A Biblical Examination of Baptism

By Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor

HERITAGE BAPTIST BIBLE CHURCH
P.O. Box 573| Walnut Grove, MN 56180 | Telephone (507) 859-2519


  1. Various Baptisms Occurring in the Scripture Examined.

  1. The Purpose of Christ's Baptism:

Here is the record in Matthew 3:13-15...

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.  But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered (permitted) him."

Not only are we going to examine the purpose of Christ's baptism, but to what extent and in what manner it "fulfilled all righteousness."  We need to remember that the purpose of Baptism is identification.  John's baptism of Christ was to prepare Israel for the acceptance of Christ as their Messiah.  It was time for our Lord to publicly identify Himself to Israel (John 1:31).  Everything works on God's timetable--to the minute!  Notice in Matthew 3:15, when our Lord stated "suffer it to be so NOW."  His birth, ministry, and His crucifixion were in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, and fit God's timetable to perfection!  By His baptism, He was symbolically showing what He would do on the cross at the conclusion of His earthly ministry.  Yes, Israel knew what the prophets had said concerning their Messiah.  When He was placed under the water, this actually fulfilled a two-fold purpose: first, to remind Israel of the Old Testament Scripture prophesying of His death...

"For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet." (Psalm 22:16)

Secondly, to identify Himself as the One who would fulfill this on the cross, or, their Messiah.  His baptism had publicly announced to Israel that God had given "his only begotten Son" to die on the cross and be resurrected as the payment for the sins of the world; as John bare testimony...

"...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)

The diaspora and persecution of Israel can be attributed to their rejection of Jesus Christ as their Messiah.  How sad as we realize, in retrospect, that "He came unto his own (Israel) but his own received him not" (John 1:11).  This was the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, spoken of in Matthew 12:31, when he had convicted Israel that Christ was their Messiah and they refused Him.

One may then ask, "How could Israel have accepted Christ and still crucified Him on the cross?"  It is true that Christ would have had to go to the cross as payment for the sins of the world, regardless of Israel's acceptance or rejection.  The cross was inevitable, but their motive could have made the difference.  Unfortunately, their motivation was hatred and rejection as stated by Dr. Luke in Acts 2:23...

"Him (Christ), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by WICKED HANDS have crucified and slain."

On the other hand, they could have accepted Him as their Messiah, declaring their faith as they tearfully placed Him on the cross, proclaiming to all that they would be standing at the tomb three days later, in full anticipation of meeting their Lord in His resurrected body.  Therefore, they could have lifted Him up with holy hands of FAITH, instead of wicked hands of unbelief.

Now back to our second question, How Christ's baptism fulfilled all righteousness.  Notice, the Scripture says "all righteousness," not "his righteousness."  We know our Lord was sinless and remained sinless throughout His life.

"For he hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2nd Corinthians 5:21)

Since Christ was sinless, His baptism added nothing to His righteousness, for He was God manifest in human flesh.  Therefore, since God's Word is righteous and pure, the fulfillment of such would be the evidence.  Note Proverb 30:5...

"Every word of God is PURE; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."

God's Word had prophesied of Christ's death (Psalm 22:16) and His resurrection (Psalm 16:10).  Therefore, Christ's declaration of His identification by baptism proved God's Word to be righteous or pure, which had prophesied of this hundreds of years before; hence, fulfilling all righteousness (God's Word) which spoke of His death, burial and resurrection.  His baptism, pointing to the cross, was looked upon as though it was already accomplished.  That is why He stated "to fulfill ALL righteousness," for the fulfillment of those prophecies were as good as done.  That's the assurance we have today in the sureness, righteousness, and pureness of God's Word.  What are you trusting for your salvation, God's infallible Word or the shallowness of man's ideologies?

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24)

  1. Baptism by John the Baptist (Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3; John 1)

The purpose of John's Baptism is made clear by the message he proclaimed.  Matthew 3:1-3...

"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

His message was to announce to Israel that the Lord Jesus was here, and that He was their King and Messiah.  The correct translation of Verse 2 would help clarify this...

"Repent (i.e., change your mind) for the Kingdom of THE HEAVENS is at hand."

The Kingdom was at hand, or presented, because the King was present and at hand.  It should be noted that the phrase "kingdom of heaven" is found approximately 38 times and only in the Gospel of Matthew.  Without exception, it is used in reference to the glorious Kingdom Age during which Christ will reign and rule as King of kings, with absolute authority.  Not only did Christ come to Israel, collectively, as their King; but also, individually, as their Saviour, as Matthew 1:21 states...

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: FOR HE SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS."

When the angel appeared to the shepherds at the birth of Christ, he told them Christ was their Saviour, personally.  In other words, each one, individually, was responsible for accepting Christ as his Saviour.

"For unto you (the shepherds) is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

Yes, He came as King to the nation of Israel; also, as a Saviour to each individual Jew which composed that nation.  John the Baptist was preparing the way by introducing Christ as Israel's Messiah, while the Apostles would continue preparing the way to the cross by their message and miracles.

"...Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

John's message was to lead individuals to Christ, and his baptism was to identify saved individuals, publicly, as a testimony of their faith.  Mark makes this comment about John in Mark 1:4...

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."

"Repentance" here is the Greek "METANOIA" and makes "a change of mind for the remission of sins."  One may ask, "what sins?"  These are the sins resulting from the sin nature every person is born with, which manifest themselves as we grow up.  We do not become a sinner when we sin; to the contrary--we sin because we are born a sinner.  Romans 5:12 clarifies this...

"Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men, for that ALL have sinned."

Religion's way of remitting sins is to attempt justification of one's self by self righteousness.  The Jewish Pharisees were just such a group.  Christ, in addressing them, stated in Luke 16:15...

"And he said unto them, Ye are they which JUSTIFY YOURSELVES before men..."

One either becomes their "own Saviour" by attempting self justification; or they accept God's Saviour, which is Christ.  Those Jews, who believed John's preaching, changed their mind (repented) about their own righteousness and accepted Christ as their Saviour.  Then, John baptized them as evidence of their faith and changed mind.  A paraphrase of Mark 1:4 would read this way...

"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preached that they should change their mind and accept Christ, for the remission of sins, then identify their faith, publicly, by water baptism."

Should we not allow the Holy Spirit to direct us as he did John the Baptist?  John proclaimed Christ as Saviour in preparing the way to the cross.  Our responsibility is the same as we prepare the way of the Lord toward His return at the Rapture, by our witnessing.

  1. Christ's Baptism with the Holy Spirit and with Fire. (Matthew 3:11,12; Luke 3:16,17.  Mark and John record only the Baptizing with the Holy Spirit).

It is interesting to note the differences in the accounts given by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John concerning John the Baptist.  When John preached, there was a multitude of sincere people who came trusting Christ and were baptized.  On the other hand, there were the self righteous who came, known as the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  Their purpose for coming was not that of sincerity, but to mock and cause trouble.  They were claiming Abraham as their father, not Christ, and John knew them well when he addressed them in Matthew 3:9...

"And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to (as) our father..."

He addressed the true character of this group; even though "veneered" by religious attire, he called them "vipers"! 

"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of VIPERS, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matthew 3:7)

When addressing those present as "vipers," he also made mention that they would be judged by the Christ they rejected.  This is the "baptism of fire" spoken of in Matthew 3:11...

"...he (Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."

In Mark we have no record of these "vipers," only those who came in sincerity (Mark 1:5); therefore no mention of judgment (baptism with fire), only the baptism of the Holy Spirit...

"I indeed have baptized you with water: but he (Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."

The same is true with the account of Luke and John.  In Luke we have the mention of "vipers" (3:7); therefore, both baptism are mentioned, that of the Holy Spirit and that of fire (judgment).  John records no "vipers"; therefore, no baptism of fire, only that of the Holy Spirit (John 1:33).

  1. Christ's Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist was the first to mention anything about Christ baptizing with the Holy Spirit.  This would be elaborated upon later by our Lord, Himself, as the Gospels bare record.  John also spoke of many other things to the people, in preparing the way of the Lord, which are not recorded.  Later in Christ's ministry, He would reveal more fully these great truths that John had briefly touched on, by way of introduction.  After John had just spoken of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, it is recorded in Luke 3:18 that...

"And many other things in his (John the Baptist's) exhortation preached he unto the people."

It is imperative to understand the difference between the working of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and that of the New Testament.  It is equally important to realize that the Gospels are, basically, Old Testament Books; only after the resurrection are we on new Testament ground.  Under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit never permanently indwelt believers.  Christ, in His ministry, revealed a new working of the Holy Spirit which was to be manifested after His return to Glory.  In preparing His disciples for the cross, He assures them that He will not leave them comfortless...

"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another (Gr. ALLOS, "another like Himself") Comforter, that he (the Holy Spirit) may abide with you FOREVER; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth WITH YOU, and shall be IN YOU." (John 14:16,17)

Christ is telling them that the Holy Spirit within them would take the place of the Saviour beside them.  He then informs His disciples as to the general time the Holy Spirit would come as promised, this being after His ascension to Heaven...

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I DEPART, I will send him unto you."

Until the cross, they knew only the general time that the Holy Spirit would come in fulfillment of His promise.  It was not until after Christ's resurrection and His forty days walk with them (Acts 1:3), that He then told the Apostles the more specific time of the Holy Ghost's coming...

"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father (Coming of the Holy Spirit), which, saith he, ye have heard of me.  For John truly baptized with (in) water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Acts 1:4,5)

This was to be fulfilled in 10 days, on the Day of Pentecost, which ushered in a new dispensation under the New Covenant made on Calvary.  The Holy Spirit would now indwell believers, permanently, throughout the Church Age.  Every believer would also be baptized, spiritually, into the body of Christ (1st Corinthians 12:13).  We believe Pentecost was the "birthday" of the Church Age which fulfilled Christ's promise of the Holy Spirit's coming.  This is evidenced by Acts 2:1,2 where the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit's coming is recorded...

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind (Gr. PNEUMA, "Spirit"), and it filled all the house where they were sitting."

The initial fulfillment of Christ's baptizing with the Holy Spirit became a reality on the Day of Pentecost.  Each believer has been added to the spiritual Body of Christ ever since.  When a person comes to Christ, they are indwelt permanently with the Holy Spirit and baptized into His Body.

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into ONE BODY, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into (partake of) one Spirit." (1st Corinthians 12:13).

  1. Christ's Baptism with Fire. (Matthew 3:11,12; also Matthew 13:24-30).

"...he (Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and WITH FIRE: Whose fan is in his hand, and he (Christ) will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

The "baptism of fire" in Verse 11 is explained in Verse 12.  The "wheat" is in reference to the saved as the "chaff" is speaking to the lost.  The "garner" is the storehouse and is in reference to God's kingdom.  Christ will render this judgment when he returns at the end of the 7-Year Tribulation Period to institute the glorious Kingdom Age for 1,000 years.  The word "baptism" in Verse 11 is the Greek "BAPTIZO," which means "identification" and "to dip or immerse."  It is used metaphorically of divine judgment upon the lost for rejecting Christ as Saviour.  This is the same as the judgment of the nations where Christ will identify the saved and immerse the lost in fire.  Christ illustrated this judgment just prior to the cross.  Here is the record in Matthew 25:31,32...

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him (Christ) shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats."

To the saved, "the wheat," will echo the sweetest words they have heard in this life, spoken by the Lord, Himself, in Verse 34...

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, INHERIT THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD."

To the lost, "the chaff," the Lord will proclaim the most devastating words they have ever encountered in their life.  These have been separated from the saved and placed on the left hand as He pronounces their judgment in Verse 41...

"Then shall he (Christ) say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS."

Yes, these have rejected Christ as their Saviour, while on the earth; now, our Lord honors their decision by rejecting them for all eternity.  Also speaking of this same judgment, are the words of our Lord in Matthew 24: 40,41...

"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left."

It should be noted that these two Verse are NOT speaking of the Rapture of the Church, which takes place 7 years earlier.  In fact, just the opposite of the Rapture takes place here.  May we point out that, at the Rapture, the saved are taken (1st Thessalonians 4:17) and the lost are left to begin the Tribulation judgment.  Here in Matthew, at the judgment of the Nations, the lost are taken into judgment while the saved are left to enter the Kingdom.  Remember, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John knew nothing about the Rapture of the Church.  This was a mystery revealed later to the Apostle Paul (1st Corinthians 15:51,52).  Every mention of Christ's Second Coming, in the Gospels, is in reference to His judgment and setting up of the Kingdom at the end of the Tribulation Period.  This is what is spoken of by John the Baptist, when he declares Christ's baptism by fire.

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Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor

HERITAGE BAPTIST BIBLE CHURCH
P.O. Box 573
Walnut Grove, MN 56180
Telephone (507) 859-2519

Web: www.heritagebbc.com

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