A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples, Be Prepared, Be Baptized

 

In Matthew chapter three we are introduced to one of the most interesting persons in the ministry of Jesus. We are speaking of course of John the Baptist. Of this figure the KJV Bible Commentary states:

 

“The forerunner of Christ was John the Baptist. He was the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, and a cousin of the Lord (cf. Luke 1:5–80). The significance of his preparatory ministry cannot be overestimated. Even Josephus (Antiquities xviii  5.2) refers to him by name. John was a child of promise whose birth had been announced by the angel Gabriel to his father who was a priest. His birth was accompanied by the promise: “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord … and shall be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:15) . Jesus said of him that there was none greater than John (Matthew 11:11) during the Old Testament dispensation. This would imply that John the Baptist was the epitome of the message of the Old Testament itself.”  [1]

 

John was called by God to “prepare the way of the LORD” (Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 3:3). John’s ministry to prepare the way of the Lord was unique: his birth was announced by an angel – Luke 1:11-20; he represented the epitome of an Old Testament prophet as he was set apart for God’s use with a Nazarite vow – Numbers 6:2; Luke 1:15; and he introduced Jesus as Messiah and therefore marked the transition from the Old to New Testament. But while he was unique in these ways, he also pictures for us a ministry that all disciples have, that is, all disciples are prepared by God to be used by God to “prepare the way” for others to find Jesus. The disciple of Jesus can gain a lot of valuable instruction from examining John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a powerful instrument of God. What made him so powerful? Why was he so useful to God?  Let’s look at this man of God.

 

Being Prepared To Prepare The Way

 

Matthew 3:1 – “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,”  [2]

In Luke’s Gospel it states that it was “in the wilderness” where God called John to his ministry:

  • Luke 3:2-3 – “while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,”  [3]

In the wilderness of Judea John spent time alone with God and it was in this wilderness experience that, “the word of God came to John.” Before John could preach he had to receive God’s word. This is a key sequence for the disciple to see. When a disciple goes out to proclaim God’s word, they must only proclaim what they have received form God. The disciple should not just talk off the top of their head, but needs to spend time in God’s word first and then share what God has given them. In other words, the disciple needs to be prepared and filled with God’s word before they go out discipling and preparing the way for Jesus to be introduced to others. This doesn’t necessarily mean the disciple has to go to Bible College or seminary, what it does mean is that at the very least, the disciple needs to spend private personal quiet time with God so He can prepare them for the ministry He is calling them to. Whether or not the disciple is directed by God to go to a place of formal training does not change the need for him or her to be prepared daily for ministry by a time alone with God.

There once was a young man who lived on a farm with his family. One day he was out in the fields laboring and in the sky he saw the clouds form the letters “PC.”  Right away he wondered what the letters meant. As he walked back to the house he thought to himself, “PC, hmmm, what can it mean, I know, PC means ‘Preach Christ’!” he ran to the house and told his wife God was calling him to the ministry. She looked at him and sternly said, “Honey, he may be calling you, but He sure ain’t calling me! If you want to go, go, but I’m staying here.” Hard as it was the young farmer left and began an itinerant ministry. Days passed into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. His efforts and all he did came hard to him and were packed with stress, hardship and fruitlessness. His wife left him for someone else and he lost the farm. Everything that could happen to a person that was bad happened to this young farmer turned preacher. But he pressed on, living a life he liked to liken to that of Job. He grew old and died. Upon his death he came to the pearly gates and was met by an angel. The preacher figured that now that he was in heaven, all his questions would be answered and the one that was burning on his heart was why his life and ministry had been so fouled up. The angel had a book on the preacher and when the preacher found this out he asked, “Angel, why was my life and ministry so fouled up and unfruitful?” The angel turned through many pages in the book on this preacher until he finally came to the circumstances when the preacher was working in the field and the heavenly message had been sent. The angel said, “Do you remember that time you were working in the field and God sent you that sign in the sky?” “You mean the ‘PC’?” said the preacher. “Yes, that’s right,” said the angel. The angel went on, “For some reason when the sign came to you, you left the fields, the farm and your wife and went off into ministry; why’d you do that?” asked the angel. “Well, you see,” said the preacher, “I thought the ‘PC’ meant ‘Preach Christ.’” “Oh,” said the angel, “Now I understand what happened. God sent you that sign in the sky not to tell you to leave everything and ‘Preach Christ’ but to tell you it was time to ‘Plant Corn.’” The preacher just looked at the angel in silence with his mouth dropped open and then he struck himself in the head and walked on through the gates into heaven. If only the farmer had spent time in prayer before the Lord rather than march out presumptuously. It’s so important that it is God who calls and prepares us, that we spend time with Him before we march off on some “ministry” endeavor.

