What is Baptism About?

What is Baptism About?
Compiled & Adapted By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

This is an often asked question so I decided to visit this question today.

 

When someone decides to give their life over to Jesus Christ there is often many questions that arise, and amongst some of the first are about baptism. This quick guide about baptism will help you to clarify the question that you may have.

 

Can you go to heaven by being baptized?

People are saved (and get to go to heaven) by believing that Jesus is the Christ and putting their faith in Him. Baptism does not save anyone.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

 

How should one be baptized?

Because some churches sprinkle water on people instead of immersing them, the obvious question is whether this is OK. Since the only consistent answer around the world comes from the Bible, we recommend using it to find your answers. It is interesting that nowhere in the Bible does anything but “immersion” take place. That is, baptism is always by immersion.

This makes sense if you realize that “baptize” is a transliteration of the original Greek word baptizw (baptizo). In turn, baptizo comes from the root word baptw (bapto), a term used in the first century for immersing a garment first into bleach and then into dye, both cleansing and changing the color of the cloth. (Note its similarity to baptism’s cleansing of sin and becoming a new person through Christ.) Stated another way, when you process cloth to change its color, you are said to “baptize” it. If sprinkling of any kind was to be practiced, a different Greek word would have been used, but it was not.

 

Why should someone be baptized?

Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  • This verse does not say that baptism is necessary for salvation.  It says that baptism is part of making disciples.
  • If baptism is necessary for salvation then it must also be true that teaching disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded is necessary as well.  But this would be salvation by works.  Instead, Jesus is explicitly declaring how to make disciples – by baptizing them and teaching them to observe what Christ and commanded.

So, the purpose for an individual to baptize is threefold.

  1. Declaring to the world that they have become a Christian by giving their heart and life to Christ.
  2. Identifying with Christ in the symbol of death, burial (going down into the water), and resurrection (coming out of the water).
  3. Declaring that you are joining a body of believers (both the church universally, and the church locally) for the purpose of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ (learning how to walk according to God’s way of doing things so that you may be blessed and your testimony will have its’ maximum effectiveness in the world).

 

When should someone be baptized?

Let’s look at this question from two directions.

#1 – Does a person’s age make a difference?

A natural question would be, “does your age make a difference?” More specifically, you may ask whether infants or young children should be baptized. It may help if you understand where the idea and practice of baptizing infants came from. Around 400 AD, a man named Augustine came up with the idea of “original sin.” This basically said that everyone inherits the sin of Adam at birth and is therefore separated from God from the beginning of their life. Of course, this caused parents to become concerned over the fate of their children, should they die before “getting right with God.” Since only one of the four steps required to get right with God could be done by (or to) an infant, they decided to baptize them to “take care of the original sin.” Since it is risky to immerse an infant, these people decided to sprinkle them with water instead. Thus, both baptizing infants and baptizing by sprinkling came from human ideas. They did not come from the Bible.

If we look in the Bible we see that children are never seen to “accept Christ” (and therefore get right with God). It is also interesting that God never tells us what to do to keep a child safe. Did He just forget this important point, letting many children go to Hell and suffer eternally? No. A child is safe in the arms of God until they can understand how to be saved by accepting Jesus as their savior. (See 2 Samuel chapter 12, verses 22 and 23 along with Matthew chapter 18, verse 10.) Thus, only adults and older children (who can understand separation from God because of sin and so forth) are at the age when acceptance of Christ is possible.

#2 – When should an individual get baptized: immediately, or later?

Almost anytime you see salvations happening in scripture you see baptism immediately following their salvation.

Thus, “when we believe” is the right time to be baptized. If you “believed” some time back and were not baptized, then this should become a priority for you to fulfill what God asks you to do in the Bible.

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Did Jesus Really Know?

Did Jesus Really Know?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

The following question came in a little bit ago and I just haven’t had the time to go over it. This is one of those questions that many people have suppositions about (Their own ideas that are based in fact, but can’t be dogmatic about it).

 

Did Christ foreknow the weight of the sin of the world on his shoulders at the time He prayed in Gethsemane just before He was crucified? By that I mean the sin of mankind from the creation of man and including all future mankind.

 

39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
-Luke 22:39–44 (NKJV)

Gethsemane literally means “oil press.” In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was pressed and overburdened due to the weight of what faced Him. We find that Jesus did what He often did; He withdrew to be by Himself and His Father. When he knelt down because of his foreknowledge of what was coming, in His flesh He wished and prayed to God asking for this to be taken away from Him, but said He would not do His will, but God’s. An angel came and strengthened Him for what was coming and Jesus was in agony over this and He prayed for quite some time to follow. His sweat even became blood.

So did Jesus truly foreknow what was ahead of Him? I think the answer to that is yes. I think He knew. You see we must remember the two natures of Christ. He is 100% God and 100% man. Being God and coming to earth as a man He chose not to have access to some of His knowledge for that short time. This is a hard concept for us to understand. Why? Because we aren’t God! Some people may disagree with me on this matter, others not. The Church is quite divided over this subject.

The reason I believe He knew is because of His sweat becoming as blood and the fact that an angel came to strengthen Him for what lied ahead of Him. The sacrifice Christ made is important because the flesh had to be crucified for our sin, but no mere man could do this job because man is inherently sinful! So Christ came from heaven to be that Sacrifice. When He speaks from the cross “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” he speaks as a man who has just received the entire sin of man on His shoulders! He speaks as one who has never been separate from God, now he is completely separated (in his flesh, because his nature is God and cannot be separated from being God). When it was all over His sacrifice was complete and his mission was fulfilled.

The question you have to ask yourself is can you believe the sacrifice that Christ had made? Many men and women have written on that subject and have all come short on explaining the power of what happened! So there is no way in one short post that we can explore all of this today. The purpose was to answer my thought on the question and to spur you on for further study.

The question is do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and savior? Can you believe that because of your sin, Christ came to earth to deal with it and take it upon Him and on the third day rose again to proclaim victory over death, Hell, and the grave? If not then I challenge you to do some research on the subject. If you would like some resources, feel free to contact me. If you can believe it, why not get on your hands and knees and ask God to come into your life? It is real easy; it is not the words you say, but the intent of your heart. You could simply scream HELP! JESUS COME INTO ME AND MY LIFE! Doing that would make it a done deal! The Choice is yours!

Why is There Evil?

Why is There Evil?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This is an interesting topic that comes up time and again, so let us ponder it today. Evil is something that most people haven’t really defined. Oh we will say something is evil and have an example of evil, but to truly define it? No we really don’t try to define evil in the general sense, much less the Biblical sense.

After consulting a few Biblical Dictionaries (Naves, NBD, Harper’s etc.) I would like to put forth a simple and succinct definition, which is as follows.

Evil is simply rebellion against God and His authority.

You see the Hebrew word that we get evil from has a root meaning of “to spoil.” Which means that evil is something good that has spoiled. The Bible speaks of two kinds of evil, moral and natural. The one precedes the other. Moral evil first came into being when Adam entered into the world and sinned, so because of sin entering into the world the whole of creation is now marred by sin. Romans 3:23 tells that all of us have sinned and fall short of God’s standard which is perfection, this why He made a way through Jesus Christ to come to Him to begin the process of repair. We must remember that the cross of Christ is not the end, but the beginning, this world, and our bodies, are still marred by sin. Our hope, however, is in the resurrection that is promised to come later. So without spending too much time here let us continue on our topic.

Without Adam breaking the moral law we would never know evil and have no concept of it whatsoever. Now it is all around us and we are even born into sin. This is known as original sin, we carry sin in us because of our ancestors’ actions so long ago. The question then becomes, “What is a Christian supposed to do about evil? What is our response?”

Well first we find that the Bible addresses evil a great deal. The Bible says to not do anything that would cause another person to stumble. It says to not repay good with evil, not to repay evil with evil, and says to stay away from evil. This is a tall order! But indeed how do we do this? The answer is simple, LOVE. LOVE! Yes LOVE. It sounds so simple, but often times it is so hard to accomplish. Do You know what the dirty little secret is? IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO DO!

I know, I made another inflammatory statement! But follow me here. It is impossible for anyone to truly love someone because they are sinful. This makes for an interesting circle of events doesn’t it? You can’t stop evil without love and you can’t love because of evil! So what do you do? Nothing! God has already done it for you! Yes He has! How?

You see there are three different words we translate into love in the English language. (1) The first is eros. This is a fleshly sensual kind of love. I love you because of how you make me feel. Enough said on this one… (2) The second is Philos. This is a kind of brotherly love. One that says I love you because you love me. (3) The third, and highest, is AGAPE. This kind of love is unconditional. I love you regardless of what you say, do, or think of me. I love you period. Many a paper/book has been written about love, but I think we now understand the basics, so let us move forward.

God says He loves AGAPE. As roman 5:8 tells us, while we were still far from Him, He loved us enough to put a stop to the cycle of evil (rebellion) in our lives. He came down and took your punishment on the cross, a punishment that you and I dissevered, in order to stop the cycle of evil for all time. He then rose on the third day to show us that there is hope and only by surrendering our lives to Christ and trusting Him for our salvation can we truly be made right with God.

Only because of what God did can evil be broken. So only by coming to Him can we stop the cycle of evil in our lives. The question is why do you still dole out evil to others in your life? You say to me, “I Don’t!” Really? You truly have not done this since you came to Christ? I think you better ask God to show you an instance in which you have doled out evil, and trust me He will. You want to stop evil in the world, first stop it in your actions. Then one by one, Christian by Christian, not only will our churches start to fill up again we will see the world improve as well. Until you start asking God to help you stop the evil in your life and start drawing near to Him, then you won’t see the results of evil diminish in your life. The choice is yours. Will you truly draw near to God on a daily basis or will you just go on doing your own thing?

Did Jesus Descend into Hell?

Did Jesus Descend into Hell?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This question came in via e-mail and is a very common and appropriate question to ask.

This is a question that has haunted theologians throughout New Testament History. I have heard many people teach/preach on this subject (based on 1 Peter 3:19). Some see it as allegorical, others literal, and still others a combination of the two. So I will attempt to answer this question from a comprehensive stand point looking at the Jewish concept of Hades.

The Jewish mindset

I had a Professor once explain it the following way, which is one of the oldest explanations. This is also the way the M.R. DeHaan (a prominent theologian) has explained it in his book “Studies on Revelation” One thing to remember is that the early Christians were all Jews and their mindset was used when writing and speaking of Hades. You see what the KJV translates as hell in 1 Peter 3:19 is Hades, Which to the Jew was the place of abode for the dead. In this place there is Paradise and the placed of the damned (what we refer to as Hell).

Paradise and Hell
Paradise and Hell occupy, for lack of better accuracy in wording, a side of Hades. Paradise would be on one side and Hell on the other side (See the parable of Lazarus and the rich man).

Paradise only existed during the time before Christ. Here you will find where all the Old Testament Saints are kept. Jesus (Ephesians 4:8) leads them to heaven after his crucifixion.

Now when we look at Hell (the other side of Hades) the folks that are in the “holding chamber” (what we refer to as hell) are still waiting for the Great White Throne of Judgment, where once they are judged will be cast into the lake of fire where they will burn for all eternity. This is known as the “final Hell” or “second death”

The “final Hell” (second death as the Bible refers to it) will be the resting place of the damned for all eternity. We don’t know when it was created, only that it was created.

Conclusion

So where did Jesus go during those three days? He descended into Hades, specifically into Paradise. He said to the thief that he would be in paradise on that day of death on the cross (Luke 23:43). Then Jesus leads all that were in paradise to heaven (Ephesians 4:7-10).

 

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

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