Posted by: pastortomvabeach | April 30, 2012

Thought for the Week May 6, 2012

Since we began talking about the “doctrine (or teaching) of baptisms” last week, I would like to elaborate on some thoughts about the four unique baptisms that I see in the Scripture. First, let’s just cover the word “baptism”. It is derived from a Greek word that means “to dip” or “to immerse” and was used to describe a piece of fabric that was being dyed. The fabric was “baptized” or dipped into the dye, which pretty much indicates it was fully immersed. When it came up the color was completely changed. Thus the biblical word indicates that the one being baptized is being immersed into the medium into which he or she is being baptized.

The first baptism that I see for the Christian is being baptized into the body of Christ or becoming a Christian. Paul says in I Corinthians 12:13, by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. Notice that he says here we were baptized into the “body of Christ”. The body of Christ is the name given to the church everywhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 1:22-23, He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body. Here both words are used of one organism, “the church, which is His body.”

The church, the body of Christ, is referred to in several other ways: the family of God (Romans 8:15), the building and farming field (husbandry) of God (I Corinthians 3:9). In every reference the sense is that we now are a part of something which we were not part of and, with the idea of baptism, we are immersed in this new relationship, context, position, and are wholly a part of that new situation. So how do we get there?

This is what the Bible describes as “new birth”. Remember, Jesus said, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). The reason we need to be “born again” is that we were born into this life with a spirit that is dead because of sin (see Ephesians 2:1, Romans 3:23, II Corinthians 4:3-4). The sin of Adam and Eve was passed down to us and, although we are born alive in the flesh, we have no life in our spirits. Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus, unless one is born of water and the 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 3:5-6). We were born once of water, in the flesh, and need to be born again of the Spirit.

This is called “regeneration”. When one believes in Jesus Christ, he or she is regenerated or reborn. The bible tells us we are made dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11) and that we become a completely new creature (II Corinthians 5:17). Regeneration restores us to the way God created us, making us a “new man” (Ephesians 2:5-7). All of this happens instantaneously when I believe in Jesus Christ. How?

That is the “baptism” into the “body of Christ” Paul is talking about. Jesus said that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. When I believe in Christ the Holy Spirit comes into my life and resides in my spirit. I become part of the “household” or family of God, literally immersed into his family. He calls me His child, gives me new desires, and “all things are of God” (II Corinthians 5:18). This is as much a baptism as dying a piece of fabric because I come up totally changed.

The reason I see this as different from water baptism is that it occurs at a different time. I don’t have to wait to become a child of God, part of the body, God’s building, once I believe. It all happens right then. I am saved from sin! I may choose, as some do, to be water baptized right away, or, if the opportunity doesn’t present itself, it may happen at some later date, as happened with me. That doesn’t make me any less immersed in the body of Christ.

Another reason is that the Holy Spirit is the one who baptizes me in the body of Christ. Paul wrote to Titus, When the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7). Here we see the Godhead, Father (the kindness and love of God), the Son (through Jesus Christ our Savior); and the Holy Spirit (through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit) all had a role in accomplishing our salvation and making us His heirs. It is the Spirit Who comes upon us when we believe in Jesus and does the cleansing.

I am amazed, when I read and re-read these marvelous truths, that God had such great love and grace towards us and towards me, in particular. To think that He wanted me to be part of His family, His body, and He baptized me into that body. The song we sing is true, “O Happy Day, I’ll never be the same!” Have you been “born again” and baptized into the body of Christ? If you believe in Jesus, you have. Think about all that means! Just a thought.

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