[size=150]Baptism: The Seal of Salvation[/size]
[size=130]A part of the gospel message[/size]
When was the gospel of Jesus Christ first proclaimed? I have heard some say that it began with Moses and the other Old Testament prophets. One man declared that it began with God’s command to Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But according to John Mark, author of “The Gospel of Mark”, the gospel of Jesus Christ began with John the baptizer, the one who announced the coming of Christ. After his introductory phrase that he was going to write about the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Mark quoted from Isaiah quoting the words of God that He was sending His messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. This messenger, of course, was John the baptizer, and it was he who first proclaimed the gospel.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—”
John the baptizer appeared in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forsaking of sins. (Mark 1:1-4)
The word “repent” does NOT mean “feel sorry.” Sorrow in keeping with God may result in repentance (2 Corinthains 7:10), but it is not repentance itself. What then IS repentance, the first requirement for entering the Kingdom of God? The Greek word translated “repent” literally means “have a change of mind” or we might say “have a change of heart and mind”.
1.John the baptizer preached repentance and announced the Kingdom of God:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the desert of Judea,“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1,2)
2. Jesus also preached repentance:
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14,15)
Jesus also baptized those who surrendered their lives to Him and followed Him (or rather His disciples baptized those who submitted to His Lordship.
3. Peter preached repentance and baptism:
When those Jews who were responsible for Jesus’ death, were cut to the heart at the words of Peter, and asked what they should do, Peter replied, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forsaking of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Peter’s gospel contained the same message, “Repent and be baptized.” The only difference was that now that Christ had died and been raised, and the Holy Spirit was given on that special day of Pentecost, those who repented and were baptized received the Holy Spirit.
4.The apostle Paul also indicated the necessity of repentance when He brought the gospel message.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all people everywhere to repent … (Acts 17:30)
5. Paul also announced the Kingdom of God when he preached the gospel:
Now [Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching about the lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered. (Acts 28:30,32)
6. Baptism is Necessary in Order to Enter the Kingdom of God
Baptism is necessary to be part of the Kingdom. It might be compared to signing a contract in order to make a deal. If you refuse to sign — no deal! Many believe that Jesus showed that baptism was necessary when he said:
"Truly, truly, I tell you, unless one is generated (or “begotten”) out of water and spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
I think it likely that Jesus’ reference to being generated out of water refers to baptism. We have already read how John the baptizer proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forsaking of sins. We have also read how Peter preached, “Repent and be baptized for the forsaking of sins." Paul (or other workers) baptized all who came to Christ. Paul himself had his sins washed away, not when he obeyed the voice of Christ which he heard on the road to Damascus but when he was baptized. (Acts 22:16)
Peter writes of “baptism which now saves you.” (I Peter 3:21)
We read in Mark’s gospel that Jesus commissioned his disciples with the words:
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15,16)
Now if baptism were unnecessary why would not say simply that he who believes will be saved?
So the following were the three elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
- Repent (Have a change of heart and mind).
- Be baptized.
- Enter the Kingdom of God (as disciples of Christ. Christ is the King, and His disciples are His subjects).
**During the first two centuries after Christ, Christian leaders also taught that one was regenerated (“was generated again” or “was begotten again”) when they were baptized **— not to say that being immersed in water has any magical effect, but rather that when one decides to be a disciple of Christ and submits to baptism, then what is pictured in baptism is be worked out in actuality within the person being baptized. Outwardly, he is being buried in water; inwardly and simultaneously, the person’s old self is being buried. Outwardly, he rises up out of the water; inwardly and simultaneously he rises up to a new life in Christ Jesus.
Paul taught that those of us who are baptized, are baptized into Christ’s death and our old self has been crucified so that sin will no longer have dominion over us:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:1-14)
When You Experience a True Baptism, You Experience Regeneration
This is what Justin Martyr (110-165 A.D.) has to say about baptism: