Just to refresh your memory, and reconfirm the truth of what the elementary principles are, I will begin today’s post by reiterating those three verses in Hebrews chapter six and they say as follows:
Hebrews 6:1-3, “Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.”
What is troublesome to me, and the reason I felt impressed to do this series on the elementary principles of Christ, or the fundamental teachings of the faith, is that although Paul calls them elementary, although he calls them the basic foundations of the faith, far too many believers today do not have an accurate understanding of them, nor do they perceive their necessity. These elementary principles, these fundamental teachings are necessary and essential for every believer, because they are the foundation upon which our faith is built, they are the foundation upon which our spiritual homes stand, and if they are not firmly established, if they are not, as they ought to be, cemented in our hearts, then everything we build up from the foundation runs the risk of collapsing in on itself.
We have already covered repentance, as well as faith toward God, and today we begin to study the doctrine of baptisms. Yes, there is more than one baptism and in the subsequent posts, as well as this post, we will discuss the doctrine of baptisms in its entirety.
Now I know some of you might be thinking to yourself that I could have found a more exciting topic to expound upon, something that would get the blood pumping like end times prophecy, the book of Revelation, and as Paul said, this we will do if God permits. But first and foremost, as I stated earlier, before we get into seals, and bowls, and plagues, and beasts, we must be certain that our foundation is well established, immovable, and unshakeable. There are some who make the tragic error of focusing on prophecy and the end times before their foundation is established, and since they have no foundation to speak of, they are swept away with the first storm of their life.
Since I am, as my wife affectionately calls me a prophecy geek, it would be far easier, and less time consuming for me to delve into the topic of end time prophecy, and write at length about it, but easier isn’t always best, and I know it is far more important for believers to have a true and stable foundation, than know what the future holds as pertains to the prophetic.
Is the prophetic irrelevant? By no means, but sometimes we must do things in the order they were intended to be done. Before we can graduate from college, we must first graduate high school, and before we can graduate high school we must first graduate elementary school and junior high. It is the way of things, and spiritually speaking there are many today walking around believing they have a college degree, when they haven’t yet successfully graduated elementary school. What we learn in elementary school, is the foundation for our learning throughout our lives. We learn to read, to write, we learn addition, subtraction and multiplication, and these things aid us throughout our lives and as we grow and mature, we build on them. Spiritually speaking, the elementary principles of Christ, or the fundamental teachings are the tools by which, and with which we build upon.
I’ve said this often enough but it warrants repeating, whenever it comes to spiritual things, whenever it comes to supernatural things, it is paramount that we go directly to the source, directly to the Word, and see what God would teach us. There are many opinions floating about concerning spirituality, baptisms, the Holy Spirit, and anything else one might think of, but there is always only one truth and that is found in the Bible. So today you will not be hearing my opinion on the doctrine of baptisms, but rather what the Word of God has to say about it. As followers of Christ, as worshippers of God, our duty is to submit to the authority of His word, to submit to the authority of His will, and obey that which He commands. Too many have taken it upon themselves to interpret the will and mind of God, too many have taken it upon themselves to twist the simple truth of God’s word toward their own nefarious ends, and we see the outcome of these distortions within the churches today, manifesting themselves in various kinds of deceptions and half-truths. The Bible is our instruction manual, it is the light by which we see the path upon which we must walk, and it is through the prism of this book that we will study and grow in grace, perceive and understand the importance of these fundamental teachings, thereby maturing spiritually and deepening our relationship with God.
Although the Bible speaks of a handful of baptisms, from the baptism of Moses, to John’s baptism, to the baptism of suffering, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of fire, and the baptism into Christ for the remission of sins, within the context of the study on the doctrine of baptisms, we will be focusing on the three most relevant ones. As such, we will be discussing water baptism, or John’s baptism, or the baptism of repentance, then move on to the baptism into Christ for the remission of sins, and finally the baptism of the Holy Spirit which is the one baptism that has been woefully marginalized within the church for a very long time. If we have time we will also discuss the baptism of suffering, or the baptism of fire of which Christ spoke, and of which he said He was to be baptized shortly before His crucifixion.
As I said, we will begin with the baptism of John, also known as the baptism of repentance, or more simply put, water baptism.
The word baptism itself comes from the Greek word ‘baptizo’, which in essence means to immerse or submerge. When John baptized with the baptism of repentance, in the river Jordan, he immersed, or submerged those individuals who came seeking baptism.
Mark 1:4, “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
Now some would ask, and rightly so, why I have separated the baptism of John, from the baptism into Christ for the remission of sins, and whether or not they were in fact one and the same. The short answer, is that no, the baptism of John, and the baptism into Christ are not the same. John did not baptize in the name of Jesus, he simply baptized a baptism of repentance. The baptism of Christ, the baptism that Christ commanded His disciples to perform, was very specific, and when analyzed thoroughly we see the difference quite clearly.
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.”
When Jesus commanded His disciples to go, He did not tell them to baptize everyone who showed up at the meetings, he did not tell them to baptize everyone they could talk into dunking themselves in a river or a lake, the first command Jesus gave was to make disciples, and after these became disciples, they were to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Dare I say there are many today who are being baptized, who are not Disciples of Christ. Dare I say there are many today who feel secure because they put on the white robe and got into the pool, but who were never discipled, who never knew the fullness of Christ, nor the things that Christ commands. Christ’s first command was to make disciples, then and only then were these newly made disciples to be baptized.
These dear friends are not semantics, they are glaring oversights made by many denominations today, because to disciple someone takes time, and effort, and wisdom, and knowledge of the Word of God. It is far easier to have someone raise a hand, say a prayer, dunk them in some tepid water, and call them saints requiring their tithe check as a sort of membership fee.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s return to the baptism of John or the baptism of repentance and see what we can learn of it, how it differs from the baptism of Christ, and what the Bible says about it.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.