The Six Foundation Doctrines - Hebrews 6:1-2
Bible Study Series Part 3: Doctrines of Baptisms
Notes prepared by Pastor Bob Beverley
To listen to Pastor Bob presenting this Bible study click here.
Baptism is not unique to Christianity and was a symbol of purification in many religions, for example the river Ganges in India, the Euphrates in Babylon and the Nile in Egypt were used for sacred baths. Moses and the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, and in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 15:5,7) it was required for cleansing after contact with unclean bodily issue. The prophet Elisha commanded Naaman to dip himself in the Jordan seven times to be cleansed of leprosy (a physical type for sin) 2Kings 5.
The Word baptism is translated from the Greek 'baptizo' and 'bapto', meaning to dip. The definition in Strong's Concordance is 'to cover wholly with fluid'. So in Luke 16:24 we read 'send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water.', in John 13:26 Jesus, speaking of the one who would betray him, said 'he it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it', and Revelation 19:13, speaking of Jesus, says the Word of God is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.
Four types of baptisms mentioned in the Bible:
- John's baptism, which was baptism in water, and a response to a call to repentance by John the Baptist at the river Jordan.
- The baptism Jesus went through. In Luke 12:50 Jesus says 'I have a baptism to be baptised with' and in Mark 10:38 he asks Zebedee's sons, 'are you able to be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with'. This probably refers to the baptism of suffering - the spiritual and physical suffering to come, and the surrender of spirit, soul and body to the will of the Father.
- Christian baptism, which is separate from John's baptism because it is carried out in the full name and authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This was not the case with John's baptism.
- Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5 says 'baptised with' but the Greek is actually 'in' - so baptised 'in' the Holy Ghost.
In Acts 19, we read that Paul met twelve believers when he visited Ephesus, and at first thought they were disciples of Christ. However they were disciples of John the Baptist - they heard what John said about repentance and baptism but did not know about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus or baptism connected with it. Therefore after they heard and believed Paul they were baptised again and received the Holy Spirit.
John's baptism and Christian baptism are distinct and different. John's baptism (a brief and temporary ministry) was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, and to provide a link between the Law and the prophets, and the gospel which came about three years later (after the death and resurrection of Jesus).
Mark 1:3-5 - John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness and preaching repentance for the remission of sins. In Matthew 3:11 John says 'I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance', and here the Greek word translated 'unto' means 'with a view to'. In verses 7 and 8 the Pharisees and Sadducees were told to 'bring forth fruits meet for repentance', meaning 'let me see evidence in your lives that there has been a real change'. The whole purpose was to prepare people for the gospel. John the Baptist's calling, as prophesied in Isaiah, was 'prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'.
The baptism of Jesus
When Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:16), it was not for repentance because he had no sins to repent of, but to fulfill (or complete) all righteousness. He was establishing a pattern of behaviour and obedience for all believing disciples to follow (a pattern of baptism). He included believers yet to come by saying it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Therefore he fulfilled his inward righteousness by an outward act of obedience to his heavenly Father. Acts 10:35 speaks of believers in every nation who fear God and work righteousness (BUT NOT YET RIGHTEOUS, as this is only possible through being filled with the Holy Spirit).
Conditions for Christian baptism
The last directions of Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28:19,20 were 'teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you .'
There was a need for teaching before baptism so they would understand what they were doing, and teaching after baptism so they would know how to live a Christian life.
Acts 2:37,38 tells how, on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on the disciples of Jesus, Peter preached to the crowd 'repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost'.
Mark 16:15,16 says 'he who believes . AND is baptised'. Read the story in Acts 8:26-39 where Phillip met a eunuch from the court of Queen Candace of Ethiopia and expounded the scripture. The eunuch said 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God', and so Philip baptised him.
So what has baptism accomplished and what is its significance? It symbolises death, then burial, then resurrection. Romans 6:3-11 talks about being dead to sin (verse 4 'we are buried with him by baptism into his death', verse 6 'knowing our old nature is crucified with him', and verse 11 'reckon yourselves dead to sin but alive to God').
Baptism itself is 'death unto sin', but it is also an outward sign or seal that the person understands that he is no longer bound by sin and determines to live accordingly and to put faith in God to live that way.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
In John 3:5-8 Jesus tells Nicodemus that people must be born of water and the spirit to enter into the kingdom of God, and in John 14:17,18 he tells his disciples that 'the Spirit is with them, but shall be in them'
, and then goes on to teach them about the Holy Ghost (the Comforter).
In Christianity generally there are various opinions about when people are saved and when sins are remitted. Our doctrine is that repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are all required, (Acts 2:38), and THEN holiness - living a holy life till Jesus comes, is also required. The story of Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11 is the example for us of a God-fearing man who still needs to receive the Holy Spirit to be saved. Ephesians 1:13,14 makes it clear that the covenant written by God is not valid until he seals it with the Holy Ghost (refer back to Acts 19 also). Hebrews 12:14 tells us that without holiness, no man will see the Lord, and 2Corinthians 7:1 says that we are to perfect holiness in the fear of God.
UNDERSTANDING THE FOUNDATION DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS - ESSENTIAL FOR SALVATION