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A Brief Discourse On Baptism

Author: Mark Wattenbarger
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A Brief Discourse on Baptism


June 5, 2011


By: Elder Mark Wattenbarger


Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Romans 6:3


Baptism becomes indelibly linked with the idea of death and resurrection in a deeply spiritual way.  As the concept of baptism unfolds in scripture we can learn a great deal about what it is, what is its purpose in our lives, and how it is practiced today.


The physical death of our Lord was shameful, excruciating and symbolized the extreme sacrifice typical of one who is totally committed to serving.  Likewise, as Christ died, we are taught to “mortify the deeds of our flesh” and become “transformed by the renewing of our minds.”  This transformation takes place long before we enter the water.  By studying the events in Matthew chapter 3 we can gain some insight in to the method of baptism as well as the prerequisite state of the heart in each one who submits to baptism.


Early in chapter 3, Matthew writes about the events surrounding the baptism of Jesus.  It was notable as many people came to John at the Jordan River to be baptized.  He was a person spoken of in prophecy (v. 3) and was therefore a person of importance.  We notice, however, from verse 6 that a short phrase can reveal very much.  It is in this verse that we learn that these people came “confessing their sins.”  The question to ask is, “Why?”  Why come confessing sins unless the weight of the sin had settled already in the heart?  This one simple phrase seems to clearly reveal the state of their hearts, the felt need for a Savior.  If one is burdened with the weight of sin then the need to find a way out of that condemnation becomes acute.  Thus, these came from Jerusalem and all Judea confessing their sins.  We can reasonably conclude that a change in the heart and in the desire had occurred drawing people to John and the message he preached, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Baptism is not the method for bringing out this change because it has happened already.  The feeling of a need to find salvation and redemption from one’s own sinfulness is evidence of being born again.  Baptism is a ritual washing which illustrates the physical washing which has already occurred.


We further read, as John speaks later in this chapter, about how John perceives the work which he is doing.  In verse 11 John says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance…”  The word to draw attention to is “unto”.  This word means “because of” or “as a result of”.  It is exactly the same word translated “for” in Acts 2:38 where Peter says that the people should be baptized in the name of Christ “for the remission of sins”.  Because of the remission of sins, brought about by the blood of Christ, they should be baptized.  The repentance on the part of people who came to John was the evidence he was speaking of (Matt 3:8) which is put forward as proof positive that these people knew that a Savior is a necessity in their lives.  John says that seeking baptism with water is evidence that remission of sins is a past event.  He baptized with water because of the remission which had already occurred.  This before anyone ever set foot in the river!  So John the preacher takes himself out of the way, he is not needed except as the proper administrator for baptism.  It is the answer of a good conscience toward God as Peter states and it is not the washing away of the filth of the flesh.  That filth of the flesh is washed away by the very hand of God himself!


Adopted by Him, overwhelmed by His grace and the Spirit, baptized by the Holy Ghost and with fire, let each and every one of His children submit to baptism.  Let the answer of a good conscience ring through the words and deeds of each child of grace.  There is hope for every one seeking a solid place to stand when the world shifts underneath our feet.  We are loved by God with a love that never ends and granted entrance to a place of refuge while we yet live.  Glory to God Almighty, our Father in heaven!  We are encouraged by the example of our precious Lord to come to the baptismal water and acknowledge Him as our master.  Let the fruits of repentance be known and may we all rejoice in the symbol of baptism, symbol of that amazing change which is made in each of us, the miracle of new life, new hope and eternal glory secured by Christ our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Defender and our Friend!


Published: 2011-06-05 by MW


larry heldman  

Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)
Elder James Compton was the original founder of the 'Gospel of Grace Tape Supply.' His collection of tapes began as he traveled to Church meetings and Associations recording sermons on Reel to Reel. He has maintained this library of sermons faithfully over the years and are now the foundation of PB Sermons. org. This web site is dedicated to Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)