Christmas is the reminder that our Savior is come and we can rejoice! The rejoicing doesn’t stop there though; this Babe grew to become a Man that would make the way for eternal salvation. While He was on earth He spoke many things—we should take heed to the words that God speaks when He comes to dwell among us! That brings us to the commands of Christ.
The 47th command we will be looking at is ‘Baptize My Disciples.’ After Jesus’ resurrection He came to His disciples and said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).
Jesus said ‘Go and teach all nations.’ What does that mean? It means to … ‘go and teach all nations.’ It requires action on our part. We are to be teaching others the message of Christ and the words of Scripture. How are you actively teaching the nations? It doesn’t mean you have to relocate to Fiji, although that would be nice, but we should be concerned about getting the Gospel spread through prayer, giving, supporting missionaries, and being faithful in spreading the Good News in this nation.
Baptism. This can open a lot of discussion so I will focus on a few points. I am going to assume that we understand that baptism cannot save us, but it is by faith that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). So what is baptism all about? Is it only a sign that we have ‘accepted’ Christ as Savior?
John the Baptist came baptizing in the wilderness. His baptism was unto repentance and he was preparing the way for Jesus. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). Even though many were repenting of their sins, they had not yet believed in Christ. After they believed in Christ, they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This gives us a picture of the progression of faith. We teach the lost the Word so that they will come to repentance and acknowledge that they need a Savior. When they believe and profess the work of Jesus on the cross, then they will be baptized not just by water but of the Holy Spirit. “And he (Paul) said unto them (certain followers), Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said unto him, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:3-6).
Both the Ethiopian eunuch and the Phillipian jailer and his family were baptized immediately after they believed. It wasn’t a requirement to be saved, but it was an outward acknowledgment of the inward change. In reference to Noah and the flood, I Peter 3:21says, “The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us. Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Baptism is a physical act, but it is really signifying the spiritual act—having a new and right relationship with Jesus Christ.
In India, a pastor who converted from the Muslim faith was put into jail for performing baptisms. Several young men who were Muslim began coming to his church and wanted to be baptized. The pastor emphasized that they would not be rewarded or receive money if they did so. This pastor baptized them in a public area and it was recorded and placed on YouTube. The pastor was accused of alluring them to be baptized and spent 40 days in prison for it. (Voice of the Martyrs: India: Arrested for Baptisms.http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?story_ID=NTM5) The ungodly understand that baptism is a sign that one has chosen to follow Jesus Christ and as long as they fight against Christianity, they will fight against a public announcement that one has turned to the one true God.
Baptism also identifies us with Christ in that we have become dead to the old man and have become a new man. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him, by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5). Baptism is a picture of ‘dying’ in the water, and being raised to new life, just as Christ died on the cross and was raised to new glory. “Lie not one to another seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Colossians 3:9-10). Baptism is a call to die to the old man daily; to purpose to put away the things of the flesh and to walk in the Spirit. Let every baptism we witness be a reminder that when we were baptized in Christ, we made a decision to die to self and to live for Christ.
-In what ways are you ‘going’ to all nations?
-Have you been baptized since you repented and believed?
-Have you purposed to die to self daily?
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide