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Baptism:  What was its purpose? 

Gary Googe Feb 07

Some would say water baptism was to depict one’s faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.  But where is that taught in the Bible? Is that a truth of scripture or someone’s assumption?  Again, where is that actually taught in the Bible?

I’m afraid most churches are trying to fulfill a commission that was given to another people.  The commission that is typically quoted is presented in Matthew’s writing.

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Emphasis added]

For a full explanation of what this commission was about and what is stated in Mark 16:15-20 about it, please see my article that explains it—

Baptism: Why did Paul baptize so few?

Nearly all denominational churches are seeking to operate on this commission that was initially given to The Twelve Apostles of Israel.  It should be obvious that the apostle Paul was not operating under this commission.  How could he when he made a statement like this—

1 Corinthians 1:17

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. [Emphasis added]

Isn’t it amazing to see so many people completely ignore this statement and carry right on with their beliefs from tradition? And what was this gospel the apostle Paul preached? Here is his record of it.

2 Corinthians 5:19

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [Emphasis added]

Did the Twelve Apostles know and/or understand this? The record of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection is in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but is what Christ accomplished through this explained there? It is not! One has to go to the writings of Paul to get the details about that.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

Because this message was first given to Paul and because it is different from what was given to The Twelve, Paul speaks of it as his gospel.

2 Timothy 2:8

8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: [Emphasis added]

This fact is also mentioned in two other passages—Romans 2:16 and 16:25. Why would he speak of it as his gospel if there wasn’t some significance to such a statement? It should be obvious to all that he did this to show that it was different, it was not the same gospel Peter and the eleven others preached.

The commission given to Paul and now to us today does not include water baptism, but it does include a new baptism.

1 Corinthians 12:13

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added]

This tells us the moment someone believes Paul’s gospel message; they are saved forever and made a member of what is called the Body of Christ.  This is a positional status everyone who accepts his gospel now holds as a wonderful blessing of God.  We are now united with Christ forever.

Ephesians 5:30 

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. [Emphasis added]

1 Corinthians 12:27

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. [Emphasis added]

God’s people have moved from the many baptisms Israel had to this one.  But is it this one baptism that gives us an intimate union with Christ, something that lasts forever? It surely does!

The water baptism that Israel had was to do with their induction into a special priesthood that was for Israel, not us today.  This was a blessing promised exclusively for Israel.

1 Peter 2:9-10

9 But ye [believing Israelites] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [PEROPOIESIS = purchased possession or acquired] people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

If you think of yourself as a believer-priest, as some do, who are you representing? Isn’t that what priests do? Aren’t they representatives of people before God? It was prophesied that the people of Israel would someday serve as priests for Gentiles before God.  That day still hasn’t come but will. If Israel had accepted her Messiah, all this would have already been fulfilled. But the whole program got interrupted with this time we are now a part of today known as the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. [Emphasis added]

Not one Gentile will be included in this.  This is a promise only to regenerate [born again or proselyte] Israelites.  It was in times past and will be in the coming Tribulation that these people of Israel are initiated into this group.

Exodus 29:1-4

1 And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,

2 And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.

3 And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams.

4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. [Emphasis added]

It is this that is the water baptism Peter is addressing. It has nothing to do with us today, but with regenerate Israel.  Again, if they had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, Christ would have returned and established His earthly kingdom in which regenerate Israel would have served as a priesthood.  But they rejected their Messiah and history was then interrupted with the salvation of Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9] who was saved and commissioned to introduce a whole new program in which we are a part today.

1 Timothy 1:16

16 Howbeit for this cause I [Paul] obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. [Emphasis added]

This change occurred when it became obvious that Israel was rejecting her Messiah.

Acts 3:14-21

14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer [Barabas] to be granted unto you;

15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

16 And his name through faith in his name [in His identity as the promised Messiah] hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

17 And now, brethren, I wot [OIDA = know] that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer [His death on the cross], he hath so fulfilled.

19 Repent ye therefore [METANOEO = change your mind and accept Him as your Messiah], and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when [HOPOS = so that] the times of refreshing [speaking of Christ’s millennial kingdom] shall come from the presence of the Lord.

20 And he shall send Jesus Christ [a reference to what we speak of as His second coming], which before was preached unto you:

21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things [the establishment of the millennial kingdom on Earth], which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. [Emphasis added]

Induction into this priesthood would involve a ceremonial washing, a baptism with water.

Hebrews 9:10

10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings [BAPTISMOS = baptisms], and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation [the time of the establishment of the millennial kingdom on Earth]. [Emphasis added]

It will be in this manner that all Israelites will be initiated into this kingdom of priests.  All this was started by John the Baptist [BAPTISTES = baptizer] but later interrupted because of Israel’s rejection of her Messiah. In the time of the coming Tribulation period, this will come back into practice, leading up to Christ’s return and establishment of His prophesied thousand-year [millennial] kingdom on Earth.

Luke 3:3-6

3 And he [John] came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

This baptism was to be a public display of the fact that they had personally changed their mind [repented] and decided to accept this Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah.

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;

Again, this is all to do with the establishment of the prophesied earthly kingdom that most of Christendom denies.

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. [Emphasis added]

Even the apostle Paul baptized some in the early years of his ministry.

1 Corinthians 1:14-16

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. [Emphasis added]

But afterward Paul stopped baptizing anyone.  He here tells us why by telling us what he’d learned and come to know about it.

1 Corinthians 1:17

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel [his gospel, the gospel of the grace of God by which anyone can be saved today]: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. [Emphasis added]

Exactly when was it that Paul stopped baptizing? It is this 1 Corinthians 1:17 verse that tells us it took place sometime between the time when he first went to Corinth [Acts 18] and when he wrote his first letter back to them. From that time on he makes it clear that there’s just this one baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit that is ours for us today [Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12].

Today we’re not preparing the way for a kingdom to be established on Earth. Instead, we’re eagerly looking for the Rapture when we’ll be taken up to our new home which will be in Heaven, not on a restored Earth.

Titus 2:13

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [Emphasis added]

For more information about the Rapture, please see my articles about it.  Here are the names of two of them.

Rapture: What is the meaning of this term?

Rapture:  How is this different from the Second Coming?

No prophecy has to be fulfilled for the Rapture to occur.  Paul tells us of historical trends, letting us know that as a whole things won’t get better on Earth until Christ Himself comes back to the Earth and establishes His earthly kingdom.

The “signs” of His return will be for Israel in the coming time of the Tribulation.  But we won’t be here then! We’ll already be enjoying our new home in Heaven.  For more information about this, please see my articles about it.  Here are the names of two of them.

Prophecy:  Is any being fulfilled today?

Jesus Christ:  Is His return soon?

Today, as you probably realize, the church is quite divided on the subject of water baptism.  That controversy would end immediately if people understood the uniqueness of the apostle Paul’s ministry and his message.  Here, too, I have articles about this on this website.

Paul: What’s so special about his teaching?

Paul: Do we make too much of him?

I hope you’ll read and study all of these.  That way you’ll be in a position to dispel some of the controversy that keeps the present-day church so divided.  At the same time, you’ll be a blessing to people when you help them understand the truth about some other very important controversial subjects concerning all this and more.

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