The following is an abridged transcription of a sermon spoken by Pr Simon Chin in the Year 2010. Read on to find out the importance of Baptism Into Christ and what is cleanse by the blood of Jesus…
Baptism Into Christ
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Simon Chin, Year 2010)
Many years ago, when we were preaching in Philippines, most people whom we came into contact were already Christians but they had never heard of baptism into Christ. They knew what the church told them about baptism — that it was a sign of their repentance, and it showed the faith in their heart. So when one is baptized, one confesses one’s sins before God in the presence of other brethren. So we spoke to them about the significance of baptism, about how one must be baptized into Christ. If we are not in Christ, then we are probably just around Him and our relationship is still not that of Father and child; we are merely His friends.
If we were to examine the scriptures, we would find that Paul talked a lot about baptism into Christ. Paul was a great apostle even though he was not one of the original twelve apostles chosen by Jesus; he only became an apostle after Jesus resurrected and ascended to Heaven. But his knowledge of the mystery of Christ was directly revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. In his epistles, you will find that he wrote many mysteries concerning the relationship between Christ and Christians, which are important in our search for salvation. For example, how is Jesus the Savior of the Church? How is Jesus the Head and Savior of the Church? How are believers the Church of the Lord? How is the Church, the Body of Christ, one?
We must have a personal relationship with Jesus and be in the grace of His salvation. We must have His blood wash away our sins. Then only can we be certain that we are saved. Hence, baptism into Christ is a pertinent doctrine concerning Salvation.
In Galatians 3:27, Paul says “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This explains verse 26, which says that we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. When do we become sons of God? Paul talks about baptism into Christ.
Paul was the first to evangelize in Galatia. Amongst them were many Jews who always believed that they were only saved if they kept the laws of Moses, the Old Testament laws, be circumcised, not eat unclean food or food offered to idols, and keep all the festivals. But when Paul preached the gospel to them, he said that all they needed was to believe in Jesus Christ and repent. If they believed that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, that his death on the cross was for the sins of all people, repent of their sins and be baptized, they will become sons of God. This was vastly different from the Jewish belief.
Soon after Paul left Galatia, other Jewish teachers who went there accused Paul of preaching heresies. That was why Paul wrote the epistle. In Galatians 1:6-9, he “marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
Paul was referring to the presence of false teachers who preached another gospel and did not believe that salvation is by grace. These teachers insisted on circumcision, eating only clean food, and keeping of Jewish festivals. He refuted these teachers because the believers in Galatia had already been baptized into Christ; their baptism was not just an outward sign to others that they were believers.
Yet not all baptism is baptism into Christ. Acts 19:2-6 records an instance where Paul found believers of Jesus Christ in Ephesus and asked them whether they had received the Holy Spirit and how they were baptized. When he found out that they were baptized into John’s baptism, Paul explained that John baptized with a baptism of repentance and that people should believe on Jesus Christ. These believers in Ephesus were then baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. In other words, they were baptized in the name of Jesus because the first baptism they received was not a baptism into Christ.
We are all aware that John the Baptist was the forerunner for Jesus Christ. He came before Lord Jesus, preparing the way for the Lord, telling people to quickly repent as Jesus Christ the Savior was coming. John the Baptist preached about Christ and when people believed in Christ, they were baptized, but it was just for repentance. Paul understood this and hence explained about the complete gospel. Acts 19:5 tells us what this baptism into Christ is — it talks about baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. In fact, after the down-pouring of Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, all instances of baptism where the apostles preached the gospel were conducted in the name of Jesus Christ.
For example, Peter talked about baptism into Christ on the day 3000 souls were baptized (Acts 2:41). On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured down on 120 disciples, they spoke in an unknown tongue and the sound of their prayer was heard by others in Jerusalem. Of the people who gathered around the house where the disciples were gathered, some heard them speaking in tongues, and others could not understand. Verse 11 described how those who understood heard the disciples speaking of the wonderful works of God. From these different accounts, we can conclude that the 120 disciples were not speaking worldly languages when they received the Holy Spirit; they were speaking in an unknown tongue. People who understood had been moved by the Holy Spirit. But there were also those who mocked the disciples saying that they were “full of new wine”. Peter spoke up and pointed out that they were not drunk for no one drank at 9am (v.14-15).
Peter explained that this was the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit. “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (v.36) Jesus, whom the Jews had put on the cross and crucified, is actually the Lord and Christ. The Jews were remorseful and felt cut to their heart when they heard Peter’s sermon. They realized that they had done something very wrong and sinful and hence, asked Peter what they should do. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (v.38)
Another incident recorded in Acts 10 described how Peter went to the house of Gentiles. Back then, Jews did not associate with Gentiles for they considered the latter as defiled; only the Jews were the chosen people of God. But Peter was shown a vision where the Holy Spirit sent him to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. There, Peter heard Cornelius’ testimony about his prayer four days prior to the visit. Cornelius had been praying when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to send a man to fetch Peter from Joppa because Peter had words of God to convey. When Peter heard this, he reflected on how he too, had seen a vision on the same day. He was praying at noon when he saw a cloth led down from heaven. The cloth held all kinds of animals, both clean and unclean. A voice told Peter, “Rise, kill, and eat.” But as a Jew, Peter replied and said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” But the voice replied, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” He saw the vision three times and after hearing Cornelius’ testimony, he knew that this was an instruction from God to preach the word of God to Cornelius. While Peter was still speaking the word of God to Cornelius and his household, the Holy Spirit fell upon the hearers. Peter, as well as those who had travelled with him, were astonished because the gift of the Holy Spirit had come upon the Gentiles. And when they saw that, Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus. As consistent with other mentions of baptism in the book of Acts, the baptism was done in the name of Jesus and is baptism into Christ.
What is the significance of baptism into Christ? How is it different from a baptism of repentance? Baptism in Christ is definitely more than just for repentance. If it were solely for repentance, then Paul would not have had to baptize believers in Ephesus who had already received the baptism of John the Baptist. What then is its significance?
1) Forgiveness of sins
Paul emphasized that there should only be one baptism because baptism is when our sins are forgiven. Christ died only once for the forgiveness of sin and hence, baptism should only be once.
Ephesians 4:5 records one Lord, one faith, one baptism. In fact from verse 4, Paul emphasized many “ones” – one baptism, one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one God, one Father of us all. This encompasses our Christian faith based on the bible. One body represents one church of the Lord. One Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit of God. One Lord means Jesus Christ is the only Lord. One faith refers to the faith based upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, the only faith that can save. One God, the Father of us all, the Creator. Jesus Christ is this God and Father, the “I AM” in the bible. And one baptism refers to the baptism into Christ, a baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
In the account where 3000 souls were baptized on the Day of Pentecost, Peter states that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for the remission of sins.
Acts 2:38 – 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.
We see the significance of baptism described again in Acts 22, the baptism of Paul. Prior to his baptism, Paul was a persecutor of Christians. He was going to Damascus to persecute Christians on the authority of the high priest that day when the light of Jesus Christ shone upon him. He fell down and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” He then asked, “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” Paul asked, “What shall I do?” The voice said, “Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.” Blinded by the light, Saul was led by the hand to Damascus where he prayed for three days and three nights. At the same time, Ananias, a devout believer in Damascus was told by the Lord to go lay hands upon Saul. When Ananias did so, immediately Saul’s eyes were opened. Ananias then said, “Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins…” (v.16) This incident clearly records that baptism into Christ, conducted in the name of Jesus Christ has the significance of the forgiveness of sins.
What forgives sins in baptism? The bible clearly records that only the blood of Jesus cleanses sins.
Eph 1:7-8 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.
Paul tells us that in Jesus Christ, we have the redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Only the blood of Jesus forgives sins. His blood is present in the sacrament of baptism and the sins of those who are baptized in His name are forgiven. This is why baptism into Christ brings about the grace of Lord Jesus; the blood of Jesus washes away the sins of men.
Col 1:13-14 – He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
This passage tells us that we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins when we are delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of God. So when sins are washed away in baptism, the blood of Jesus Christ forgives sins and those who are baptized are delivered from the power of darkness. They are conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of God, meaning they are baptized into Christ. They become part of God’s people and are sons of God. And they are in Christ because baptism forgives sins.
2) Baptism in the Lord is rebirth
A second significance of baptism in Christ is rebirth. If we are not reborn, we cannot enter the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3-5). Jesus was preaching to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee. Nicodemus had come to Jesus by night and Jesus preached to him about the kingdom of Heaven, saying that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God. When asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus then explained, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
To be born of water refers to baptism. Then when we receive the Holy Spirit, we are truly reborn. Baptism in the name of Jesus is also to be reborn. This is why Paul called it a “washing of regeneration”.
Titus 3:5 – not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
Here, Paul once again emphasized that salvation is by grace and not by our good works. Salvation is totally upon the mercy of God. How is the mercy of God given? Paul tells us that it is through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. The washing of regeneration refers to baptism when one’s old sinful self dies.
Romans 6:3-5 – Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
This passage explains baptism into Christ Jesus. We are first baptized into the death of Christ and that means that our sinful self dies. We are buried with Him in baptism, which is why our whole body is immersed in the water. When we come forth from the water after baptism, it is just as Christ was raised from the dead and we walk in the newness of life. This is rebirth.
This passage also tells us the mode of baptism, that we must be united in the likeness of His death. Baptism must be performed in the likeness of Christ’s death. Not only must there be burial, which means total immersion in water, when we are immersed, it must be in the likeness of His death. When Jesus died, He bowed His head and then only He gave up His spirit to His Father in Heaven. At His moment of death, Jesus bowed His head. Likewise, in our baptism, our head is bowed in the likeness of His death. Then only can we share in the likeness of His resurrection, which refers to spiritually rising from the dead. This is also why the bible says that we are raised with Christ Jesus.
We are raised with Christ Jesus in baptism, when we are reborn. Spiritually, after baptism, not only are our sins washed away, we become new persons. We are sons of God, born again. Galatians 3 tells us that we are all sons of God through faith. For as many of
When are we raised with Christ Jesus? In baptism. That is when we are reborn. Spiritually after our baptism, not only are our sins washed away, we become a new person. We are now sons of God, born again. That is why the bible in Galatians 3 says “you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (v.26-27)
3) To be baptized is to be justified.
When we are baptized into Christ, we put on Christ. Jesus Christ is like this white garment that we put on. If we do not put on Jesus Christ, we are still a sinner and our garments are still stained. When we put on Christ, we are made righteous.
Isaiah 61:10 – I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
This is the significance of being justified – God covers us with the robe of righteousness. He clothes us with the garments of salvation. Salvation is not by our own works but it is totally upon the mercy of God. Paul said that no one is righteous before God, not even one.
There was once a young boy who saw a vision. Back then he was not yet a believer, although he always attended our church services and he used to stop by our church member’s house to pray on his way home from school. One day, as he was praying, God showed him a vision. He was shown three doors. One was a door that when opened, revealed burning hot fire. A voice told him that it was the fire that would destroy the world in the last day. The second door revealed good people whose garments were not white. The voice told him that these people would meet with judgment on the last day. Then he was shown the third door which revealed righteous people, dressed totally in white garments. The voice again told him that they were people who would be blessed on the last day. The angel then brought him to see hell and he was shown two paths. One was narrow and the other was broad. The boy wanted to walk on the narrow path because he remembered that the bible said that the narrow way leads to eternal life. The angel said that the boy had made the right choice but he would be shown the end of those who walked on the broad path. Before long, he heard the loud cries of people in pain. The angel told him to look down and there, he saw the lake of fire. Inside, there were people consumed by fire, burning. He recognized a few people, some of whom were church members. These were people who were not saved. The angel brought him back and told him that if he kept his faith, he would not end up there.
Baptism is when we are made righteous. Paul said that the believers in Corinth were once unrighteous because they were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners. (1 Cor 6:9-10) “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (v.11) This grace came upon the Corinthian believers when they were baptized. In baptism, the blood of Jesus washes away our sins and the grace of justification comes upon us. By our own conduct, we are still not holy. Even after our baptism, we will still do many things that are wrong and our character is not perfect. But His blood will wash away our sins and in the eyes of God, we are righteous.
Romans 5:9 tells us that we are justified by His blood. When we believe in Christ and are baptized in His name, the blood of Jesus Christ justifies us from the time of baptism, as long as we continue to keep our faith, repent of our sins, and keep the word of God. This way, our status is still just before God. Romans 8:1 says that those who are in Christ Jesus, there will be no more condemnation. This is because the grace of justification by His blood comes upon us. Not only does His blood wash away all our past sins, it continues to wash away our sins even though we cannot keep all His words completely and fall short. As long as we are ready to repent, this grace of being just remains so that we can continue to be in Christ. In God’s eyes, we are still His children and on the Day of Judgment, we will not be condemned.
4) Baptism saves
1 Peter 3:20-21 – who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 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,
Peter used the example of Noah and his family to talk about how these eight souls were saved through water. Why were they saved through water and not the ark? Peter was referring to baptism. Baptism saves because of the effect of forgiveness of sins. It is because of this effect that we become sons of God, that we are justified. This is why baptism saves and those who are saved receive eternal life.
Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel, saying, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” It is more than just repentance because baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is related to the grace of salvation. This teaching is clearly presented in the bible and we thank God that we are able to receive baptism. There have been many who wanted to be baptized but were never actually baptized. Some were diagnosed with terminal illness and never had the chance even though they believed. Some may have registered themselves for baptism but never actually made it.
Some weeks ago, we brought an elderly lady into the water for baptism. She had to be brought in an ambulance from the nursing home and carried on a chair. We were worried that she would fall forward so we tied her to the chair before a group of us slowly carried her into the water. Just as she was immersed in the water, one of her grandsons arrived at the baptism spot. He shouted loudly at us, accusing us of trying to drown his grandmother. Had he come just five minutes earlier, she would not have gone through with the baptism; we would have been prevented from conducting it. However, all her believing daughters wanted their mother to be baptized. She herself wanted baptized and nodded her consent when we asked. We believe it is the grace of God. Three weeks after her baptism, she was still in the nursing home but her complexion was good, much better than before. She was able to eat well and was happy. We see this as testimony of God’s grace.
Only when the fountain of the blood of Christ is opened can there be grace. And only those who have faith can receive this grace to be baptized into Christ.