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The Doctrine of Baptism of True Jesus Church

    Baptism is one of the best-known and most widely practiced Christian sacrament. There are different views on it, and mainstream theology says that it is but an outward expression of declaring your new identity as a Christian. We will examine the biblical view on baptism and take what is written in the Bible as it is.

    Some will say it is figurative speech and not to be taken literally, but to judge whether something is taken figuratively or not requires wisdom and sound biblical knowledge. Even then, you still might get it wrong. Who would know that Christ was truly to be born by a virgin? Was this figurative? If it has not yet happened, would this not have been taken figuratively today, since it is considered impossible? Seeing the prophecies Christ fulfilled during His years on earth, the Bible is actually safest taken literally. Only when it is clearly a metaphor or when taking the word literally doesn’t make sense in the context should one consider it figurative. Figurative interpretation is meant to expand the literal meaning of the text, not to replace it.

    Through out this post, English Standard Version (ESV) will be used to quote the Bible unless otherwise specified.

     

    ===The Birth of Baptism===

    Baptism was practiced by the Jews before the New Testament outside of the Bible. However, it did not become official in the Bible until John the Baptist:

    (Mark 1:4) John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

    It was made even more official when Christ also asked for baptism:

    (Matthew 3:13)  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
    (Matthew 3:14)  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
    (Matthew 3:15)  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

    This was the establishment of baptism. Christ Himself demonstrated how baptism was to be done by being baptized Himself, and commanded His disciples to baptize (Mat 28:19). The apostles obeyed this commanded, and the divine workers baptized those who believed accordingly (Act 2:41, 8:12, 38, 10:48, 16:15, 33, 18:8, 19:5, 22:16).

     

    ===Baptism is for the Washing of Sins===

    Mainstream theology claims that baptism has no actual function of removing sin. This is, however, contradictory to what the Bible tells us about baptism. Let us look at some of the verses and see what the Bible actually says about the effect of baptism:

    (Act 2:38)  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    And Paul himself also has the same understanding. Paul was testifying and recounting how he came to believe in the Lord Jesus, and what the worker the Lord Jesus Himself designated said about baptism in Paul’s vision:

    (Act 22:16)  And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

    So is baptism merely a symbolic act to pronounce that you have become a Christian? Or is baptism something that can be done with or without? One of the key points of salvation is the removal of sins – so that we can be holy before God and come to His presence. It is why Christ died on the cross for us – so that His blood and death may take our sins away. What we need to do on our part, is follow the word of Christ, and obey His ways. This means to be baptized:

    (Mar 16:16)  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

     

    ===Baptism is Being Resurrected Through Water===

    Christ said:

    (Joh 3:5)  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    There are two types of baptism. One is water baptism, which is discussed in this article. The other is spiritual baptism, which is mentioned here:

    (Act 1:4)  And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
    (Act 1:5)  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

    These are two different things. Spiritual baptism is usually followed by water baptism in most cases, but not always so. What is being reborn through water? Baptism is not only the washing of sins, but being dead to the world, and living before God:

    (Rom 6:3)  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
    (Rom 6:4)  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
    (Rom 6:5)  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
    (Rom 6:6)  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
    (Rom 6:7)  For one who has died has been set free from sin.
    (Rom 6:8)  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
    (Rom 6:9)  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
    (Rom 6:10)  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
    (Rom 6:11)  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    In other words, not only does baptism wash our sins away, it also resurrects us. It gives us new life by removing our sins, so that we die to sin and live to God. This is the rebirth of water. As the Bible clearly illustrates, baptism is not merely a sign of becoming a Christian, or a proclamation of the conversion of faith. Baptism has actual, spiritual effect: the removal of sin, and the resurrection of life toward God.

     

    ===Baptism requires full immersion===

    The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word “baptisma” in the Bible. It means “immersion, submersion”. John’s baptism was conducted with full immersion, that is why the Bible says that John baptized “in” (Greek: en) the Jordan (Mat 3:6). The Greek proposition literally means “inside” the Jordan. This is why the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch uses the Greek proposition “ek” in Acts 8:39. “Ek” in Greek meaning coming outside of something from the inside. The object has to be inside something, and its moving out from the inside is described by the proposition “ek”.

