them,
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. WHOEVER BELIEVES AND IS BAPTIZED WILL BE SAVED, but whoever does not believe will be condemned(Mark 16:15,16 – ESV, emphasis added.).
gospel according to Markas it appears in most English Bibles. So we can only report that the text as it is found in several ancient manuscripts does include this wording, which in no way disagrees with other Bible teaching.
preachrather than the
teachchosen by Matthew in his account of the giving of the commission. Paul uses a form of the same verb in writing that
God thought (it) good through the folly of the PROCLAMATION to save the believers(1 Corinthians 1:21). Cornelius was told by God’s messenger that Peter would bring him a message by which he would be saved. It’s not just any proclaiming which saves. It’s the proclaimed message of the cross which saves those who obediently respond to it. The
proclamation which savesis summarized by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
gospel seedwhich can produce eternal life within sinners is
planted.Only those who HAVE received, then believed, the gospel and who SEEK salvation from sin could ever be baptized, then RAISED INTO NEW LIFE with Christ.
Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.Jesus answered him,
truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.Nicodemus said to him,
How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?Jesus answered,
truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.(John 3:1-6 – ESV, except that Ray has changed capitals to lower case on two words which for no apparently good reason in ESV and other translations are capitalized. Emphasis added.)
born againcould be citizens of His kingdom. If Nicodemus had supposed all Jews would automatically be citizens of any kingdom ruled by Jesus, he was made aware of his misunderstanding. Only those who were made morally clean (who were wholly dedicated to God) would be within Christ’s organization. This may not have been what the politician expected to hear.
new birth into Christ’s kingdomis a change brought about in some way by both water AND spirit, and by being buried and RAISED INTO NEW LIFE.
unless one who was born of water is now born of the spirit.NOTE that Jesus contrasts fleshly and spiritual births. I suggest that’s OUR fleshly birth and OUR possible spiritual REBIRTH.
witnessesto confirm any questionable matter. Peter proclaimed as a fact that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the Old Testament requirements to identify Him as the Christ. He pointed out that there were many witnesses to fulfillment by Jesus of Nazareth of the prophetic requirements. Therefore, said the apostle,
Jesus is the promised Messiah.To the Jewish mind, anything foretold in Scripture must someday come to pass. If any event were attested to by at least two witnesses, it must be accepted as fact.
born again of water and spirit). Some think they understand the new birth better than Jesus and the apostle Peter did. They don’t. Peter was inspired. It was promised to him that he would be led into all truth. He exhorted seekers to repent and be baptized in order to receive remission of sins. Shouldn’t we today have the same message for seeking sinners? Or has Jesus revealed a different way to us? I hope each of us wants to understand apostolic teaching as the early church did.
new birthwhich brings sinners INTO the Way of Christ includes a spiritual renewal. The new birth is of water AND spirit.
pour outHis Spirit is obvious. EVERY convert to Christ RECEIVES the Holy Spirit as a gift as the convert is reborn of water and spirit. Every convert. Not just the rich and powerful. Not just the poor and needy. ALL are promised we will receive, not baptism in the Spirit, but the
gift of the Holy Spirit Himself.The promise is for all. The prophecy is not fulfilled by continuing baptisms in the Spirit but as an indwelling. Jesus comes to live within each as we are reborn. If we have repented of sin and been baptized into Jesus, through His Spirit Jesus walks with us (in us) wherever we go in this world! He promised.
bestof them were taken – the brave, the beautiful, the useful. The
restalso had lost their government and their religion with its priesthood and temple. Those left behind built new worship centers. They named new priests. The religion of those who were not taken to Babylon became a mixture. Their blood-lines were no longer based on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were no longer proud to be Jews. Much later, when a remnant who had survived in Babylon came back to restore Jewish government and religion in Jerusalem, the ones now called Samaritans offered to help rebuild the city and the temple. Their help was refused.
realJews and Samaritans. Now however the time has come for Samaritans to hear the gospel. Jesus had told the apostles that they were to witness for Him in Jerusalem first, then nearby in all Judea and in Samaria, and later throughout the world. God sent a strong persecution against the disciples in Jerusalem. They had to flee for their lives. Luke continues the story:  Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city (Acts 8:4-8 – ESV).
Signsgiven by God through Philip helped convince the people of the city of Samaria that here was something to which they should pay attention. What we learn happened in Samaria took place several months after the gospel of the risen Christ was first preached in Jerusalem. There had been 3,000 converts the first day the church was in existence. Their number soon grew to 5,000, and the growth continued. All converts during those first thrilling months were Jews. These who were baptized in Samaria were the first who were not fully Jewish who became converts to Christ. Samaritans had once been Jewish, so Samaritans were thought of as part-Jewish, and were apparently accepted now with joy as full members of Christ’s church.
this man is the power of God that is called Great.And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed (Acts 8:9-13 – ESV).
No, that’s not the way it’s done in the kingdom of Christ.Repent and pray. So we observe that Christians can make mistakes and be forgiven. Baptism is a one-time event. It can't be repeated. Like human and animal births, baptism is the climax of a spiritual rebirth. No, we can't repeat birth. It happens only once. Then life begins which lasts until the one who was born dies.
gift of the Holy Spirit,Luke seems to say, was lacking until the apostles came from Jerusalem and
laid their handsupon some of the new Christians. Apostles
laid hands uponsome, who then were empowered (as Philip already was by an apostolic anointing) to perform healings and do other unusual things.
fallen uponbaptized believers, Luke seems to have meant only that no
specialspiritual powers came to these Samaritans when they were baptized. It’s confusing, it seems to me. What is clear is that the gospel was proclaimed and heard, then believed by some. And Samaritans who believed were accepted into the fellowship of Christ’s people by being baptized. We do not do well to overlook these similarities, which are common everywhere the gospel was taken in response to the great commission.
gift of the Spiritis given to a now-saved sinner. But special power given by the laying on of apostolic hands enabled gifts others could see. That’s what Luke reports occurred after the apostles arrived.
Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip,
Go over and join this chariot.So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked,
Do you understand what you are reading?And he said,
How can I, unless someone guides me?And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.
About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said,
See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?
Booksat that time were scrolls, not simple to read while traveling. We assume this traveler was wealthy. We figure he was not having to drive his own chariot, but that he had at least a driver with him. He was reading from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. Luke says Philip had been divinely sent there.
Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you. ... I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name?’” (Acts 22:1-16 – ESV, emphasis added).
Now that you’ve seen me, the risen Lord, you’re saved. Now serve me.He didn’t say,
You’re saved. I died for you.No, Jesus said,
Go on to Damascus. I’ll send a man to tell you what you need to do.The man came, restored Saul’s sight, told him what he was to later do, then baptized him. That’s a shortened form of the story.
You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.But Peter began and explained it to them in order:
I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.(Acts 11:1-17 – ESV. Emphasis added.)
 “And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?
Christian churchestoday. But it didn’t save Cornelius. Nor would it save anyone. For that’s not how Christian conversion occurs. There were miracles. But what saved Cornelius was that as soon as Peter was convinced baptizing a non-Jew was good with God, the repentant, believing Cornelius was baptized. Consider again the story as told by Luke in chapter 10 of Acts:
Cornelius.And he stared at him in terror and said,
What is it, Lord?
Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Rise, Peter; kill and eat.But Peter said,
By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.And the voice came to him again a second time,
What God has made clean, do not call common.This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.And Peter went down to the men and said,
I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?And they said,
Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.So he invited them in to be his guests.
Stand up; I too am a man.And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them,
You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.
Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.
Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days (Acts 10:1-48 – ESV, emphasis added).
What must I do to be saved?Told that salvation was in Jesus, he chose to obey Jesus and live.
... then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds. Then immediately he and all his family were baptized.(Acts 16:32,33).
***We see from examples how conversion of sinner to saint occurs. What we learned is confirmed by teaching of the apostles who were chosen, taught, and empowered by Jesus. Now let’s consider what the apostles taught about becoming a babe in Christ. The process by which we are buried with Jesus, then RAISED UP INTO NEW LIFE is exampled. It is also explained in apostolic teaching.
The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says,
Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For
everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says,
Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Paul was writing to affirm the necessity of us telling others about Jesus. It’s as the gospel is presented that it can be obeyed! Only those who obey the gospel will be made part of the Christian family. Paul is not implying that we need a special class of clergy who will be our
preachers.Every Christian is called to tell others about Jesus. As the
wordis heard, seed is planted which can produce eternal life.
one baptism.Since Jesus commands baptism for each new believer, the ONE baptism in this age is the baptism commanded by Jesus.
the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
baptism into Moses.A lesson we can learn from Paul’s teaching here is that human choices are not irrevocable. Those who were
baptizedthat day pledged to faithfully follow Moses as their leader. They didn’t stick to that commitment. All of them who were adults on that day died
in the wildernesswithout ever entering the promised land. Are we listening? Are we hearing the apostolic lesson? We have been baptized into Christ. Are WE keeping OUR pledge?
drink ofGod’s Holy Spirit (as Peter promised in Acts 2 ;38). He elsewhere describes our relations with the Spirit as our receiving a
renewalof the Spirit as we are baptized (Titus 3:5). Every believing repentant sinner is baptized
in the same (human) spirit,that is, in obedience to the common command of our one Lord, Jesus Christ. We are buried with JESUS. We are raised into new life with Him. It’s equal for each one who is baptized into Christ. And as we join ourselves with Christ, we are added by God to His assembly, the Lord’s
church(Acts 2:47). He does not add us to a denomination or even a local congregation. Likely we JOIN with the disciples who meet where we find ourselves. And if we move, or if they move, we will join ourselves with other disciples with whom we can serve our Lord. They will help us and they will receive our help in the work of the Lord.
one baptismJesus commands humans to perform. Every one of us has entered into life with Christ by way of turning away from sin and then being baptized into Him. And in every case, it’s in the same spirit that baptism is done – a spirit of humble obedience, of love for, and of confidence in, our one Lord.
one bodyevery person who chooses and experiences new birth of water and spirit. This is regardless of any of the distinctives we humans may prefer when we pick our friends.
God has put all things in subjection under his feet.But when it says,
all things are put in subjection,it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:12-28 – ESV).
sacramentswhich within themselves can affect how God feels toward any individual. There are no payments one can make for the saving of the soul of the one paying, or for another.
man of sinis being buried in baptismal waters from which a cleansed sinner is raised into new life.
Christianpeople today. For many invite sinners to save themselves by reciting a
sinner’s prayer,and then perhaps later be baptized for some reason. I hear the apostle saying simply that faith in Jesus leads us to accept baptism, at which point we become joined to Christ. No one is saved outside the Savior. We who are IN Christ are saved. We
put on Christin baptism, says the apostle Paul here. We didn’t HAVE Him before. That’s why baptism is not to be postponed. As soon as any sinner learns of salvation in Jesus and is convinced that Jesus IS the risen Lord who can save from sin, that sinner should be
baptized into Christ.If we believe, we will obey!
put on Christand be saved. Isn’t that what Paul says in this text? Read it again just above. Faith responds to the Lord’s command! Isn’t that what inspired proclaimers of the gospel that we read about in the Acts always did? There need be no delay. Jesus is willing to save from sin any minute of any day. There’ll never be a better time to be baptized than when a sinner first realizes his or her sin and learns how to be saved from the results of having sinned. Paul also points out that we who are in Christ are heirs of God’s promise to Abraham, and if we remain in Christ’s
one bodywe are united.
Dealing with Theological Differences.This is what the Viewpoint e-mail Discussion group hosted by Ray Downen is aimed at also, of course. Subscribe by sending Ray an e-note with the subject, “Subscribe Viewpoint Discussions.” I recommend Larsen’s article for your inspection. Address of Standard Publishing is 8805 Governor’s Hill Dr, Suite 400, Cincinnati OH 45249. I believe every church worker should subscribe to the weekly Christian Standard, and every scholar should subscribe if means permit and access is not certain in nearby libraries. Internet access is also possible.
the controversy in Galatiain his article. Galatia is the Roman province into which Paul and Barnabas first carried the
gospel to the Gentiles.Paul had enemies before he became a Christian. He had enemies after he became a Christian. He was preaching primarily to Gentiles in Galatia. He first in every city went to the Jewish synagogue so that the gospel could be heard first by faithful Jews. Of all possible hearers, god-fearing Jews should have been the best prospects for becoming Christians. This is still true. But when opposition to the gospel prevented Paul’s continued teaching in the synagogue, he took with him those who had accepted the gospel as true and began teaching in non-synagogue locations, and broadened his outreach to include Gentiles.
become a Jewas Jesus was.
different gospelthan that which had won these converts to Christ. These present enemies of Paul were convinced that circumcision was essential for every Christian, and that every Christian must adopt Jewish customs and traditions in order to adequately be saved and then serve Christ.
Messiah.Paul taught that sinners were not (could not possibly be) saved by keeping laws, even the perfect law of God. His message was that salvation was found in Jesus Christ and the Way He taught. Circumcision and keeping the Law given by Moses was not (and of course IS not) any part of becoming a Christian or living as a Christian.
Paul taught that the law’s purpose is not for acquiring salvation, but as a tutor to lead one to Christ (Galatians 3:24). One gains salvation [Paul taught, according to Larsen] only by accepting it as a gift offered by God and paid for by the blood of His Son (Romans 5:9).This particular way of summarizing the gospel taught by Paul seems to me to be easily misunderstood. It may seem to imply that Paul taught that all it takes to be saved is to do nothing and just let it happen, that somehow the sinner is transformed into a saint while doing nothing.
accepting salvation as a giftis not within the scope of accurate presentation of the gospel. Sinners are called to OBEY the gospel. We earlier quoted 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10 where Paul pointed out to brothers in Thessalonica that part of becoming a Christian is OBEYING the gospel – that is, by actively doing something. What Paul taught and what his enemies opposed was that everyone, whether Jew or Gentile, could be saved without trying to earn salvation by keeping laws, without
earningit by the person’s own righteousness. Yet the person must obey the gospel!
put on(clothe themselves with) Christ? No, Paul clearly taught that our accepting baptism was a part of
accepting the gift from God.Paul taught his converts that it’s in baptism that we come into Christ. His enemies in those early days were insisting that this was true only if the convert were first converted to the Jewish faith, which included keeping the Mosaic Law.
