The Baptism Ceremony

an article based on a sermon

by Jon Bowles

given 31 March 2007

(PLAY FROM START)

Some years ago we were living on a farm in the southeast of England. The farm was growing barley, primarily. One particular day around harvest time I was walking past our home, going towards the farmhouse, when I met the farmer coming in the opposite direction, walking with his farmhand. He looked very, very weary and also rather sheepish, and I noticed his face and hands were all black with soot. Obviously he had been in a fire of some description.

What had actually happened was that they had harvested the barley and he was burning the remaining stubble when the wind changed, blowing bits of burning stubble into his neighbor's standing corn. One hundred acres of his neighbor's standing corn had just gone up in smoke and he was on his way to phone his neighbor!

The damage that was done that day, the amount of money that went up in smoke, all started with just one match! Notice in James, chapter 3, because James uses this analogy.

James 3:5-6 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! [Just one match burning a bit of stubble, that got out of control when the wind changed, and suddenly 100 acres was up in smoke.] (6) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell [from just the odd word, just the odd change].

We have seen in the apostasy that we've lived through, huge repercussions come about from often very small changes initially. God's people are now shattered, scattered, and as we try and get back on track we can think we've got things sorted.

Recently, however, I did some research looking for the oldest baptism ceremony to send to someone. In comparing the one I found to the one that I had in my book, I noticed they were not quite the same. (Mine had been replaced at some point.) The difference between the two was just a slight change in emphasis. But when you examine that change, looking at it in hindsight now, it is very, very meaningful. As I say, from one match, one spark, one change, can come significant consequences.

Passover is approaching, a time of renewal of our original commitment made at baptism. As part of the examination process that we go through at this time of year, I want to review baptism. I also want to go through the baptism ceremony and show that even here corruption has entered in. There is nothing actually wrong with what I had as the baptism ceremony. But the emphasis was changed, and from that the repercussions are quite large as we will go on and see.

There are five areas I want to cover:

A classic example of this concept of having the smallest spark, the smallest change, and the repercussions resulting from that, is the modern scriptures that you find from Westcott and Hort's New Greek Text. If you go through that text, in the majority of cases the changes are not big at all - just a slight alteration here, a slight alteration there, throughout. But in the original manuscript that Westcott and Hort used, the Sinaiticus manuscript, some of the changes in it had been crossed out, rubbed out and changed, as many as 70 times! Yet that is the manuscript they used. This gives you an indication of its authenticity.

The NIV is a bible that basically follows this route - a slight change here, a slight change there, all the way through. This is what was used to undermine the church. Who was behind it all? Turn to Genesis, chapter 3. Be aware of the way in which Satan works.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the [Eternal] God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

That is not what God said, but it's close! Because, what did God say?

Genesis 2:16-17 And the [Eternal] God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The Hebrew says, "dying you shall die." From the point that you take of that tree you'll begin a process that will end in death. That is the direction that you will be going. But the subtle change that Satan used, "hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden," is so close. And when we look at this subject of the baptism ceremony it also is so very close to what we formerly had - and yet when we look at how near the new is to what happens out in the world, it becomes clear that it was in fact designed to take the mind back to the world's way of looking at the subject. We can see the same technique used in Matthew 4.

Matthew 4:1-6 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (2) And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. (3) And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (4) But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (5) Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, (6) And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

This was a quotation from the Psalms, but it was a manipulation, a twisting. It wasn't living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. It was taking a scripture, taking it out of context, and applying it in this particular instance. Christ lived by every word.

Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God

You shall not put the Eternal your God to the test. You don't do that. Why was Christ able to resist Satan? Because He was living "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

PROTESTANT IDEAS

Let us apply this "living by every word" in examining the Protestant concept as far as baptism is concerned. Turn over to Romans 10, verse 9, because they will quote this verse a great deal.

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

The Protestant concept is that if you confess the Lord Jesus, in other words you say "sorry," then you are saved. You "repent" in the sense of saying you are sorry for the things that you've done. You "confess" that you believe God raised Christ from the dead, that you accept Christ, accept His sacrifice for your sins. Then you are saved. That's all there is to it. But if you read a little bit further, it says:

Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness

That belief leads to something. What you believe (verse 9) causes you to go in a righteous direction. Mr. Armstrong said:

"God's law is the way that the divine love travels. It is the riverbed down which the river of the Holy Spirit will flow."
So "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." It flows into righteousness. The result is righteousness.

Romans 10:10 ...and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [The whole process then takes place.]

