Soul Stories – Baptism revisited

Soul stories

Baptism revisited

 

With Peter Veysie

Sunday 28th October 2018

George Methodist church

8am and 10am

 

My sons testimony and Melissa being baptised in the river Jordan Galilee Israel.

 

I want to start out this morning by giving you a bit of history to this whole wonderful sacrament that Jesus commissioned (made us co – missional)

 

We have established that as we look back there was an initial understanding that water was about purification, but it was also about people who were gentiles becoming Jews proselytizing – in other words choosing to become Jew – crossing the floor so to speak. They would be baptized. The Qumran sect would also have ceremonies of cleansing involving a form of Baptism.

Baptism – Immersion – the Mikveh(Jewish place of baptism) When we lived in Germiston a Synagogue was next door to the Methodist church where I was a minister, and they had two large baths for purification rights, one for men and one for woman Mikvot.

Bapto – to whelm – to cover completely. Being overwhelmed !!! to dunk

Immersion and cleansing in Judaism and on into Christianity

the Mikveh – John the Baptist

Baptism is a Greek translation of tevila, meaning Immersion.

 

It is usually done in a Mikveh which means a pool where water has gathered. A Mikveh is an essential in any Synagogue and they were also part of the temple.

Immersion is / was not for physical cleaning; that would have been done beforehand. It is for Spiritual cleansing in a purification ceremony.

The terms Purity and Impurity are inadequate translations from the Hebrew and give a physical rather than spiritual sound to the process.

Immersion is conducted for various occasions.

Women after childbirth or menstruation

A bride before her wedding

Priests (in the Temple) before divine service

Men on the eve of Yom Kippur (also optionally, before Shabbat)

For converts to Judaism

In preparation of a dead person for burial

For new kitchen utensils.

(There are separate Mikvot for men, women, the dead and for utensils)

The above throws some light on the ministry of John the Baptist. ( Read Matthew ch3, Mark ch1, Luke ch3 and John ch1.)

 

How did Baptism transfer across into the Christian practice?

 

Baptism (Immersion ) was instituted or continued by Jesus himself in one of His last commands to His followers. This was for Jews and Gentiles who came to believe in the risen Jesus and join the early church. ( see Matt 28 v18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Remember, in all these verses, a full translation to English would have the word Immersing or immersed instead of the Greek, baptising or baptised.

In Acts 8 v14-16 we read, “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus.” Baptism/immersion was obviously normal practice, but not the final thing needed.

In Acts 22 v14-16 it is said to Paul, “`The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’”

Paul said, in Romans 6 v2-6 “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.

And for the life connection read what Paul said in Galatians 3 v26-27 “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Baptism by total immersion is practiced by Baptists and other evangelical denominations, but the connection to Jewish practice is not generally appreciated.

Baptism by sprinkling is done in the MCSA for children whose parents are convicted about covenant theology and the inclusion of children into the family of the church.

The origin of “Baptism” as immersion is significant, and this comes out in the Complete Jewish Bible translation of Matthew 28 v19 and Mark 1. Here the word talks of new believers being “immersed into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach ha Kodesh” (Holy Spirit)

David Baron – (The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah) points out that the “fountain” (Hebrew Maqor ) of Zechariah 13 v1 is not the modern picture of a fountain but of a dug out cistern or pool or spring where water is gathered – that is the description of a Mikveh where priests are immersed for cleansing or consecration. He also points out that that fountain for cleansing has existed since Jesus died on the tree, but it will be opened to the House of David when the Holy Spirit applies it; as He has for every individual who is brought to faith by having the spirit of Grace and supplication poured on him or her ( Zech 12 v10) .

 

There is also Covenant theology which embraces infant baptism or christening originating in the early church as early as 100 ad, however it became common practice later in both Greek orthodox(dunking a child) and Catholic (sprinkling) traditions. These were at times related to relationship with Christ and it was done in proxy by the parents or the guardians of the child and it was a practice which reminds us that Jesus says let the little children come to me, cause that’s what the kingdom of God looks like.

 

 

Well enough of that now – I want to really look at the foundations of a theological basis for baptism which come out of the scriptures and specifically Matthew 3,

Matthew 3

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

  1. John Preaching

1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: (40)

“A voice of one calling in the desert,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

make straight paths for him.’ “[a]

4John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.

  1. Cleansing

People at the time of John were drawn by the fact that they had had 400 years of silence and now one who was commissioned and called by God was calling them out of there dark sinful lives and giving them the opportunity to repent – turn around and be baptized for cleansing from sin. This was as I said earlier not an uncommon practice.

5People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

 

  1. Caution –Be careful !!! Don’t do it just for the hype of it or if you know there will be no fruit.

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Acts 2: 42 Shows what was going down. It was clear from this that the P and S’s were trying to get in the back door and were going to John for the ritual of cleansing, but their hearts were not right and not only that, John knew, that because of this there would be no fruit. There is fruit connected to this. How many people have been baptized because of pressure or time of life of because it was the right thing to do, and certainly God can still work with this because he is no fool. I am an eternal pastor and I believe that sometimes we have every reason to rebaptise because of the hearts being in the right place. I have been asked so often if this would be okay. I don’t find it extra biblical cause even in the time of Paul they would rebaptise because some had the baptism of John and not Jesus.

In the book of Acts 2:42,43 It says that they were cut to the heart and asked what must we do ? Peter responded after his first sermon – Repent and b baptized everyone of you for the forgiveness of your sins.

  1. The sandal thing.

11“I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.

Sandals

(1) John is not competent even to untie the thong of his sandals.

Culpepper (_Luke_, New Interpreter’s Bible) writes: “Untying sandals

was such a menial duty that it was expected only of slaves; disciples

were not expected to untie their master’s sandals (see Acts

13:24-25).” The word translated “worthy” (_hikanos_) in NRSV is not

the same word used early about “worthy” fruit. This word seems to

carry more of the meaning of “being up to the task,” “being adequate.”

(2) John uses the phrase “stronger than me” or “more powerful than me”

to indicate a difference between himself and the coming one.

I have been overwhelmed by a revelation that God gave me about this carrying sandals thing. In the old testament there is a story of the beautiful Ruth Ruth 3:6-8 ( a gentile by the way ) who marries Boaz and has a son called Obed who is the Father of Jesse, the Father of David, the father of…. The Father of Jesus. She becomes part of the line of David through an exchange done by a kinsman redeemer who takes off one sandal in order to do the transaction. It is through this process that Ruth is in a sense redeemed and buys a threshing floor which later becomes the temple. She is redeemed through this transaction. Now when John says he is not able even to untie his sandals or carry his sandals depending on the Gospel, is it possible that he was referring to the fact that it was only Jesus who could do the transaction of redemption. John was not the kinsman redeemer, Jesus was, and therefore John had no place in untying his sandals in order to do the redemption transaction. This is still between Him and us. We haven’t even got to the sweet spot of this but it’s coming !!!

  1. “He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire”.

There are two parts to baptism and we so easily will separate these two, but they go hand in hand. It is first and foremost a purging of all that we were. This fire is symbolic of Jesus taking away all that would necessarily stand in the way of our relationship with the Father. When the great day of judgment comes, he will separate the wheat and the chaff on his threshing floor ( interesting that this connects us back to the threshing floor of Ruth once again.

12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Part of his baptism is a baptism of fire. Jesus says to his disciples in Mark 10 :38 Can you be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with ? And later on he says they can – he sees their hearts even although they are fighting about who is the greatest and the least. It is not just a fire of cleansing and purging, but rather it makes us co – missional. (Partners with Christ. ) Convict (ion) Cleansing Commission.

It is also the part of the Holy Spirit – Jesus says you will receive the Holy Spirit. He empowers us with the very Spirit of himself and therefore drives us into action. We are immersed into the ministry through the Holy Spirit. I have always struggled with the thought of another thing waiting to happen. How did we separate the very theology of baptism into two things. Yes we mature and yes there is a process of transformation, but is it possible for God to only give us two thirds of Himself and then only later to give the other third. I am not wanting to go into a heated debate about this right now, but just want to get your minds and brains thinking about your theology. I believe that we need ongoing filling with the Holy Spirit because we leak and sometimes this is an empowering thing because God has huge gifts for us, but first he must trust us with the fruits of Galatians love joy peace patience kindness.. Etc… Are we not all unique ? Does God not see us as individuals and respond in this way ?

  1. Why did Jesus need to be baptised ?The Baptism of Jesus

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?”

The birth of John is recorded in Luke ch1, where we note that his father was a priest ministering in the Temple. So John was of the priestly line as well as being a child of special promise of God, as the one who would prepare the way for Messiah after the manner of Elijah. It is believed that John should have been High Priest at the time when he commenced his ministry in the Jordan wilderness, but the priesthood had become corrupt and had been bought by men with wealth and influence.

Jesus submitted to baptism by John, in spite of John’s reservations, “to fulfil all righteousness”. ( Matt 3 v15) John was, as the legitimate high priest, initiating Jesus who he had identified as “the Lamb of God” into the priesthood. He was not immersing him for repentance for sin.

After baptising Jesus, seeing the Spirit descend on him as a dove and hearing the voice from heaven, John was happy to recede into the background.

15Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” Then John consented.

Jesus now links himself with John and he becomes US. Psalm 40. Jesus now takes his place among the remnant of Israel – HE PARTICIPATES. He lays down his own life and then ushers in a time of ministry. Remember that soon after this he was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted.

16As soon as Jesus was baptised, 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.

Love the voice of the turtle dove ( I am hearing it right now as I write these words on the dam) Quietness seems essential to many spiritual operations. The space is now cleared for action and Jesus ministry begins.

17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

 

 

  1. Now what about you ?

The Father was delighted that Jesus had responded and begun his journey to redemption through the cross. He delights in obedience and I know that for some of you there is a step of obedience today. I believe that there are those who have delayed baptism for many years. God wants to make some convicts today. A conviction of the heart means that you mean business with God and do this not because there is any magic in the water, but because you have been called to humility, identification with Christ, a need to die to your old selves and a willingness to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Scripture to read:

Leviticus 14,15

Matthew 3:1-17

Matthew 21:25

Mark 1:4,9

Mark 11:30

Luke 3:3

Acts 2: 36-42

Acts 19:4

Colossians 2:17

1Peter 3:21

Matthew 28:19-20

 

 

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