One gains salvation only by accepting it as a gift.
the faithwe need first to know what IS the faith revealed through Jesus and His apostles. For what is revealed, we certainly should contend. For most of the things which we are contentious about, we would do well to love one another and realize that men have no business speaking authoritatively in any matter about which God has NOT spoken. Larsen urges us to weigh the importance of anything about which we want to contend, and avoid fighting about matters which are unimportant. And he urges that in all our work for God that we keep the
rightattitude. He wants us to keep lines of communication open with all who as we do seek unity in Christ. That seems to me to be excellent advice!
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
spiritsare involved in salvation prior to the completion of the new birth of water and the HUMAN spirit which is fully described in this book just as it’s described in God’s book. Jesus told HUMANS to teach and preach, to carry gospel truth to others, and to baptize those who believe. The Lord Jesus offers eternal life to all who will turn to Him in repentance and then accept the baptism in water by which
new birthis publicly accomplished and proclaimed. God’s
breath(His Spirit) is gifted to every newly-elected child of God as the cleansed new Christian is RAISED INTO NEW LIFE.
giftto us – unearned, a totally undeserved opportunity to trust Jesus and obey Him. Some suppose that human faith is
the gift of God.No, not at all. In writing to Roman Christians, (Romans 10:1-17) Paul has made clear how faith
comesto anyone. It’s by hearing (or reading) and understanding the inspired writings, particularly the gospel which tells of God’s love and the work of Jesus on earth. Notice especially verse 17 of Romans 10.
walk in good works,why would anyone think it doesn’t matter how we live? Some suppose all it takes to be saved is to believe in Jesus. They think God does it all, if the sinner just believes something about Jesus.
worldlypeople, whether in or outside the church, are disobedient to God. They do not seek to do His will. They want their own way at any cost. Expecting Jesus to have done and be doing all needed for our salvation is to totally misunderstand God’s call to action. We are incited to act. We should trust and OBEY JESUS!
prepared beforehandwith which God wants us to busy ourselves on this earth. If we love Jesus, we will
keepHis commandments. Christians have repented of self-love. We have chosen to become servants of God to do HIS will. When we love Him most of all, and obey Him, Jesus, God’s gracious gift to this world, can save us. His plan is that we will turn away from self-will in order to do His will. Those who love self more than they love God will not be saved from sin. Those who follow fleshly desires are lovers of self, and obviously are not in fact spiritually reborn.
one baptismin this listing of the essentials for unity in Christ’s church. These are facts, not opinions. The church is built upon these foundations. They’re not optional. Ever. Anyone who has experienced Christian baptism has been immersed into DEATH, the atoning death of Christ, and the personal death to sin from which we rise to walk in a changed life-style. After we each
die to sinin repentance and baptism we then are resurrected to LIVE with Christ and as co-workers with all others who are His.
one bodyof which Paul speaks is, of course, the assembly Jesus built through His apostles. He adds each of us to His assembly when we are reborn spiritually. We must not seek to split His body apart. It’s our job to maintain the body’s unity by unswerving loyalty to and service for its one head, who is the one Lord, Jesus Christ.
one faithwhich was
once for all deliveredto us can be found described in the written Word which is the New Testament. God’s gifts are perfect. The New Testament scriptures need no updating. They need no change. They only need to be believed and obeyed. And they tell us of the one baptism which brings us into the one body. Of course this is the baptism commanded by our one Lord to be performed by His disciples.
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.The Lord’s real prayer (John 17) is that we disciples should seek as perfect unity together as that which exists between God’s unique Son and His Father. And they are one.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33 – ESV, emphasis added).
membersof His body, we seek the good of the body, which includes our humbly working together with every other part. Shall we not pray and work for unity in Christ’s church of which we each are a part? Later, we will speak of how life-giving seed leads to sinners being cleansed from sin.
The faithwas not being developed by men. It was delivered from the mind of God. We today should remain loyal to what the Lord’s apostles once for all
deliveredto the early church. We cannot improve on God’s revelation. Why do we sometimes try to do so? This
faithwhich came from God tells us how we should think, talk, and act. So Paul pleads with his hearers that they (and we) should
walkas God has taught us to do. That is, our daily way of life should be patterned after that of the Lord Jesus. He loved. We love.
the washing of regenerationhere spoken of. Regeneration is being born again. Jesus says the new birth is of water and spirit.
And being made perfect, he (Jesus) became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him ...And 5:14:
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
pure.Baptism, the seeking of a clean conscience because it’s God’s plan for taking sin away, surely will result in our gaining a clean conscience. In obeying the gospel, we can be sure we have pleased the author and planner OF that good news. It’s baptism that takes away the sin of each repentant believer in Jesus Christ. We’ve tried to
provethis by the bible texts previously furnished in this study. It is hoped that they have done the job satisfactorily.
in church.But what this text (... let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ...), and each bible passage on the subject, calls for us to do as we meet together is to build up other Christians, and to receive encouragement from other Christians.
performersmay not really edify a Christian audience. Friends talking with friends is often edifying. We also may be edified by listening to God’s Word read and explained.
led in worshiphere on earth? Shall we remember that every Christian is a priest. Time invested in priests
praising God togetherin worship assemblies may prevent our being busy doing what Christians are called TO do.
the bodywhich on earth is His church.
Baptism now saves you.Did Peter believe Jesus saves solely by what He did on Calvary? No, the apostle urged sinners to save themselves by repenting and being baptized. Have we correctly understood Peter then if we think he is teaching that we are saved prior to our baptism into Christ? No. Should we apologize for seeing that the new birth of water and spirit is essential for salvation? No.
keys to the kingdom,as the church was being born, urged seekers after salvation to do what men must do in order to enter it. Peter’s exhortation provides the most easily understood description of the new birth available to Bible readers. Peter’s explanation of how to enter the kingdom was that men must repent of sin and must accept baptism into Christ. The sequence is clear. Hearing is first. Believing truth is next. Choosing to act according to truth follows.
You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.Christ’s church is the kingdom ruled by God’s unique Son. It’s His assembly. We speak of it as His “church.”
cleansed us (His church) by the washing of water with the word?We should not imagine the apostle doesn’t know the difference between water and
the word.Water is a cleansing agent. Words are not. Our sins are washed away in baptism’s waters as we enter the Lord’s body which is His
church.Through us hearing or reading of Jesus, God’s WORD, and believing the gospel, we were begotten for new birth. In baptism into Him, our sin was washed away. We were raised into new life. We are saved through hearing and believing and then obeying the gospel. We notice that in several passages, it is said that hearers believed when the obvious meaning is they believed and also acted upon their belief.
sow seed for new birthby proclaiming the gospel of Christ. We should be diligent to share gospel truth with all with whom we come in contact. God will give the increase. At the time of His choosing. His timing may not agree with ours. What is the life produced by the gospel? It’s salvation in Jesus. And sinners who trust in Jesus and obey His gospel by turning away from sin and being baptized into Christ receive the
giftof the Spirit of Jesus being sent to live IN them. This is identical for every one of us. We were equally sinners, lost apart from Christ. We equally receive the Spirit and new life when we repent and are immersed, then are RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. Faith in JESUS which causes us to obey the Gospel saves us. God is good!
Does God give you His Spirit ... because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?The expected answer of course is that God’s gifts are given to those who believe rather than to those who try to earn them. Paul agrees with Peter who promised believing sinners that if they turned away from sin and were obedient to the gospel by being baptized that they would receive God’s gift of life (Acts 2:38). Life-giving seed is the good news about Jesus who is able to save any sinner.
new lifeis sown. Those who want
new birthto be of water and the Holy Spirit should note that the planting of seed which produces new life is not commissioned to be done by the Spirit. It’s not DONE by the Spirit. It’s done by humans or the written Word presenting a choice to the human spirit. Saving seed is planted by us humans as we carry the gospel throughout the world.
normalmeans of human reproduction. No intervention other than interaction between male and female humans is normally needed to effect human birth.
Nature,God’s reproductive plan, operates as designed.
electparticular persons to be saved. He orders that the good news of available salvation is to be taken to ALL. God chose that all who hear or read and obey the gospel shall be saved. He voted. He provides a Way into eternal life. Satan voted. He opposes. Now it’s our turn! Some do listen, believe, and act as the gospel directs. Those who do so save themselves. They're voting YES.
electourselves to salvation. Just as with the
law of gravitywhich equally affects every person and object on earth or in space, God has put in place the means of salvation. It’s provided. It’s available. The gospel affects every person equally. We go. We tell. Some hear. Those who obey the gospel are saving themselves. Those who choose to not believe or who do not obey the gospel remain
electedto certain eternal death. In Ephesians 1:13, Paul reminds Ephesian Christians that they also
were included in Christ whenthey
heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.They heard and believed and
were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.
gift of the Holy Spirit.Paul (1 Corinthians 12:13) describes this gift of the Spirit as the former sinners being
made to drink of the Spirit.In both cases, this experience is a result of our having already been baptized into Christ. Obviously then, the gift is not baptism itself. Nor is baptism
being made to drink of the Spirit.Both gift and drinking follow baptism and being raised into new life. The scriptures in reference are Acts 2:38 and 1 Corinthians 12:13. Had you realized that in both cases Christ’s apostle makes clear that as Christian baptism took place something has CHANGED? Is it not equally obvious that our interaction with the Spirit FOLLOWS (rather than precedes or in any way causes) our baptism?
What must we DO?
in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.Baptism
into Christis done by the authority of, in respect and honor for, and to bring each convert into fellowship with God in His entire being. In actual practice, we’re told that baptism was actually done
in the name of Jesus,as shorthand for the longer list Jesus gave of the persons who together form our one God, and in recognition of the authority now given to Jesus alone.
great commissionmeant to be giving some kind of
proper formulafor someone to say to make baptism valid. If anything is recorded about what was said when a baptism was performed, no reporter in bible times ever speaks of the baptizer using this particular wording. Generally what the report says is only that the person was baptized
in the name of Jesus.It is not John’s baptism which now is offered.
in ONE spirit we all were baptized into the body of Christ.He’s been writing about gifts given through the Holy Spirit. If the apostle had meant the Holy Spirit did the baptizing, surely he would have written,
baptized by THE Spirit ...rather than baptized
in ONE spirit ...Wouldn’t he? He’s not contrasting spirits of which there may be more than one. This subject is considered at greater length in a future companion volume, RAISED INTO NEW LIFE, Volume 2. The complete book is simply “Were You RAISED INTO NEW LIFE?,” available from amazon.com [search for
Were You Raised Into New Life?].
Pray to the Spirit to give you ...? Some obviously think the apostle was wrong! As we think about praying, by the way, the model prayer taught by Jesus is addressed to God the Father. And as we think about growth in Christ, we might well realize that as we feed on His Word, we just naturally do grow in Him. And as we use our muscles, strength increases.
into Christis the only baptism commanded to be practiced BY Christians. That’s why no other baptism could appropriately be called Christian baptism. Here we have referred to baptism into Christ as Christian baptism even though the baptismal candidate is not said to be a Christian until the baptism has taken place. From baptismal waters we are RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. This study has invited readers to look at Bible examples of conversions. It has called attention to what Jesus, and later what His apostles, taught about Christian baptism and being RAISED INTO NEW LIFE.
gift of the Holy Spiritis given to those who have heard, have believed, and then have obeyed the gospel by repenting and being baptized. Sinners are invited to NOW turn to Christ as Savior and to be baptized into Him, after which they will have received the Spirit to bless and help them walk in Christ’s Way. The new birth is of water and spirit – a human spirit which is free to repent or to NOT repent. We are called to love and serve. God’s Spirit does not make decisions FOR us. We remain free to live as WE choose, and we face daily decisions either for life or for death.
for the remission of sins,
to wash away sin,(Acts 22:16) and
to clothe ourselves with (put on) Christ.Christian baptism when performed identifies the newly raised-up individual with the death, burial, resurrection, and life of Jesus Christ. The new birth is of water AND spirit, repentance AND baptism.
***What is it to die to sin? Peter uses the wordrepentto call for us to turn away from love of sinning. We turn TO Jesus, to live with Him and for Him in every future day. It’s by acts of our will that we are faithful to or unfaithful to Jesus. We are free. God does not force anyone to sin. He does not force us to NOT sin. We make our own decisions. After the Spirit is given, He may help us avoid sin, but we are free moral agents!
the gospeland TURNING away from sin, they each were baptized and raised into new life. It goes without saying that each conversion came because the sinner did turn away from sin, seeking instead to serve the Savior. Repentance is not mentioned every time, but is sure to have taken place. And repentance and baptism are the elements Jesus (with Peter, Acts 2:38) said make up the new birth (John 3:5). A man of sin was buried (baptized in water) so a man of faith could be raised into new life.
into Christ.Christian baptism following repentance from sin brings outsiders INTO Christian fellowship. Those already IN Christ are forgiven of recognized sin by repenting and praying.
gift of the Holy Spirit,and reconciliation with our God all are ours when our new birth is complete.
new birth of water and spiritbrings the reborn person into the fellowship of God’s church. If any reader has not yet been buried with Christ in baptism (immersed in water in Jesus’ name), now would be a good time to obey the gospel. Jesus loves us each one. He wants us to enjoy being raised into NEW LIFE with Him and then happily serving Him each day. All Christians should walk in love toward God and toward all men. And isn’t that what we should be doing?
