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The subject of my message to you this afternoon is Christian baptism. And after I have brought this message to you from the Word of God, we will actually go into the ordinance of water baptism and see it carried out. We will not merely preach about this in theory, but we will carry it out in practice.
Now, I’ve used the word ordinance, and that may not be clear to some of you. So I would like to explain to you briefly what I understand by the word ordinance. Somebody who is of a scientific background once told me that the definition of the word instinct is an unlearned pattern of behavior. An ordinance, likewise, is a pattern of behavior. But it is not unlearned. It is one that is revealed in the New Testament and is then taught by the ministers to the people of God. As I understand the teaching of the New Testament, there are three main ordinances: the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and the anointing of the sick with oil. And the principle in each of these ordinances is the same.
Normally speaking, when the message of God’s Word is brought to us, we believe it in the heart, then we confess it with the mouth. This is the basic requirement for salvation. That we shall believe with the heart, Jesus as Lord, confess with the mouth, we enter into salvation. But in an ordinance we take one further step. Not merely do we believe with the heart, not merely do we confess with the mouth, but we actually carry out a pattern of behavior which tells the story in action of what we have already claimed that we believed in our heart. And there are these three patterns of behavior that set forth the great basic truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These truths are so important, that God has ordained that they should not merely be learned and confessed with the mouth, but they should also be demonstrated and carried out in action.
For five years it was my responsibility in East Africa to train teachers for African schools. And I used to try to inculcate into these teachers a certain principle which is this: that children remember about forty percent of what they hear, sixty percent of what they hear and see, eighty percent of what they hear and see and do. In other words, if you really want to impress something on the minds of a pupil, not merely do you let them hear it, not merely do you let them hear it and see it (as for instance on the chalkboard), but you let them act it out in some way or another. And it’s the acting out of that thing that really fixes it in the mind of the pupil.
Now God is the greatest of all teachers, the greatest of all psychologists, and because He has a concern for the well-being of His people, He has put in the New Testament these three ordinances, these three patterns of behavior, each one of which sets forth a tremendous truth which God never wanted His people to forget. The anointing of the sick with oil is a picture that when the believer puts his faith in Jesus Christ and the provision of God through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit (which is typified by the oil) will give life—resurrection life—to the mortal body of that believer. The Scripture text I would use is Romans 8:11:
“If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [or give life to] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (KJV)
The way that we declare our faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to give life to our mortal body is that we get the elders of the church in the name of the Lord to anoint our physical body with oil. It is not the oil that heals, but the oil is the picture of the Holy Spirit who is going to minister the life of Jesus to our physical body. So this is an ordinance, a pattern of behavior, which has a very special meaning.
Then there is the Lord’s Supper. We declare, by participating in the Lord’s Supper, that we accept the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on our behalf. We accept His body given for us, and we accept His blood shed for us. And in accepting this, we come together, as Brother Charles Simpson said, in the one house protected by the blood and we feed together upon the one body, and we thus become one body. This is the essential truth which is contained in the Lord’s Supper.
Now, we’re dealing with the ordinance of baptism. And I want to bring out for you as clearly as I can the nature of this ordinance, the New Testament Scriptures that teach about it and the significance of it. I want to do this briefly and in outline. I want to commence by just setting forth the commission given by Jesus Christ at the end of His earthly ministry to carry out this ordinance of baptism. In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 28 verses 19 and 20, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” This is the King James Version, that many modern versions translated “make disciples of all nations,” which is a more correct translation. Jesus said:
“Go ye therefore, and [make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy [Spirit]: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (KJV)
We observe that Jesus did not tell His disciples to make members! He told His disciples to make fellow disciples—disciples who would be disciples of them as they had been of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He said once a person has come to the place where he is willing to submit to discipleship, the outward act which demonstrates that willingness, which seals His profession of discipleship, is that he should be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Having been baptized, he then enters into a further life of discipline and training. The person baptizing him, or the ministers that are responsible for his spiritual well-being, must then teach him to observe all things that the Lord taught His disciples to observe. And Jesus said, “This process is to go on until I come back.” So He said, “I’m with you until the end of the age.” In other words, He made disciples. He said, “You go out and make disciples, and when they have committed themselves to discipleship, let the outward evidence of their commitment to discipleship be fact that they are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then you train them just as I’ve trained you. And they in their turn will go out and make disciples, baptize them, train them. Those disciples in turn will go out and do the same.” And as far as God was concerned, the process was to continue the same until the age closed. There was never any reason to change or amend that process because it was the right one, the one that worked, it was the one that God had authorized and set His seal of approval upon.
So, the commission is, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” What’s the outward evidence of discipleship? What’s the thing that seals the commitment to discipleship? Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
In Mark’s gospel, chapter 16, verses 15 and 16, we had a similar commission given to the disciples at the close of the earthly ministry of Jesus. Mark 16, verses 15 and 16:
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel [the good news] to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned [condemned].” (KJV)
So Jesus said, this gospel is to be preached to every creature in all the world and every person who believes the gospel is to show forth his believing—the seal of his believing will be that he will be baptized. Just as the seal of discipleship was to be baptized, so the evidence of believing is to be baptized. In other words, the thing that immediately follows believing and becoming a disciple is being baptized. This is the outward evidence that a person has believed and committed himself to discipleship.
Now in the New Testament, I believe we have four clear requirements laid down for being baptized. Taking them in this order, which seems to me to be possibly the logical one— Acts chapter 2 and verse 38, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Jewish multitude heard Peter’s message about Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, were convicted of their sinful condition, they said:
“Men and brethren, what shall we do? [Peter said,] Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit].” (KJV)
The first thing to do before they could be baptized was to repent—to make a firm decision to turn from their sinful way, their rebellion, their stubbornness, their self-sufficiency, their self-righteousness, to turn and submit to God and be willing to meet His further requirements.
Now the outward evidence of repentance was to be baptized. In Mark 16:16, we have already read that the person who believes the gospel is to be baptized: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” But before you can be baptized, you must believe. Matthew 28:19, the requirement is to become a disciple: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
In 1 Peter 3:21, the apostle Peter brings out another requirement in the relation to baptism. He compares baptism, as we shall see a little later, to the experience of Noah and his family entering into the ark and being saved in the ark by the water that plunged the rest of the world to destruction. And when he uses this phrase “being saved by water” he then goes on to say the “like figure” or picture, or the antitype of salvation by water in the ark, the antitype, the corresponding ordinance or requirement in the New Covenant, is baptism. Then he says, not the washing of dirty body:
“... not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” (KJV)
So a person who is to be baptized must be able to answer God with a good conscience. The sinner who has repented, believed and submitted to baptism can then answer God with a good conscience. Not because he is not a sinner, but because as a sinner, he has met God’s requirements for forgiveness and salvation. So the Scripture lays down clearly these four prior requirements before being baptized. To repent, to believe, to become a disciple, and to answer God with a good conscience.
Now I do not in any way desire to be controversial, but I think it is self-evident, I don’t think anybody can dispute this question, that an infant cannot meet any of these requirements. An infant cannot repent, cannot believe, cannot become a disciple, and cannot answer God with a good conscience. For this reason, I personally do not believe that the ordinance of water baptism is applicable to infants. People may say, “Well, we are believers, we want our child to be acknowledged by God. I believe the scriptural pattern in the New Testament is to do for your child what the parents of Jesus did for Jesus. They did not baptize Him, they brought Him to the house of the Lord, and they presented Him to the Lord. And when the mothers of Israel brought their little children to Jesus and wanted the blessing of God on their children, Jesus did not baptize those children, He took them up in His arms and blessed them.
Now this I believe is the answer to the cry of believing parents’ hearts: How can we know that we have solemnly dedicated and presented our little newborn babe to the Lord? We want to know that this life is in the Lord’s hands for time and eternity. We want to express our faith for God’s protection and blessing and care over this child. How can we do it? My answer is not by baptism, because the infant cannot meet the conditions for baptism, but the thing that God has indicated in the New Testament is pleasing to Him, is that you bring that little one to the house of the Lord, solemnly present your little one to the Lord and allow the minister, who is in the place of Christ, to take that little one up in his arms and bless it. Now this I believe is the scriptural answer to the desire of every sincere believer to know that the blessing of God rests upon that little life that has been born into their family.
