Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017 - 2018

Baptism

 “Baptism is an outward expression of an

inward faith.”

(Watchman Nee)

What is Baptism all About?

As we saw in the previous post, the command Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, was that wherever we are in the course of our day, we are to disciple those around us. We do this by displaying God's right to rule over every created thing as we bring healing, deliverance from demonic bondage, encouragement, truth, light into darkness, love, stability, joy, and freedom, regardless of race, culture, financial standing, or any other social divide. Part of this discipling process is baptism. Jesus says, “… make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19) Having grown up in a church that practiced infant baptism, I have struggled to grasp the significance of this seeming ritual. In the early days of my Christian walk, someone spoke to me about the importance of adult baptism, but the only motivation they could give, was that it was important because it was about obedience to God's command. On speaking to the minister of the church I attended, his response was that baptism takes the place of the Jewish male circumcision. Just as the adults were circumcised when this covenant sign was first introduced, and thereafter the boys are circumcised eight days after birth, so were the adults baptized at the time of the early church, and babies thereafter. He also asked me: “If you were married because of an arranged wedding, and then later you fell in love with the man you had married, would you need to get married again?” Though at the time, I could not argue against this logic, it did not satisfy in the long term. The questions that lingered deep down, were: What is this all about anyway? Is this just some religious ritual? What is the significance of baptism? What is the similarity between circumcision and baptism, that one seemingly cancels out the other? What does baptism have to do with discipleship? So what is Baptism? Baptism is not something that is done because you are born into a Christian home. Baptism is a proclamation of your personal decision to surrender to Jesus and become His disciple. It is a proclamation to heaven and earth that you are identifying with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. You have died to self-rule, and have been resurrected to new life in Jesus. You are now a new creation, living a life surrendered to His rulership, as you continually abide in Him. But it goes deeper The pieces of this puzzle fell into place for me as I was organising the baptism of a young woman. As I was busy with the arrangements, I felt the Holy Spirit say: “Baptize them in and into My name; immerse them into My character until, as cloth takes on the colour of the dye, so My people will take on My nature...” Biblically a name is synonymous with the person’s character and reputation. This is why, in the Bible, God often changes a person's name after they encounter Him, because an encounter with God will lead to repentance, which, in turn, will often lead to a change in character. So, when the Bible speaks of the name of God, it speaks of His character. The Greek word for 'baptize' speaks of immersing a cloth into dye until it takes on the colour of the dye. The longer the cloth remains in the dye, the deeper the intensity of the color it will take on. So, the more we immerse ourselves in Jesus, as we abide in Him, the more we will take on the depth of the colour of His nature. Solomon tells us, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Prov 13: 20)  We become like the ones with whom we spend much time. A Prophetic Act Baptism is like a prophetic act, in which we enact in a physical way what is happening in the spiritual realm. In Baptism we make a multifaceted declaration: We are told “... all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2).  Moses is a type of Christ. The picture of Israel passing through the Red Sea, is a picture of our being set free from slavery to sin. In the same way, baptism is a declaration of our being set free from slavery to sin, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Baptism also symbolizes the washing away of sin. In baptism, we declare that we have died to our self-rule in which we have lived according to the knowledge of good and evil, and we have risen in Christ, as a new creation in Him, to now live a life fully surrendered to the rulership of Jesus. (See Romans 6:4) With water being symbollic of the Holy Spirit, Baptism  demonstrates that as we identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus, and as we become a new creation in Him, we are also to be drenched in the Holy Spirit. Then, with the symbolism of dying cloth, baptism also points forward, declaring that as we abide in Jesus, and He abides in us through the Holy Spriit, we will take on the colour of His nature in us. (See Galatians 3:27) What is the Similarity with Circumcision? Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told His people, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.” (Jeremiah 4:4) A few hundred years later, Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians, “… in [Christ] you have also been circumcised with a cirumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you are also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…” (Colossians 2:11-13) So, through the declaration we make through baptism, God removes the power of our flesh, so that we are able to live for Him, in newness of life. We are no longer enslaved to our flesh, we are now able to choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the old ways of our flesh. So while circumcision was a call for God’s people to circumcise their hearts as a people set apart for God, baptism points back to Christ and declares that through His death and resurrection, Jesus has circumcised our hearts when we were powerless to do so. By identifying ourselves with His death and resurrection, we die to the cravings of our flesh, no longer being controlled by them, but we are now free to live in the relationship with God for which we were created. However, having said that baptism has a similar focus, baptism does not replace circumcision. Circumscision remains a covenant requirement for the male descendents of Abraham.   Baptism and Discipleship Is baptism the fullstop to the end of a process? The act of baptism is the declaration of the decision to be a disciple of Jesus. Discipling does not end with baptism, but the focus changes from bringing the person to a place of adoption, to leading them into a living relationship with Jesus. Baptism and the Old Testament Is baptism only a New Testament teaching? Or does it have it’s roots in the Old Testment? I found the following teaching on a Messianic site called ‘One with Israel’, I trust you will be blessed by it: Immersion in Jewish Tradition The Jewish laws which had been passed down orally from generation to generation had several things to say about the need for ritual washing, and the most desirable places to do it. There are six different options suggested that satisfy the requirements, starting with pits or cisterns of standing water as acceptable but least desirable, moving up to pits that are refreshed by rainwater as slightly more desirable, then the custom- built ritual bath, or ‘mikveh’ with 40 se’ahs (300 liters) or more of water, then fountains, then flowing waters. But ‘living waters’ (as found in natural lakes and rivers) which were considered to be the best possible situation. …So Yochanan [John] immersing people in the ‘Living waters’ of the River Jordan was perfectly within Jewish law and practice at the time… Ritual Bathing in the Bible ‘Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them– to him and his descendants throughout their generations.’ Exod 30:17-21 The priests had to be ritually clean (tahor) in order to serve at the tabernacle, and Israelites who had become ritually unclean (tamay) had to restore their situation with the passing of time and bathing their whole body in fresh, ritually clean (tahor) water, according to Leviticus 15. Later, when the temple had been built, it was necessary for everyone to be immersed in a mikveh to become ritually clean before entering the temple. …immersion in a mikveh was quite common at the time of Yeshua, but the New Testament also describes baptisms taking place not only in rivers, but in any available body of water. In Acts 8, we read of a visiting pilgrim from Ethiopia, who came to believe in Yeshua as he read Isaiah on the way home: ‘As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”’ (verse 36). By this point baptism had come to signify a decision to accept Yeshua as Messiah and Lord. The word ‘Mikveh’ The Hebrew noun for a ritual bath (mikveh) can help us understand a bit more about the Jewish notion of immersion. Often the Hebrew language reveals keys in the Hebrew thought behind the words. The word mikveh shares the same root as the word for hope (tikvah), for line (kav) and alignment, and the concept of hoping or waiting on God (kiviti l’Adonai). Here is what Strong’s Lexicon has to say about the word: מִקְוֶה miqveh, mik-veh’; something waited for, i.e. confidence (objective or subjective); also a collection, i.e. (of water) a pond, or (of men and horses) a caravan or drove:— abiding, gathering together, hope, linen yarn, plenty (of water), pool. and the same root word: קָוָה qâvâh, kaw-vaw’; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect:—gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon). The ideas of binding together, or twisting together, of yarn, gives us a good mental picture of what it means to align ourselves with God, and wait for him. We gather ourselves and bind ourselves to his word and to him, we line ourselves up with him, and wait for him in confidence and hope. When you read that the Psalmist says he waits upon the Lord, this is usually the word he is using. The linked concepts of mikvah (collected pool of water) and tikvah (hope, confidence) are played out beautifully in Jeremiah 17:5-6, where the prophet poetically expresses the ideas through the metaphor of trees either rooted and flourishing beside water when we trust in God, or drying up for the lack of water when we put our trust in man. A few verses later, Jeremiah summarises: Lord, you are the hope (mikveh) of Israel; all who forsake you will be ashamed (or dried out). Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water. This is a word play – the text actually says ‘The Lord is the MIKVEH of Israel, and all who forsake him will be ashamed or dried out!’ So it makes more sense now that Jeremiah continues, to say that when we turn away from this mikveh of water and hope, we will be ashamed, which can also be translated ‘dried out’. Through this word play, Jeremiah deliberately points us back to the analogy of the man who trusts in God being like a tree beside plenty of water, and the one who leaves God ending up in dry, dusty shame. A ‘Mikveh’ of living water represents the bounty and resources of the new life that we can enjoy in God. Those who put their hope in God, choosing to align their lives with him, will never be dried out, but will always have fresh life in him. Next time you see someone being immersed in water to signify their new life in Yeshua, the hope of Israel, the mikveh of Israel, call to mind all that he said about being the water of life, the well of living water that springs up to eternal life… because that’s exactly who He is!” (ONE FOR ISRAEL (Messianic Jews in Israel)) This  article has been condensed, so if you are interested, you can find the full article here.   
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Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017 - 2018  

Baptism

 “Baptism is an outward expression of

an inward faith.”

