BAPTISM IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CHRIST
One of The Lord Yeshua-Christo’s teachings that conveys His message of salvation is regarding baptism. Different church groups vary with their understanding on the baptism that leads to salvation as instructed by The Lord. It is truly high time that we possess the right understanding of this teaching of The Lord Yeshua.
RELEVANCE OF BAPTISM
The Lord Yeshua imparts the importance of baptism:
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
The Lord commands that His gospel be preached to every creature and to baptize those who believe. What happens to those who are baptized? They will receive salvation.
COMMON UNDERSTANDING OF BAPTISM
The general consensus of ‘Christianity’ on baptism is the baptism that was performed by John the Baptist which involves immersion in water. This act of baptizing in water done by John the Baptist had become a rite and a ritual for the remission of sins. In fact, the apostles, and some were John’s former disciples, were doing the same baptism even while they were already with Christ. But let us remember how The Lord Christ discontinued religious rituals from all angles and invalidates their relevance to salvation in order to make it much easier for anyone to be saved (Jn 4:37-38 / Mat 11:30). One of those rites is that of baptism. But, how could it be when He commanded to baptize those who believe?
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST IS DIFFERENT FROM JOHN THE BAPTIST’S
Before we present the difference of the Baptist’s baptism from that commanded by Christ, let us first understand the true origin of the word ‘baptize’.
Middle English: via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin baptizare, from Greek baptizein immerse, baptize.
To baptize MEANS TO IMMERSE! As we all know, John the Baptist baptized or immersed people in the water, in fact, The Lord Yeshua asked the Baptist to baptize Him, despite the Baptist's initial hesitation in order to "fulfill all righteousness" (Mat. 1:15). What was the purpose of John the Baptist's mission of baptizing people with water at the Jordan River?
31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
The reason John the Baptist baptized people was for The Lord Yeshua be revealed to Israel, being part of his mission to prepare The Lord's way (Jn. 1:23). His process of baptizing people differs than that of The Lord's, but how so? How does The Christ baptize as testified by the Baptist himself?
8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Which is the Holy Spirit that The Christ baptized with?
63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
The Holy Spirit is the words that The Christ Yeshua spoke. If so, then it is with His words that He baptized or immersed people with. How logical could this understanding be? Unto what did He compare His words?
(John 4:11, 13-14)
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?...
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
As John the Baptist baptized with water, The Christ did not – He baptized with The Holy Spirit, the entity that evolved from His words. And His Word (singular as being the collective sum) is what He referred to as the water that will become a fountain of water that springs up into everlasting life unto him who will receive. This is the the living water that The Lord baptized people with.
THE BAPTISM THAT CHRIST COMMANDED PRIOR TO HIS ASCENSION
While Christ was on earth and preached His Word or the gospel, in the process He was baptizing those who believed with The Holy Spirit. But knowing that He will leave His disciples behind, what did He command them to do and unto what should they immerse (or baptize) those who believe?
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
The immersion (or baptism) that Christ mentioned in Mark 16:16 for those who believe is clarified by The Lord Yeshua himself in Matthew 28:19. Unto what should those who believe in the gospel be immersed (or baptized)? They SHOULD BE IMMERSED (OR BAPTIZED) IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. How can they be immersed in Their names? The Lord Yeshua explained, by preaching the gospel to them (Mark 16:15), and “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19), referring to His Word. This is the immersion - the immersion into the truth and knowledge about His Word or teaching about The Father, Himself and the Holy Spirit, that The Lord Yeshua-Christos commanded His disciples to do unto all the nation.
The apostles did not yet fully comprehend this instruction of The Lord, in the same way that they did not completely understand many of His sayings then. For this reason, they continued to perform water immersion unto those who believe. But for those who were immersed in water, was it the water immersion that cause them to receive the Holy Spirit and salvation?
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
Let us notice how The Holy Spirit was already received “upon all those who heard the word” before Peter even instructed water immersion or baptism. It was NOT BY LITERAL WATER BUT BY THE WORD, THE LIVING WATER IN CHRIST that they were saved (John 4:13-14).
How is it a fact that it is not by water immersion that people who believe in The Christ Yeshua were sanctified and thus saved proven by The Savior?
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
The Divine Word of God that is personified in His Son Yeshua, and not water immersion, is what sanctifies people who are in Christ. But why did The Lord not stop His disciples from continuing the baptism ritual of John the Baptist while He was still with them? Because He knew then that the Jews were already accustomed to the water immersion ritual that started even before the time of John the Baptist, and that they are not yet ready for a NEW TRUTH. This is one of those things that He indirectly pinpointed when He stated in His parable that “no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5:39).
The immersion (or baptism) taught by The Lord that transforms people into His disciples is the immersion in the knowledge and truth about The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, and NOT WITH WATER. It is when one is immersed in the truth or the Word of Christ, that His Word “will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life”, meaning he will attain enlightenment, salvation and eternal life as His living words are spirit and life (John 6:63). Those made disciples by virtue of the immersion in the LIVING WATER of The Savior not only believe but more importantly always abide in His words (Jn. 8:31) and He continues to manifest in them the things that He heard from God (Jn. 15:15) as this is His anointing unto them - that they will know all things that He wants them to know (1 Jn. 2:20).
The Lord Yeshua broke all barriers and discontinued any rites and rituals as well as all forms of sacraments. He did this so that none among those who truly believe in Him and His Word would miss the opportunity to be covered by His salvation. And one of those rites discontinued is that of water immersion or baptism. How did He prove this understanding to be true? He saved the criminal on the cross by His words of promise although He was not immersed in water (Luke 23:39-43). And HE WILL do DO THE SAME TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVE IN HIM AND HIS TRUTH wherever they are in the world irrespective of the Jewish rite of water immersion.
Related reading on the Holy Spirit: