Basic Truth #37 - Baptism By Complete Immersion, Dedication

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Basic Truth #37 - Baptism By Complete Immersion, Dedication

Post by bejay » Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:21 pm

Basic Truth #37 – Baptism by Complete Immersion Symbolizes Dedication

Although many religions may consider baptism to be anything from sprinkling water on the heads of adherents to dipping them underwater, the term has a definite meaning. The term ‘baptism’ comes from the Greek word, baptizo, which means to immerse in or to dip in water, with the person being completely covered by the water. As performed by John the Baptist, it was a rite used in conjunction with repentance of sins by the Jews.

When John began baptizing, he urged the Jews to first repent of their sins because the kingdom of heaven was near and to symbolize this repentance by being baptized in water so that their sins would be forgiven. This was necessary because they had not kept the covenant that had been mediated between them and Jehovah at Mount Sinai and if they did not want to face the coming judgment they needed to show that they were repentant of these sins. Matthew 3:6 says this about the people: “And people were baptized by him in the Jordan River, openly confessing their sins.” About six months after John began baptizing Jesus came to him to be baptized. But was Jesus there for the same reason that the Jews came for, to express their repentance from sin?

Matthew 3:13-15 answers this question for us. It reads:

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John in order to be baptized by him. But the latter tired to prevent him, saying: ‘I am the one needing to be baptized by you and are you coming to me?’ In reply Jesus said to him: ‘Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.’ Then he quit preventing him.”

John’s response to Jesus tells us that Jesus’ reason for allowing John to baptize him were different that those of the other Jews. The account recorded at Mark 1:10, 11 tells us this:

“Immediately on coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens being parted, and, like a dove, the spirit coming down upon him; and a voice came out of the heavens; ‘You are my son, the beloved: I have approved of you.’”

He now had Jehovah’s approval to begin the work that he had been sent to earth to do. He would now devote himself to completing Jehovah’s will for him. His baptism was a symbol of his dedication to the doing of his Father’s will to the exclusion of everything else. (Hebrews 10:7)

The nation of Israel was already dedicated to Jehovah by means of their covenant, so that it was only necessary for them to acknowledge their repentance for their sins, be baptized in symbol of that repentance, accept Jesus as Jehovah’s representative and they would be accepted into the new covenant. All Jews baptized by John who had not accepted or were unaware of the need to accept Jesus as their mediator before Pentecost had to be baptized again. (Acts 19:4, 5) This baptism would be the one that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 28:19, 20 that his disciples would perform.

This, however, was not true of Gentiles who later became members of the Christian congregations. They would have to first make a dedication to do Jehovah’s will and then symbolize that dedication by means of water baptism. Thus their being baptized in the name of the Father, the son and holy spirit would indicated their being in a special relationship with Jehovah. They could now be confident that Jehovah would forgive their sins on the basis of their faith in the redeeming blood of Jesus and as 1 Peter 3:21 shows they now have a clean conscience before Him.

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