(Watchman Nee)

What is Baptism all About?

As we saw in the previous post, the command Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, was that wherever we are in the course of our day, we are to disciple those around us. We do this by displaying God's right to rule over every created thing as we bring healing, deliverance from demonic bondage, encouragement, truth, light into darkness, love, stability, joy, and freedom, regardless of race, culture, financial standing, or any other social divide. Part of this discipling process is baptism. Jesus says, “… make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19) Having grown up in a church that practiced infant baptism, I have struggled to grasp the significance of this seeming ritual. In the early days of my Christian walk, someone spoke to me about the importance of adult baptism, but the only motivation they could give, was that it was important because it was about obedience to God's command. On speaking to the minister of the church I attended, his response was that baptism takes the place of the Jewish male circumcision. Just as the adults were circumcised when this covenant sign was first introduced, and thereafter the boys are circumcised eight days after birth, so were the adults baptized at the time of the early church, and babies thereafter. He also asked me: “If you were married because of an arranged wedding, and then later you fell in love with the man you had married, would you need to get married again?” Though at the time, I could not argue against this logic, it did not satisfy in the long term. The questions that lingered deep down, were: What is this all about anyway? Is this just some religious ritual? What is the significance of baptism? What is the similarity between circumcision and baptism, that one seemingly cancels out the other? What does baptism have to do with discipleship? So what is Baptism? Baptism is not something that is done because you are born into a Christian home. Baptism is a proclamation of your personal decision to surrender to Jesus and become His disciple. It is a proclamation to heaven and earth that you are identifying with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. You have died to self-rule, and have been resurrected to new life in Jesus. You are now a new creation, living a life surrendered to His rulership, as you continually abide in Him. But it goes deeper The pieces of this puzzle fell into place for me as I was organising the baptism of a young woman. As I was busy with the arrangements, I felt the Holy Spirit say: “Baptize them in and into My name; immerse them into My character until, as cloth takes on the colour of the dye, so My people will take on My nature...” Biblically a name is synonymous with the person’s character and reputation. This is why, in the Bible, God often changes a person's name after they encounter Him, because an encounter with God will lead to repentance, which, in turn, will often lead to a change in character. So, when the Bible speaks of the name of God, it speaks of His character. The Greek word for 'baptize' speaks of immersing a cloth into dye until it takes on the colour of the dye. The longer the cloth remains in the dye, the deeper the intensity of the color it will take on. So, the more we immerse ourselves in Jesus, as we abide in Him, the more we will take on the depth of the colour of His nature. Solomon tells us, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Prov 13: 20)  We become like the ones with whom we spend much time. A Prophetic Act Baptism is like a prophetic act, in which we enact in a physical way what is happening in the spiritual realm. In Baptism we make a multifaceted declaration: We are told “... all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2).  Moses is a type of Christ. The picture of Israel passing through the Red Sea, is a picture of our being set free from slavery to sin. In the same way, baptism is a declaration of our being set free from slavery to sin, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Baptism also symbolizes the washing away of sin. In baptism, we declare that we have died to our self-rule in which we have lived according to the knowledge of good and evil, and we have risen in Christ, as a new creation in Him, to now live a life fully surrendered to the rulership of Jesus. (See Romans 6:4) With water being symbollic of the Holy Spirit, Baptism  demonstrates that as we identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus, and as we become a new creation in Him, we are also to be drenched in the Holy Spirit. Then, with the symbolism of dying cloth, baptism also points forward, declaring that as we abide in Jesus, and He abides in us through the Holy Spriit, we will take on the colour of His nature in us. (See Galatians 3:27) What is the Similarity with Circumcision? Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told His people, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.” (Jeremiah 4:4) A few hundred years later, Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians, “… in [Christ] you have also been circumcised with a cirumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you are also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…” (Colossians 2:11-13) So, through the declaration we make through baptism, God removes the power of our flesh, so that we are able to live for Him, in newness of life. We are no longer enslaved to our flesh, we are now able to choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the old ways of our flesh. So while circumcision was a call for God’s people to circumcise their hearts as a people set apart for God, baptism points back to Christ and declares that through His death and resurrection, Jesus has circumcised our hearts when we were powerless to do so. By identifying ourselves with His death and resurrection, we die to the cravings of our flesh, no longer being controlled by them, but we are now free to live in the relationship with God for which we were created. However, having said that baptism has a similar focus, baptism does not replace circumcision. Circumscision remains a covenant requirement for the male descendents of Abraham.   