Baptism and the Church
The Bible says that God's covenant must be marked on the flesh of our body. This directive issues from the Torah, the Law of the Old Testament. Proving that it was born of God's will, this mark was also incorporated into the regulations surrounding the new covenant brought by Christ.
"My Covenant shall be marked on your bodies as a Covenant in perpetuity." (Gen.17:13).
In the Old Testament this tenant was fulfilled by the knife of circumcision, but in Christ, the knife was replaced by a sprinkling of water in baptism.
The water is symbolic of the living water which God sent as a river from heaven, a river divided into seven springs so that it flowed across the whole earth into all churches erected in His name.
"All the people who heard him, and the tax collectors too, acknowledged God's plan by accepting baptism from John; but by refusing baptism from him, the Pharisees and the lawyers thwarted what God had in mind for them." (Luke 7:29-30).
This passage of scripture says that the Pharisees and lawyers thwarted God's purpose for them by refusing to be baptised.
The meaning is uncontestable. The Gospel shows that it is God's intention to offer salvation as a free gift to anyone who wants it, even to people like the Pharisees and lawyers, but in order for them to receive that salvation, they have to accept it legally by allowing the covenant to be marked on their bodies according to directive of the Law.
Jesus declared baptism essential. "Unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5).
"You must repent," Peter told them, "and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins..." (Acts 2:38). With this declaration, Peter incorporated the dictate of Genesis 17:13 as a New Testament commandment. His decree has been locked into perpetuity as scripture and thus cannot be rejected.
The Hebrew law was measured by circumcision because it was this procedure which brought the Jewish male into the covenant of the Law. Because baptism does the reverse, taking us out of the Law, the two represent polar opposites of the same process.
Both circumcision and baptism represent a 'cutting off of the flesh' for purification. Paul proved this in his letter to the Colossians:
"In him you have been circumcised, with a circumcision not performed by human hand, but by the complete stripping of your body of flesh. This is circumcision according to Christ. "
"You have been buried with himwhen you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead." (Col.2:13).
See Also, Clock of God, Chapter 12, A Baptism of Repentance
Return to Chapter 28
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E.C.S.Leavenworth III; Goodnews Christian Ministry.