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18. How to Bury the Past Successfully

New Life in Today's World

Final words are extremely important. Parting words are usually significant. Picture a family gathered around a hospital bed eagerly trying to catch every word of a dying loved one. Last words make a difference.

Christ's last words were some of the most significant He ever uttered. His final command to His disciples was "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Christ commissioned His disciples to instruct people in the principles of the Christian life. When they accepted the claims of His love and became disciples, the sign of their allegiance to a new life was baptism.

​The subject of baptism does raise many questions; how important is Bible baptism? Is baptism essential to our salvation? Does it make any difference how a person is baptised? How many kinds of baptism are there? Are sprinkling, pouring, and immersion all the same? Our lesson today answers these questions directly from the Bible.

01. How important is baptism?
Mark 16:16
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

02. What did Jesus say to Nicodemus regarding the significance of baptism?
John 3:5

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Baptism is much more than a lifeless ritual. It is a deeply spiritual symbol of complete, total commitment to Christ, the burial of the old life and resurrection to new life in Christ.

03. How many methods of baptism does the Bible recognize?
Ephesians 4:5
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
There is one Lord, the Savior Jesus Christ. There is one faith, true Bible religion. There is one true method of Bible baptism.

04. How was Jesus baptised?
Mark 1:9–10

09. It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
10. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

It is quite obvious that Jesus was fully immersed by John in the Jordan River. John's Gospel states that John was baptizing in the Jordan River because there was much water there (John 3:23). Full immersion is the only method of baptism described in the Bible.

05. How did Philip baptise the Ethopian Eunuch?
Acts 8:38

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
Both Philip and the Ethiopian entered the water. Philip then placed the Ethiopian completely under the water. To symbolize correctly death to the old man of sin, burial with Christ, and resurrection in Christ to a new life, the candidate must enter into the water, be completely covered by the water, and rise from the water. Baptism by immersion is the only biblical method.

06. When Jesus was baptised by John in the Jordan river, what two significant things happened?
Matthew 3:16–17

16. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
17. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God descended upon Him, giving Him strength for the temptations to come. His Father spoke these words from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). When people are baptized today, God gives them new power for living and the assurance they are pleasing Him.

07. Does God give us a greater indwelling of His Holy Spirit to strengthen us at our baptism?
Acts 2:38–39

38. Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

08. What assurance regarding our past does Jesus give us at our baptism?
Colossians 2:12

buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Romans 6:3–4
03. Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
04. Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Baptism is a symbol of spiritual cleansing. The water of baptism itself does not save us, but it does signify we accept the blood of Christ, which does save us.

09(a). What are the conditions God desires us to meet before baptism?
Acts 2:38

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Repentance is a deep sorrow for sin. It means a conscious desire to turn from those things that violate God's will and sadden His heart.

09(b). What are the conditions God desires us to meet before baptism?
Acts 8:36–37
36. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
37. Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

This belief is more than simply an intellectual assent to a particular creed. It is a heart commitment to Jesus and His Word. It is a turning to Him with all the heart, a belief that He is the Savior, who alone can forgive sin and give victory in my life.

09(c). What are the conditions God desires us to meet before baptism?
Matthew 28:19–20
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Although learning is a lifelong process and one should never wait until they feel they have grasped all truth before baptism, it is necessary to understand basic scriptural truths before making such a significant decision.

10. What is the spiritual significance of baptism?
Romans 6:5–6

05. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
06. knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

Baptism symbolizes a death to sin and a resurrection to a new life in Jesus. Living for Jesus we are fully alive. Baptism by full immersion is the true symbol that we accept the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. Through baptism we now acknowledge we are walking in the "newness of life."

11. Baptism is a symbol of commitment to Christ. Does it also signify a commitment to Christ's church?
Acts 2:41–42, 47

41. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
42. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

1 Corinthians 12:13, 27–28
13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
27. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
28. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

Baptism in the New Testament was into the body of Christ, or the church.

12. If a person has been baptised once, should they ever be baptised again?
Acts 19:1–5 (NKJV)

01. And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples
02. he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
03. And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
04. Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
05. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

In this instance Paul rebaptized believers who had been baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River but who had never heard of the Holy Spirit. As the truth about New Testament Christianity dawned upon their minds, they were rebaptized as a symbol of following all of this new truth. There are some Christians who have a new deep experience with Jesus as they discover new truths in the plan of salvation. They desire to become part of Christ's church and choose to be rebaptized.

13. What vital question does Jesus ask regarding baptism, and what command does He give?
Acts 22:16

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

14. What gracious, loving invitation does Jesus give us to accept the salvation He so freely offers?
Revelation 22:17

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Jesus invites us to come to Him. Baptism is a symbol that we are coming to Him without reservation. We are coming to Him completely. We are coming to Him in total surrender to His will. As we come to Him, He promises to cleanse us from our past and give us a new life. We become part of His family, the church.

Concluding Question
Have you been baptized by immersion? Do you have the assurance that your guilt is completely gone? Is your past buried? Have you been renewed in Christ? Would you like to take this opportunity right now signal your desire to be baptised (or rebaptised) by immersion?

Quick facts on Bible baptism:
- BAPTISM IS MENTIONED more than 90 times in the New Testament. It must be vitally important.
- JESUS SET AN EXAMPLE for us in His own baptism (Matthew 3:16, 17; 1 John 2:6).
- THE NEW TESTAMENT GREEK word for baptism is baptizo which means "to immerse fully." It does not mean "to sprinkle."
- THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH baptized people when they repented of their sins, believed in Christ, and were instructed in the faith. (Acts 2:38-41).
- ANCIENT CHURCHES throughout Europe contain baptistries in which Christians were baptized by immersion.
- BAPTlSM BY SPRINKLING was not accepted as officially valid until decreed by the Council of Ravenna in A.D. 1311
- TRUE BIBLICAL BAPTISM was always by full immersion.