Ephesians 4:3-6; One baptism, part 9. John’s baptism.
length: 67:12 - taught on May, 26 2021
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
That a man must be fully cleansed to be in the presence of God is clear in the scripture.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Only the born-again can enter the kingdom of God. They are born of water and the Spirit. Water symbolizes God’s cleansing, Eze36:25-27.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
Certainly, God reference to water through the prophet could not be related to actual water or some ceremony. We have clearly seen that true cleansing has to happen in the inner man, in the heart.
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.”
Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
John’s baptism: confessing sins, repentance for the forgiveness of sins (“for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”) and then immersion into the Jordan and out again.
In harmony with the OT prophets, John and our Lord insisted upon a spiritual basis for the kingdom of God. They were to repent and believe, plus no one can enter the kingdom without being born-again.
John’s baptism shared with Jewish washings the theme of purification or cleansing. In continuity with the message of the prophets, John linked purity with a call for moral transformation and spiritual cleansing.
However, if John was only doing what was prescribed by Jewish washings, why did he create such a stir? The likely reason is John’s insistence on the connection between repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
The phrase used of John’s baptism is unique: baptism of repentance.
Early church baptism was likely related to repentance, Act 2, but in Act 8, 10, 19 repentance is not mentioned.
John’s baptism shared with all the Jewish practices the feature of purification or cleansing. It differed from them, however, in being an eschatological (preparing the people for the kingdom of heaven) rather than a ceremonial or ritual purification.
Another difference was that John baptized the people. The Jewish practice of baptism before John dictated that people baptize or wash themselves.
The call to repentance was to prepare the people against God’s coming judgment.
The references to repentance and the forgiveness of sins make clear that John’s baptism is to be understood not merely in terms of ritual purification and religious observance but as essentially moral and ethical. This, in turn, is set within a framework of the impending divine judgment with the coming of the Messiah.
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. "For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
'Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight!'"
Jesus continues this declaration.
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
To the ordinary devout reader of the scriptures it may come as a surprise to learn that any question should ever have been raised concerning the identity of the kingdom announced as at hand in the beginning of our Lord’s ministry on earth. But the question has been raised: Was this kingdom identical with the kingdom of Old Testament prophecy, or was it something different? The answer is clear that they are identical, which is why Christ doesn’t explain the manner of the kingdom to them. He simply states that it is at hand.
John’s baptism was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. “Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” “I came baptizing that He might be manifested.”
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 "This is He on behalf of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.' 31 "And I did not recognize Him, but in order that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water."
Repenting and taking the law seriously would have prepared them in many ways. It would impress upon them the need to follow the law, which God demanded of them - Israel only. John said they were clean after baptism, but not forever. How long until they knew they had violated the law again? Should they be baptized by John again? Repenting meant that they would not stop trying to keep the law, and that would make them humble listeners, ready to listen to Jesus of Nazareth, and, most importantly, hearing John say of Him, “He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” There are likely other ways in which John’s baptism prepared them.
The references to repentance and the forgiveness of sins make clear that John’s baptism is to be understood not merely in terms of ritual purification and religious observance but as essentially moral and ethical. This, in turn, is set within a prophetic-apocalyptic eschatological framework which contrasts the impending divine judgment with the coming of the Messiah. [Kostenberger, “Baptism in the Gospels” article]
In John’s baptism, the people coming to John were confessing their sins:
Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
" The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
'Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.
5 'Every ravine shall be filled up,
And every mountain and hill shall be brought low;
And the crooked shall become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;
6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"
Peter also called for repentance and baptism at Pentecost.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Paul recounting his own baptism:
'And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'
Would the ceremony wash away Paul’s sins? Certainly not. It was a symbol of the fact that Christ washed away Paul’s sins. Though a ritual, we cannot deny that in the early church, water baptism was important to them all and that it publicly represented what they received by grace at salvation through faith in Christ.
1PE 3:21-22 - water baptism as a type or picture of true salvation by faith.
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 And corresponding to that [Greek construction shows “that” to refer to “the water”], baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.