Three Angel's Messages shared with the world

Chapter 15. Being Baptized

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"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kindom of God" (John 3:5).

Baptism by the Spirit

The Bible teaches of two baptisms and the importance of both to every person. The first is baptism of the Spirit, which we've alluded to many times already throughout this book.

And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1:33-34).

Humans can baptize each other with water, but only Christ can baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Christ sends us the Spirit as a gift when we surrender to Him, fully immersing us with transforming power.

"It is this baptism of the Holy Spirit that the churches need today...who need re-converting, who need the softening, subduing influence of the baptism of the Spirit, that they may rise in newness of life and make thorough work for eternity" (MR Vol. 7 267.1).

Being baptized by the Spirit is His transforming work in our lives. Remember, though this first occurs when we fully submit to Christ, it is not a one time event, but an ongoing process, unleashing all of the many activities of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

"For the daily baptism of the Spirit, every worker should offer his petition to God" (Christian Service 252.7).

As you experience this baptism, not as a one-time event, but as a state of being, you are continually blessed with grace. You receive fruit of the Spirit, are empowered to keep God's law, your character is transformed and you become more and more equipped to share the gospel effectively as you live it and understand it yourself!

Baptism By the Spirit: The state of being immersed in the influence of the Holy Spirit as a result of wholly submitting yourself to His promptings.

Being baptized by the Spirit will lead you to desire the next step of being baptized by water.

Baptism by water

"Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 20:47).

After being convicted by the Spirit to accept Christ's substitutionary sacrifice and saving activities, which include true repentance and power to obey, the Bible instructs you to be baptized with water (Acts 8:36-38). This second type, baptism of water, is an outward statement of one's inward beliefs.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

"Baptism represents true conversion by the renewing of the Holy Spirit" (The Faith I Live By 143.3).

The Greek word for baptized is "baptizo", which means to make whelmed, or fully wet. This symbolizes the death of your old nature as you are put under the water, the washing away of your sins (Acts 22:16) as Christ's perfection substitutes for you in the record books of heaven, and the implanting of your new nature (birth of new creature) as you come up out of the water (Rom. 6:4-12). It is made possible as a person believes that Christ lived a perfect life, died and rose again for us (He went down into the grave and back up to life). It is a beautiful symbolism of being spiritually born again, or fully submitted/immersed in the Spirit's influence, and an inspiring statement to all who witness the event.

Baptism is the sign of entrance into Christ's spiritual kingdom.

"Those who receive the ordinance of baptism thereby make a public declaration that they have renounced the world, and have become members of the royal family...When we submit to the solemn rite of baptism, we testify to angels and to men that we are purged from our old sins, and that henceforth, having died to the world, we will 'seek those things which are above...' (Col. 3:1)....Christ forgives every penitent sinner, and as the forgiven one, at the time of baptism, rises from the watery grave, he is declared a new creature, whose life is hid with Christ in God. Let us ever remember that it is our high prvilege to be purged from our old sins" (Our High Calling - 157.3-4).

Baptism By Water: The public declaration, made by being immersed with water, that you believe in Christ's power to save you and are now part of His kingdom. It symbolizes the death of your old nature as you are put under the water (Christ went down into the grave), the washing away of your sins (Christ had lived a perfect life), and the birth of your new spiritual nature as you come up out of the water (Christ rose again).


The scriptures reveal several prerequisites for baptism by water:
  • 1. Study and understand the word

    "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8).

    "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

    The Bible provides many examples in which people heard the apostles preach and learned about the Lord prior to baptism. Studying the word of God is a catalyst for developing faith, and without faith, one cannot believe in the Lord. The Word of God should be studied and the foundational teachings of Christ understood prior to baptism.

  • 2. Approve and believe the word

    "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:38-41).

    The word translated to "received" in the text above means "to take fully, approve or accept gladly." It isn't enough to understand what you study, but you should accept it as truth and fully approve of it before baptism.

    "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" (Acts 8:36-37).

    "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done" (Acts 8:12-13).

    "After faithful labor, if you are satisfied that your children understand the meaning of conversion and baptism and are truly converted, let them be baptized. But, I repeat, first of all prepare yourselves to act as faithful shepherds in guiding their inexperienced feet in the narrow way of obedience. God must work in the parents that they may give to their children a right example in love, courtesy, and Christian humility, and in an entire giving up of self to Christ... God calls upon you to teach them to prepare to be members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. Co-operate with God by working diligently for their salvation. If they err, do not scold them. Never taunt them with being baptized and yet doing wrong. Remember that they have much to learn in regard to the duties of a child of God" (Child Guidance 500.3).

    The text above (Acts 8:12-13) teaches that one should believe in the name of Jesus (His name represents who He is; it means His character and authority), and also believe in what the Bible teaches about His kingdom. The subject of His kingdom clearly encompasses many aspects, including things such as forgiveness, the character and behavior of its citizens, His second coming, etc. A good idea of the topics taught to prospective members of the apostolic church can be gained by studying the speeches given by the apostles. The amount of instruction given, probably depended on the background of the individual. Of course, the entire scriptures were endorsed by the apostles, and are useful for teaching (2 Tim. 3:16). However, the following list of topics found in the book of Acts are examples of topics specifically preached prior to baptism.

    • The good news of Jesus Christ (4:12, 8:12, 8:35)
    • Prophecies that Christ fulfilled and those yet future (2:16-20; 3:18, 8:32-35)
    • Jesus as human & divine (2:30, 9:20)
    • Jesus' ministry on earth (2:22, 10:38-39)
    • Jesus' death & resurrection (2:23, 2:32-33, 3:15; 4:10, 4:33, 10:40)
    • Jesus' ministry in heaven (2:33-36, 4:11, 5:31)
    • Repentance & forgiveness (2:38, 3:19,26, 10:43; 13:38-39)
    • State of the dead (2:29,34)
    • Future judgment (3:19-21, 10:42, 17:31)
    • Second coming (3:20-21)
    • Resurrection (24:15; 17:18)
    • The Holy Spirit (2:33, 38)

  • 3. Repent

    "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:37-38).

    The word translated to "pricked" in the above text, means to pierce thoroughly or agitate violently. When these people heard the preaching of the apostles, they evidently experienced some intense convictions. This is vital for true repentance. The word translated to "repent" means to think differently or to feel compunction (anxiety of conscience caused by doing wrong). If a person knows something is wrong and they willfully continue in it, it indicates the person is not ready for baptism. The Bible teaches that sin is transgression of the law (1 John 3:4) (and the law can only be kept through faith - Rom. 14:23), so a fundamental starting point is to look at God's law contained in the ten commandments. If a person feels that they must continue to transgress any of these commandments, it indicates an unwillingness to submit 100% to Christ's teachings. Remember that a full submission to Christ results in receiving His power to keep His commandments. Be willing to surrender your own ways and selfishness, and God will give you a truly repentant heart, the desire and power to change.

    Do not delay your decision

    A person does not need to understand all things before being baptized. The Christian life is all about growth. But at the same time, it is plain from scriptures, and logical, that one should obtain a good base of knowledge and believe it wholeheartedly, before getting baptized. Certain foundational truths should be understsood and accepted. Even though one might not understand everything in the Bible, they can be committed to accepting and following truth that will be revealed to them in the future.

    "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" Acts 22:16. "And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway [immediately, soon]" (Acts 16:33).

    There should be no rush to baptism. Look at the example of Jesus. He did not get baptized until well into adulthood. Yet, the apostles instructed that, once the prerequisites are met, there should be no delay. Each person should think about the balance between not rushing and not delaying.

    "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:47-48).

    Not being baptized by water, in the above text, did not keep the believers from receiving or being baptized by the Holy Spirit. Baptism by water does not have to occur before Jesus will justify (forgive & cleanse) and sanctify you (transform your character). But, as evidenced by Peter's command in the above text, it should occur as soon as possible, once the prerequisites are met (study/understand, believe/approve, repent/leave sin behind).

    Join the church

    "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers...Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:41,42,47).

    Those who were baptized by the apostles were added to the group of believers. These believers were organized, united in doctrine and regularly gathered together. Throughout the New Testament, the organized group of believers are called the church. There were official councils, ordinations and positions, such as deacons and bishops. As part of baptism, it is important to become part of the church. The church is God's followers who believe as did the apostles, fellowship together and work in an organized fashion to spread the gospel. Being with fellow believers will help you grow and remain stedfast.

    "In the record of the conversion of Saul important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. Saul was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be a "chosen vessel" unto Him; yet the Lord did not at once tell him of the work that had been assigned him. He arrested him in his course and convicted him of sin; but when Saul asked, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" the Saviour placed the inquiring Jew in connection with His church, there to obtain a knowledge of God's will concerning him. The marvelous light that illumined the darkness of Saul was the work of the Lord; but there was also a work that was to be done for him by the disciples. Christ had performed the work of revelation and conviction; and now the penitent was in a condition to learn from those whom God had ordained to teach His truth. Thus Jesus gave sanction to the authority of His organized church and placed Saul in connection with His appointed agencies on earth. Christ had now a church as His representative on earth, and to it belonged the work of directing the repentant sinner in the way of life. Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. Jesus is the friend of sinners, and His heart is touched with their woe. He has all power, both in heaven and on earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world" (AA 120.3 - 122.3).

    The end time church

    When looking to join the church, a study of the characteristics of God's end-time church in the book of Revelation can help you sort through the maze of thousands of denominations and recognize true and false churches.

    For example, the woman of Revelation 12 symbolizes His church (a woman symbolizes God's people in prophecy - Is. 51:16, Jer. 6:2) through various time periods. The prophecy reveals many of her traits, including specific characteristics that differentiate the church at the time of the end, the very time in which we are now living. Other prophecies, espcially in Revelation 3, 10, 13 and 14 shed light on specific events that affect the end-time church and the actual activities of God's people.

    Examine a list of Characteristics of the Remnant, God's end-time church, as prophesied in Revelation. The Remnant church is organized to spread the gospel in the context of end-time events. It has a special responsibility in these last days to share all this information with everyone. God's people are everywhere, in all denominations and religions, and God wants them all to come into unity and stand together. Joining the Remnant church means joining a movement. It is a movement that exists in order to spread the word and hasten the day of the coming of the Lord.

    Spread the Word

    Baptism is an inseparable part of this spreading the word and evangelism (Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16). Believers are called to support the spread of the everlasting gospel to the entire world. This includes an invitation to baptism and to join a fellowship of believers who are organized and unified.

    "Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. Jesus is the friend of sinners, and His heart is touched with their woe. He has all power, both in heaven and on earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world. When, in the midst of his blind error and prejudice, Saul was given a revelation of the Christ whom he was persecuting, he was placed in direct communication with the church, which is the light of the world. In this case Ananias represents Christ, and also represents Christ's ministers upon the earth, who are appointed to act in His stead. In Christ's stead Ananias touches the eyes of Saul, that they may receive sight. In Christ's stead he places his hands upon him, and, as he prays in Christ's name, Saul receives the Holy Ghost. All is done in the name and by the authority of Christ. Christ is the fountain; the church is the channel of communication" (The Acts of the Apostles 122.3-4).

    "Christ and His church are inseparable. To neglect or despise those whom God has appointed to lead out and to bear the responsibilities connected with His work and with the advancement and spread of the truth is to reject the means which God has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people. To pass these by and think your light must come through no other channel than directly from God places you in a position where you are liable to deception and to be overthrown" (Testimonies for the Church Volume Three 418.4).

    "Union is strength, and the Lord desires that this truth should be ever revealed in all the members of the body of Christ. All are to be united in love, in meekness, in lowliness of mind. Organized into a society of believers for the purpose of combining and diffusing their influence, they are to work as Christ worked. They are ever to show courtesy and respect for one another. Every talent has its place and is to be kept under the control of the Holy Spirit... A church, separate and distinct from the world, is in the estimation of heaven the greatest object in all the earth. . . . The church is to be as God designed it should be, a representative of God's family in another world {LHU 295.2-5}

    As a new creature, you will find many new friends in God's church with which to learn and enjoy. You are now part of a kingdom, made up of a wide variety of people, all different, but joined to the one true Christ through the one same Spirit.

    "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

    "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).

    Next Bible Term: Being Baptized With Water