But coming back to the question of baptism, I still believe the New Testament makes it absolutely clear that before being baptized, the person must repent, must believe, must be willing to become a disciple, and must answer God with a good conscience.
Now let us look for a moment at some of the examples in the book of Acts. And we’re going to go through this this afternoon very, very quickly. I just have them outlined, some of the main examples here. First of all, on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:41, it says three thousand persons surrendered their wills to God. And it says as many as “gladly received” the word of Peter were baptized. And I do believe the same applies to us today. If we gladly receive the Word of the gospel, we will be baptized. If we are not willing to be baptized, we have not gladly received the Word. We may have received the Word, but not with gladness. We have inner reservations, it fights against our tradition or our social position or something else in our lives, so we acknowledge the Word, but do not receive it gladly. But as many as “gladly received” the Word, it’s definitive, this was the outward evidence of every person that gladly received the Word, they were baptized.
Then we read in Acts chapter 8 that Philip went down to Samaria and preached one message to the Samaritans and the message was Christ. That’s all he preached. But it says in Acts 8:12:
“When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (KJV)
Every person in the book of Acts who heard the gospel and believed knew immediately that it was his responsibility to be baptized forthwith. There is not a single case in the book of Acts of any person who believed the gospel and claimed salvation through faith in Jesus Christ without being immediately baptized.
Later on in the 8th chapter of Acts, Philip is on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, he meets the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot, climbs up in the chariot, finds the eunuch reading in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the eunuch converses and doesn’t know about whom he is reading, and then it says, “Philip opened his mouth at the same Scripture and preached unto the eunuch Jesus. One thing I like about Philip was his message was so simple. When he went to Samaria, he preached Christ. And when he met the eunuch, he preached Jesus. That’s all it says that he preached. But a little later the chariot was passing a pool of water or stream beside the road, and the eunuch said, not Philip: “Look, here’s water, why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And Philip said, “You believe; you certainly may.” And the Scripture says they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and Philip baptized the eunuch. You see that immediately the eunuch accepted the message of Philip, without further instruction or any other kind of preliminary, he knew that it was required of him that he be baptized and he was extremely anxious to be baptized as quickly as possible.
Acts 9:18 we read the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road. And then he came into Damascus and Ananias was sent to him, a humble disciple, to lay hands on him that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And in Acts 9:18, it says he was baptized “forthwith,” immediately. And in the 22nd chapter of Acts, the reference is not given here, Paul is giving his own testimony of how Ananias came to him and laid hands on him that he might receive his sight. And he recalls that Ananias said to him immediately after this:
“... now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the a Lord.” (Acts 22:16, KJV)
This was the attitude of the New Testament ministers of the gospel—what are you waiting for? If you’ve believed in Jesus Christ, be baptized forthwith. In Acts chapter 10, we read how Peter was directed to the house of Cornelius supernaturally by a vision. And he began to tell them about Jesus. While he was still preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on the whole household of Cornelius, and without exception they were all were all baptized in the Holy Spirit, the evidence being that the Jewish believers heard these Gentiles speak with tongues and magnify God. So then Peter and the Jews, because of this evidence that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit, had to acknowledge them as fellow believers, fellow Christians. And, of course, immediately, the outward act of acknowledgment was the act of baptism. So, Peter said:
“Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized [in water], which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47, KJV)
You see, the question was, If they were Christians, then they had the immediate right to water baptism, which was the outward mark that would set them aside as being received by the church as fellow believers. And it says in the last verse of the tenth chapter, “[Peter] commanded them to be baptized.” He did not recommend, he commanded.
Now these people had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a substitute for water baptism. Neither is water baptism a substitute for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They are two separate but complementary provisions of God for every person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ.
Then, in Acts chapter 16, we have the dramatic incident of Paul and Silas in the prison, and at midnight they are singing and praising, and God sends an earthquake, shakes the prison, opens every door, sets every prisoner free. The jailer springs in and is about to commit suicide because he had to answer with his own life for the life of his prisoners. But Paul says, “Don’t do yourself any harm; we’re all here,” and then the jailer said, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer, given in Acts 16:31 is:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house [thy family].” (KJV)
Then it says they taught the Word of God to the jailer and his household, and they were all baptized “the same hour of the night.” Look at the urgency of that. They didn’t even wait for dawn to come. The moment they were convinced that they must put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, immediately the whole family, having heard the Word, and the Scripture is very emphatic that they all heard the Word, and they all believed. There were no infants in their family. They were all able to hear, all able to believe. Having done that, immediately the whole household was baptized as an evidence of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Acts 19:5, we read that Paul came to Ephesus, found certain disciples, who were only disciples of John the Baptist. He found out that they had not received the Holy Spirit and when he began to inquire why they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit, he discovered they didn’t have the solid basis of faith in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. So he laid this basis, taught them about Jesus and they were then baptized with Christian baptism. Acts 19:6 says that after that:
“Paul ... laid his hands upon them, the Holy [Spirit] came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (KJV)
So this is the New Testament pattern. The book of Acts knows of no other pattern. It is always believe and be baptized. And normally they were baptized, I would say, within a few hours of believing. I question whether it is actually in line with the whole message of the New Testament to allow as much as 48 hours to elapse between believing and being baptized. We still have a way to go before we are back on New Testament ground fully and completely, though there are a number of churches now which keep their baptistry open, and every time a person comes forward to confess faith in Jesus Christ, that person is immediately immersed. That is really the way it should be.
All right, now let’s look on a little further. And consider, if we may for a few moments, the spiritual significance of water baptism. Now we’re considering, what is this pattern of behavior saying? Why do I do it? What is the truth that I’m attesting when I go through this ordinance? And the answer, I think, is given very clearly in Romans chapter 6. We’ll turn there and read some of the opening verses of the 6th chapter of Romans. Paul says, beginning at verse 3, and I believe we can read through verse 11, Romans 6, reading 3 through 11:
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed [or rendered ineffective], that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (KJV)
I do believe the essence of this spiritual significance of baptism can be summed up in the one word, “identification.” On the cross, Jesus, by the Father’s will, identified Himself with a lost, fallen, sin-cursed race. He was the last Adam, the end of the Adamic inheritance. All the evil that was due by divine justice to an entire race came upon Him. He paid our penalty, He took our sicknesses, He took our pains, He was made a curse, and He died our death. He took all the evil that we might in return, by faith, receive the good. And when He died on the cross in the sight of God, viewed from the point of eternity, the Scripture says, our old, carnal, rebellious fallen nature, our old man, died in Him. Jesus died my death. If I can see it by the Spirit, according to the Scriptures: when Christ died, my old man, my rebellious, Adamic nature died in Him. Therefore I am now to reckon myself dead to sin. Just as dead as Jesus was when He died on the cross. Likewise, in the same measure, the Scripture says, “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed,” dead in reality, not just in theory, but indeed in reality, unto sin.
Now, what follows death? Always in the normal pattern of human behavior, death is followed by burial. Jesus died on the cross. His body was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb by burial. But, Praise the Lord! on the third day He rose again. The Scripture says He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. And in Romans 1:4 it says the power that raised Him from the dead was the power of the Holy Spirit. So He did not remain in the tomb; but at God’s appointed hour, by the operation of the Holy Spirit sent by the Father, He was raised from the tomb, and walked forth into, the Scripture says, a newness of life. A new creation. A new order. A new beginning.
All right, now then, what is the pattern of behavior of baptism saying? What am I saying when I submit myself to be baptized? I’m saying this: that I’m identifying myself with Jesus in succession in these three vital transactions: I’m dead with Him to sin, my old sinful nature has died, now it’s not going to trouble me any more, because when a thing is dead it loses its power to do harm. I’m dead to sin. I’ve sometimes expressed it this way: sin has no more attraction for me, sin produces no more reaction from me, sin has no more control over me. Likewise, reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin. You said, “Brother Prince, does it work?” I’ll tell you this, it works as long as you reckon and as far as you reckon. It works only on the basis of continuing faith. But as long as you continue to reckon in faith, so long it works perfectly. You are dead indeed unto sin.
The next step is that you are identified with your Lord in burial. Well, as He was buried in the tomb of rock, you are to be buried symbolically in a watery grave! Buried by baptism. But Praise God! you do not stay in the tomb, you rise to walk in newness of life. And you rely on the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to raise you out of the tomb of your death to walk in newness of life.
Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus did not raise Himself from the dead? The Scripture is absolutely clear. He gave Himself over, without reservation, to the Father’s will and He would remain dead as long as the Father decreed. And when He rose, He rose because the Father sent the power of the Holy Spirit to raise Him from the tomb.
Now when you are baptized, you testify to God and to man, you’re identified with Jesus in the death of the old nature in the burial and in the resurrection. You submit yourself to God without reservation just as Jesus did when He allowed His body to be put in the tomb. And you are as dependent upon God as Jesus was for the power of the Holy Spirit to raise you into newness of life. You do not go forth in your own power or in your own righteousness any more than Jesus came forth from the tomb by His own power. The evidence of His burial was that He was now depending totally on the Father to fulfill His promise and raise Him as His Son. And the Father kept His word. And if you as a child of God going through this ordinance—will submit yourself as much without reservation to the will of the Father as Jesus did, you will find that the Father will be as faithful to you as He was to Jesus, to send the power of the Holy Spirit to raise you up into newness of life.
So here is the inner significance of this tremendous ordinance. Dead with Christ, buried with Christ, risen with Christ. You see, as far as I’m concerned, this contains the absolute heart and core of the gospel message. It centers in the cross, it centers in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians of the gospel which He had preached unto them. And He stated the gospel very, very simply, in three successive sentences. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. These three facts are the gospel.
Now, water baptism vividly sets forth your acceptance of these three facts. That Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, that He rose again the third day. But in setting it forth, you are identifying yourself with Him by faith according to the Word of God in death, burial, and resurrection. Because this ordinance of water baptism so perfectly sets forth these great central truths of the gospel, I have to say, to me it is a crime ever to tamper with this ordinance. It is a crime in any way whatever so to change the ordinance that it loses its meaning. You see, God ordained that no believer would be admitted to the fellowship of the church on earth except by the ordinance of water baptism. And therefore He ordained that every believer that took his place within the fellowship of the church had acted out visibly, not just with the declaration of His mouth, but in action, his identification with Jesus in death, burial, and resurrection. There was no other way into the church. Every believer had to know what he believed in relation to the central facts of the gospel and to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
Furthermore, every time new believers were admitted to the fellowship of the church, all those who were already believers were once again reminded as they watched the spectacle of baptism of this great central truth of the gospel. This way, God ordained that these great central facts of the gospel—the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ—should never be allowed to recede from the forefront of the minds and the thinking of His people. But when the ordinances change, then you find the truths of the gospel recede from the minds of God’s people.
I believe historically this is true. And round about the year 300 or a little later, when another ordinance was substituted for this ordinance of baptism, from that time onwards you can trace the process of the Christian church losing the truth of the gospel. Cause they lost the great ordinance which continually set it forth and continually reminded them of the one thing that was more important than anything else: that they should always remember that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day.
Now one of the great aspects of restoration that God is working amongst His people today is to restore this ordinance with its true meaning. And I have to tell you this, that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a provision of God which many are entering into, but it is no more a life-changing provision than is water baptism. Water baptism is just as important and just as life changing when properly administered and entered into as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Neither is a substitute for the other, they complement one another. Because when you’re buried, that’s the death of the old nature. But when you rise out of the watery grave, remember, the power of the Holy Spirit that is to raise you and enable you to walk in newness of life. So Peter very logically said in Acts 2:38:
“Repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit.”
To enable you to walk in this new life. It is really a terrible tragedy that the church ever allowed these two ordinances, baptism in water, and baptism in the Holy Spirit to be separated from one another.
Colossians 2:12, we could just read those words which say the same thing again, but say them so clearly, let’s look in Colossians 2 for just a moment, the 12th verse:
“Buried with him [Jesus] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (KJV)
Notice, you are buried with Him, risen with Him, but it is through your faith in what God can do. And what are you believing that God can do? That God can do the same for you as He did for Jesus when He raised Jesus from the dead.
And then Colossians 3, and in direct connection with this, Paul goes on to say, verses 1 and 2 I believe will be sufficient. Or we could read verses 1, 2, 3, and 4. Colossians 3, and I would like to leave this message with everyone that’s to be baptized in the next few moments. Please take this as my little challenge to you. Colossians 3, 1 through 4,
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, [but the Greek says ‘ye died,’ it happened here, you died], and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
You have an invisible life which world cannot see. But that life is Christ in you. And then it says, verse 4, and this is glorious:
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (KJV)
See the beauty of this identification with Jesus? To me, it is really unfair to deny any sincere convert or child of God the glorious privilege of being publicly identified with Jesus, in His death, His burial, and in His resurrection.
In closing, let us look for a moment at some Old Testament patterns. Just two. Because these patterns are so vivid. I don’t suppose any of you have much difficulty in discerning what this is meant to be. This is the well-known ark of Noah. Now, speaking about Noah, in 1 Peter chapter 3:20, the apostle Peter says that once upon a time the “longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a- preparing...” before the flood. Then he says about that ark, in that ark “few, that is, eight souls were saved.”
Let’s pause here and bear in mind that proportions are likely to be the same. The proportions of souls saved before the flood was pitifully few. Out of all that populated the earth, and it was probably 2 million, only eight entered the ark. And then it says the “like figure”—whereunto the suggestion is that salvation is always going to be confined to a relatively small proportion. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away the filth of the flesh [not having a good bath], but the answer of a good conscience toward God) (KJV).
Now I believe that wherever you read about the ark in the Old Testament, it speaks about Jesus Christ. There are principally two arks: the ark of Genesis, the ark of Exodus—the ark of Noah and the ark of Moses. The ark of Noah was a big ark, Noah and his family entered into it; the ark of Moses was a small ark, which was put in the tabernacle. Each of them typifies Christ. When we have the small ark, it is Christ in you. When we have the big ark, it is you in Christ. Both these relationships are clearly stated in the New Testament. So Noah and his family, in accordance with God’s word, by faith, entered into the ark, which is Christ. And in the ark they passed through the waters of the flood, which brought judgment on the rest of the world, and emerged out of the waters on Mt. Ararat to begin a new life with a new covenant, new laws, and new relationship, a completely new prospect unfolding before their eyes.
What a perfect picture, isn’t it, of water baptism? By faith you enter into Christ. You repent, you believe, you become a disciple. And then in Christ, but not outside of Christ, dear friend, when you are in Christ you pass through the waters of baptism, which are a sign of judgment on the unbeliever, and come forth into newness of life. A completely new beginning. New covenant, new laws, new relationships, everything new. Isn’t that wonderful? And bear in mind, too, that every creature that walked into the ark underwent a change of nature. You realize that. Think of what Noah would have had on his hands if the cat and the dog, the leopard and the bear and the lamb and the sheep hadn’t changed? But everything that went into the ark underwent a change. And every person that enters into Christ undergoes a change. And let me put it the other way around: If you’ve never undergone a change, I question whether you’ve ever entered into Christ. That’s the other side of it. But having entered in to Christ, the Scripture says you pass through the waters in the ark, come forth into newness of life.
The other great pattern is 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verses 1 and 2, which we’ll turn to and read just for a moment briefly. This is only just a glance at the truths of these Scriptures. First Corinthians chapter 10, verses 1 and 2: “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant...” How many times the apostle said that—have you ever counted? “I wish you wouldn’t be ignorant. I would not that ye should be ignorant”? You know, the majority of professing Christians today are ignorant about theses very things that Paul speaks about here:
“How that all our fathers [that’s all the children of Israel] were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. [Then verse 6:] Now these things were our examples ... [and verse 11:] Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [or types, or patterns]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [or the ends of the present age] are come.” (KJV)
So, though they entered into the history of Israel in the old covenant, they are types or patterns of behavior that are written for our admonition who are living as believers at the close of this age. All Israel passed through a double baptism on their way out of Egypt.