The Preparation of a Disciple

The preparation of a disciple we are speaking of is not something that can be learned in a classroom. Classrooms and higher education oftentimes feed the flesh or carnal nature. Indeed the apostle Paul wrote:

  • 1 Corinthians 8:1b – “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”  [4]

There were no institutions of higher learning for John the Baptist in the wilderness. The wilderness for him was time alone with God and God’s word. And the word he went into the wilderness with to meet God consisted of what he had likely been trained up in while at home. You see, they didn’t have pocket Bibles in those days or laptop Bibles with Bible programs. They didn’t have computer Bibles either. No, John went into the wilderness and was alone with God. Perhaps the LORD revealed the substance of His word to John as He would later to with the apostle Paul (Galatians 1:11-2:2). Whatever took place between the LORD and John in the wilderness we can see the preparatory effect on John from the following passage from the Gospel of John, which states:

  • John 3:27-36 – “John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.28 “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.31 “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.32 “And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.33 “He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.34 “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.35 “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  [5]

From this passage we can see the following preparatory groundwork laid by God in John’s life in the form of six things God worked into John.

First, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” (John 3:27). One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is presuming on the will of God. Presumption is the born of pride and leads to pain and suffering as well as big problems in life. Pride, self-confidence, self-centeredness, self-reliance, self-rule, and any other form of the carnal- self-sinful-nature needs to be crucified. The disciple needs to come to the point where they are not self-serving but self-crucifying. This doesn’t mean one needs go into some secluded cave and deprive oneself of food, clothing and the amenities of life. It means that the disciple needs to subordinate their will to the will of God. It means they must cast aside their personal wants and or desires if they conflict with the plans of God. The disciple comes to realize that the only things that matter are those things that have been given them by God. (Now some may respond by saying, “doesn’t everything come from God?” Yes, but what we want and what God wants for and through us, is not always the same thing. Any person mindful of their walk with God knows this to be true. When our will conflicts with God’s will, the disciple submits to God’s will.)

 

Second, “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.” (John 3:28). The disciple is not the Christ, or Lord over what God calls them to do. The disciple must be prepared to take a back seat to Jesus in ministry. The disciple is a learner and follower of Christ. The disciple does not step out and take the lead; the disciple lets Jesus take the lead and follows wherever the Lord leads seeking to serve Him at His beck and call. The disciple does not launch out and then turn to Jesus and say, “Follow me Lord!”  The disciple who does that usually ends up praying, “Lord, bless this mess I’ve made.”

 

Third, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:29-30). The disciple must be focused on and do everything in his or her power to have others focus on Christ. The disciple needs to be cleansed from any word or action that would take credit for something God has done or that would feed their pride. The disciple musts be willing to serve in anonimity and obscurity. Nothing will foul up a servant of God more than accolades or the spotlight that gets them thinking they are more than they really are. The disciple is an unworthy servant as Jesus said:

 

  • Luke 17:10 - “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”  [6]

Being prepared by God to minister involves the crucifixion of one’s flesh. This can be painful at times, but it is necessary. The disciple will come to learn that the crucifixion of their flesh is really the path to fullness of life and joy. That is what John said, Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” (John 3:29).

 

Fourth, “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.32 “And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.33 “He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.” (John 3:31-33)  The disciple does not minister based on response, but is prepared by God to simply remain faithful regardless of response. This does not mean that there will always be no response from those the disciple is ministering to. As we will see later in our study, fruitfulness, (that is often shown by the responsiveness of people) is a sign of God’s call. But the response of people to ministry is not the disciple’s sole or even primary focus. When we look at the Old Testament prophets as well as the New Testament apostle and disciples, we find that they often ministered in the face of persecution and opposition  (Jeremiah 1; Matthew 5:10-12; John 5:16; Acts 7; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 4:9). The disciple must be prepared to be faithful to God rather than depend on the response of people. The disciple is not called to a popularity contest but to faithful service to God. Paul shows us that the disciple needs to be prepared beforehand to not be deterred from God’s work in the face of opposition. In Acts he said this when bidding farewell to the Ephesians:

 

  • Acts 20:22-24 - “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,23 “except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.24 “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  [7]

The preparatory work of God sets the disciples will and heart like flint so that they are prepared to be unmoved no matter what is thrown at them (Ezekiel 3:9). The disciple in Christ is an unmovable object when it comes to serving the Lord.

Fifth, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.” (John 3:34). The preparation of the disciple involves learning to depend on the Spirit, not ones own strength. There is a limitless supply of the Spirit’s power for those called by God to the plan of God. The disciple will be effective in fulfilling God’s plans in proportion to the degree to which they rely on the Holy Spirit for empowerment. Remember the inspired words of Zechariah who said:

 

  • Zechariah 4:6 – “So he answered and said to me: 1 “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.”  [8]

Sixth, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  (John 3:35-36) The message of God given to the disciple is one that causes the need for decision. Either you have life in the Son or you do not. The disciple holds nothing back, but speaks the truth in love trusting the Spirit of God to do His work.

