Baptism of Water and of Spirit
9 Sep 2006, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
(the program today included the baptism of two new members to Thornleigh church)
Baptism of Water and of Spirit
Along with the Communion Service, Baptism has also been considered by the Church to be a holy ordinance. It is to be more than just a church ceremony because the God of heaven himself established it and confirmed it by His command and His promise. We are told that through this sacred ordinance of baptism. God's Holy Spirit seals His promises on the hearts of all those who have accepted Him.
We are also told that these special ordinances only function redemptively when believers exercise faith in the Word of God and this is what our candidates are doing this morning through this beautiful and significant rite of baptism.
In Mark 1: 4 we find that John the Baptist came 'baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins.' His message in Mark 1: 7, 8 made it very clear when he said: 'After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptise you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.'
The spirit had been promised by Israel's prophets, not only as a sign of the Messiah's presence (Isa. 11: 1, 2), but it was to herald the arrival of the Messianic Age (Isa. 44: 3; Joel 2: 28, 29). The time had now arrived for John the Baptist to present the long-expected King and His gift of the Spirit to the nation of Israel (John 1: 31).
In Matthew 28: 18-20 when Jesus commissioned His disciples He said that 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them, to observe all things that I have commanded you. And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'
The apostle Peter was to announce to the crowds at Pentecost that the 'outpouring' of the Spirit of God given at that time would from then on be united with water baptism 'in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.' Listen to what he has to say in Acts 2: 38-41.
'Repent and be baptised, 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are afar off - for all whom the Lord God will call. With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.' Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.'
What a day that must have been.
This 'outpouring' of the Spirit was to be synonymous with the 'baptism' of the Spirit (Acts 1: 5). Peter's message was that baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit come simultaneously for the believer.
Jesus Christ alone can offer these two great gifts: the removal of our guilt and the bestowal of His Spirit. The gospel offers both gifts together when we place our trust in Jesus as the Son of God (Gal 3: 2, 5, Titus 3: 4-7). John 1: 33 tells us that Christ Himself is the one who baptises us with His Holy Spirit after cleansing us by His blood (1 John 1: 7).
The New Testament in Acts 22: 16 and Titus 3: 5 calls baptism a 'washing away' of the believer's sins with the baptismal water representing the shed blood of Christ that saves a sinner (1Pet. 1: 18, 19).
The apostle Paul's understanding of Baptism in Romans 6: 3-6 highlights the deep spiritual meaning of this service. He describes baptism as being baptised into Christ (Rom 6: 3). As already noted, baptism does not effect an instantaneous union with Him. Rather, it is a public proclamation that the believer has already entered into a special relationship with the Lord of Heaven. Baptism represents a spiritual agreement or covenant between the believer and Jesus Christ.
'Repent' said Peter, and let every one of you be baptised' (Acts 2: 38). Instruction in God's Word should not only produce faith, but also repentance and conversion. Through repentance one experiences death to sin and, as such, it becomes an essential prerequisite to baptism. It opens to each person an understanding of their lost condition causing them to not only confess their sinfulness, but to submit themselves to God and to consecrate themselves to a new life with Him. Conversion is essential if we are to enter into that personal relationship with Jesus.
In baptism, those being baptised now symbolically participate in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6: 3-6). When a believer is immersed under water, he or she 'dies' with Christ and is 'buried' with Him. Coming out of the water is to symbolise the 'rising' with Christ at His resurrection. Thus, when we accept Christ by faith as our Saviour, we are united with Him, and His life becomes our life (Gal 2: 20). In turn, baptism becomes a symbol of our salvation and this knowledge should bring assurance and peace to every Christian.
This morning our baptismal candidates have made the decision to accept Jesus into their lives and through their baptism, they will cross over from death into life (John 5: 24).
Dear friends, the Lord waits patiently for all of us to accept His invitation to enter into a more abundant life and this is reinforced by Paul's words in Acts 22: 16 where he says: And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptised, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'
Today as we baptise in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are dedicating, consecrating and uniting these new believers with the three great powers of heaven and, through their lives, to the spreading of the everlasting gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ and His plan of Salvation.
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