    It has theological significance. When Paul mentioned about baptism is being buried with Christ, does he mean partially buried or fully buried? Of course, Christ’s body was put in a tomb (Mat 27:60) that is fully secured (Mat 27:66). This means fully buried. Another point is that baptism is being reborn through water. Birth denotes a completely generated body coming out of some place (physically speaking, a womb). The new body was fully inside something, and then came out. Baptism uses burial as an analogy. A new life, a new born, is fully new, not partially new. To be fully immersed in water, and come out of the water fully, is a complete rebirth. Can one be born with merely his legs? Or perhaps his arms? Baptism is full submersion.

     

    ===Mode of Baptism===

    The mode of baptism is also important. There are three things to consider.

    1. Into what name are we baptized?
    2. In what posture are we baptized?
    3. With what are we baptized?

    The first question requires at least thousands of words to fully explain. In short, we follow Christ’s command:

    (Mat 28:19)  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

    But what the did apostles do?

    (Act 2:38)  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    (Act 8:16)  for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
    (Act 10:48)  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
    (Act 19:5)  On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    What happened? The apostles, in the entire collection of the Book of Acts, baptized only in the name of the Lord Jesus, and not “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”! Would the apostles be so daring as to assume that they could disobey the word of Christ and invent a new form of baptism? No, the apostles were to set an example for us to follow. The apostles’ response to Christ’s command may be a bit of a mystery for many. This mystery has to be explained with rather many words and is beyond the scope of this article. However, here are a few key verses to help you understand this mystery:

    (Joh 5:43)  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
    (Joh 17:11)  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
    (Joh 17:12)  While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
    (Joh 14:26)  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

    Indeed, Christ claimed that the name of the Father, His name, and the name of the Holy Spirit, are all one and the same: Jesus. Therefore we should baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    Secondly, in what posture should we be baptized? Most of the videos available off the Internet show people falling on their backs in a pool. Yet what did Paul say?

    (Rom 6:5)  For if we have become identified with him in the likeness of his death, certainly also we will be identified with him in the likeness of his resurrection, (LEB)

    Baptism is for us to be buried with Christ in the likeness of His death. Christ was alive when He was still on the cross, but His death made one change:

    (Joh 19:30)  When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

    Christ bowed down His head. Therefore we should be baptized facing down. This not only promotes our humility in our repentance when receiving the washing of His blood, it also makes us become identified with Christ in the likeness of His death. Nowhere does the Bible even gives the slightest hint about being baptized by falling backwards. Every related verse shows that baptism should be done with the head bowed down. Even without these verses, one should at least show humility before God by bowing his head down.

    Lastly, with what are we baptized? Water of course, but what kind? Most baptisms nowadays are conducted in a bathtub or in a swimming pool. Yet these are not flowing, living water. What does God say?

    (Zec 13:1)  “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

    The word “spring”  here is “maqor” in Hebrew, and it means “spring, fountain, flow,” etc. Which means it has to be flowing water. Christ was baptized in the Jordan, which was a naturally flowing water. There is a reason for this. Baptism is prefigured with the piercing of the side of Christ on the cross:

    (Joh 19:34)  But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

    Is this still water? No, it flows from the body of Christ. It is flowing water. Furthermore, the Bible says:

    (Mic 7:19)  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

    All living (naturally flowing water) flow to the sea. Tap water, swimming pool, etc. are firstly, not living water. They’re still water stored for our convenience. Some of them flow to the sea, some of them are recycled through the plant, purified, and reused. Therefore the Bible actually renders tap water, swimming pool, or non-flowing water invalid for effective baptism.

     

    ===Conclusion===

    Should the Bible be taken so literally? If the text is obviously figurative, for example, using fruits, trees, or healing blindness to show the world that Christ was the light of the world, then it should be interpreted figuratively, but actual instructions such as Pauline letters, or Peter’s speech in Acts 2, then yes, it should be taken literally. Baptism has the actual effect of washing sins away and resurrection. If not, what Paul wrote would have been rubbish, but as it is, it’s part of the inspired scripture that hold the utmost authority of all literature. Christians should hold their faith by adapting to the Bible, not to have the Bible adapting to us.

    We must therefore acknowledge that baptism is a necessary part of Christian faith with actual effects, and the mode of baptism is also an important part of the faith, because following the word is as important as believing in it. It is an act of faith, and faith is dead without action (James 2:26).

    This is not an official article, but describes the doctrine of baptism True Jesus Church (TJC) believes in. If interested, please see more information in True Jesus Church e-Library.

    Written on June 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm