Big Picture of the Bible – Lesson 5

What the Apostles Taught

Baptism (in the Greek translated: Immersion) is the point where our sins are cleansed by faith in Christ’s blood—where we die with Christ. As such, baptism is when we are united with Christ’s death by faith and, as a result, is when our sins are removed and we stand sanctified, justified, and righteous (1 Corinthians 6:11) before God.

The apostles taught that baptism was the point WHEN (or HOW):

WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITHGalatians 3:26-27. Why? When our sins are removed the price of death is removed (justification). Therefore we are “sons of God through faith”, when we put on Christ in baptism by faith (Romans 6:17).

WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH IN CHRIST’S WORKColossians 2:12 Baptism is  not a meritorious work that earns salvation. It is the point where we accept God’s promise…and His work. Therefore we are buried with Christ in baptism and raised up with Christ through faith in the working of God.

WE ARE SAVED1 Peter 3:21. Here Peter flatly states “Baptism now saves you.”  How? Through faith (“answer of a clean conscience”) in the working of God (“through the resurrection of Christ”) – see Colossians 2:12.

AS THERE IS ONE GOSPEL, THERE IS ONLY ONE BAPTISMEphesians 4:4-6.

Here is a very important list of seven things upon which all Christians must be unified—one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father, and one baptism. Why is baptism on this list? There are many things which are very important to  Christian faith that aren’t on this list, e.g. the Lord’s supper. Baptism is on this list because it is the act of faith, and the point at  which one’s sins are removed by dying with Christ. The fact that there is only one baptism further attests to its importance and connection with the one gospel of Galatians 1.

What the Apostles Practiced

The examples of what the apostles actually practiced  are very powerful and valuable. We should be willing to test our theological beliefs against real examples. We can see very clearly that baptism was:

  • COMMANDEDFOR REMISSION OF SINS –  Acts 2:38. Here believers specifically asked “what must we do?” They were commanded to repent and be baptized for (in order to obtain) the remission of sins.
  • INCLUDED IN “PREACHING THE GOSPELActs 8:5,12. Here Philip proclaimed the gospel. When they believed, they were being baptized. Preaching the gospel had to include instruction about the baptismal response.
  • INCLUDED IN “PREACHING JESUSActs 8:35-39. Here Philip “preached  Jesus” to the eunuch. The eunuch’s first reaction was to be baptized. Preaching Jesus had to include instruction about baptism. He rejoiced only after they both “went down into the water” and he was baptized.
  • WHEN AND WHERE THE LORD ADDED ONE “TO THE CHURCHActs 2:47. After being baptized (“those being saved”) the Lord added them to His church, His spiritual kingdom, where Christ is ruler (see also Ephesians 5:25-27, Colossians 1:18).

THE EXAMPLE OF THE CONVERSION OF PAUL:

Paul And LightOne of the clearest examples of conversion in the New Testament is that of the apostle Paul (Acts 9; 22). He had been persecuting Christians with a clear conscience that he was doing the will of God. While traveling, Christ appeared to Paul in a vision and directed him to go to Damascus “where you will be told what you must do.”  We see several key elements to Paul’s repentance:

  • He believed and confessed—”What must I do Lord?
  • He obeyed —”Get up and go into Damascus.
  • He fasted for three days—”three days…and neither ate nor drank.
  • He prayed for three days—”for he is praying.

Do you think Paul prayed “the sinner’s prayer?” The words of Paul’s prayer are not recorded but we must believe it to be a prayer of repentance that would rival David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. Paul had just become a believer in Jesus and had learned that all those Christians he had been killing and persecuting were children of God! I can only imagine the pain, suffering and repentance that was being reflected in his prayers.

The question is often asked, “When was Paul saved?” At what point in these three days of repentance were his sins removed? When he believed? Confessed? Obeyed? Fasted? Through his earnest penitent praying?

Ananias was instructed by God to go to Paul then commanded him, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). Until Ananias came and baptized him, Paul was still full of sin. None of Paul’s acts of repentance or obedience had removed a single sin because he had not yet died with Christ. He still needed to have his sins “washed away” in baptism. There is a strong lesson here for all of us. Whether we have believed, confessed, prayed, or otherwise repented for 3 days, 3 months, 3 years, or 30 years, the only way to remove sin is to “die with Christ” by uniting with His atoning death that pays the judicial price for our sins.

One BaptismTake the quiz based on the passages you just read.