 

Seventh, God taught John His love. As we study what John the Baptist was taught by God there is the danger that we will see these things are mere works and self-effort. But nothing could be further from the truth. John was not taught steps one through six and then told to do them. That would only puff him up (1 Corinthians 8:1).  I believe that what John learned and was built up by something that flowed out of the love of God. The first six preparatory lessons God taught John would seem difficult if they were merely a set of do’s and don’ts. But all that John was taught by God flowed out of God’s love for John and God’s love in John. It was because John the Baptist loved the Lord that he was willing to submit to the self-crucifying life of serving God. The apostle Paul put it best when he was inspired to write:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [9]

Notice, Paul is not just talking about himself, he says, “the love of God compels us.” That is, God’s love compels God’s disciples, that is the fuel that fires the furnace of service in the heart of a disciple. And that love is not a work either, it is provided by the presence of Spirit in the life of the disciple. This is testified to in the book of Romans by Paul who was inspired to write:

  • Romans 5:5 – “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  [10]

God pours out a love into the heart of the disciple that enables that disciple to follow Him and be used by Him. John the Baptist may not have known this outpouring in its fullness (Matthew 11:9-13), but certainly he had a love for the Lord that could only have come from the Lord. It is God’s love in us by the Spirit that enables the disciple to be prepared and useable to God. That is the primary preparatory work of God in the life of John the Baptist and the life of every true disciple.

There are still more indications of God’s call on a person’s life. How can we know what God is calling us to do? What are some of the indications of God’s calling and preparation? God’s anointing and fruitfulness are key indicators in discovering God’s call in our lives. This is what we see in the life of John the Baptist. Let’s examine how God confirmed John’s calling and ministry. 

Prepare The Way For Jesus With A Clear and Concise Message.

Matthew 3:2 – “and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  [11]

The message God gave John was clear and concise, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” The word  “repent” is translated from the Greek term METANOEO (Strong’s #3340) and means “to change one’s mind; to have a change of heart.” Also, the form of this Greek term (Present/Active/Imperative) conveys the thought of a continuous action and therefore the effect would be like, “Repent and keep on repenting!” Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change in life. John was calling people to turn their hearts to God sincerely, in a way that would last. The way this lasting change could occur was through “the kingdom of heaven” or the rule of God in the repentant person’s life. John was calling on people to turn to God and rely on Him to change them.

Regarding the unique phrase “kingdom of heaven” found only in Matthew, the KJV Bible Commentary states:

“John’s message of repentance was necessary in order to prepare people for the kingdom of heaven which was at hand. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used only in the Gospel of Matthew and seems to be based on similar references in the book of Daniel. The phrase “the kingdom of God” is used more frequently by Mark and Luke. The change is perhaps due to Matthew’s Jewish background and outlook. Since the Jews regarded it as blasphemous to refer to God by name, it is possible that Matthew substituted the word heaven for that reason. Usually the two phrases are used interchangeably in the Gospels. The kingdom of heaven is the rule of heaven over earth. The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking forward to the coming of a Messiah who would reign in a Davidic kingdom on earth. It is this kingdom which Christ proclaimed was a literal earthly kingdom, based upon spiritual principles, which would demand a right relationship with God for entrance into that kingdom. Therefore, John the Baptist’s ministry is clearly seen as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ and the proclamation of His kingdom.”[12]

When your message is clear and concise it enables the disciple to be bold because with clarity and conciseness comes certainty. If you are confused and uncertain about what you believe, your communication will be the same, confused and uncertain. The disciple needs to know the word of God and know it well enough to communicate it and share it in a clear and concise way. This was Paul’s advice to young pastor Timothy when he was  inspired to write:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  [13]
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-17 – “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [14]
  • 2 Timothy 4:1-2 – “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” [15]

The disciple needs to know God’s word.

Prepare The Way For Jesus By Fulfilling God’s Word

Matthew 3:3 – “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: 1 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ”   [16]

One reason for John the Baptist’s effectiveness in ministry was that it was a fulfillment of God’s word. When the disciple is walking in line with God’s word God’s power flows and the disciple can walk confidently. Does this mean the disciple will never doubt or question? No, it doesn’t mean that. If we look at the life of John the Baptist, we see that there was a point in his ministry where he did have a desire for even more clarity on God’s direction for him and the ministry God had called him to. Later in Matthew we read:

  • Matthew 11:2-3 – “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”  [17]

Now this is interesting because early on in ministry it was John who recognized and proclaimed Jesus as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). But notice too that God does not punish or shelve John for seeking assurance but rather confirms his ministry and who Jesus was and is. Jesus’ response to John was:

  • Matthew 11:4-6 – “Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.6 “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” [18]

How did Jesus reconfirm to John his calling and the fulfillment thereof? It was by referring to God’s word (Isaiah 35:4-6). Just like John, the disciple should live according to God’s word and be guided and confirmed in ministry by God’s word. When in doubt, the disciple needs to go to God’s word.

Be Resourceful As You Prepare The Way For Jesus

Matthew 3:4 – “And John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.”  [19]

John was clearly not into worldly things. He was simply, (if not oddly) dressed and ate an austere diet of locusts and honey. John used only what he needed to fuel his body for the task at hand, he didn’t live lavishly, but rather simply. He was focused on the ministry God had called him to that God had provided for. John didn’t get caught up in worldly distractions but his life was focused on the ministry of God. Someone has said, Where God guides, God provides, and John is a clear in living by this.

