EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 22)

Today’s Lesson is about New Covenant water baptism. There is only one legitimate form and formula. The apostle Peter proclaimed this in no uncertain terms, and Early Church history confirms it.

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INTRODUCTION   
Ch 1:  LESSON 1    LESSON 2    LESSON 3    LESSON 4    LESSON 5    LESSON 6    LESSON 7
Ch 2:  LESSON 8   LESSON 9   LESSON 10   LESSON 11   LESSON 12   LESSON 13   LESSON 14   LESSON 15
Ch 2:  LESSON 16  LESSON 17  LESSON 18  LESSON 19  LESSON 20  LESSON 21

LESSON 22

Acts 2:38-39

38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

WATER BAPTISM

The Lord Jesus made water baptism an extremely important and vital component of His teachings and ministry. It has never been optional. Also, His original method has never been subjected to change by Him. Nevertheless, to this present point in Christian history, we have had about as many water baptism forms and formulas as we have had pretty much everything else that has divided Christianity. And there is no excuse for it. The Book of Acts makes it very clear that there was only one original New Covenant water baptism and it was intended to stay if effect throughout the Church Age.

The word baptism comes from a word that means to immerse totally or overwhelm. All ancient Jewish ritual immersion methods were just that—total immersion. John the Immerser obviously followed this practice. His was a baptism of repentance. His calling was to prepare the nation for the coming King and his kingdom. But he also prophesied the complete destruction of the nation. He knew only a believing Remnant would accept and obey the Messiah and properly repent. These would prove it by bringing forth the fruit or evidence of repentance in their lives. John only used one form of water baptism.

THREE NATIONAL BAPTISMS

There were only three national water baptisms of the nation of Israel throughout its history. Each involved the authority of a prominent spiritual personage representing (1) the Law, (2) the Prophets, and (3) Truth and Grace. The first two were mandatory, as is the third.

The very first baptism was at the Exodus. It is associated with the Red Sea. It took place upon the birth of a new nation just released from Egyptian bondage. It was a baptism unto Moses upon his authority:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. [1Corinthians 10:1-4]

The second national water baptism was for repentance. It is associated with the Jordan River. It was also for the purpose of manifesting the Lord Jesus to Israel and separating those who recognized and accepted their Messiah from those who did not, and to prepare each group for their ultimate fate. It was a baptism unto John upon his authority:

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’” Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. [Matthew 3:1-6]

The third national water baptism, in conjunction with repentance, was for the total remission of sin and as preparation for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit as the 120 did in the Upper Room. It is associated with Living Water. It was an opportunity to get spiritually clean, appeal to God for a good conscience, release the hounding burden of one’s sinful and rebellious actions against the Lord Jesus, and gain a personal, reconciled relationship with Him. Whoever may have a casual attitude toward water baptism has likely never fully considered the great cost of purchasing our salvation. Greater love has no one else. He gave His life on our behalf. He did it through His own shed blood.  

The third baptism was unto the Lord Jesus, upon His authority, using His Name:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” [Mark 16:15-16]

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:45-47]

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [Acts 2:38] [1]

New Covenant water baptism is a perfect illustration of the virgin Bride taking the Name of the Bridegroom.   

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on May 23, 2020, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The different modes of baptism came as a result, in part, of a lack of understanding. They were equating baptism with salvation. So, went the logic, if a baby dies without being baptized, he is doomed. But we can’t immerse a newborn! Let’s just sprinkle him instead. God will understand.

    In discussing this practice, I have often referred to what Jesus said to the thief on the cross who acknowledged Jesus and the Savior, the Son of God. Jesus said, “This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise!” There was no baptism. They didn’t take him off the cross to dunk him, sprinkle him, or pour water over him. Baptism is NOT equivalent with salvation, but it has become so, through long years of tradition, because it comforts people to think that if a child dies he’s okay because he was sprinkled.

    I take much more comfort in Romans 5:13, from which we learn that where there is no Law (that is, no understanding of right and wrong), there is no penalty. God is a God of grace and mercy. Babies do NOT die and go to hell if they’re not sprinkled. So how do we know when a child understands right and wrong? I don’t know. It is our job as parents to teach our little ones about Jesus from the time we bring them home from the hospital. All four of my children accepted Jesus as their Savior when they were right around five years old.

    Sorry, RJ. Rabbit trail. This is a big issue for me, as you can tell. We MUST teach our little ones about sin, Jesus, and how to go to heaven. As Deuteronomy says, When they get up, when they sit down, going out, coming in, going to bed–teach them Jesus!

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    • Thanks Linda. I agree with you about our parental spiritual responsibilities. It is obviously incumbent upon children’s Christian parents to point them toward the Lord and teach them His Word as they are able to understand.

      This is in part, in a sideways sense, why infant baptism was so readily accepted. It wasn’t only because parents feared for their child’s salvation as much as their lack of faith in the Lord. Water sprinkling or pouring was a tangible act readily ascertained in three dimensional form. Trusting the Lord is not. A child must be of the proper age to fully understand his or her actions. Of course, infant baptism, though it actually isn’t (not immersion), was taught by church officials as legitimate and necessary, which it was not. They were wrong then and they’re still wrong. But so is anyone else who has adopted a different form or formula. Both the manner and the words spoken must match the original.

      As I wrote in the preceding, there is only one New Covenant water baptism. It is about a spiritual union between a new believer and the Lord Jesus. It is about recognizing His overall authority. I will differ with you, however, in saying it is definitely part of salvation. The Lord commanded it, as did Peter. If nothing else, it is an act of pure obedience toward the Lord, or as Peter later wrote, the answering of a good conscience toward God. Repentance and water baptism always went together. When those in the crowd asked Peter what to do, this is what he told them. Those who obeyed became part of the Lord’s family by turning away from sin and any authority other than His, and by invoking His Name in baptism. It was also a public act to show allegiance. We see this dynamic throughout the Book of Acts.

      Thanks again, Linda, and blessings to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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