new birthalso required two elements, which were water and spirit. Spiritual change precedes the physical in this spiritual
new birth.Later, the apostle Peter clarifies for our understanding what is the
water and spiritof new birth. It’s a matter of a sinner who now believes in Jesus, in order to receive remission of sins and to receive
the gift of the Holy Spirit,repenting (a spiritual change) and being baptized – immersed into and raised up out of water, as Jesus requires.
new birthof which Jesus spoke in John 3:5. Baptism is a part of this new birth, but it’s only the coming out (making viable and visible) of the
new lifewhich began earlier within the believing sinner’s heart (his
spirit). Life does begin prior to birth. Even so, we speak of human life beginning as the baby is moved outside the home where it was nourished and protected until
outsidelife could begin with a good chance of success.
new birthis not completed in faith alone, or in repentance alone, or in simply confessing faith in the Lord Jesus, or even in some special
feeling.None will be in the kingdom of Christ who have not heard the gospel, turned away from sin, and begun walking with Jesus by being buried and RAISED INTO NEW LIFE.
new birthof which Jesus speaks has nothing to do with physical birth or ancestry. Regardless of who our parents were, humans can be born again of water and spirit. But, as in human birth, the new birth of water and spirit is a PROCESS which begins in conception and later culminates in the actual birth experience. The father’s role in human birth is called begetting. We do not usually say a human baby has been born until the birth is complete. The actual birthing is the duty of the mother. Should we think of the new birth of which Jesus spoke as being complete prior to the actual birth? We see the new birth only as we witness the immersion and
resurrectionof one who comes to baptism as a repentant believer in the risen Lord.
Who can doubt that the
new birth Jesus says is essential for entrance into His kingdom is
of water and spirit? Immersion alone (that is, water baptism) is not enough. Action by Spirit or spirit is not enough. It’s water AND the (human) spirit which bring us into the kingdom and ensure having our sins washed away. Clint Gill points out that water and spirit in this case are
co-ordinate, correlative, and complementary. I think that puts the matter clearly if the words themselves are understood.
Some suppose that baptism is only an introduction into our local church life. They want to think that we are baptized because we were already saved. They may imply that baptism is only a show for our family and friends. Paul says that baptism is for salvation. Baptism is into the death of Christ. It is the point at which the one baptized is seen to die to sin. It’s from the waters of baptism that the former sinner is raised up to enjoy new life with Christ. Isn’t that what Luke and the apostles in these texts have explained? So then, as the
new birth of water and spirit which follows believing that Jesus is Lord we are pointed to repentance and baptism into Christ.
gift of God’s Holy Spirit.Luke reports that those who
received(accepted, believed, and were obeying) Peter’s MESSAGE were baptized. They were added to the Lord’s church, new on that very day. The church was new. These first Christians were new. Now saved. Now sanctified. Set apart for service to Jesus!
new birth.Paul speaks to our need of
obeyingthe gospel. We just above quoted what the apostle wrote to Thessalonian Christians. In Galatians 3:27 Paul makes clear his understanding that it’s in Christian baptism that we
put on Christ.Our baptism brings us, he states,
INTO Christ.Is not salvation found only IN Christ? Galatians 3:26,27 should be carefully studied by anyone seeking to be RAISED into NEW LIFE with Christ.
sealof our salvation is receiving the Holy Spirit.
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.2 Corinthians 1:21,22 –(ESV). We have spoken of this seal as God’s life-giving
breathentering each babe in Christ. Peter had pointed out that those who do repent and who are baptized will as a result receive the
gift of the Holy Spirit.Jesus promised HE could be with us throughout our earthly lives. I suggest that the spiritual gift spoken of in Acts 2:38 is the fulfillment of the promise Jesus made of being
with usto the end of the age.
church ageexcept by way of personally experiencing a
new birth,or elseas an exception to the Way Jesus said was the ONLY way to enter.
giftof the Holy Spirit?
to fulfill all righteousness.He agreed that his cousin was right that He had no sin and had no need of repentance. Yet He was a Jew. He felt it was necessary and only
rightto do what God had called every Jew to do. So he persuaded John to immerse Him. God sent signs to let both John and Jesus know that the act was correct and that all was well. They saw a descending dove and heard a thundering voice.
be baptized to wash away ... sin.We are baptized and become disciples of the Christ. What’s a disciple?
DISCIPLES ARE LEARNERS. That’s what a disciple is. We’re students. Jesus asks that we also should
make disciples. We who turn to Jesus for light and life seek to LEARN from Him as well as to teach others what we have learned.
The good example we have from Acts 2 is that disciples then daily sought to learn more about what Jesus did and said. We’re told about this in the bible:  “And they devoted themselves to THE APOSTLES’ TEACHING and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42 – ESV, emphasis added).
Just as we can, early disciples could learn from one another. They also could learn by asking questions of the apostles, which we cannot do. But we CAN read the inspired writings which contain apostolic teaching. In our homes and in our church assemblies, should we not diligently pursue learning of Jesus through reading (and hearing) the written Word of God? They also prayed, ate, and shared together.
Through Peter, Jesus had said the first steps to take in entering His Way was for believers to repent and to accept being baptized, then be raised into new life. It’s from baptismal waters that repentant, believing sinners are RAISED INTO NEW LIFE! There is no exact English equivalent of the main two Greek words which more than 1,000 years later were transliterated into English by the created English words,
baptism. If they HAD been translated, in most cases the English words chosen would have been
immersed for the noun, and
bury for the verb. This is certainly true when the word was used to refer to the actions which through a death, a burial and a resurrection brought and bring outsiders into God’s church.
Clint Gill points out that to understand what is taught about Christian immersion in Mark 16:15,16, it is essential to note the sequential order in which Jesus places 1) proclamation, 2) belief, 3) baptism, and then 4) salvation. To say that one who hears the proclamation and believes is saved prior to being immersed is to make Jesus say,
the one 2) believing and 4) being saved shall later be 3) immersed. Is that the same? No. Those who practice
infant baptism are, in effect, altering His statement to read,
the one 3) being baptized and 4) saved shall later 2) believe. Should we dare to change the promise made by the Lord, and then expect Him to honor what we say but what He did not say? No, we must let Jesus speak for Himself. Our responsibility is to listen, believe, and obey Him! Jesus is our Lord! Do we seek to be RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. It’s in Jesus Christ life is to be found, and through our obeying the gospel.
Paul says in Romans 6 it’s because of our repenting and being baptized into the death of Christ that we now should not sin. IN BAPTISM we were united with the death and resurrection of the Christ. The apostle’s appeal is not alone to our faith in Jesus, it’s to our realization that because of our new birth of water and spirit we have died to sin. We have been raised up to walk in new life. IN BAPTISM we are united with His death, and with His resurrection. Is baptism just a show? No way! Our repentance and being raised into new life is where the change occurs.