Let’s summarize briefly the three main phases of the deliverance. First of all, they put their faith in the blood of the Passover lamb and fed upon its body. That is the type of Christ, our Passover sacrificed for us, as the apostle Paul says earlier in 1 Corinthians.
Then, having put their faith in the blood and fed upon the lamb, they moved out in haste, they did not remain any longer in that area. And always, after we have put our faith in Jesus Christ we are called out of the place where we were, out of sin, uncleanness, defilement, error, false tradition, all these things. We have to move out in haste with our loins girded and our staves in our hands.
Now their final deliverance from Egypt was not through the blood of the lamb, because the Egyptian armies decided to follow them and caught up with them at the waters of the Red Sea. And when the Egyptians were about to catch up and destroy the children of Israel, God sent a supernatural cloud which came down over them. First of all, it stood at their head, and then it moved and stood at their rear, separating them from the Egyptian army. And Paul says they were all baptized in the cloud. They were all immersed in the cloud. Because the cloud came down over their head and every Israelite entered into and passed through the cloud until it stood at their rear, then it separated them from the destroying armies of Egypt. It was their protection all through the night. And very interesting, it was light to the Israelites, darkness to the Egyptians. To the Israelites it was hope, guidance, comfort. But to the people of this world it was something dark, mysterious, unacceptable, that they had to keep their distance from. And that is how God protected Israel through that night.
But even the cloud did not provide the final protection. The final protection came when by faith the waters of the Red Sea parted. They entered into the water, passed through the water, and came up on the other side. And Paul says they were baptized unto Moses in the sea. These are types or patterns written for our admonition. What does the cloud typify? The baptism in the Holy Spirit. What does the sea typify? Baptism in water. They went down into the water, passed through the water, came up on the opposite side, a new people with a new leader, new laws, a new destination. They walked forth into newness of life. The thing that I want to emphasize is this, and it is of tremendous importance. The thing that finally separated God’s people from Egypt was not the blood of the lamb, nor was it the baptism in the cloud, it was the baptism in the sea. That was where the Egyptians could not follow. The Egyptians, seeking to go in without faith perished in the waters. Every Egyptian died, not one enemy could pass through the waters.
Now this is the real purpose of water baptism. It’s the final act of separation from the devil, his kingdom, his evil habits, his demons, and every rotten association of Egypt and its corrupt ways. And remember, I’m not talking about Egypt as a modern nation, but Egypt as a type of this sinful world in the Scriptures. The final separation came at the water. And this is where God has ordained in water baptism when you pass down in those waters, pass through and come up, that’s the last inch of territory that old enemy has any legitimate right to follow. Here is where every satanic, demonic power should be cut off. And if God’s people rightly practiced the things that go with water baptism—repentance, discipleship, and baptism in the understanding of identification with Jesus, we wouldn’t have to have deliverance services to get the demons out of God’s people. That is not the way it should be. But until we clean the camp out and restore the meaning of baptism, we’ll have to go on a little longer. But I envisage a day when the church now will be like the church in the New Testament. There weren’t any demons in the New Testament church. But it says of the rest, the unbelievers didn’t dare to add themselves. There was such a power, such a holiness, such a unity over that church, no unbeliever wanted to get in. And no demon could get in. And one of the great things to purify the church, and reconstitute it as God intended, that you and I follow the through the waters of baptism the way that God has ordained.
Let’s close in prayer. We’re going to pray now for those who are to be baptized briefly and commit them to the Lord.
Dear Father, we thank You that You once again illuminated the truths of Your Word. We thank You for every one that is here this afternoon to be baptized and become a disciple of Jesus Christ by this outward act of submission and identification. And now, Lord, we ask in the name of Jesus, Your special blessing upon each one from this day forward. May Your hand be upon that life, may the fullness of the ordinance of baptism be worked out for each believer for Your glory, in Jesus’ name we pray.
And all the people said: Amen.