Be Anointed By God To Prepare The Way For Jesus

Matthew 3:5- “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him . . .”  [20]

Notice how God brought the people to John, (“went out to him”). John did not have to go out to get the people and drag them to be baptized. And when they came out to be baptized by John, they were “confessing their sins.” (3:6) This is evidence of the anointing of God on John. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was upon the repentant and they saw their sin from God’s perspective. Confession is coming to see sin from God’s perspective. This can only come as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). To be anointed by God means the Spirit works in and through a person to convict the sinner of their sin and edify the believer to go deeper with God. The anointing of God brings fruitfulness and effectiveness.

John didn’t have to advertise or market his ministry, the anointing of God was upon it and the Spirit led people to him. God’s anointing confirms one’s calling. This is one of the most important things for a disciple to learn. If God has anointed you for a certain aspect of ministry, receive it, enjoy it, fulfill it, and walk in it. Paul wrote to Timothy:

  • 1 Timothy 4:14 – “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” [21]

An example of what can happen when God’s anointing is not present in ministry is seen in the book of Acts where an unannointed religious group of men tried to exorcise demons; read what happened:

  • Acts 19:11-20 – “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”  [22]

Some might view this incident as comical, and it may well be, but it is tragically comical. God did end up blessing and magnifying Himself through this incident, but He did so in spite of the efforts of the sons of Sceva.

Those who try to do things for themselves, for others, or for God in their own strength will burn out. The secret to avoiding ministry burnout is realizing that the ministry and church belongs to Jesus and He is the One who will build and bless it. The disciple has to rely on Him to work in and through the ministry. The ministry does involve God’s use of people, but it does not rely on people as much as it relies on Jesus. When the disciple realizes this, the pressure is off and one is free to minister in faithfulness trusting God for the outcome. Jesus said:

  • Matthew 11:28-29 - “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  [23]
  • Matthew 16:18 -  “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  [24]

John the Baptist had power and pressed on because he relied on the power of God , not his own power. He knew God had called him and because he knew God had called him, he knew God would also empower him. The disciple needs to serve where God anoints them to serve and do so in the power of God.

Preparing the Way With Baptism

Matthew 3:6a – “and were baptized by him in the Jordan, ”  [25]

John was preparing the way for Jesus by baptizing people. Baptism is a means to outwardly express and testify to an inward work of God that has taken place in the one who is being baptized. Because of this, only those who have accepted Christ as their Savior are eligible for baptism. That is why repentance is so closely connected with baptism and emphasized by John (3:7-10).

 

The word “baptized” here is translated from the Greek term BAPTIDZO (Strong’s #907) which means, “to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge,” [26] and “to plunge.” [27] Baptism symbolizes the dying to the old sinful way of life as the person is immersed beneath the water, and then rising to new life in Christ as the person is brought out of the water. That baptism symbolizes death is seen in Jesus using it to refer to His death on the cross (Mark 10:37-40). We also see the association with dying to the old life and rising to the new in the following inspired words of Paul who states:

 

  • Romans 6:4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  [28]

Baptism therefore, is an outward symbol of a very real experience worked by God in the one being baptized. Baptism is a way of identifying with the crucifixion of Jesus; it is making a faith statement that the death of Christ on the cross has been accepted as a free gift provision to work the atonement for and forgiveness of sin.

Baptism Is Not A Dead Ritual

 

Matthew 3:6b – “confessing their sins.”  [29]

That baptism is not merely a ritual to partake in heartlessly is seen in the fact that the people who came to be baptized were “confessing their sins.” The word translated “confessing” here comes from the Greek term EXOMOLOGEO (Strong’s # 1843) which means, “to confess fully, acknowledge, praise, promise.” [30] The idea is to hold nothing back and see one’s sin honestly as God sees it. When you confess your sin, you see your sin as God sees it. The present tense form of this Greek participle also implies a continuous action so when the people were coming to John to be baptized they were confessing their sins outright and honestly before God as they were in deep repentance and symbolically leaving the old sinful way of life. This can only happen to someone whose heart has been laid bare before God. Baptism is a symbol of this work of God in a person.

 

Baptism Symbolizes Spiritually Connecting To The Body of Christ

 

Baptism, as far as it symbolizes a reality of new life that has taken place in a person, is a symbol of joining the Body of Christ, the church as Paul states in the following verses:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 12:13 – “For 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.”  [31]

Baptism is an outward witness to the inner work of the Spirit that has taken place in a person. Without the Spirit coming into a person, baptism is worthless and secures nothing for a person. Baptism is only valuable when it is symbolizing a redemptive work of God that has actually taken place in the heart of the one being baptized.

 

Preparing The Way For Jesus Does Not Involve Religious or Ritualistic Works

Matthew 3:7 – “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”[32]

John was not about to allow his baptism to become another dead ritual. When he saw the “Pharisees and Sadducees” coming he stopped them dead in their tracks and made sure they understood that the baptizing he was doing was not merely a ritualistic or magical practice. Jesus would later denounce the practice of the Pharisees and Sadducees of negating God’s word with their man-made traditions when He stated:

  • Matthew 15:3,6-9 – “He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? . . . . ‘then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.7 “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, 1 And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”  [33]
  • Mark 7:7-9 – “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’8 “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”  [34]

There is a great danger of falling into a dead heartless ritualistic relating to God when one follows traditions rather than the word of God. Later in the New Testament the apostle Paul would teach on this danger when he was inspired to write:

  • Colossians 2:8-9 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;”  [35] (See also the epistle to the Galatians)

Worldly philosophy and the traditions concocted by men which are not based on God’s word, are “empty,” and they will just leave you empty too. Such practices don’t come close to the fullness of a saving personal relationship with God in Christ through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism Is Not Magic

People who relate to God in terms of going through the motions of a ceremony or ritual devoid of heart agreement, cannot please God or find salvation. This is the major reason why infant baptism is not really a valid rite for the infant. God’s grace covers children until they reach the age of accountability, (which may vary according to the individual child). Baptism is only worthwhile as it depicts outwardly something that has consciously taken place in a person. If a person cannot make a willful decision to receive God’s gift of salvation in Christ, then baptism cannot do them any good. The grace of God covers those who cannot make a willful decision to accept Christ as Savior (e.g. young children; mentally impaired). Those who think that by performing a ritual that it automatically secures what they are looking for, whether it is forgiveness, salvation, etc. are fooling themselves. Such a view is nothing more than a magical way of thinking akin to a kind of sorcery. Magic and sorcery involves a way of thinking that believes a desired outcome can be obtained simply by following a formula. Magic or sorcery holds that if certain words are recited or certain incantations uttered,  that reality can be influenced. In the same way people, whether they realize it or not buy into such views when they think that partaking in certain rituals or ceremonies alone will secure their salvation before God. This is offensive to God. What makes ritualism offensive to God is that rituals are often partaken in by people whose hearts are not involved. God wants people’s hearts. To think that performing a ritual or ceremony will somehow magically work favor with God, regardless if one’s heart is involved, is something that is offensive to God. Read what the LORD said through Malachi about those who go through the motions of ministry and ritual without their heart being given to God:

  • Malachi 2:1-3 - “And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.2 If you will not hear, 1 And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name,” Says the Lord of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart.3 “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants And spread refuse on your faces, The refuse of your solemn feasts; And one will take you away with it.”  [36]

God says He will smear feces on the face of those whose heart is not in their relating to Him. While it would be wrong to label all Pharisees and Sadducees as heartless toward God, (some were evidently considering the message of Jesus – see John 3) surely John perceived that the ones that were coming out to his baptism were indeed a, “Brood of vipers!”

Who Were The Pharisees and Sadducees?

The Pharisees, or “separated ones” as they were called, evolved out of a group godly men called Chasidim who sought to keep alive the reverence for God’s word during and after the return of the people from the Babylonian captivity. The Pharisees branched off from the Chasidim and began emphasizing letter-strictness to the Law and the inclusion of the oral traditions as equal to the Law of Moses. The Pharisees were moral, zealous, self-denying and self-righteous (Luke 18:9), but did not have a right sense of sin and the needs of people (Luke 7:39). The Pharisees were the most aggressive opponents of Jesus. [37]

The Sadducees were a sect of Judaism, which did not believe in the supernatural. They didn’t believe in angels, spirits or miracles and especially the resurrection of the body. (And that is why they were sad, you see.) The Sadducees were the religious rationalists of the day, like the liberal religionists of our day.

To these religious leaders John held up his hand and told them in no uncertain terms that what he was doing was not another dead ritual, but was something that needed to involve the heart. Disciple, whatever you do in the Lord must be done with your heart, all your heart. Paul wrote:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [38]

Your heart, God wants your heart, and nothing less is acceptable to Him.

The Heart of Baptism - Repentance

Matthew 3:8-10 - “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,9 “and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.10 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  [39]

Baptism is an outward sign and testimony to an inward work of God that has taken place in the heart of the believer. True repentance bears fruit, or leads to measurable change and effects in the life of the repentant person. John was telling these religionists that they oughtn’t come and seek to be baptized as just another dead ritual, but as an outward sign of an inward work of God in their heart. That is the heart of baptism. John said that if they were to be baptized by him they needed to know that they were expected to follow their immersion with “fruits worthy of repentance.” They couldn’t merely rely on their racial heritage, (“We have Abraham as our father.”) Just because you are born into a godly family doesn’t mean you will be godly. Just because you are born into a church going family, doesn’t necessarily mean you are saved from your sin, you have to personally decide to follow Jesus. John was telling them that his baptism was an individual personal heart choice. These people could not rely on their family or others for their right standing before God. Each individual person needs to decide to follow God. There is no such thing as baptism by proxy (as the Mormon cult practices in their rituals). No, when a person is baptized, they are indicating what God has done in them, not anyone else. If you partake in baptism heartlessly or to please others rather than God, what John said is applicable to you, “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.”

The Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:11-12 - “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.12 “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”  [40]

John realized from the start that his ministry was merely transitional and that it pointed to, “He who is coming after me,” who, “is mightier than I.” John’s baptism ministry paved the way for Jesus but as a lasting ministry it was inadequate. This is what is said and shown in the following verses:

  • Acts 18:24-26 – “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”  [41]
  • Acts 19:1-5 – “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  [42]

John’s baptism relied on water as a symbol and brought to mind the Old Testament ritual of purification. The Jewish New Testament Commentary gives the following insight here:

“According to the Torah one had to be ritually pure before entering the Tabernacle or Temple. Ritual purity could be lost in many ways; the preeminent means of restoring it was through washing. . . . A person who immerses himself participates in an obvious yet living metaphor of purification, with the water, as it were, washing away the impurity.” [43]

John’s baptism was inadequate in comparison to the baptism of Jesus because the baptism of Jesus involves the benefits of the New Covenant He would secure on the cross.

The Twofold Significance of Baptism

John refers to a more effective baptism that the One coming after him, Jesus, would bring. The baptism of Jesus is, “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This implies two aspects of baptism. Some will say that this baptism only refers to the born again experience (John 3). I believe that the baptism of Jesus begins with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the person who turns from their sin, seeks forgiveness for their sins from God received as a gift by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. At that point the Spirit comes to indwell the believer (Ephesians 5:18; Titus 3:5). But what does the “fire” refer to? It may refer to future judgment as some say, but I believe it more accurately refers to a cleansing work that the Holy Spirit does within the disciple subsequent or following their initial regeneration and indwelling by the Spirit.

The Baptism With The Holy Spirit

There is a second work wrought in the life of the believer and it is referred to as the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This baptism with the Holy Spirit refers to and was fulfilled at Pentecost when the tongues of fire appeared over the disciples (Acts 2:3). Was this when the disciples were filled with the Spirit and born again? I don’t believe so; there is a strong indication that the disciples had received the Holy Spirit prior to this Pentecostal event. Jesus breathed on and commanded the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit before Pentecost as the verse below indicates. 

  • John 20:22 – “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” [44]

When Jesus says, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” you can bet that the disciples did. This was the regeneration that Jesus provided by way of the New Covenant He secured on the cross. Under the New Covenant the person who repents and seeks forgiveness for their sins from God by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, that person is filled with the Spirit who brings the presence of God into the life and heart of the new believer. Hebrews explains the New Covenant experience in the following way:

  • Hebrews 8:10 - “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  [45]

Paul explains this New Covenant experience in the following way:

  • Romans 8:9-11 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  [46]
  • Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,”  [47]

This presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer results in an ongoing process of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit working in the believer (Romans 8:29).

In the book of Acts we see a second work of the Spirit in the life of the believer. The book of Acts tells us that what happened at Pentecost was the coming “upon” them of the Holy Spirit to empower them for service. The use of this preposition “upon” (Greek – EPI) is significant.  Jesus described this event in the following way:

  • Acts 1:8 - “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  [48]

To get an understanding of the relationship of the Holy Spirit to people we need to examine the prepositions used to describe that relationship. Prior to this description of the relationship of the Holy Spirit with the disciples, Jesus stated that the Holy Spirit was “with” them and would be “in” them. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 14:16-18 - “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”  [49]

The Holy Spirit is “with” a person prior to their conversion to Christ seeking to reason with them, striving with them to bring them to a knowledge and acknowledgement of their sinfulness (Genesis 6:3; John 16:8-11). When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior and is born again the Holy Spirit then comes “in’ them (Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 5:18; Hebrews 8:10). The Holy Spirit in a person works to bring them into the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8). But there is a third relationship of the Spirit to people, a second work for those who are in Christ. That second work is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is this baptism with the Holy Spirit which empowers the disciple for service as the Holy Spirit comes “upon” them  (Acts 1:8). We see this second work of the Spirit on disciples throughout the book of Acts.

At Pentecost the “tongues of fire” were “upon” the disciples in the Upper Room. This was directly associated with the baptism with the Spirit experience promised to them by Jesus (Acts 1:8). It states:

  • Acts 2:3 – “Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.” [50]

In describing the powerful ministry of those who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit it states, Luke goes on to tell us in Accts that, “great grace was upon them all.” This second blessing of God to empower for service is a gift of His grace and received by faith just as initial salvation is:

  • Acts 4:33 – “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”  [51]

Further on in Acts we see that when the Samaritans “received the word of God” or were initially saved from their sins (Acts 8:14), Peter and John were sent to pray for the converts so the Holy Spirit would come “upon” them:

  • Acts 8:15-16 – “who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  [52]

When Peter was preaching to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit came “upon” the listeners. Here we see an occasion where the initial regeneration of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent baptism with the Holy Spirit occur so close to one another that the experiences seem to occur simultaneously with their conversion:

  • Acts 10:44 – “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” [53]

When Peter explains what happened to the Gentiles he preached to he speaks of this “upon” experience and links it to the empowering Pentecostal experience they had experienced earlier:

  • Acts 11:15 - “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.”  [54]

When Paul went to Ephesus to minister he asked the believers if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. They hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit and so Paul laid hands on them (a sing of unity) and the Holy Spirit came “upon’ them:

  • Acts 19:6 – “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”  [55]

What Does the “fire” Mean?

But what about the “fire” mentioned by John the Baptist, where does that come in? If we look at the account of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 we see Peter describe the outpouring of the Spirit on Gentiles. In the process of his description of the baptism with the Spirit he states:

  • Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”  [56]

I believe that the “upon” (Greek preposition EPI) experience involves a purification of the person’s heart as referred to in Acts 15:9. You see, the difference in the “in” indwelling of the Spirit at conversion experience and the “upon” overflowing experience of empowerment for service  is not that a person gets more of the Holy Spirit, it is that the Holy Spirit gets more of the person. The disciple receives all of the Holy Spirit they will ever get at their conversion when the Spirit indwells them; but it takes the purifying fire of Jesus in our hearts to clean up the disciple so that the Spirit gets all of them.

Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comment and explanation on John’s words in Matthew 3:11-12:

      “Now he talks about the fire and let me point out that it is not the fire that is oftentimes referred to in the Pentecostal churches as this wild emotionalism, “Brother, we’ve got the fire!” And they are usually making reference to a lot of the emotional outbursts and vigorous physical type of activities. This fire, John defines for us, for he said, Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, (3:12) When they would harvest their wheat, they would put it on the threshing floor. And they would then walk all over it to break the husks away from the wheat kernel. . . . And ideally, the threshing floor was on the top of a hill, a flat rock that they’ve flattened out on the top of the hill, and then when the wind would blow, they would take the wheat and the chaff, the husks, throw it into the air and the wind would blow the husks away, the wheat would fall back down on the threshing floor. And that’s what the psalmist was talking about in the first Psalm where he said, “The wicked are not so but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”

      Now if they did not have a site that they had a good breeze, then they had these fans and when they had knocked the husks off of the kernel, they would fan it and it would blow the husks away with the fan. So, “whose fan is in His hand and He’s going to thoroughly cleanse or purge His floor,” [the threshing floor, and He will]…       gather his wheat into the garner; [into the silo or the barn] but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (3:12)

This is talking about that purifying process of our lives through the Holy Spirit. And the fire is that which consumes the chaff in order that we might be cleansed or purified, refined, so to speak, where the impurities of our lives are removed. And that is the purpose of the Holy Spirit, the removal of the impurities in your life in order that you might be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Burning out from your life anger, strife, those areas of the flesh, purging it that He might just leave that which is pure and wholesome, just the wholesome grain, the wholesome wheat. And thus the fire of God may make me shout, but I’m shouting, “Ooo, ouch, oh!”, as He is burning out the chaff. It’s not one where you run around raising your hands and shouting praises to God. It’s one that just really hurts when that fire begins to cleanse and burn the chaff, refine the life, getting rid of the dross. Burns the chaff with the unquenchable fire.”  [57]

By Faith

  • Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”  [58]

Notice two things here; first, God pours out this empowering baptism with the Holy Spirit based on what He sees in the heart of the disciple. The phrase, “God, who knows the heart,” is translated from one Greek term KARDIOGNOSTES (Strong’s #2589) which means literally, “the heart-knower.” God is looking for those whose hearts are given over to Him. In the Old Testament there is a great verse about God’s watching over the world looking for loyal hearted disciples. The verse is found in 2 Chronicles and states:

  • 2 Chronicles 16:9a - “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”  [59]

God is looking around for hearts ready to be empowered to serve Him. But there is a second truth to take note of here.

Secondly, notice that Acts 15:9 says that their hearts were purified, “by faith.” Just as a person receives the gift of forgiveness and salvation by grace through faith, so does a person receive God’s purification and cleansing of their heart by faith. By faith we come to God and say, “Lord, I know there are some things in my heart that are limiting your use of me, please remove any impediment in me that would hinder Your use of me in ministry. By faith I believe you want to and will do this in me.” That prayer in faith, trusting in God will lead to the purifying of one’s heart and the empowering by God. 

Now it should also be mentioned that if we look at the book of Acts we see repeated empowering or outpouring of the Spirit on believers such as in Acts 4 where it states:

  • Acts 4:31 – “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”  [60]

This implies that the baptism with the Spirit that empowers for ministry service is an ongoing process to some extent. When we by faith receive the cleansing of God in our heart and the baptism with the Holy Spirit, we do so by faith that we are surrendering to Him all of our heart as we know it at that moment. Our heart is like a home with many rooms. Walking in the Spirit side by side with Jesus in our life is like going through our heart-home with Jesus. As we walk with the Lord, He reveals rooms in our heart’s home that need to be opened to Him to clean up. Life in Christ is a sanctifying process (i.e. cleansing process) where He brings us to parts of our heart-home and asks permission to go in and clean it out. By faith we must decide to give Him the key to the room He is asking about.  If we refuse, it means there is a part of us that we are still ruling over and if the power is to keep flowing, we need to give it up to Him. Jesus is a perfect gentleman and is patient with us. He doesn’t ram down the door, He’s a great houseguest. We grow in this relationship with the Lord and any disciple who has been a disciple for any length of time will tell you that they need to go back to the well on occasion so to speak. Every time the disciple is readying himself or herself to minister they should prayerfully surrender themselves, their heart’s home to the Spirit for cleansing and seek the Spirit’s anointing and empowerment for service. By faith in surrender to God, the Spirit will indeed empower the disciple to do the work He has set before them.

The Baptism of Noah and Jonah

There are two Biblical figures who underwent a baptism of sorts and their experience illustrates the two aspects of the baptism. In Peter’s first epistle he uses Noah to refer to baptism when he states:

  • 1 Peter 3:21-22 – “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”  [61]

The name Noah literally means “comforter.”  It is interesting that Noah is another figure in the Bible, besides Jesus, to have a dove descend upon him (Genesis 8:9). Think of the circumstances surrounding Noah and the flood (see Genesis 6-9). Noah was in the ark, surrounded by water with the world submerged beneath him. Noah typifies the aspect of baptism where the person being baptized is symbolically dying to the world as they are submerged beneath the water and then rising out of the water to a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Noah illustrates that baptism first symbolizes death to the world and new life in Christ.

A second figure who illustrates the second aspect of baptism is Jonah. Jonah’s name literally means, “Dove.” Jonah rebelled against God and found himself submerged beneath the sea in the belly of a whale for three days (Matthew 12:39-40). God finally got through to Jonah and used him to bring about one of the greatest revivals in history (see the book of Jonah). But realize this, Jonah had to die to self before God could use him. That is the second aspect of baptism, it symbolizes death to self and it is this death to self that opens the door to the empowering of the Holy Spirit who then finds a surrendered tool to use in ministry.

Now notice finally that after the 40 days of rain that Noah experienced he ultimately failed morally (Genesis 9:20-23). And even after being used in one of the greatest revivals in history Jonah ran away and pouted (Jonah 3). But where Noah and Jonah failed, Jesus Christ is victorious. Jesus was forty days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, but He never failed.

The disciple must die to self, but that can only come by living in Christ, as Paul was inspired to write:

  • Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  [62]

The disciple must first die to the world and be born again of the Spirit, and then they must die to self so they can be empowered and used by the Holy Spirit.

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

If you’re a person who has accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and have yet to be baptized because you don’t think it’s that big a deal, then look at Jesus. Jesus was baptized and if Jesus was baptized, His disciples should be too.

But if Jesus was sinless and perfect, why was He baptized? There are four reasons that Jesus was baptized.

First, Jesus was Baptized to Affirm John’s Ministry

Matthew 3:13 – “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.”  [63]

By going to John to be baptized Jesus was affirming that John’s calling to prepare the way was valid and that Jesus was the One that John was preparing the way for.

Second, Jesus Was Baptized to Identify With Humankind Personally

Matthew 3:14 – “And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”  [64]

Jesus is God in the flesh and as a Man He sought to relate personally with people. He began this by showing the need for baptism. Jesus related personally to humankind and was leading the way to salvation. From the very start the ministry of Jesus showed He would get down in the trenches with the lost.

Third, Jesus was Baptized To Publicly Declare His Acceptance of God’s Plan

Matthew 3:15 – “But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.”  [65]

Jesus sought to “fulfill all righteousness” even if it meant doing that which was not required of Himself, such as baptism. Jesus was baptized to show He was submitting to His Father’s plan and also to demonstrate His faith in His Father’s power to raise Him from the dead. Just as Jesus submitted to the plan of salvation of the Father, so should the disciple of Jesus. Jesus submitted to the Father even though He knew it would cost Him his life, so should the disciple.

Fourth, Jesus Was Baptized To Illustrate The True Triune Nature of God

Matthew 3:16-17 – “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  [66]

The Spirit descended upon Jesus and the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” From the start of the ministry of Jesus on earth, it needed to be shown that God in His Triune nature was working out His plan on earth and He used this baptism to show that.

Conclusion

Just as Jesus submitted to the Father in fulfillment of the Divine plan, so should disciples. Disciples need to die to the world and die to self as symbolized in baptism. Have you been counting on a magical view of baptism? Have you been baptized since you’ve received Christ as Savior? Are you prepared by God to prepare the way for Jesus to enter the lives of the lost? Are you fulfilling the word of God in your life? Disciple, be baptized! And God will use you to fulfill His plan in and through you by His Spirit.

 

 



[1]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[27] The Complete Biblical Library – The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma (Springfield, MI: The Complete Biblical Library) 1990. p. 525-527

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30] The Complete Biblical Library – The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon (Springfield, MI: The Complete Biblical Library) 1990. p. 478-479

 

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37] C.I.Scofield, The New Scofield Study Bible, (Nashville. TN: Thomas Nelson Pub.) 1989 p.1125 note.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc.) 1996. p. 15

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57] Chuck Smith, Audiotape 8002 (The Word For Today, P.O. Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92628)

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.