Baptism is undoubtedly the most important decision one can make on this earth. Because our future is determined by it, we should be alert to all its conditions and significance. In the following study we will seek a deeper meaning of baptism according to Jehovah’s word. We should comprehend what baptism accomplishes and seek to ensure our baptism is approved by Jehovah. Furthermore, we should know what to expect upon being baptized, for it is the foundation-stone of the promised salvation given us through our Savior Jesus Christ.
From time to time we all have realized how far we have fallen from the high expectations of Jehovah’s word, and felt we were the lost generation much like those Peter was preaching to. When the Jews in Acts chapter two realized it was their sins which put the Savior to death, they asked, "What can we do?"
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ Messiah for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as Jehovah our Elohim shall call." Acts 2:38-39 AV
Baptism in the Only Name
Most baptisms done throughout churchianity are done according to Matthew 28:19, "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." However, not one of these is a name, but only a title. There are many "fathers" on this earth, and all of us have a human father. Fathers are also sons, as are all males. The Holy Spirit is the power emanating from Jehovah, and shared by the Son. A number of scholars believe this verse is spurious, including the Catholic Jerusalem Bible. (For a deeper study of this verse, request your copy of our mini-study, "Trinitarian Baptism and Matthew 28:19.")
Other church groups baptize in the name of "Jesus," a meaningless name by which the Savior was never called in His life. It certainly is improper to be baptized into a name that did not exist until about the time of Columbus when the letter J came into being. We have restored the name JESUS CHRIST which was given Him directly from the Heavens. It is the same as "Joshua" in the King James. The name "Jesus" is a hybrid from the Latin and Greek which is explained in our mini-study "How the Savior’s Name Was Changed". If you don’t have this eye-opening information, request your copy today!
Baptisms in the book of Acts were done in the name of the Savior Jesus Christ, not Jesus. (For further information, write for our mini-study "Why Be Baptized In The Name Jesus Christ.") The Bible clearly tells us that salvation is in the name of Jesus Christ only; “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12 AV
Why are we making so much of a proper baptism? As already mentioned above, baptism is the most important event in your life! Baptism has a bearing upon what you will be doing until the Savior returns and where you will spend eternity. Baptism is the doorway to everlasting eternity and to a life that is out of this world. All the promises made to Abraham and his Seed culminate in the person of Jesus Christ Messiah. It is through Him that we have this present life, plus the greater promises in the life yet to come. Paul himself stated all the promises made to Abraham come only through Jesus Christ. Upon baptism into Jesus Christ’s name we become a part of His body and are then partakers of those promises; “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Messiah." Galatians 3:16 AV
The Savior’s Example
Jesus Christ came to be baptized by John the Baptist (Immerser). John felt he himself should be the one to be baptized and questioned why the Savior deemed His own baptism was necessary. His reply was to fulfill all righteousness and for an example to us! Notice, “Then cometh Jesus Christ from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus Christ answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him. And Jesus Christ, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and he saw the Spirit of Jehovah descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him." Matthew 3:13-16 AV
Notice that Jesus Christ’s baptism is an example that we might follow in His footsteps. Because He submitted to being immersed, so we should also be baptized. It was at this time the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus Christ. Being now filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ could begin His 3½ year ministry. No doubt the Savior was well versed in the Scriptures being taught by His mother Miriam and Joseph from childhood. He was able to discuss the deeper things of the Word with the priests when He was about 13, ready for His "Bar Mitzvah," (Son of the Covenant) Luke 2:42-49. Yet, it was following baptism that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Savior in its fullness and He became fully prepared for the task of proclaiming the Evangel.
Laying on of Hands
By the laying on of hands following baptism we are also given the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the invisible power of Jehovah which is given to us. His indwelling Spirit gives us a new direction in our lives and draws us closer to Him. Our goals and attitudes are changed and we no longer defer to the pulls of the flesh. A strong, spiritual outlook is given us which binds us together with those seeking the narrow way.
The indwelling Holy Spirit draws us closer to Jehovah in thought and deed, and we find our interest is now in a greater movement. We become a part of the growing body of the Messiah, the body of believers, which makes up the Ekklesia, "the called out ones." Our concern is for the other saints in the Assembly who hunger for fellowship and are also seeking to mature into the image and likeness of the Savior.
To each believer baptized into the body is given a spiritual gift from Jehovah. This gift is to be used for the benefit of the Assembly. The laying on of hands is found in the Old Testament and is indeed an important practice that follows baptism. Notice the following account in which the Holy Spirit was given only when the Apostles Peter and John laid hands upon the baptized ones: "Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money[Simon Magus was an infidel]." Acts 8:17-18 AV
Paul reminds Timothy that we should be ever mindful of the presence within us of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are passed on to others by the presbytery, that is, the Elders of the assembly: "Do not neglect the gift in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the body of elders [presbytery KJV]." 1 Timothy4:14 MKJV
Furthermore, Paul reminds Timothy to revive the gift of the Spirit from Jehovah which was given him by the laying on of Paul’s hands: "Therefore I remind you to inflame anew the gift of Jehovah, which is in you by the putting on of my hands." 2 Timothy 1:6 MKJV
Notice that baptisms were carried out by those specially called of Jehovah. The presbytery is responsible for the guidance of the Assembly and better able to discern who is ready for baptism. Baptism itself does not promise immediate miracles. We rely on answered prayer and the promises of our Heavenly Father Jehovah and His tender mercies. Baptism is followed by the laying on of hands by which we are given the spiritual gifts and become Jehovah’s spiritual sons and daughters.
Deuteronomy 34:9 relates that the passing of leadership from Moses to Joshua was through Moses’ laying his hands on Joshua. Thus, the wisdom and leadership abilities Jehovah had given Moses were now passed on to Joshua. The laying on of hands is to acknowledge the acceptance of the baptized convert into the body of Messiah, who then is given a special gift for strengthening, expanding, and making the "ekklesia" the true body of believers Jesus Christ is seeking.
Gifts of the Spirit
While there are different gifts, they are all from the same source, Jehovah’s Spirit. The gifts are manifestations of the Holy Spirit functioning in different workings, different tasks, different operations, but all are to be used to the advantage of the Assembly. Paul sums up the matter as follows, "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Messiah, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another." Romans 12:4-10 AV
Paul is here describing the result of those who are baptized into Jesus Christ’s name. Some misguided ones have the concept that upon baptism one would be given the gift of tongues. They have been told that "speaking in tongues" is the proof one has the Holy Spirit, however, tongues appears to be the least of the gifts. Paul clearly states that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be used to up build, strengthen, encourage, teach, guide, and help give the body of believers to attain the sterling and loving character that the Head of the body, Jesus Christ Himself, displayed.
There are a number of spiritual gifts which members of the body of Messiah are given and the periscope of Romans 12 mentioned above shows there are eight gifts given to the saints. Paul describes the body of believers as a living, organic unity, a body. Each member of the body is given gifts to be used properly and not abused within the overall framework of love by which sin and evil is overcome with good. At every turn, Paul urges we all have love for the brethren to show true humility in dealing with the problems that arise.
The Power of His Blood
Romans, chapter six, is certainly one of the clearest explanations concerning baptism’s effectiveness and the results it achieves for us. This exposition of baptism is perhaps one of the most profound ever given. Paul raises the question; if we are forgiven our sins because of the grace of Jehovah, should we sin all the more so grace will be even greater;"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" Rom. 6:1-2 MKJV
Paul answers his own question by asking. "If we have died to sin through baptism, why should we go back to sinning again?” He makes the point that as Jesus Christ died, we also symbolically died by entering the watery grave of baptism. We are then cleansed from our sins and are to overcome and steer clear of future sinning.
Resurrected to Newness of Life
Just as Jesus Christ was dead and placed in the tomb, through baptism, we spiritually mimic His death in dying to the old way of life. We turn from our old ways of the past and seek to walk on higher ground as we follow in His footsteps."Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life." Rom. 6:3-4 MKJV
When Jesus Christ arose from the tomb, His body was changed to spirit. He moved through walls, entered rooms without coming through the doors; He appeared before the witnesses and then disappeared before them. All this He could do because He now had a glorified body. "The life of the flesh is in the blood," Lev. 17:14 . His blood was shed for you and me and blood no longer was coursing through His veins.
Now Jesus Christ had Spirit energy flowing though His veins which gave Him the resplendent picture found in Revelation 1:13-16! He is a bright, shining individual whose face shines forth like the noonday sun. Just as He is a changed individual and no longer hindered by the flesh, so we upon being baptized into His Name, are no longer living with our desires governed by the material world. Our thoughts are now on a higher plane where Jesus Christ and Jehovah think and act! We think in the spiritual realm.
The Old Man Dies - Body of Sin Destroyed
"For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin." Rom. 6:5-6 MKJV
When we come up out of the watery grave we will still be human and have to face human problems in this physical realm. The person we once were has been impaled with Messiah, but our attitude has been changed. The difference is that we have a new outlook on life, and have Jehovah’s Spirit within which strengthens us. Paul says "the body of sin might be destroyed," that is, the old nature is inoperative. We now can call upon Jehovah’s help to overcome our own shortcomings; overcome the world as well as the wiles of the Tempter.
"For he who died has been justified from sin. But if we died with Messiah, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that when Messiah was raised from the dead, He dies no more; death no longer has dominion over Him." Rom. 6:7-9 MKJV
The New English Bible renders verse 7, "A dead man is no longer answerable for his sin." Death pays all debts, so the man who has died with Messiah has his slate wiped clean, and is ready to begin his new life with Messiah, his past forgotten. Upon arising from the baptismal waters, one’s past is washed away, he is a new creature, as Paul emphasizes, "So that if any one is in Messiah, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17 MKJV
Old Things Pass Away, All Things Become New
No matter what sins he has committed, or what commandment he has broken, the past is forgotten. This also includes divorce and remarriage. If such sins are not washed away, then Messiah’s sacrifice is not the cleansing blood the Bible says it is. Paul emphasizes, "For in that He died, He died to sin once; but in that He lives, He lives to Jehovah. Likewise count yourselves also to be truly dead to sin, but alive to Jehovah through Jesus Christ Messiah our Sovereign." Romans 6:10-11 MKJV
One Spirit, Many Gifts
Paul goes into detail describing the body of Messiah which he likens to the physical human body. The brethren making up the body of Messiah have various talents and gifts all of which complete the body and make it function smoothly.
We should understand that the body of Messiah, the Ekklesia, is made up of brethren who are specially selected of Jehovah. Paul now goes on to show the various gifts of the Spirit are needful for the body, yet given by the same Spirit. He emphasizes in chapter 13 that agape love is the more excellent way. Evidently there were some Corinthian brethren who mistakenly assumed ecstatic speech was favored, which encouraged many to attempt to acquire that gift. Paul clarifies that every gift is important and needed for the good of the body, "But there are differences of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of ministries, but the same Sovereign. And there are differences of workings, but it is the same Elohim working all things in all." 1Cor. 12:4-6 MKJV
Paul goes to great lengths to show the Ekklesia, the body of Messiah, is made up of many different people with diverse backgrounds. But all have the same goal which is to be in the Kingdom. We are to help others along the way, as we seek to be kings and priests in the Kingdom, Rev. 5:10. Paul lists the various gifts which are given to make the body of believers a viable group, all working together for the good of the brethren comprising the Ekklesia, referred to as the "called out ones."
Diversity in Unity
But to each one is given the showing forth of the Spirit to our profit. For through the Spirit is given to one;
(1) a word of wisdom; and to another
(2) a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; and to another
(3) faith by the same Spirit; and to another the
(4) gifts of healing by the same Spirit; and to another
(5) workings of powers (miracles), to another
(6) prophecy; and to another
(7) discerning of spirits; and to another
(8) kinds of tongues; and to another
(9) the interpretation of tongues.
"But the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing separately to each one as He desires." 1Cor. 12:7-11 MKJV
Paul ranks certain gifts in order. With the various members having their own gift for the Ekklesia, it is necessary the members work together as a body or as a well-oiled machine. We are not to allow differences to divide us, but toforbear one another, knowing that we are to tolerate each member of the body, for Jehovah has placed each one in the assembly as He saw fit. "For as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Messiah. For also by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, even all were made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If all the body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If all hearing, where would be the smelling? But now Jehovah has set the members, each one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where would be the body?" 1 Corinthians 12:12-19 MKJV
Jehovah Sets Those in the Assembly
Again, Paul emphasizes that each baptized member of the assembly will likely have a different gift and goes to some length to make his point. He indicates that even the most humble parts of the body are necessary. We are to strive after the better gifts, and to do so with agape love.
And Jehovah set some in the assembly, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of power? "Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak languages? Do all interpret? But zealously strive after the better gifts. And yet I show to you a more excellent way." 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 MKJV. Paul then goes on to give his classic exposition of agape love found in 1Corinthians chapter 13.
Gifts are Given to the Assembly
Ephesians 4:8-9 tell of Jesus Christ’s ascending up on high after his death and resurrection and gave special gifts unto mankind. Then follows the various gifts He has given to the assembly, His body, for which he died.
Note these are gifts for guidance and leadership of the assembly. First mentioned is the office of apostles. However, this has been fulfilled as the apostles were to have seen the risen Messiah, (Acts 1:22 ; 1Cor, 15:7-8; 2Cor.12:12 ) and Paul was the last apostle, having seen Jesus Christ on the Damascus road, (Acts 9).
A prophet in the New Testament was considered one who received a direct message from Jehovah Himself and then delivered it to those concerned. This was before the New Testament was written, and such guidance was needed by the infant Ekklesia. There are a number of examples such as, "In Antioch … Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them," Acts 15:32 .
Since we now have the completed New Testament, most scholars feel the prophets and apostles are not as needful today as when the early assembly was getting started. But evangelists, pastors and teachers are indeed a part of needful guidance of the Ekklesia. "And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah. And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Jehovah, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah; so that we no longer may be infants, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the dishonesty of men, in cunning craftiness, to the wiles of deceit. But that you, speaking the truth in love, may in all things grow up to Him who is the Head, even Messiah; from whom the whole body, fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of each part, producing the growth of the body to the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians 4:9-16 MKJV
Become Part of His Body
It is clear that those immersed into the body of Messiah become a part of His body and are to interact and work with brethren of like faith. We are not baptized and then expected to be aloof from the body of Messiah! Baptism is the door to become an active part of the body of Messiah. We are not to go off in the woods somewhere in a hermitlike existence without staying in contact with those in the body of Messiah.
We are a part of the body no matter where we are and we should have the same love and concern for the Assembly as Jesus Christ does. He said His true Assembly would never die out. We should do what we can to strengthen, encourage, help, and make the Assembly a focal point of our prayers for its spiritual and physical well-being. With letters, E-mail, phone calls and visits, this can be done more easily today than at any time in history.
A growing number seek the truth of the Bible, ignoring the pagan practices that have crept into the customs of churchianity. Jesus Christ has believers all around the world. We strive to reach out to those who have expressed interest in Jehovah’s name and His way of life. Due to the Internet, many of those who contact us are from third-world countries and contact us through the computer from their place of employment, a library, or a friend. Sending literature overseas gets to be costly, but is a necessary expense for most are unable to be a help to us or their countrymen. We feel a compulsion to help those requesting literature even though their financial situation is in dire straits. This is likely what Jesus Christ was referring to, "And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me. Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me... Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life." Matthew 25: 40-41; 46 MKJV
Feeding the Lost Sheep
We have a great opportunity to reach the lost sheep around the world who also seek deeper truth. We send literature, tapes and our magazine freely to all continents worldwide. This is in fulfillment of the great commission (Mat. 28:19-20) to reach out to all nations with the Good News. The more people we reach and instruct in Jehovah’s truth, the more glory He gets and His blessings flow throughout the world. We make visitation trips about the country counseling those considering baptism into Jesus Christ’s saving name.
We conclude our study with the following summation concerning Baptism:
· True baptisms are done in Jesus Christ’s saving name, placing us in the body of Messiah.
· "Baptism is from the Greek word meaning to immerse, dip, or soak into a liquid so what is dipped takes on the qualities of what it is dipped into; for example, cloth in dye, or leather in tanning solution." (David Stern’s New Testament Commentary, Mat. 3:1)
· Pouring (Greek cheo), sprinkling (rantizo), spraying are not a baptism, (burial).
· All baptisms in Scripture were done by the presbytery, or those specially called of Jesus Christ.
· Baptism is a sacred and serious event, entered into carefully and joyfully.
· Baptisms not done in the saving name of Jesus Christ are a type of John’s baptism of repentance. (Acts 19:1-5); done in sincerity, but lacking the full knowledge now available. Only baptisms into Jesus Christ’s Name are baptisms of salvation.
· Spiritual gifts are given at baptism through the laying on of hands of the Elders. Therefore, one should seek to exercise his gift with a body of believers that is Biblically sound and continues reaching out to others.