What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?

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What types of baptism are practiced in the Churches?

There is more than one type of baptism practiced in the Christian world. There is:

  • Sprinkling or Pouring on the Head
  • Infant Baptism
  • Submersion under water.

Sprinkling or pouring water on the head

There are no Scriptures in the Bible that describe baptism as the sprinkling or pouring of water on the head.

The first instances in the Bible where individuals were baptized was accomplished by John the Baptist.

Did John the Baptist sprinkle water or submerse the person under water?

“Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized” (John 3:23, NKJ).

And He [Jesus] went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first” (John 10:40, NKJ).

If all John was doing was sprinkling water to baptize, he did not need to worry about being near the “much water” of the Jordan River. Clearly, John was doing more than just sprinkling those he baptized.

Infant Baptism

Is infant baptism scriptural?

Nowhere in the Bible do we find infant baptism mentioned. Although at times the Scriptures do mention the baptism of households, they never specifically mention children or infants.

For example, in Acts 8, Philip preached to the people of Samaria.

“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12, NKJ).

Notice, there is no mention of Philip baptizing infants in Samaria; just men and women.

In Mark 16:16, Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”

It would not be possible for a newborn infant to understand who Christ is, let alone believe in him.

Remember the question Jesus asked James and John in Mark 10:38,

Are you able to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

A newborn infant would not be capable of answering Jesus’ question, let alone responsibly making such a commitment.

Submersion (Dunking) into Water

Now we do find examples in the New Testament of adult baptism and in every case we believe the baptism was a submersion into water. For example:

“When He [John] had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him” (Matthew 3:16).

” (38) So he [Philip] commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (39) Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the LORD caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:38-39).

The only way Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch could have “come up” out of the water is if they have been submersed under it.

Greek Definition Of Baptism:

In support of this conclusion that baptism is submersion, let us looks at some definitions.

STRONGS: 907 baptizo (bap-tid’-zo); to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet).

VINES: baptism, baptist, baptize.

A. Nouns.

1. baptisma (908), “baptism,” consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from bapto, “to dip”).

B. Verb.

baptizo (907), “to baptize,” primarily a frequentative form of bapto, “to dip,” was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another.

So this word has the meaning of complete submersion under water. Certainly when dying, the garment must be totally submerged in the dye.

There is a variation of this word.

2. baptismos (909), as distinct from baptisma (the ordinance), is used of the “ceremonial washing of articles,” in some texts; once in a general sense.

This word is only found four times in the New Testament and refers to ceremonial washings.

John’s Baptism & Its Purpose

Let us talk about John’s (the Baptist’s) baptism. John’s work was not for the Gentiles. His work of baptism was intended to reveal Jesus to the Israelites only, but John did not baptize believers into Christ. That would come later, after Pentecost. His work was not for the Gentiles.

In John 1:29-31 we read, “(29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. (31) I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.‘”

So John the Baptist was baptizing in order to reveal Jesus to Israel only, not yet to the Gentiles.

Bearing fruit was an evidence of those who had sincerely baptized. As John the Baptist said, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8, NKJ).

John’s baptism required a personal confession of sins. “And all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5, NKJ).

Repentance and typical cleansing restored repentant Jews back to the condition of harmony with God as enjoyed under the Law Covenant and through the tabernacle arrangement.

“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4, NKJ).

The Jews had not previously practiced individual baptism. The whole nation was recognized as “baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).

In what sense were the Israelites “baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud”? 
We answer: When the Israelites passed through the Red Sea they were surrounded by water, and Paul mentions that this is a picture of them being baptized. The cloud is mentioned in Exodus 13:22, “He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” We think that that was the cloud Paul referred to as over the Israelites — so that in that sense they were surrounded from above by water as well.

The Jews were already children of God and heirs of the covenants and promises, and their washing away of their sins meant their coming near again to God, and into closer touch with all the promises and the blessings thereof (Harvest Gleanings I, 1HG255).

John the Baptist’s baptism, was “for the remission of avoidable sins, gross sins. The godly Jews were not intended, nor expected, to come to John to be baptized. He said, ‘Now come, if you want to get ready for Messiah’s kingdom, and try to keep the law the best you are able and take this water immersion, accepting this as a sign of your putting away sin and starting a new course of life.’ This is all that baptism meant to the Jews. That was not a regular institution. It was a peculiar thing that belonged just to the end of the [Jewish] age, and John tried there to especially prepare a people by this preaching of holiness and putting away of sin for the Messiah; for the testimony is that if they had believed John they would have believed Jesus. If they disbelieved John and disregarded what he said, and were not careful to come back into harmony with God, and become as holy as they were able to do, then they were not in a condition to receive the message God had to give” (What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book, Q34:3).

This typical cleansing available to the Jews is discussed in Leviticus & Hebrews.

“For on that day [of Atonement] the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Leviticus 16:30).

“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).

So John baptized the Jews for repentance and remission of sins similar to the typical cleansing as was accomplished in the tabernacle by the sacrifice of bulls and goats on the Day of Atonement. Every Jew under the Law Covenant was a member of the house of Moses (Hebrews 3:5). As mentioned above, the Jews were baptized unto Moses in the sea and in the cloud (1 Corinthians 10:12). As natural branches of the olive tree the Jews did not need en-grafting into Christ (Romans 11:16-21). John could not baptize Gentiles since they could not by repentance be restored back to a position they had never occupied.

After Pentecost, John’s baptism was replaced by Christian baptism into Christ.

In the book of Acts we have an incident where some of John’s disciples, after hearing the gospel, were baptized again, this time into Christ; after which they received the holy Spirit.

Acts 19:1-6 – “(1)… Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples (2) he said to them, ‘Did you receive the holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a holy Spirit.’ (3) And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ (4) Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (6) And when Paul had laid hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (7) Now the men were about twelve in all.”

These disciples were baptized twice (John’s & Christ’s). Bro. Charles T. Russell teaches, “The Apostle instructed them more fully, assuring them that John’s baptism was all right in its time and place, but that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus, baptized into Christ” (Harvest Gleanings I, HG732:6).

In Acts 2:41 three thousand people were baptized and among these, there may have also been some that had been baptized by John earlier.

‘Never is it said of any Gentile that he was baptized unto repentance and remission of sins, that he got back into Moses and in accord with the law. On the contrary, the apostle shows that we and all spiritual Israelites coming from among the Gentiles, come into Christ in a different way from that in which the Jews became related to him. I call your attention to the apostle’s argument in Rom. 11:17-24, where he uses an olive-tree as a symbol or picture. He tells us that that olive-tree was primarily the Jewish nation; that its root was the Abrahamic promise; its branches were the individual Jews. It was to those branches that John preached the baptism of repentance. Many of them were defiled, living in sin, and he urged them to repent and be washed, cleansed; that otherwise they would be broken off. And so it was when Messiah was manifest; the prepared ones, Israelites indeed, in whom was no guile, were ready for him, received him and he received them, and they continued to be branches of that olive, tree. But the great mass of the branches, as the apostle goes on to explain, were broken off because they did not receive our Lord, because they were not in the right condition of heart, not “Israelites indeed, without guile” (Harvest Gleanings I, HG).

Christian Baptism and Its Meaning

Christian baptism has many elements that are similar to John’s baptism and some elements that are different. As with the Jews baptized by John’s baptism, Christians are to confess and repent from their sins.

“And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds” (Acts 19:18).

“(46) Then he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, (47) and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem'” (Luke 24:46-47).

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).

Br. Charles Russell teaches, “This baptism was for Jews only, who had already been baptized into Moses in the sea and the cloud. Sins thus figuratively washed away did not include original sin, but merely minor transgressions against the Mosaic law.” (Reprints of the Original Watchtower 4308:5, 6th Volume of Studies in the Scriptures p.428, Harvest Gleanings I, 600:1,2)

John the Baptist could only provide typical remission. The Christian receives a real remission of sins through actual justification by Jesus’ blood.

John’s baptism pointed the Jews to Christ, but the Christian is to actually believe in Christ and accept Him as their Savior. Let’s see how this is shown in the Scriptures.

“(36) Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ (37) Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’” (Acts 8:36-37).

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).

So faith in Jesus Christ is a requirement for the Christian baptism.

Baptism Into Christ – Not Into An Organization

Although those baptized into John’s baptism were to bear fruit, the Christian’s death to sin, walking in newness of life and drinking of the cup is a far deeper action. Christian baptism is more than the pursuit of righteousness. It is the total death of self will and a total commitment to sacrifice ALL — one’s time, talent and possessions to the Lord, often at the cost of suffering and persecution.

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

“(3) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (11) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (13) And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:3-13).

So we see from the 6th chapter of Romans and lowering the candidate into the water represents the death of the Old Man with his sinful ways and the raising up of the candidate shows our walk in newness of life as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. Notice how Romans 6:3 teaches that we are baptized into Christ’s death.

No scripture talks about being baptized into Jehovah’s organization. Also see how the following text show we are actually baptized into Christ.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NASV).

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38, NASV).

Ultimate Purpose of Baptism

What is the ultimate purpose of Christian baptism? Certainly to lay down our lives in the Lord’s service is purpose enough, but the Bible shows a purpose even beyond that.

Just as going to medical school is of no benefit to humanity unless the student becomes a practicing doctor, so it is with the Christian.

Context:

“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed'” (Galatians 3:8, NKJ).

“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).

“(27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have PUT ON Christ… (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27,29).

Those who are baptized are Abraham’s seed through whom God’s purpose is to bless all the families of the earth. This is the ultimate purpose of baptism.

The same point is expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:29.

“Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?”

This passage says that we are baptized for the dead,” not “into death.” The ultimate purpose of baptism is to bless all the families of the earth.

Many translations agree with this wording, “baptized for the dead.” The translators do not believe this. They would rather not translate this text. Peter puts it this way:

“receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9, NKJ).

The word “your” is in italics. The thought is that the outcome of our faith, THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE, will be the salvation of mankind.

Does water baptism cancel sins? 

The traditional view among Catholic and many Protestant denominations is that baptism is necessary for salvation, forgiveness and the cancellation of sins. Not only do they believe it necessary, but some feel it must be performed in a prescribed fashion in order to secure salvation.  Some of their supposed proof texts are:

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:38).

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

“There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism” (1 Peter 3:21).

These texts are telling us that those who are baptized will be saved and receive a remission or washing away, of sins. So are the Catholics and many Protestants correct in believing that the act of baptism is necessary for salvation?

No. Where these Christians are wrong is that it is NOT “water baptism” that saves us.  Rather, the true baptism saves us, that is, consecration and the resultant justification by Christ’s blood. Water baptism cannot save.  It is merely a symbol of the true baptism and the resultant justification that can save us.

Baptism is the outward sign of an invisible grace from our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9, ESV). 

We are saved by Jesus’ act of justification, not by our symbolic act of water baptism.

Water Baptism Is Symbolic

Many Scriptures establish that water baptism itself is merely a symbol and that it does not have intrinsic atoning qualities.

Luke 12:50 – “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”

Jesus had already received water baptism by John, so in this case the word “baptism” must be symbolic of more than the literal water baptism. This is also borne out in Mark 10:38-39 (see also Matthew 20:22-23):

“(38) Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you ask. Can you drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ (39) They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized.'” 

More evidence of the symbolic nature of water baptism is found in Colossians 2:11-12 (ESV):

“(11) In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Notice here that both circumcision & water baptism are symbolic of putting away sin.  Obviously “circumcision” here is not literal. The Christian is not literally required to be circumcised as were the Jews under the Law. This is the symbolic circumcision of the heart. So, just like circumcision is symbolic, likewise, water baptism here is also symbolic.

Next is another symbolic usage of baptism, although a much different one.

“(11) I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12, ESV). 

The baptism by “fire” is symbolic of the judgment and destruction upon the nation of Israel as stated in verse 12, “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Just as the baptism by fire is symbolic, so is water baptism.

We are not saved by the symbol “water baptism,” but by the reality of it, the meaning of which we will get to shortly.

Born of Water – Spirit Begettal

Many believe John 3:5 teaches that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It says, “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'”

The word “baptism” is no where to be found in this context. “Water here is symbolic of the Word of Truth. Without the Bible we would not have the necessary knowledge to grow in Christ and enter God’s Kingdom.

Our growth in Christ through his Word (the Holy Scriptures) is illustrated by the Greek word genno, that is Strongs #1080. Vines defines it as:

BEGET, BEAR (OF BEGETTING), BORN

gennao —“to beget,” in the passive voice, “to be born,” is chiefly used of men “begetting” children; more rarely of women “begetting” children (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985).

So in John 3:5 we are “begotten of water.” This means that we are spiritually begotten by Truth.

Br. Charles Russell writes “We see that symbolical water represents truth, and that our begetting of the holy Spirit is said to be also a begetting ‘through the Word of truth’” (James 1:18). (Reprints of the Original Watchtower: R.4124:6, R.3600:6, R.2422:1.)

In support of this we will quote four scriptures which relate begettal to the Word of God.

“Of his own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18, KJV).

“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15, NKJ).

“…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of GOD which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).

“…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

So we see that John 3:5 does not teach that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It actually teaches that we are begotten as New Creatures in Christ by the Truth of God’s word. It is the guidance from God’s Word that develops the embryo New Creature in Christian growth, preparing us for our ultimate Spiritual birth, after the first resurrection.

Saved By Belief, Grace & Justification, Not Saved By Baptism

There are many more Scriptures that talk about us as being saved, but it’s not by water baptism, it is by belief in Jesus Christ and the resultant grace of God and justification to life.

“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“(30) And he [the jailer] brought them [Paul & Silas] out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ (31) So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household'” (Acts 16:30-31).

“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

“Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

“If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

“(1) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, (2) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you– unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

“Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.)” (Ephesians 2:5).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

The Jerusalem Counsel never addressed the issue of baptism when presenting minimum requirements expected of the Gentile brothers.

“(28) For it seemed good to the holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: (29) that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell” (Acts 15:28-29).

Where is water baptism on this list? If it were necessary for salvation, certainly the Apostles would have required it of the Gentile brethren.

“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved'” (Acts 15:1).

Some Christians today take the same approach with baptism as these Jews took of circumcision, that it is a requirement for salvation.

Saved By Baptism?

In 1 Peter we find scriptures used by many Christians to again attempt to prove that water baptism is necessary for salvation.

“(19) by whom also He [Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison, (20) who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine long suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (21) There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:19-22).

Does this passage prove we are saved by literal water baptism? The simple answer here is that Peter is not talking about literal water baptism. In verse 21, He describes “baptism” as “a good conscience toward God.”  That word “conscience” is also used in the prior chapter.

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” (1 Peter 2:19, KJV).

So the word “conscience” connected with the word “baptism” refers to suffering for righteousness sake. Hence, the word “baptism” is talking about living our consecration.  Our consecration results in justification by the ransom to life. That is what saves us.

It is interesting to note from verse 21 that we are not saved by the “removal of the filth of the flesh,” that is, we are not saved simply by John’s baptism, the repentance from sin. But we must go beyond that to consecration INTO Christ’s death and this involves cheerful in the spirit, willing patient endurance and sacrifice of self-will and self-interest.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Baptized In Who’s Name?

In whose name is the Christian baptized? Many quote the great commission of Matthew 28:19 to prove we are baptized into the Trinity, not into Jesus Christ alone.

“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” (Matthew 28:19).

If we accept the translation as is, it does not prove that we are baptized into the Trinity, but merely the desperation of those who strive in vain to find support for this false doctrine, in Scripture. This passage does not state that these three are one person, nor anything of the kind.

In conflict with this, six other Scriptures refer baptism in the name of Jesus, not baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of Matthew 28:19.

Let us look at these Scriptures that contradict Matthew 28:29. Notice that in none of these texts was anyone baptized in the name of the Father, Son and holy Spirit.

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).

“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of GOD and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12).

“For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus(Acts 8:16).

“And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days” (Acts 10:48).

“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into HIS DEATH ?” (Romans 6:3).

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How else are we “baptized into Christ’s death?

We need to surrender our wills to God, as Jesus did. He said, “Lo I come…to do thy will, O God. I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is written in my heart” (Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:7).

We dedicate or consecrate our all to follow and obey the Lord with our minds, hearts, and our whole beings. This is a total dedication of service to do God’s will. When consecrated, we walk “in newness of life,” having a new, different direction or purpose. We pattern our lives after our dear Redeemer.

A few days before his crucifixion, Jesus stated, “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50) This shows that in Jesus’ baptism, water was a symbol of his real baptism in death. It was about to be accomplished at Calvary. Like Christ, we who dedicate our lives to the Lord make ourselves “dead” to the world’s pursuits. Instead, we pursue heavenly things, studying the scriptures to find out what God’s will is for us. Our desire is to prove faithful unto death and be resurrected with Christ in a divine and immortal body (Philippians 3:10, 11; Romans 2:7, Revelation 2:10).

Water baptism is a witness to others of what has taken place in our hearts with the Lord and our commitment to Him, as well as symbolizing that life of baptism. The individual places himself in the arms of another, and being fully immersed in the water, is dependent on that person to help him up. He comes out of the water into “newness of life.” This is the new life to which he has committed himself until he dies. Hence, we believe water baptism is necessary, not for salvation, but for a witness of that life of commitment.

SO WHAT NOW?

Are you interested to GIVE UP your life rights on earth to inherit what eye has not seen nor ear heard … to inherit a life with Jesus and those who have now given up the pride of life and disclaim all rights to themselves, to their soul, to their body, to their time, to their health, to their reputation, to their talents or to anything that they own?

 If you confess to be the property of Jesus Christ your Redeemer, then:

  DEDICATE YOURSELF

to belong entirely to Jesus now,

to serve, love and trust him as your life and salvation until your life’s end and show this through baptism.

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

God is now selecting men and women of faith for special honors during the Millennium. Namely, to reign with Christ in heaven as spiritual rulers of the world, to lead the world to righteousness, godliness, and truth and raise all the dead of past Ages. Satan’s demons now lead the world into sin and ignorance. Then, Christ and his saints will lead the world into obedience and understanding (Revelation 20:1-6).

High Standards

When we understand the high honor to which the saints are called, we better appreciate the high standards that are expected of them.

(1) Godly conduct
(2) Character Development
(3) Study of the Truth
(4) Service and Sacrifice.

Consecration

We enter the race for the “prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14) by consecrating our life to GOD.

This we do in personal prayer to God, committing our life and service and interests to God hereafter.

If this step is taken, then it is proper to symbolize that decision with water baptism, as a testimony to others.

(11) The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; (12) if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:11-12, ESV).

If you have not considered the matter of consecration, take time to do so.

Read our Lord’s words about this decision, thoughtfully, in Luke 14:27‑35.
Remember the blessings promised, and the conditions for them:

“by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7).

Remember the privilege of being with Christ, in heaven, to bless “all the families of the earth” during the Millennium. God wishes us to respond favorably. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

So dear brethren, let us pursue our consecration with determination and great zeal, so that we may please our Father and be prepared for our future mission.

Click here to watch a baptism service video

References and Acknowledgement:

Br. Peter Karavas & our brethren in Christ at http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/

Br. Charles Taze Russell: What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book, Q34:3; Harvest Gleanings I; Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, Studies in the Scriptures – Volume 6.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985.

STRONG’S Concordance.

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/09/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

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Understanding Psalm 50 — “Gather My saints together unto Me”

Psalm 50, 1.jpgThis Psalm is a Psalm of judgment. It opens with a proclamation.

VERSE 1: “The Mighty One, God, Jehovah, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.”

The various names of God here are impressive. He is called “Yaweh El Elohim,” or Jehovah the mighty one of mighty ones, or Yaweh, the God of Gods. Clearly, we understand the powerful God we are dealing with here.

The Psalm proclaims that this mighty One “hath spoken.” How does Jehovah speak?

The answer is, almost always through intermediaries.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds [ages]” (Hebrews 1:1,2).

Paul explains here that in the times before Christ the mighty Jehovah spoke by the prophets, but in the first century, he spoke by His Son, Jesus.

This first verse reports Jehovah calling the “earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.” This interesting expression is used to mark the beginning of the Millennial Age. It occurs twice in Malachi.

“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts (Malachi 1:11).

This is a clear reference to the Millennial Kingdom. Only in that Kingdom will the name of Jehovah be “great among the Gentiles,” and only in that Kingdom will incense be offered “in every place.”

With healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall (Malachi 4:2).

Who would deny that this beautiful metaphor is a reference to Jesus himself?

Our Lord Jesus, with Kingly power and love, will heal the nations in the Millennium.

A text in Psalms speaks of the same thing. Note the link between “sun” and “bridegroom.”

“Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race” (Psalms 19:4,5).

Here the line or rule of God’s glory goes out through all the earth. This describes the sun in a tent which is opening up, and compares it to a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.

The work of the Mediatorial Kingdom is to raise mankind to perfection… to re-stand them where Adam once stood… to resurrect them!

Having achieved that and put down all enemies, Jesus surrenders his oversight back to the heavenly Father.

“When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

This idea is further advanced with an observation about Hebrews 7:17, “He testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

The word “forever” is from the Greek eis ton aiona (Strong’s #165). It means “for the age” (“unto the age” in Marshall’s Interlinear). In other words, Jesus functions as a Priest for the world only during the Millennium. Once mankind is made perfect, they need no intercessory Priest, they need no Mediator. They can stand holy and pure before God without fear.

Zion, the Perfection of Beauty

Verse 2: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth.”

The literal location of “Zion” was in Jerusalem. It was the location of David’s throne. Looking in God’s word for uses of this word, “Zion,” we find several references to the heavenly government of Christ, the heavenly phase of the Kingdom. Here are a few:

  • “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalms 2:6). The second Psalm is prophetic of the conflict in the earth when the Kingdom is being set up. Jehovah himself installs Jesus as King, “upon my holy hill of Zion.” The heavenly Kingdom—God’s holy hill—is said to be of Zion.
  • Similarly, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King (Psalms 48:1, 2).
  • “The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah…Of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her” (Psalms 87:2-3; 5). Verse 5 refers to the faithful followers of Jesus, who, like Jesus, will be born in Zion and comprise part of that Heavenly government.
  • The Apostle John refers to this same class in the book of Revelation. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
  • They are mentioned again with emphasis in chapter 14: “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion [Zion], and with him 144,000, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1). The light of God shines forth out through this government, and this shining is done through Christ and his completed Bride.

Verse 3: “Our God cometh, and doth not keep silence: A fire devoureth before him, And it is very tempestuous round about him.”

This “fire” reminds one of Sinai where the Law was given. Fire also is a general symbol of discerning judgment and purification.

God has kept silence during the permission of evil. It is necessary for man to learn about the exceeding sinfulness of sin. But the time for judgment eventually comes. The symbol of fire is often connected with judgment, both positive and negative. When Israel came to Mount Sinai to receive the Law, Jehovah “came down” upon the mountain. Fire is included in the manifestations of the presence of the Lawgiver (Exodus 19:18).

The picture of Israel receiving the Law and standing before the great Judge foreshadows the same activity for the world at the setting up of the Kingdom. But in this period of judgment, the judgment begins with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

Malachi provides a positive example where judgment begins with the servants of God.

“Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi … as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:2-3).

The fire of judgment reveals the true character of each one.

Paul used a similar expression. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest … the day shall declare it … it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

Gathering of the Saints

Verse 4: “He calleth to the heavens above, and to the earth, that he may judge people.”

The twin symbols of “heavens” and “earth” often refer to the religious and civil powers in the world during the reign of sin and death.

This judgment is of God’s true and professed people, both. Christendom at this time comes under intense judgment revealing their true nature. Recall that the tares of Jesus’ parable are burned (Matthew 13:40).

The individuals who are the tares are not necessarily destroyed; their professions are exposed as false. Following this begins the process of making the new heavens and new earth.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away (Revelation 21:1).

Through this judgment comes what is the hope and joy of all of the consecrated at the end of the age, namely, their gathering to Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1).

Verse 5: “Gather my saints together unto me, Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” This gathering occurs simultaneously on two fronts.

  1. The gathering of the saints out of Christendom during the Harvest (Mark 13:27; Luke 17:30, 37; Revelation 3:20).

Even our conversations are being gathered and recorded. This evidence is compiled to determine who will eventually make up the Kingdom, the “jewels” of Jehovah.

  1. The gathering of the saints beyond the veil to their heavenly home (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

This is the gathering in glory, the ultimate recognition and reward for faithfulness and willing cheerful (in the spirit) sacrifice.

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Presenting ourselves in sacrifice is our vow or covenant of consecration until death which we can do only thanks to the gift of justification by the blood of Jesus which makes us acceptable and holy in the eyes of God. This verb “present” is a specific act, as indicated by its use in Luke 2:22. There, the baby Jesus is presented before the high priest, as prescribed in Leviticus 12:1-4,6: And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.”

That our “covenant by sacrifice” is a sacrificial death of the flesh is seen in Romans 6:3-6:

“So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death … we are buried with him by baptism into death … 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, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Note the following parallels that Paul makes:

Verse 6: “The heavens shall declare his righteousness; For God is judge himself. Selah.”

These heavens are the new heavens, for the old heavens seldom honored God for His righteousness.

Distinctions in the Service of God

Verse 7: “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.”

Remembering that the Psalm is about judgment, we see in this verse a return of attention to nominally Christian organizations for judgment, just as in ancient times. The testimony now is against those who claim to be God’s people but do not behave accordingly, as seen the texts above.

Jesus said there would be true, devoted, faithful followers, as well as nominal followers for whom Christianity exerted no real power in their lives. We also have those among the truly spirit begotten that lose their way and lose their focus. These, while accepted of God, nevertheless fail as respects that HIGHEST reward due to a dilution of their consecrations.

In this regard, we might enumerate the classes of Christians that exist during the Gospel Age:

  • The Little Flock, faithful and zealous to the end (Luke 12:32).
  • The Great Company, ultimately faithful, but lost focus and zeal during their walk (Revelation 7:9-17).
  • The Second Death Class (Hebrews 10:26-30).
  • Nominal Christians, Christians in name only. They believe they have some sort of relationship with Christ, but have nothing of the sort in reality (Matthew 7:21-23).

God, through Christ, deals with all of these classes in one way or another.

Verse 8: “I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.”

Burnt offerings bring to mind the law for free-will offerings (Leviticus 22:18-21).

God does not criticize or “reprove” free-will offerings, that is, good works. But “good works” are not sufficient in the Day of Judgment. Many nominal Christians view their service to God as if it were a monetary exchange, where God owes them something for their good works to Him. But God does not. He sees no obligation when an offering is made. The next two verses make this clear.

Verses 9-11: “I will take no bullock out of thy house nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls … and the wild beasts of the field are mine.”

God is not interested merely in things. Anything that they design to give Him, He already owns! All of the animals offered on the altars of ancient Israel were the property of Jehovah–the assets of God!

In addition, when someone makes an offering to God with the expectation of reward, they exhibit an ignorance of what God really looks for. This can be tragic.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22,23).

Is this not sad? How careful we must be not to imbibe of the spirit of nominalism.

God owes us nothing. He blesses us out of His own love. We are creatures OF GRACE who have the PRIVILEGE of knowing him and worshiping him.

Verses 12, 13: “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?”

Recall that this Psalm began with a majestic introduction of God—El Elohim, Yahweh! This is the Grand Creator, the source of all energy and life. God is not intimate with any nominal believer. He does not share with such His needs for they have no resource to meet His requirements. On the contrary, it is their needs that require God’s resources!

Our Thanksgiving to God

Verse 14: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.”

Those who worship God with “spirit and truth” (John 4:23) must offer “thanksgiving” and pay their “vows.”

The Hebrew word for “thanksgiving” is todah (Strong’s #8426) and it means “a thank offering or praise.” It is interesting to see the various meal offerings that were to be offered with “thank-offerings.”

“If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice … unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Leviticus 7:12,13).

Four types of bread were to be provided with a “thank-offering”:

  1. Unleavened cakes mingled with oil — Our Justification and Sanctification. Unleavened bread is a symbol of purity, of sinlessness, and brings our minds to the state of justification, being declared righteous through the blood of Christ. The mingling with oil brings to mind our spirit begettal, as olive oil is often used to signify the holy Spirit, as in the holy anointing oil.
  1. Unleavened wafers anointed with oil — Our hope of glorification: A wafer is translucent. Light passes through it but not with clarity, though one can discern shadows and shapes. This suggests our hope of glory. It is not yet seen clearly, but it is an anchor for the soul which purifies us (1 John 3:2,3, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Hebrews 6:19).
  1. Fried cakes mingled with oil— Our Fiery Experiences. The church must be severely tried. Without such experiences, no one can expect to receive the divine nature. As Jesus had to endure, so must each one of his followers. These trials are like refining fire. They purge and purify!
  1. Leavened bread — Thankfulness in spite of our sinful flesh. God justifies us, but does not make our flesh perfect. We must serve under difficult conditions of sin in our flesh and in the world. We must not allow these conditions to break our thankfulness! They are important in our development and allow us to show how much we love our God.

The second key Hebrew word in verse 14 is “vows.” It is from the Hebrew word nedar (Strong’s #5088) and it simply means vow. Vows under the law were associated with blood sacrifices (Leviticus 22:18-21).

A true consecration during the Gospel age involves vows unto death and “dying daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). This association with sacrificial death is even stronger in Psalm 116:14-18,

“I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, truly I am thy servant … thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.”

Nested between the two references to paying vows is the thought that “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Also notice the particular details mentioned in these verses:

  • “In the presence of all his people” — this is a public display of loyalty and faithfulness!
  • “Precious” — this is how God values our consecrations. From a study of what is precious to Jehovah, here are five items:

– Psalm 49:8; 72:14 — The Ransom Price.

– Psalm 116:15 — The Death of his Saints.

– Psalm 126:6 — Seed, representing the freeing of captivity.

– Psalm 133:2 — Ointment, representing the Holy Spirit.

– Psalm 139:17 — The thoughts of God.

  • “Death of his saints” — death in the service of God is the fate of the consecrated, the called ones, the “saints.”

Final Deliverance and Blessings

Verse 15: “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

Making vows unto God and giving him daily thanksgiving will often result in persecution. Our loving heavenly Father promises deliverance from these. He is with the Church at all times and will strengthen us in times of trouble. Although the deliverance may be through death, there will be a final deliverance and blessings. What a deliverance that will be!

“Unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

We may only come into “the presence of his glory” through death. But awakening in the first resurrection will certainly be with exceeding joy!

In verses 16 through 22, the Psalmist considers those who do not have the spirit of consecrated sacrifice unto death. As mentioned earlier, this is a judgment Psalm, and the judgment against the wicked and those who falsely take on the mantle of God’s servants is severe. Particularly, Christians who are but nominally so need to take heed. Their pretensions will be unmasked in the sight of all.

Verse 23: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” This final verse shows the value of praising God.

It is not that Jehovah needs our praise. Rather, our God understands from our makeup that praising Him will not only bring us the greatest joy in life, but will also develop an attitude and character that will preserve us for all eternity. Praising God is good for us!

The word “conversation” here is from the Hebrew derek (Strong’s #1870). It means “way, journey, habit, course of life.” This verse speaks of our conduct as worshippers of God. We must “order” our lives to be in harmony with the Divine will. Doing so will bring us to “the salvation of God.”

Among the many lessons from this Psalm we may make three important observations:

  • The 50th Psalm is a prophetic Psalm that shows the judgments of God and the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom.
  • We must make sure that our “covenant by sacrifice” defines our lives so that we may be gathered with the saints to our heavenly home.
  • We must not fail to pay our vows and we must die a precious death.

 

Acknowledgement: Br. David Stein

This post’s URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/05/31/understanding-psalm-50-gather-my-saints-together-unto-me/

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