Baptism

Baptism

Do you know that Baptism is necessary for our Salvation?

The following is a sermon transcription that will hopefully help you to understand from the Bible the importance of receiving water baptism for our salvation.

Baptism

(adapted from a sermon by Pr Chin Aun Quek)

Baptism is an important sacrament of the church because it concerns the salvation of our souls.  However, there are some who do not think so. Using Paul’s words in Rom 10:9-10 as a basis, they believe that salvation is through a belief in Lord Jesus and in accordance to one’s faith in God; it does not have anything to do with baptism.

Paul was correct in saying that if one truly believes in his heart, he can be saved. Nevertheless, this was a response to a question raised by the prison guard on what one should do to be saved. Paul clearly told him that he and his household needed to believe in Jesus and they shall be saved, but he did more than that; he went on to baptize the entire household (Acts 16).  If indeed faith alone is sufficient, why is there a need to baptize believers after they believe in Jesus?

Baptism allows people to become disciples of Jesus. “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, 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.” (Mt 28:19-20) Baptism is a personal instruction from Jesus and Paul was merely abiding His instruction to baptize those who believe, so that they would become disciples of Jesus. For if one believes in Jesus, he must also accept baptism.

How is baptism related to one’s salvation?

Through baptism, our sins are cleansed.  Acts 22 records how Paul was chosen by Jesus. Paul’s subsequent blindness was a testimony to this incident. His sight was restored through prayers by Ananias. The extent of God’s love for Paul is evident: he was personally chosen by the Lord and experienced a vision and miracle.  His experience is a clear testimony that he is one of the chosen. Still, this did not mean that his sins were cleansed and he was saved. Jesus not only sent Ananias to heal Paul, but also to baptize him. “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) It is equally clear from this incident that one’s encounter with miracles and visions without baptism cannot save one’s soul.  Baptism and salvation are directly related as baptism washes away sins.

Some believe that sins are cleansed upon the confession and repentance of one’s sins, not upon baptism.  They explain that baptism without repentance has no true meaning and argue that, according to Acts 3:19, it is more important to have a heart of penitence. The verse appears to support their argument; it describes how one needs only to repent from one’s sins but does not mention baptism. The example of the robber on the cross also seems consistent with this view. We know the robber was saved for he acknowledged his sins, asked Jesus for forgiveness, who then declared he would be in paradise with Him that very day. Hence, the argument is that sins are forgiven when one repents.

Indeed it is true the robber’s sins were forgiven when he repented.  But this was an exceptional case; the robber had no opportunity to receive baptism before he was nailed on the cross with Jesus.  It was not due to a reluctance to be baptized.  If a mere repentance of sins is sufficient for salvation, why would Jesus emphasize on baptism for those who believe and want to become His disciples?  In Acts 2:37-38, Peter specifically said that one needs to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sin”.  Repentance and baptism goes hand in hand for sins to be forgiven.  The apostles have set a clear example that sins are forgiven at the point of baptism, and not upon repentance. The confession and repentance of one’s sins must be followed by the act of baptism in order to complete the first process of our faith.

Paul explains the teachings behind baptism in Romans 6:3-4. During baptism, full immersion in the water is just like a burial; our past sins are buried with the Lord and our sinful self is dead. When we emerge from the water, we are a new man because we have left and buried our sins, which have been forgiven. This reinforces what Paul said about the forgiving of sins at the point of baptism and not at the point of repentance.

Why are sins forgiven at the point of baptism?

It is because the precious blood of Jesus is present in the water during baptism and it washes away the sins of those who are baptized.  Ephesians 1:7 describes the redemption through His blood which is the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. We are able to receive this blood of Christ for the redemption of our sins through our faith. By believing that Jesus died for our sins on the cross and His blood that flowed out washes away our sins, we allow the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins. Many understand this, but do not see how faith alone is still not sufficient. We have to go through water baptism in order for our sins to be washed away by the blood of Jesus.

1 John 5: 5-7 clearly provides the basis for this belief. Here, there is mention of not just faith, but also “water”.  In addition to “ water”, there is also a mention of “by blood”. If faith is a matter of the heart, what do “by water” and “by blood” refer to?  At what point in time do “water and blood” take place in church? During baptism. There is not only water, but also the precious blood of Jesus in the water during baptism.  This is the truth testified by the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the truth. Our church has the abidance of the Holy Spirit and therefore during baptism, there is manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the water so that the precious blood of Jesus is present in the water.  It is the efficacy of baptism that sins are washed away and forgiven.  This is why we strongly advocate baptism of all who believe, according to Jesus’ instruction.  The effect of baptism in washing away sins is a fundamental teaching that the True Jesus Church observes.  It is also the reason for our belief that our church has the truth and is the church that is saved.

Is this something that we made up? How do we prove the truth in our beliefs?

Many members as well as observers have born testimonies of having seen visions where the water turned into blood during baptism. A preacher of True Jesus Church in Germany also bore a similar testimony during his work in Kenya. A middle-aged Catholic school teacher, who was considered the most educated in the village, converted to being a Baptist after accepting the Baptist Church’s teaching about full immersion in water baptism. She converted once more into the Pentecostal Church when she heard about teachings related tongue-speaking. It was only when she came to True Jesus Church that she realized we observe the complete teachings in the bible. So she decided she would receive baptism conducted by the True Jesus Church for one last time.

There were over 70 participants for that baptism.  When it came to her turn and she was immersed in the water, Pr. Ko, the baptist, could not lift her out of the water even though he tried hard; she seemed to have suffered a temporary paralysis.  It was only with the help of four other brethren, that they were able to carry her up onto the shore.  Pr. Ko was troubled in his heart by this because in our church. There have been multiple testimonies of members’ miraculous experiences with baptism, but none where a person could not walk after baptism. He did not pursue the issue immediately as he had to baptize the rest. By the time the last participant was baptized, this sister had recovered and could move her limbs and talk.  The congregation proceeded back to church to perform the sacrament of Footwashing and Holy Communion.  She requested to testify for the Lord after the prayer for the Holy Spirit. In her testimony, she confessed her sins and repented before everyone.  She told the congregation that when she was kneeling in the water, she started doubting of the efficacy of baptism and the forgiveness of sins. Just as she heard the preacher said, “In the name of Lord Jesus Christ, your sins are washed away”, she opened her eyes and saw that the water surrounding her had turned into blood. Nobody else knew that she was seeing a vision and the preacher proceeded to press her head and body into the water.  She could still see the blood when fully immersed in the water and became so frightened that she went into a state of paralyzing shock. She eventually recovered from her shock and explained how her experience has allowed her to truly believe the presence of Jesus’ blood in water baptism and its power to forgive our sins. She is clear that the True Jesus Church is indeed the church that is saved.

Baptism is not a mere rite to initiate one into a church. It is a sacrament important for the forgiveness of sins and for salvation. Since baptism is an important sacrament, we should not conduct it in any other way except in the way instructed by the Lord as recorded in the bible.

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There are 3 important aspects to observe when conducting baptism:

1. It must be conducted in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mat 28:19).
Some churches baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but not in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In all the records of baptism carried out by the apostles, they did so in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5). No baptism by the apostles was conducted in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Have they disobeyed the instruction of Jesus?  No. They understood the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be Jesus Christ because neither the Father, the Son, nor the Holy Spirit is a name. In the original language, the Father, the Son and the Holy referred to a single person, not three people. This person had only one name: Jesus Christ. It is clear in some English and Japanese versions of the bible that the name of the Father is the name of the Son (Jn 17:12). It records “What you have given me in your name have preserved them.” The name given to Jesus Christ is the name of the Father. These were the very words of Jesus. It is clear that the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ. Hence, all the apostles baptized believers in the name of Jesus Christ. In the True Jesus Church, we baptize believers in the name of Jesus Christ according to these records in the bible.

2. The whole body must be immersed in living water.
In the original language, baptism means to be submerged in water. A believer from the Eastern Catholic Church, who had received baptism in the form of sprinkling, questioned an Eastern Orthodox Church believer on why the latter’s baptism mode is by immersion in water instead of sprinkling. The latter answered that they studied the bible in the original Greek version which says baptism is by immersion in water and not sprinkling. Matthew 3:16 records Jesus coming up out of the water after baptism, which indicates that He was fully immersed in water. Similarly, Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in an identical manner. Acts 8:38-39 clearly depicts both Philip and the eunuch going down and coming up out of the water. In 1923, a prince from Ethiopia went to the United States to bear a testimony of how his church has not changed their mode of baptism since the doctrines were preached by Philip during the apostolic times. They, too, conduct baptism by full immersion in water and observe Saturday as Sabbath Day, a day of worship.

3. The head must be bowed with the face facing downwards.
A church in Congo, Africa, called Church of Jesus Christ conducts baptism in almost the same manner as True Jesus Church. They baptize in the name of Jesus Christ with full immersion in living water.  However, the people they baptize are asked to face upwards and pushed on their back into the water. When they discussed this difference with our preachers, they discovered that there was no biblical evidence to support this practice. Their only supporting argument was that when Jesus died, He was buried with His face looking upwards. This was why they baptized in His manner of burial. Paul provides two important significance of baptism in Romans 6:3-5. They are demonstrated in two actions:

a. Full water immersion signifies our burial with Jesus in baptism. When we rise up out of the water, we are a new man.

b. Bowed heads signify our unity with Jesus in His death. We often only stress that in baptism we are buried with the Lord and when we come out of the water we are a new person (v. 3-4). But in verse 5, Paul also stressed that if we are united in the likeness of His death, we shall certainly be united in the likeness of His resurrection. What then is the likeness of His death? John 19:30 depicts the manner in Jesus died with His head bowed down. We are not united with the Lord in the likeness of His burial where His face was directed upward, but in the likeness of His death. Hence in baptism our heads are bowed down.  This is also the correct attitude a sinner should have in repentance.

These two actions show the correct mode of baptism in accordance to biblical teaching: full body immersion with head bowed down. The Church of Jesus Christ in Congo understood and accepted the teachings and received baptism again in the mode conducted by our church.

A question we might want to ask today is: Have I received baptism in the correct mode and does it have the effectiveness of cleansing my sins? This is a very important question as it concerns our salvation.

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