Baptism and Discipleship Is baptism the fullstop to the end of a process? The act of baptism is the declaration of the decision to be a disciple of Jesus. Discipling does not end with baptism, but the focus changes from bringing the person to a place of adoption, to leading them into a living relationship with Jesus. Baptism and the Old Testament Is baptism only a New Testament teaching? Or does it have it’s roots in the Old Testment? I found the following teaching on a Messianic site called ‘One with Israel’, I trust you will be blessed by it: Immersion in Jewish Tradition The Jewish laws which had been passed down orally from generation to generation had several things to say about the need for ritual washing, and the most desirable places to do it. There are six different options suggested that satisfy the requirements, starting with pits or cisterns of standing water as acceptable but least desirable, moving up to pits that are refreshed by rainwater as slightly more desirable, then the custom-built ritual bath, or ‘mikveh’ with 40 se’ahs (300 liters) or more of water, then fountains, then flowing waters. But ‘living waters’ (as found in natural lakes and rivers) which were considered to be the best possible situation. …So Yochanan [John] immersing people in the ‘Living waters’ of the River Jordan was perfectly within Jewish law and practice at the time… Ritual Bathing in the Bible ‘Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them– to him and his descendants throughout their generations.’ Exod 30:17-21 The priests had to be ritually clean (tahor) in order to serve at the tabernacle, and Israelites who had become ritually unclean (tamay) had to restore their situation with the passing of time and bathing their whole body in fresh, ritually clean (tahor) water, according to Leviticus 15. Later, when the temple had been built, it was necessary for everyone to be immersed in a mikveh to become ritually clean before entering the temple. …immersion in a mikveh was quite common at the time of Yeshua, but the New Testament also describes baptisms taking place not only in rivers, but in any available body of water. In Acts 8, we read of a visiting pilgrim from Ethiopia, who came to believe in Yeshua as he read Isaiah on the way home: ‘As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”’ (verse 36). By this point baptism had come to signify a decision to accept Yeshua as Messiah and Lord. The word ‘Mikveh’ The Hebrew noun for a ritual bath (mikveh) can help us understand a bit more about the Jewish notion of immersion. Often the Hebrew language reveals keys in the Hebrew thought behind the words. The word mikveh shares the same root as the word for hope (tikvah), for line (kav) and alignment, and the concept of hoping or waiting on God (kiviti l’Adonai). Here is what Strong’s Lexicon has to say about the word: מִקְוֶה miqveh, mik-veh’; something waited for, i.e. confidence (objective or subjective); also a collection, i.e. (of water) a pond, or (of men and horses) a caravan or drove:— abiding, gathering together, hope, linen yarn, plenty (of water), pool. and the same root word: קָוָה qâvâh, kaw-vaw’; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect:—gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon). The ideas of binding together, or twisting together, of yarn, gives us a good mental picture of what it means to align ourselves with God, and wait for him. We gather ourselves and bind ourselves to his word and to him, we line ourselves up with him, and wait for him in confidence and hope. When you read that the Psalmist says he waits upon the Lord, this is usually the word he is using. The linked concepts of mikvah (collected pool of water) and tikvah (hope, confidence) are played out beautifully in Jeremiah 17:5-6, where the prophet poetically expresses the ideas through the metaphor of trees either rooted and flourishing beside water when we trust in God, or drying up for the lack of water when we put our trust in man. A few verses later, Jeremiah summarises: Lord, you are the hope (mikveh) of Israel; all who forsake you will be ashamed (or dried out). Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water. This is a word play – the text actually says ‘The Lord is the MIKVEH of Israel, and all who forsake him will be ashamed or dried out!’ So it makes more sense now that Jeremiah continues, to say that when we turn away from this mikveh of water and hope, we will be ashamed, which can also be translated ‘dried out’. Through this word play, Jeremiah deliberately points us back to the analogy of the man who trusts in God being like a tree beside plenty of water, and the one who leaves God ending up in dry, dusty shame. A ‘Mikveh’ of living water represents the bounty and resources of the new life that we can enjoy in God. Those who put their hope in God, choosing to align their lives with him, will never be dried out, but will always have fresh life in him. Next time you see someone being immersed in water to signify their new life in Yeshua, the hope of Israel, the mikveh of Israel, call to mind all that he said about being the water of life, the well of living water that springs up to eternal life… because that’s exactly who He is!” (ONE FOR ISRAEL (Messianic Jews in Israel)) This  article has been condensed, so if you are interested, you can find the full article here.   
Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Prev Next