12 Aug Quarter One Lesson Ten
What is Baptism?
Greetings, friend, today we will be discussing the very important topic of baptism. Baptism can be confusing to some and intimidating to others; but hopefully, at the end of this lesson, you’ll have a better understanding of the purpose and joy of baptism.
The actual act of baptism is pretty simple, but it can vary in performance. You will want to ask your local pastor or teacher about how and when baptisms are done at your local church. But generally speaking the individual who is being baptized will get into water and another Christian will lower the individual into the water and “baptize” them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Another form that is practiced within other churches is what we call infant baptism. Here a little child, most times a baby, is brought by his or her parents to church. The pastor sprinkles water over the forehead of the little one and in this way the child is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Question 1. Have you ever been baptized? Tell us about it here:
That is the subject of our study today—baptism. And since this is your tenth lesson with us at Gospel Growth Ministries you are now aware that every subject in the Bible flows out of the gospel. And such is the case today with the subject of baptism.
Let’s look at the following Scriptures together, and then you can provide your answers and thoughts below:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:13-17 (NIV)
Question 2. According to Matthew 3:13-17, why was Jesus baptized by John the Baptist?
Yes, Jesus was baptized by John “to fulfill all righteousness.” According to the above passage Jesus went down into the water, was baptized, and then came up out of the water. From the context of Scripture, Jesus was here setting an example for all believers, as well as identifying with us in our sin. Though Jesus Himself had no sin, He came to this earth to identify with us, and therefore as our example He was baptized.
And the early church understood this to be true as well. If you read the book of Acts, you will see that from the beginning new believers believed and were baptized straight away. By way of example, in Acts 2:41, we read the results of Peter’s first gospel sermon: “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” So, to be baptized is one of our first public acts of following Christ.
But did you know that Jesus was actually baptized twice in his life? It is true and significant because it helps us to understand the symbolism behind the physical act of baptism.
The first time Jesus was baptized was at the start of His public ministry, as listed above in Matthew 3:13-17, and the second time was at the end of His life, as we will discuss next. The first baptism was physical; the second baptism was spiritual (see 1 Corinthians 15:46).
Let’s look at His last baptism:
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” Mark 10:35-38 (NIV)
Question 3. What did the sons of Zebedee ask, and how did Jesus respond?
The sons of Zebedee understood that Jesus was going to be King over all the nations of the world, and they wanted to rule and reign with Him, sitting on either side of Him. In essence, they wanted exalted positions in Jesus’ kingdom.
But Jesus asked if they could drink the cup He would drink, and be baptized with the baptism that He would undergo. What was this cup and this baptism? Well, both of these expressions actually mean the same thing:
“Drinking the cup” is a reference to an Old Testament passage speaking of the cup of God’s wrath:
Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger. Isaiah 51:17 (NIV)
Scripture tells us that Jesus came to fulfill the entire Old Testament, including this passage about drinking the cup of God’s wrath. That is, God’s wrath is pictured as that which, if swallowed, would consume and destroy the one who drank it; in this case, Jesus.
You see, on the cross Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath, and drained it dry, so that there is not one drop of God’s wrath left for you. The cup is empty.
And God’s wrath is shown to be like water that would sweep over Jesus and drown Him. He would be baptized in God’s wrath and then arise on the third day.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7 (NIV)
Sometimes it really helps to see an illustration of Biblical truth, and fortunately there is one story in the Bible that illustrates very clearly the baptism that Jesus underwent for us. Please read the following story, and see if you understand how this relates to our subject of baptism today:
God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark–you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. Genesis 6:12-18 (NIV)
The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” 5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him. Genesis 7:1-5 (NIV)
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month–on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. Genesis 7:11-13 (NIV)
Question 4. According to the passages in Genesis above, why did God bring a great flood on the whole earth? See Genesis 6:12-13.
Question 5. Where did the water come from that caused the worldwide flood? See Genesis 7:11-12
Question 6. What did God tell Noah to build that would save him and his family?
The above biblical story makes it clear that God was very angry that all of mankind had corrupted itself. The earth was full of violence and wickedness, and so God determined to pour out His wrath and destroy all mankind. Remember, God is holy and He hates sin and cannot stand to even look on it.
But there was a man by the name of Noah who found grace in God’s eyes, meaning God gave Him grace to believe in God and live righteously (see Genesis 6:8). And so God told Noah to build an ark, a big boat, where he and his family could enter and be saved from God’s wrath.
Then, when Noah and his family, and lots of animals were in the ark safely, God shut the door of the ark and then the springs of the great deep, meaning water stored under the earth, broke forth from below, and rain came from the sky.
Now you can see this in your mind’s eye, can’t you? The ark is literally being “baptized” in the water of God’s wrath. It was pummeled from below and drenched from above. Yet the wonderful thing is that those inside the ark were being saved from God’s wrath. They made it through the “baptism” of wrath safely and emerged from the ark to begin a new life.
The story of the ark and the world wide flood is a true story. It actually happened in history and was recorded for us in the pages of the Bible. But did you know that that story was also meant to illustrate how we are saved? Notice this passage:
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 1 Peter 3:18-22 (NIV)
Question 7. From 1 Peter 3:18-22, what did the water in Noah’s day symbolize?
Yes, the flood water in Noah’s day symbolized baptism. But not our baptism, Jesus’ baptism. He is the One Who was symbolically baptized with the water of God’s wrath when He was on the cross, and then He died and rose again. And now, “you are saved by the resurrection of Jesus” from God’s wrath even as those in the ark were saved from the storm.
To make this very simple, think of it this way: the ark endured the wrath of God in the flood while the people inside (Noah and his family) were all saved from God’s wrath. Even so, Jesus endured the wrath of God on the cross while all believers are said to be “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30) and are therefore saved from God’s wrath.
Even as we can picture the ark being buffeted from below and drenched from above, while all inside were safe; in the same way, we can see Jesus being pummeled from Satan below and from God’s wrath above, while we who believe were safe inside of Him.
It is a really wonderful truth, isn’t it?
So, you might ask: if Jesus was baptized twice, and we were in Him why are those who become followers of Jesus, through believing the gospel, supposed to be baptized?
Here is the answer:
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. Romans 6:3-10 (NIV)
Question 8. From Romans 6:3-10, of what is baptism a picture?
From Romans 6:3-10 we can see that baptism is a picture of the truth that we died with Jesus and rose with Jesus. This means that we died to our old life—our life of unbelief and rebellion against God—and we were raised with Christ to a new life—a life of faith in Christ and learning to live in righteousness and holiness.
As someone is baptized they are lowered into the water, like a burial, symbolizing that by faith in Jesus they have died to sin. Then they are raised up out of the water, symbolizing they are raised with Jesus to a new life.
The act of water baptism does not save anyone, rather it is a picture of what has already happened to them; they died to their old life with Christ, and were raised to a new life in Christ.
Baptism is a public declaration that you died to your past, that you are united with Christ now, and that you have a new life. You are wanting to show the world that this is true.
Question 9. Please write out Romans 6:4 from above.
As mentioned earlier, the place to be baptized is with a local body of believers. Typically, a pastor, elder, or a brother in Christ will baptize you. Baptisms are a joyful time of celebrating your salvation, and an opportunity to publicly declare through the act of baptism that you belong to Christ and that you are following Him.
Question 10. Have you understood the need to be baptized if you are a believer in Jesus? Please share your thoughts here: