“Repent 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”(Acts 2:38).
In Old Testament days there were many ceremonies. But in New Testament days the representative ceremonies were Baptism by immersion and the Holy Communion. These are what Jesus ordered personally and gave us examples of. The word ‘baptism’ is translated into ‘christening’ in the Korean Bible. We correct the word christening to Baptism by immersion, because the word christening doesn’t express its initial meaning well. Well explain in detail later.
Jesus did die and was resurrected, and before he ascended into Heaven, he gathered his followers and gave them the commission.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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”(Matthew 28:19, 20).
He gave this great commission not only to his followers at that time, but also to all his followers in the future. Therefore Christians of each era according to this order run the risk of all types of danger and persecution all over the world when baptizing those who believe in the Father and the Son. This is a very important ceremony to enter the church.
You teach and remember everything that I said to you is from Jesus Christ. Therefore one who is baptized has to study all truth of the Bible sufficiently first, accept the teaching of the Bible as it is, and believe Jesus is our Savior.
“It says, Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”(Mark 16:16). So believing is the first condition to be saved. It means that you should believe the fact that Jesus took our place and paid the price for our sins and He is our Savior. The second one is to repent of your sins and to turn away from it.
“Peter replied, 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”(Acts 2:38).
Repentance is to know, repent, confess and turn away from one’s own sins. This repentance isn’t only to God. If you do harm to someone, you should confess your sins and beg his pardon. If there is someone who knows the truth of the Bible well, and believes in the salvation of Jesus and gets to the age to repent his sins, and he decides to be baptized, a pastor can baptize him.
But there are some examples of infants or newborn babies being baptized. This was a sort of the custom among the heathens and hundreds of years later the Roman Catholic Church adopted it, so it isnt in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. It’s right that the life of an infant who can’t distinguish good thing from evil one is in the hands of Jesus.
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”(Ephesians 4:5,6).
In this phrase we came to know that there is only one pattern of baptism. Then how was the baptism of Jesus? Matthew recorded this; “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? Jesus replied, Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness. Then John consented. 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 landing on him. And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:13-17).
This is the correct and only pattern of baptism; the baptism of Jesus was to go to the Jordan and to be immersed in the water. When he went up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and, also a voice from heaven said; “This is my son, whom I love; with him I’m well pleased”(Matthew 3:17). It was a sign to validate his baptism. Therefore where we hold the right baptism, there is to be plenty of water.
“Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized”(John 3:23). Therefore the christening that many churches hold nowadays, dropping a few drops of water on one’s head, isn’t a biblical or valid ceremony.
A few days after Jesus went to heaven, an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road, the desert road, that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza”(Acts 8:26). So he started immediately, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, who was an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man went to Jerusalem to worship, and was on his way home. When Philip came near to the chariot, he was reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.
Phillip tried to get on the chariot and asked; “Do you understand what you are reading?“ He said, “how can I understand it unless someone explains it to me?“ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Then the eunuch read this passage;
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearers are silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth”(Isaiah 53:7,8). The eunuch reading the Bible asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”(Acts 8:34). Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”(Acts 8:36). Philip said “if you believe with all your heart, and with all your might.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”(Acts 8:37). And he ordered to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
This pattern is the same as the pattern of Jesus in the Jordan. That is to say, the pattern is immersion of the whole body. In the Korean Bible, the original word baptism is translated into christening; it is not right because the meaning of baptism is immersing not sprinkling. Therefore sprinkling a few drops of water isn’t the right way. This started with infants and the sick in the Catholic Church from the 8th century, and was generalized after the 12th century.
The apostle Paul described the meaning of baptism like this. “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. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 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- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”(Romans 6:3-7, 11).
Baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. So a man who believes and is baptized also symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection with Christ. Or, whoever is baptized is forgiven all his sins in the past and gets clean from all the dirt and has only to believe that the Lord died for his sins. Also, as being buried with him through water, we get to be the dead to sin and the world and we will never be the slaves to sin. Therefore when he is raised from the water, he is a newborn man. In the same way Baptism is to proclaim in front of other people that a sinner was buried then is going to live as a newborn man.
Baptism is a symbol of revival and an experience of it. So one’s life after baptism should be different from the past one. As the old self died and you’re renewed so you should live renewed lives. “Then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love”(Colossians 3:1, 2, 5, 12, 14).
Like this, a man who was baptized and entered a church must live his daily life with the proper nature as a follower of Jesus. He should be careful of his choices of clothing and his body.“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds appropriate for women who profess to worship God”(Timothy 2:9. 10).
Clothes express the mind of the man who is wearing them. Therefore it’s not good to be dressed too shabbily or luxuriously. Christians should not set fashion trends or be so behind the fashion that it attracts people’s attention. Your clothes should show your clean, noble and devout nature. Also you should not entertain yourself or have hobbies that have a bad influence upon nature or make you waste time or weigh on your mind, always do things to give God glory.
In reading, you should avoid dangerous ideologies that deny God or novels and magazines to make your nature be vulgar and avoiding plays and movies that do the same. It is safe to live in the right way. Also, if you are not selective with the TV or radio programs that you watch or listen to, they can influence you negatively. They can be very useful means not only to evangelize but also to propagate the guilt of the devil.
If those things aren’t suitable for the life of Christian, it’s easy to think of the life of Christian as very sorrowful and prosaic, but this is not the case at all. Great hope, delight and pleasure such as unbelievers can’t image capture the mind of a Christian.
The last question to those who are baptized and enter a faith is how to lead a religious life. Paul who succeeded in this field explained the secret of success like this.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”(Galatians 2:20). The fact that Christ lives in me and stays with me is the secret that makes me victorious and faithful.
A religious American author, Ellen G. White, said like following. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, the wicked one shall dominate us. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not co-operate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome. Without a personal acquaintance with Christ, and a continual communion, we are at the mercy of the enemy, and shall do his bidding in the end. (The desire of the Age v.2, 324)
We must pay attention to these things to keep our relationship with Christ:
First, dont neglect private prayer.
Second, study the Bible everyday.
Third, share the grace of Christ with others every day.
Forth, attend all assemblies of the church diligently.
And try to have close fellowship with friends who live with the same faith and hope. If you keep company with people who don’t truly believe in God, although they attend church, because of the strong power of evil, it is easy to fall into the temptation and for faith be weakened. And the other thing is, if you have a sudden realization that this is right or this is the truth. Enter the faith immediately because there is no need to be a slave of the devil anymore. So as soon as you realize the truth, and decide to obey the truth-enter the faith by being baptized. Entering a faith is taking part in the big military of God, so we get to have courage, ability and the faith to oppose the devil effectively. As Baptism and the Holy Communion are the two important ceremonies to commemorate, Christ engraved the name of the true God on these ceremonies. Christ made Baptism a sign to enter his Spiritual kingdom.