When we are looking at the slight change in emphasis in the baptism ceremony, if we are not careful, this Protestant concept - of just being sorry for sin, of just accepting Christ's sacrifice and that then saves us - will come across.

REPENTANCE

We do need to be sorry for the things we've done wrong and certainly as we approached baptism that was something that we should have had - a sorrow. But in II Corinthians, chapter 7, we find that in fact repentance is not just being sorry.

II Corinthians 7:8-9 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent ["I'm not changing"; that's what the word "repent" means], though I did repent [In other words, he gave the letter to somebody, went on his way, and soon thought, "I shouldn't have said that."]: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. (9) Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance

So sorrow and repentance are different. Repentance is NOT just a case of being sorry for what you've done. Repentance is actual change!

II Corinthians 7:9-11 were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. (10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. [The sorrow of the world leads to dead works. We'll see this as we go on examining this subject of the baptism ceremony.] (11) For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness [being full of care] it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Here is the result of this true repentance that came from their sorrow. They did what was necessary to get rid of the problem. (The individual was put out of the church, disfellowshipped.) They cleaned themselves up. Their sorrow led to repentance. It led to change, and that change could be seen by their actions, the actual result of that repentance.

But repentance must grow. At baptism we took the very first step, but repentance does not stay at the point of baptism. It has to grow, develop, mature. And every single one of us as we approach the Passover this time should be able to look at our repentance over this past year and see an improvement, a maturing, a perfecting of that repentant process. Notice in Hebrews 5:

Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

The purpose of their calling was to become teachers. Yet, when they should have been ready to become teachers he's needing to teach them again the first principles. He's needing to go back to basics.

Hebrews 5:13-14 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use [or by habit] have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

As teachers in the world tomorrow we will have to discern good from evil. That's the ultimate purpose of baptism. That's the ultimate purpose of repentance.

Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection [which is to discern both good and evil and to do it in such a way that we can teach it. Now he gives the basics:] not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works [This is the first thing], and of faith toward God, [These two things will then lead to:], (2 ) Of the doctrine of baptisms [baptisms plural--the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of going into the water], and of laying on of hands [which again shows the authority within the Church and the coming of the Holy Spirit], and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment [looking into the future].

So the repentance is that we go from dead works to "faith towards God." We go towards God. It's explained more in Hebrews chapter 9.

Hebrews 9:11-14 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; (12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

We repent "from dead works to serve the living God." How? By faith towards God - faith that God will actually confirm and perform the process. He is a faithful Creator who actually creates His creation within us.

Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament [covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Christ's sacrifice, His blood, blots out the sin that was there before. Repentance is an absolute key element for this entire process to take place. But it is not mere human sorrow. This "godly sorrow," the type that we should have had before when we were baptized, should lead to repentance. Repentance is where we turn from one thing (dead works), turn to something else (faith towards God), and serve the living God. It is the turning which is repentance.

Our repentance today should be greater, more intense, more profound. As we examine ourselves we need to ask, "Has it improved?" How is it today, compared to what it was when we were baptized? Mr. Armstrong has made the comment that when we are first baptized, we are probably about 1% converted. That percentage must grow.

SIN: WHAT WE REPENT FROM

The first point of repentance is that we repent from, turn from, sin. We turn from dead works to serve the living God. This is the foundational aspect.

We know from 1 John 3:4 what sin is.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

We find from Romans 3:20 that "by the law is the knowledge of sin."

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

That is how we know that we are off-track, that we are missing the mark. We can see it with the breaking of the law. Therefore when we are repentant we repent from sin.

But when we're looking at the kind of examination that we should be undergoing today, as I said earlier, this needs to be mature. This needs to be further than just a case of transgressing God's law (breaking the Sabbath, eating unclean meats, stealing, etc.).

To illustrate this, turn to Job. Here we find an individual who was, for all intents and purposes as far as Satan could tell, perfect.

Job 1:8 And the [Eternal] said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth [goes away from or avoiding] evil?

That sounds pretty perfect - the way we should be. But Job had a major problem, as we shall see. Continue in chapter 2:

Job 2:3 And the [Eternal] said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

There was no cause to destroy Job. Yet God allowed Satan to afflict him. Notice verse 10. This is when his wife was saying, "curse God and die."

Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

He did not go off track. He was a righteous individual. However, in Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong makes a very interesting comment. He says on page 175:

"Good is a spiritual attribute. It is not a physical or material action."
So the things (the physical or material actions) that Job was doing (his "works") was not the point. To Satan they were every point. He could not fault Job. There was nothing there that he could criticize, even after he was allowed by God to afflict him.

But God knew something that Job didn't know and He knew something that Satan didn't really know and that is that the righteousness of Job was dead works. If his present works were all he had - the result would be death! As we'll go on and see, Job's attitude of mind was NOT the attitude of Christ. His works were coming from a different attitude of mind. It was not a spiritual attribute, but merely physical, material actions - human "works" that would invariably lead to death.

Turn to Job 23. Job is here wanting to plead before God. Notice his attitude of mind.

Job 23:1-4 Then Job answered and said, (2) Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. (3) Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! (4) I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.

Is that the attitude of Jesus Christ before God the Father? No! It's the attitude of the very human Job. He wanted to prove he hadn't done anything. He wanted to present his arguments before God. In chapter 27 we see more of his attitude.

Job 27:4-6 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. (5) God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. (6) My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

Why? Because by the actions that he was doing, he was righteous. No question. But the heart was way off. It wasn't a heart of Jesus Christ. It was not the mind, attitude and character of God. It was the character of Job, which, though immaculate, is a dead work! Because the end result of that is "dying you will die." The moment that you take the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that you decide right from wrong, and don't recognize that it is an unconditional surrender in everything, in every way, "dying you will die." Job did not understand this at this point. Notice chapter 29.

Job 29:2-7 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; (3) When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; (4) As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; (5) When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me; (6) When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil; (7) When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!

Where was his mind? Pick it up in verse 13:

Job 29:13-20 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. (14) I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem (15) I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. (16) I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. (17) And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth. (18) Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. (19) My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch. (20) My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.

His entire focus was on himself. It was "me, myself and I" right through this section. It was his righteousness, which is merely a physical or material action, not a spiritual attribute. That spiritual attribute has to come from God. Only God is good (Matthew 19:17 - the answer given to the rich young ruler), so it must be God's spiritual attribute that is there for there to be true goodness present.

In Job chapter 35 Elihu starts to explain:

Job 35:5-7 Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. (6) If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? (7) If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?

If I'm righteous, does it have any effect on God, the One that made the heavens and all the stars? Not at all! If I'm wicked what do I do to Him? I'll die. I'm only a human being.

Verse 13:

Job 35:13 Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.

If the righteousness is merely human righteousness He's not going to listen to that, nor regard it. Verse 16:

Job 35:16 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.

Turn to chapter 42. Here is where it finally dawns on Job.

Job 42:3-6 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not ["I thought it was just a physical and material action that I had to do. I didn't understand."] things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. (5) I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (6) Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent [being mere] dust and ashes.

He realized that he was mere dust and ashes. That no matter how many good works he did, no matter what he did to try and humanly become good, humanly become righteous, that was not what God was looking for.

When we are looking at repentance, yes, we repent from sin (repent from breaking the Sabbath, from stealing, etc., repent from the physical things), but if that is all we do that is not the aspect that God is looking for. We repent from dead works. And dead works are human works.

CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR

What then do we repent to?

Let's look at the actual baptism ceremony. As I said in the beginning, a slight change in emphasis came about in the latter years. The one that was in my book said :

The minister asks, "Have you repented of your sins and have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior?"

The individual responds, "Yes."

The minister states, "Mr. (repeat person's full name and say :) As a result of your repentance of your sins, which is the transgression of God's Holy and Righteous and Perfect Law, and your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your Lord and Master, your High priest and soon coming King, I now baptize you, not into any sect or denomination of this world but I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, by and through the authority of Jesus Christ for the remission of all of your sins. Amen."

Minister baptizes the individual.

Minister tells the individual: "Congratulations, your sins are now forgiven."

But the original version does not have the latter part of the question: "Have you repented of your sins and have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior?" All that was asked was, "Have you repented of your sins?"

Why? Because repentance of your sins includes accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Wording it the other way starts to separate the two: "Have you repented of your sins?" In other words, "Are you sorry for what you have done?" And, "Do you now accept Jesus Christ as you personal Savior?" In other words, you come under His blood and are therefore saved. That is the Protestant idea. That is not true. Why?

This Protestant idea splits that repentance. They believe that the death of Christ saves you. The death of Christ does not save anybody! "Your personal Savior" does not mean to say you accept the blood of Christ. This concept is not right. We've been led off track.

The concept that Mr. Armstrong put into the original baptism ceremony is that when you've repented of your sins you have gone away from the transgression of God's holy righteous and perfect law, and you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your Rescuer. Both aspects are involved in true repentance. Turn to Romans, chapter 5.

Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But why did He die?

Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, being now justified by his blood [Justified in the sense that you are made righteous before God. Sins forgiven. Sins blotted out.], we shall be saved [Christ, The Savior] from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

When you accept Christ as your personal Savior you are NOT accepting His blood. You are saying, "I'm turning from sin to live the kind of life that Christ led." It is that turning that is repentance. That's why repentance, the entire process, is crucial.

Notice the entire paragraph where this quote by Mr. Armstrong about good being a "spiritual attribute" is found. From Mystery of the Ages, page 175:

"Let this point be emphasized. When the first man, Adam, rejected the tree of life, and took to himself the knowledge of good and evil, he limited his power and ability to do good to the level of his human spirit. [That was the problem with Job.] There is good as well as evil in human nature. Good is a spiritual attribute, not a physical or material action. Had Adam taken of the tree of life, the Holy Spirit of God would have entered him and joined with his spirit, uniting him with God as a son of God. The Holy Spirit meant more than spiritual knowledge of good. Not the hearers of the law (good) but the doers of the law are justified (Rom. 2:13). Love is the fulfilling of the law - but not human love. It requires the "love OF GOD . . . shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit]" (Rom. 5:5)."
Looking again at the baptism ceremony, the minister says:
"Mr. (repeat person's full name and say :) As a result of your repentance of your sins, which is the transgression of God's Holy and Righteous and Perfect Law [that is what you are going from], and your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior [this is now what you are going to], your Lord and Master [notice: unconditional surrender], your High priest and soon coming King, I now baptize you, not into any sect or denomination of this world but I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, by and through the authority of Jesus Christ for the remission of all of your sins. Amen."
Yes, the sins are forgiven. They are forgiven by the shed blood. But you are looking at the change from sin to being subject to everything that is the way of God. It is not on human terms. It is on the terms of God. Back to Romans:

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. [Here is the Savior aspect, accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.]

The blood doesn't save. His life saves. It's the direction that we go from this point forward. The blood on the door at Passover, the door through which we go into the very household of God, is the first stage. It is repentance and that repentance is crucial! But it is not repenting in a human way, being sorry in a human way. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, which is going from your own ways - from dead works, which is mere human righteousness or mere human evil - it does not matter which as they both lead in the direction of death - and turning instead, to unconditionally serve the living God.

Turn to John 3:16, another verse often quoted within Protestant circles.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

But continue on

John 3:17-21 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned [determined, or passed into judgment]: but he that believeth not is condemned [determined] already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (21) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

It is the Holy Spirit that is leading such an individual. They are walking in a flesh that is the same kind of flesh that Christ would walk in. Their response is a response of the Spirit of God. They are being led by the Spirit of God; they are the sons of God.

Turn to II Corinthians 4:

II Corinthians 4:6-11 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (8) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; (9) Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; [We can have peace of mind even when we are in the process of being persecuted, or distressed.] (10) Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus [In other words, the shed blood covers the sin, so we have access to the Father. We have access therefore to the Holy Spirit.], that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (11) For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus [our Savior, our Rescuer] might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

So as regards repentance, certainly it is turning from sin, from dead works, from transgression of God's holy and righteous and perfect law. But it's also the acceptance of (the turning to) Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, our Lord, Master, High Priest and soon coming King. It involves an unconditional surrender to everything to do with God's way.

THE NAME WE ARE BAPTIZED INTO

With this surrender we were then baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Turn to Matthew 28:19. There are some ministers who will not use this verse even though Mr. Armstrong examined it and came to the conclusion that it is translated correctly from the original Greek (except for "Holy Ghost" which should be "Holy Spirit").

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in [or into, as the word can also be translated] the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy [Spirit]: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [or age]. Amen.

It is this Godhead - Father and Son, bound together by a common Spirit, the Holy Spirit - into which we are baptized, into which we are then plunged. The symbolism as we will go on to see is very great.

There are two aspects to the symbolism. The first is that we are baptized into the name of this Godhead. In light of this, let's look at three scriptures in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the [Eternal], if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the [Eternal] hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

In other words, he's speaking "on behalf of," "by the authority of," "representing." So when you are baptized "in (or into) the name of" it is by the authority or representation of.

1 Samuel 17:45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the [Eternal] of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

Again, it is "by the authority of," "representing." In the baptismal ceremony it says:

"I now baptize you, not into any sect or denomination of this world but I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

It is into the authority of the Godhead - Jesus Christ and the Father bound together by one Spirit. The authority is there. This is why even if the minister later leaves the Church, if you have been baptized "into the name of" his leaving does not nullify your baptism, because he was acting on behalf of (by the authority of) that family of God.

One final example:

1 Samuel 25:9 And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David [They came on David's authority, representing him.], and ceased.

So this is the first aspect to the symbolism: When we are baptized we are baptized into the name, the authority, the representation. But there is more to it than that. The minister says in the baptism ceremony:

"...your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, your Lord and Master, your High priest and soon coming King, I now baptize you, not into any sect or denomination of this world but I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, by and through the authority of Jesus Christ for the remission of all of your sins. Amen."
When you are baptized "into the name of" you are also being baptized into the actual Godhead - these two beings bound by that Holy Spirit. Notice Romans 8.

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

And over in verse 29:

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

We actually become part of the very family of God. It is the Father and Son, bound together by that one Spirit, into which we are therefore plunged. At baptism we accept Christ's blood to cover our sins. It is "by and through the authority of Jesus Christ" that they are remitted, blotted out. But we are also plunged into the very Godhead, plunged into actually being begotten as a child of God.

Notice Hebrews chapter 2:

Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Turn to 1 John, chapter 3.

1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

We have been plunged into the God family, for that is what God is: The Father and the Son, and all those begotten and eventually born children, all bound together by the one common Spirit they share.

1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Not the purity that Job had, which was mere human purity, but, "as He is pure." The "Christ" means the "Anointed One" - anointed with the very Spirit of God; led by the Spirit of God.

1 John 3:4-7 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. [It's lawlessness, and that law is a spiritual law.] (5) And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (6) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not [is not continually sinning - present progressive]: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (7) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

It is not a case of being righteous the way Job was righteous, where all you are looking at is the actual action. It is righteous "as He is righteous." The actions all flow from the heart of a converted son of God plunged into the very Godhead.

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

He's our Savior, but HOW does He save? It is not just by destroying the works of the past with His shed blood. It is also now forward as well.

1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

That's the aim - something that we are going to have in the future. Eventually we will not be able to sin, because we will be born of God.

1 John 3:10-11 In this [aspect] the children of God are manifest [manifest now, in other words], and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness [is not practicing righteousness] is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (11) For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

Notice in chapter 5:

1 John 5:18-20 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (19) And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. (20) And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true...

We walk the way Christ walked. We are in the same kind of flesh that is completely subject to the way of God, to the mind of God.

1 John 5:20 ...in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and [it's also] eternal life.

That is what we are plunged into, "the true God." And this true God is a family of two beings right now, but destined to become a family of billions.

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. [Don't let somebody else subvert this truth, this concept.] Amen.

When we are looking at baptism and the ceremony of baptism, it is an awesome process. Again, the actual ceremony is so simple.

The minister asks, "Have you repented of your sins?"

The individual responds, "Yes."

The minister states, "Mr. (repeat person's full name and say :) As a result of your repentance of your sins, which is the transgression of God's Holy and Righteous and Perfect Law, and your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your Lord and Master, your High priest and soon coming King, I now baptize you, not into any sect or denomination of this world but I baptize you into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, by and through the authority of Jesus Christ for the remission of all of your sins. Amen."

Minister baptizes the individual.

Minister tells the individual: "Congratulations, your sins are now forgiven."

With the laying on of hands we then have the Spirit of God, which gives us the love of God, which allows us to keep God's law. Jesus Christ becomes our personal Savior from that point forward. The righteousness is not the kind of righteousness Job had. It is the kind of righteousness that Job had eventually when he said, "Behold I am vile... I uttered things that I just didn't understand." Because God's way, God's love, God's righteousness, is so much higher than human righteousness. Human righteousness will not cut it. Such "righteousness" is merely dead works.

Turn to Revelation 21.

Revelation 21:1-4 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [All those "not written in the book of life" as well as "death and hell" had been cast into the lake of fire (preceding chapter). The whole lot had gone.] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

The gospel of the kingdom of God, the true good news, is a life which is outgoing, confident, aiming for the future. You simply do not have to worry, because you trust God, understanding that God is a Faithful Creator. Abundant life will continue for eternity.

Revelation 21:5-6 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

From that love of God "shed abroad in our hearts" that flows in the way of God's law, allowing us to understand right from wrong and therefore teach it in the world tomorrow and right out into eternity, what abundance and joy will be produced. That's the step that we took at baptism.

Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things [The universe! Everything!]; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

That is what baptism and this baptism ceremony is all about. To "protestantize" it, to push it into merely the idea and the concept of a lost and unenlightened pseudo-christian world for such a profound ordinance, is an abomination in the sight of God.

So let us make sure as we approach the Passover, that we do reflect on our own baptism and reflect on just what a profound ceremony the baptism ceremony is.

transcribed in article form by KA. Edited by JB.