Christian baptism was and is a cleansing, a
washing away of sin. It seems likely that the earliest Christian believers, because they were familiar with the baptism of converts to Jewry, and because they had become familiar with John’s baptism, had little difficulty in understanding the terminology which was used to introduce this new baptism (immersion)
into Christ. God’s offer through Peter in Acts 2:38 was conditional: Receive these blessings IF you will change to be ones who from now on will live as Jesus showed us is right. You’ll be welcome in the Kingdom of Christ if you now share the goals of God’s Son, and if you are willing to live for Him. God didn’t offer blessings because some persons had earned or deserved them. Peter explained how men must change in order to receive salvation in Jesus. Peter says we save ourselves by repenting and accepting baptism (Acts 2:40,41). The gospel saves those who respond to God’s love and who obey the gospel.
To repent is to change our preferences and practices. But mere change is not enough. We also must be baptized. In repentance and Christian baptism we die to sin and are buried in order to be raised into new life. Jesus was resurrected. The new birth is of water and spirit. After we turn to Jesus, we accept baptism. Then we continue to obey Jesus, living in and for Him, and walking in our new life. We were RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. Now we live for Jesus. We do see that the new birth is not only of water and equally not only of the spirit. Salvation is by grace through faith. It’s God’s gift rather than our purchase. Men can’t buy or earn cleansing from sin, but we ARE able to begin to do what Jesus wants us to do. Does not Peter say sinners must repent AND be baptized? The change internally and externally is our spiritual rebirth. We who have been buried, then RAISED INTO NEW LIFE with Christ are FREE. We are no longer living under law. Saved by grace, now we live by grace. Christian baptism is a sinner being buried after dying to sin, and then being resurrected into a new life with Jesus!
Christian baptism is to change our status. As the Lord’s assembly which we call His
church began, it was made clear that entrance into this
kingdom (one not of this world) demanded certain spiritual changes. Old and familiar ways of living were to be discarded. Ones who are satisfied as they are will not see any need to repent and be baptized. Yet, unless we DO repent and are baptized, we die in our sins regardless of all Jesus has done, regardless of how many good deeds we might do on earth.
Today, do not many select their congregation based on what they like rather than what God likes? Their choice is apt to be a church that likes them unchanged, that approves of them as they now are. But Jesus will not accept or save those who love sin and want to continue sinning. He calls for us to NOT remain as we were. He demands that we make needed changes! Those who in humility come to Christ are seeking to BE changed by Him. Jesus is not going to revise the rules for His kingdom to suit us. He offers to help US change to fit in with HIS kingdom the way it was designed from that first Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem in about 30 A.D. Our aim is to live and love as HE did.
We are RAISED INTO NEW LIFE as the climax of being born again of water and spirit. It’s by a new birth of water and spirit that any sinner is transformed into a saint. No new births happened on Calvary. Even today sinners must save themselves by obeying the gospel of Christ. Salvation is made possible by Calvary and what happened there. Individuals
put on Christ when faith in Him leads them to repent and to be baptized. Cornelius was told that Peter was bringing to him a message by which he would be saved.
Would be is future! And we notice that salvation did not come through baptism in or by the Spirit! It never does.
Obeying the gospel saves when we die to sin and are RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. We turned away from sin. We turned to Jesus. We learned that Jesus loves us and wants us to enjoy ETERNAL life. He wants us to enjoy this life on earth also. Raised into NEW LIFE. We no longer enjoy living selfishly. He calls us to deny self, take up a symbol of DEATH and walk in life as a servant, thinking more of others than of self. This way leads to real joy.
Christian baptism is new and different. John the Baptist, and John’s disciples and disciples of Jesus had also baptized people
for the remission of sins. The baptism by John, as is Christian baptism, was by command of God. John was called to prepare the way for the coming kingdom and to baptize all repentant Jews. But the baptism which Jesus Christ commands for repentant sinners then and now, is because the kingdom HAS BEGUN.
We hope each who experienced the baptism of John also felt cleansed from sin. But when the church began, there was an additional promise connected with this new baptism. Peter now promises to those who because of faith in JESUS do repent and are baptized both remission of sins AND
the gift of the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism conveyed no such gift as becoming indwelt by God!
God and Jesus choose to dwell within those who have chosen to obey the gospel. Saved Christians are now temples where GOD lives. Note that this
gift of the Holy Spirit for all who do repent and accept baptism is not at all the special spiritual powers which were transmitted by the laying on of hands by Christ’s apostles. This gift of the Spirit conveys to us no powers, just the assurance that wherever we go God is in us and with us. That God now dwells in men is miraculous, but it doesn’t empower us who have been baptized to perform any miracles at all.
In early days of the church, miracles were frequent rather than rare. Many were being healed. Prophets were speaking directly from God to His people. Some were enabled to speak languages they had never learned. Others understood what was said in the language unknown by the speaker. Many strange things are prophesied by the writer of the last words in the gospel according to Mark:
 And he said to them,
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:15-18 – ESV, emphasis added).
All these promised miracles were seen in that generation They were done by persons who had received from the apostles power to perform
special spiritual things. In some
missionary locations particularly, some of these signs are still being seen, I’m told. Handling poisonous snakes and drinking poisons are not recommended spiritual exercises for Christians today. Cheerful service by all of us is possible and expected.
Christian baptism is not
work in any sense. Let’s realize that being raised into new life is not something done BY the one being baptized. It’s done TO that person. A sinner can work all he (or she) wants to and still could not succeed in burying himself and raising himself out of a
watery grave. The sinner is placed UNDER the water by the hands of another person, and then is immediately lifted up OUT OF the water, still by the hands of another person. The sinner does no work. The raising into new life is done by someone other than the sinner who is being saved.
Being baptized is just submitting to an act that JESUS said was to be performed upon anyone as soon as the person came to believe in the risen Lord and wanted to make Jesus his Lord. The next time you hear someone refer to being baptized as a work, you will do well to point out to the speaker that they’re misunderstanding what is happening when a person is baptized. The one receiving baptism is doing NO work at all. The immersing is not done by, but is done TO the one being baptized.
We do well to remember that JESUS commanded baptism for new converts, which is why apostles baptized. Do we also see that faith and repentance always preceded the baptisms? And we’ll realize that it was AFTER conversion that the Spirit is given! Apostles knew every sinner needed a new birth of water and spirit.The baptizing was ordered by JESUS, not by any man. Who will say Jesus was wrong? Many do. They would do well to not suppose Jesus didn’t know what He was talking about. They’re brave to dare to criticize Jesus and think they know more than He.
Being raised into new life is serious business. Christian baptism is not to be performed unthinkingly or as if it were unimportant. Those who want to become Christians do so by repenting and being baptized. Jesus is our Lord. We baptize in obedience to our Master. Quickly. Right away. Those who respect Jesus will not think or speak lightly of what HE commands. The invitation to repent and be baptized is open to every person. There’s no limit on who can repent and be baptized. The only limit is that one who does NOT die to sin cannot be raised into new life.
No committee or human power is entitled to decide who deserves baptism. No church body has the right to decide whether or not baptism can be performed upon any seeker. Jesus has commanded that immersion SHALL be done. He makes no provision for us deciding whether or not it’s appropriate or proper. Our obedience of performing baptisms is done by order of our Lord. Why would anyone want to baptize except that Jesus said we should do so? Immersing which is not done by His authority and in HIS name is not Christian baptism. We don’t speak of special ritualistic speech which makes the act
kosher. We speak of the authority by which the deed is done. We baptize to please God rather than men.
Christian baptism is by free choice. Of course we bury and raise into new life only those who WANT to be baptized! Did we even need to mention the fact? But how does a person know they should be baptized? Our sharing the gospel should without fail include our telling of the need those outside of Christ have to repent and BE baptized. That’s how they will know they should be baptized. We TELL them. If they read the bible they will learn from it about baptism. So what kind of a disciple of Christ is it who urges sinners to come to Christ by performing something OTHER than being baptized? Many do have other invitations. Some suggest reciting a
sinner’s prayer, saying this will bring the sinner
into Christ. No, it won’t. Paul and Jesus and Peter point to the right Way. The Way into Christ’s kingdom is by hearing and believing the gospel, then repenting and being baptized. That’s how it was done on the birthday of the church. God hasn’t changed His mind about how sinners become saints. The JESUS Way remains the one Way that washes sin away.
The apostle Peter promises two wonderful results from baptism of penitent believers in Jesus. Neither is sure to be
felt by the one being baptized. First, God wipes the slate clean in heaven where books are kept which record our deeds. Sin is washed away. It is no longer counted against us. On the record, it’s as if we were newly born, as in fact we are. RAISED INTO NEW LIFE! This result of baptism is based entirely upon our faith in the risen Lord. We have no reason to trust in baptism itself or even water of softest texture to wash away sin. We need not trust the baptizer. It’s JESUS we trust. It’s Jesus who points out that the new birth is of water and spirit, and who then through Peter calls for us to both repent AND be baptized in order to be saved. When we do so, He keeps His promise. He cleanses us from our sin. Secondly, He gifts us with His Spirit. Those who repent and are baptized are THEN given the Spirit. After we are baptized, the closer we walk with Jesus the more we are apt to feel His presence and sense Him
within us. Jesus is our Lord. Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is our friend. Jesus is the one who commanded that each new believer is to be baptized. Some presume they have some right to vote on whether or not to obey the Lord’s command. Will their ignorance be excused? Why would it?
Christian baptism is immersion in water, then being raised into new life! Jesus commanded that humans are to perform this act. It is not performed by Jesus or by His Holy Spirit. Neither faith nor confession of faith can take the place of repentance and baptism (new birth of water and spirit
into Christ). Only we who do believe in Jesus will obey Him. Of course we also tell others of our faith. How could we not do so? The climax of the new birth is when our
old man of sin is buried and then we are raised up from baptismal water to walk in a life of service and love for all God’s people.
Note that we cannot hate other people and also love the God who LOVES them. The more we love others, the more we will be like Jesus who loves so much that He wants EVERYONE to be saved. Life in the time in which Christ’s apostles lived was in some ways similar to today. Enemies of the Christ were powerful and pervasive. They controlled the government, therefore could make and enforce whatever laws they wished. Christians were persecuted. Christians were martyred. Christians were faithful. So should we be at all times and in all ways.
Christians then were convinced that what Jesus offers is far better than was elsewhere available. This is still true. They chose to live for Jesus despite incredible odds. It was in future days they expected glory and peace. It’s still that way! Many Christians today face torment and torture at the hands of enemies of Jesus Christ. He is worth it. Be reminded that no one is asked to believe in baptism. We accept baptism because of faith in JESUS. He commanded it. His apostles practiced it because the Lord said to practice it. Their motive is our motive as well. We want to please our Lord.
We have been RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. Of course now we will live FOR HIM. We need to regulate our beliefs and our practice by what God teaches. Is it not so? Our words should be carefully chosen to reveal God’s truth and never to conceal it. We ask ourselves,
WERE we buried with Christ? ARE we now walking in new life? If we experienced the new birth Jesus speaks of in John 3:5, we HAVE been buried and resurrected with Christ. We repented. We accepted baptism into Christ. We now ARE reborn. Jesus now lives within us! We have been RAISED INTO NEW LIFE with Christ.
Yet we face persecution and death if we confess that we do believe Jesus is Lord. We need to be faithful unto death, not expecting only peace and prosperity if we are followers of one who earned our redemption by DYING for us. We follow One who endured greatly
for the glory that was set before Him. We also are called to serve and wait for glory which will last forever.
In this generation, many are faced with the same dilemma presented long ago to Roman soldiers. Swear allegiance to the god who is your political ruler or die. Those then who knew Jesus was Lord had no choice. We who know Jesus is Lord also have no choice. God is. Jesus is. Jesus has conquered death and offers us eternal life. Of course we will confess that we do believe Jesus is Lord. Won’t we?
All are saved who hear the gospel and obey its call for sinners to turn away from sin in order to serve Jesus instead, and to be baptized to seal their calling. Age is no barrier. Social status means nothing in seeking membership in God’s kingdom. Both men and women are welcome, as are all children old enough to make sensible decisions concerning their future. No one is too poor to be accepted. No one is so rich that his riches will cause him to be rejected so long as the person is not in love with things of this world. What Paul is saying is that in Christ’s church we should find no barriers to fellowship with every other member. We should love every saved Christian.
CONFESSION OF FAITH is telling something about a Savior rather than about sins of the believer. Some brag about how bad they were until they turned to Christ. We do well to put such evil deeds behind us and not keep reminding ourselves of them.
***Victor Knowles is founder and director of POEM (Peace on Earth Ministries), Joplin, MO. Please notice what he has written about baptism into Christ and the NEW LIFE which follows new birth.
God have mercy on the fish!
baptismand the verb
baptizeare anglicized Greek words that mean
to dip, plunge, or immerse.
The simple act of a new believer being immersed into Christ is a divine drama that illustrates beautifully the washing away of sins by the blood of Jesus and the rising to walk in a new life by faith in the resurrected Christ(Bob Russell, THE LOOKOUT, January 20, 2002).
this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(Matthew 3:17, New King James Version). ...
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(Matthew 28:18,19). Baptism is the only command in the Bible given in the name of the Godhead.
In his book Baptism Today and Tomorrow (St. Martin’s Press, 1966), G. R. Beasley-Murray finds five attendant blessings to baptism in the New Testament:
1. Forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16),
2. Union with Christ (Galatians 3:26,27; Colossians 2:12;
3. Possession of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5),
4. Membership in the church (1 Corinthians 12:13),
5. Inheritance of the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
In the light of these statements I am compelled to conclude that the understanding of baptism as ‘a beautiful and expressive symbol,’ and nothing more, is irreconcilable with the New Testament.
The apostle Paul wrote often about baptism in his epistles. Baptism is the threshold of entrance into Christ, his atoning death, and his glorious church. Paul states that we are
baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27),
baptized into his death (Romans 6:3), and
baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). The footnotes of several Bible translations indicate that the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew may also read
baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Baptism, then, brings a convert into a new relationship
where God becomes his heavenly Father, God’s Son becomes his personal Savior, and God’s Spirit becomes his indwelling strength (The Beauty of Baptism, by Alger Fitch, 2003).
Good Question.The question was,
What is the role of baptism in faith and salvation?George responded, in part,
Baptism must take place in the context of faith, and it must connect to the central events of the gospel – Jesus’ cross and resurrection(CT, July 2003). This is precisely the point the apostle Paul makes in Romans 6:1-4, where he writes,
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or 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 that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
baptized into Christ Jesus.We are
baptized into his death.We are
buried with him through baptism into death.We are raised
just as Christ was raised from the dead.It’s all there in baptism – death, burial, and resurrection. The passage in Romans is more clearly understood when placed alongside what Paul wrote to the Corinthians when he defined the gospel. He said,
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures(1 Corinthians 15:3,4). The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ – as it is portrayed in Scripture. The response to the gospel is our death, burial, and resurrection – as it is portrayed in Christian baptism.
Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead(Colossians 2:12).
Your baptism is nothing less than grace clutching you by the throat: a grace-full throttling, by which your sin is submerged in order that ye may remain under grace. Come thus to thy baptism. Give thyself up to be drowned in baptism and killed by the mercy of thy dear God, saying: ‘Drown me and throttle me, dear Lord, for henceforth I will gladly die to sin with thy Son’(as quoted in Down in the River to Pray, John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor, Leafwood Publishers, 2003). The death to sin, the burial of a dead sinner, and the resurrection of a new person all occur in baptism.
the person buried in the tomb of water is to have died to self. Eyes, ears, lips are under the wave. Sex organs, hands, feet, and mind are now ready to rise into a life over which Jesus is to have control. The total surrender of a total person to the total will of God is what baptism confesses.Baptism can also be likened to a womb where one is born again of the water and of the spirit (John 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12,13).
Roe vs. Wadenotoriety) was baptized on August 8, 1995. The same day was her last day of employment at a Dallas abortion clinic. She testified,
I’ll serve the Lord and help women save their babies for the rest of my life.Former NFL great and TV broadcaster Pat Summerall, who nearly ruined his life with alcohol, was recently baptized. He said,
I went down into the water, and when I came up it was like a 40-pound weight had been lifted from me. I have a happier life, a healthy life, and a more positive feeling about life than ever before.
Much that happens during conversion into Jesus is unseen, yet it happens just the same. One person hears of and believes in a risen Lord. Realizing his sin, he repents of sin. Turning away from sin, the person can find LIFE and peace and love in God’s unique Son. At God’s direction and in the name of Jesus, a person buries another person, a repentant, believing sinner, in water and quickly raises that person back out of the water, raised into new life with Jesus as companion and guide. God looks on with pleasure and approval. Sin is washed away. Jesus adds a name to the Lamb’s Book of Life.
A simple transaction. From death to life. The Lord Jesus does it. The Spirit of God and Jesus is sent to help a new Christian learn and live for Jesus. And the
babe in Christ has a life of service to live with joy and Spirit-help in overcoming any problem. God is good.
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm(Psalm 33:9). When Jesus is accused of
making himself equal with God(John 5:18), he responds not by denying the claim but by demonstrating that the Father has given him two things that only God can do: give life, and execute judgment (John 5:21-23). Jesus accomplishes both by the power of his word. For him, as well as for the Father, he acts by speaking. He causes things to be by telling them to be.
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live(John 5:25). He is speaking of the power of his word, the power of the gospel, to transform the spiritually dead, and to give them spiritual life. He backs that up by adding,
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment(5:28,29).
Lazarus, come out,put life back into a decaying corpse and brought Lazarus alive from a tomb. As Marshall Keeble said,
If Jesus had not called Lazarus by name, every body in that cemetery would have come out of their tomb.The word of that same Jesus, who is God, will at the last day, indeed, raise every person who has ever died out of whatever grave or state they may be in, to a renewal of conscious existence. A reformed, converted alcoholic was taunted by old drinking friends,
Do you really believe your Jesus turned plain water into good wine at Cana in Galilee?
I believe he did,the man said,
because the Bible says so. Besides, I saw him turn beer, wine and whiskey into food, furniture and clothes at my house.That is the power of the gospel to change lives today.
***In THE LOOKOUT magazine for 7/25/10 is a brief essay. It’s by David Faust, who writes regularly for THE LOOKOUT. I wish every person in the world could read and believe what David has written concerning us who have been raised into new life.
If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t matter.
may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.How wide is God’s love? Broad enough to encompass every era in human history. Expansive enough to override political barriers. Spacious enough to embrace every age, language, and ethnic group on earth. Ample enough to forgive sin without cheapening justice. Wide enough to take a diverse array of men, women, boys, and girls who have next to nothing in common and make them one in Christ.
reaches to the heavensand his
faithfulness to the skies(Psalm 36:5). It soars beyond the farthest galaxy, beyond the reach of our strongest telescope, beyond what mortal eyes can see. How deep is it? According to geology.com, the North Pacific’s Mariana Trench contains the deepest point in the earth’s oceans, some 35,840 feet below sea level. If Mount Everest were placed at this location it would be covered by a mile of water. Yet, God’s cavernous love is so vast that he will
hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea(Micah 7:19).
God loves you.Who can measure the impact of those simple words? God not only
so loved the world,he so loves you. You are not a mistake or a miscalculation. You are not an afterthought, an oversight, or an underdog. You are not a nobody on your way to nowhere. You don’t have to be a lone wolf or a lost sheep. In Christ you are not forgotten or forsaken, but forgiven. You are not worthless, but worthwhile. Life is not pointless, but purposeful. The one who created the universe places infinite value on you. He considers you a treasure worthy of his personal attention and sacrifice.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord(Romans 8:38,39).
***A BIBLE is the best guidebook anyone can have for living and enjoying the NEW LIFE into which we are raised with Christ. But we don’t normally read a Bible as if it were a newspaper or a novel or an essay. In a companion book we offer suggestions on how best to learn from and live as ones who act based on the Word of God. PROPER Bible Understanding is possible! We joyfully enter NEW LIFE with Christ as babes in Christ. We are expected to GROW in grace and knowledge of both God and man. Children deserve nurture and love from more mature people. Every Christian is daily at risk, for Satan seeks us as prey night and day. Bible study helps us grow. Serving others in Christ’s name helps us grow. Our aim as ones who are RISEN INTO NEW LIFE should be to grow each day to be more like JESUS in thoughts and deeds. ***Do we disrespect the Father? Are we ignoring the Spirit? Some suggest that believing Jesus saves through new birth of water and the human spirit implies that God the Father and His Holy Spirit are being left out of the picture by mistake. They may not realize that conversion of sinner to saint depends on functions long ago put in place.
Peter was not saying that human merit saved those who repented and were baptized. He was not slighting the part God played in making salvation available! He was only pointing out that NOW it was the sinner who needed to do something to be saved! The Father had already acted. The price had been paid.
Just as gravity was put in place once for all, so is salvation’s price already paid. And the written Word which convicts the world of sin is already in place. It does not have to be redone each time a sinner seeks salvation.