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Apr 16, 2023

Baptism and Separation

Baptism and Separation

Speaker: Dennis Gallaher

Category: Sunday Morning

Baptism brings order to chaos.

Why be baptized? What does the Bible say about baptism? Jesus gave a commission to His disciples after He had risen from the dead and was preparing to return to the Father in Heaven... Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

  • All authority has been given to Me... tells us that He won! It is the victory cry of the cross.
  • Go, therefore, and make disciples... make learners of those who come to Christ. 
  • make disciples of all the nations... to all the world.
  • baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit...
  • teach them... 
  • I'll never leave you... the promise of the coming Holy Spirit. 

Baptism was to be a primary act of consecration for all new believers. The word baptize does not have an English translation. Baptize is the basic form of the Greek word, Baptismos. It means to submerge, immerse, sink or dip into something. It could also be used when something drops into the sink or even to be buried. Colossians 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. This verse gives us the true meaning for the Christian. Baptism is a sign that in the same way that Jesus died, was buried (tomb), was covered, rose from being dead, and came out a new person (alive) - we too are given new life. When we become a Christian our former nature, our old man, our old life, was buried - wiped away. Jesus died so that we have a new life. We are a new creature in Christ.

The Biblical pattern of baptism is shown in the first mighty act of God as He brings order to the chaos through separation. Genesis 1:2-4 And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. Verse 6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” Verse 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters that were below the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse; and it was so. Verse 9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 

God brought order out of chaos through separation: light from darkness, night from day, land from water... Eden was the result and God placed mankind into His order and not in the chaos. It is a beautiful picture of what God wants for us - to take us out of our chaos and put us into His divine order. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve sinned and that released chaos into the order that God had created through separation. God's plan then became a rescue mission to take a remnant of people and pass them through the waters of chaos and dysfunction and bring it back into order.

Three times we see this... 1) Noah. He was a blameless man who walked with God and yet all creation was wiped out except for God rescuing a remnant (Noah and his family) and began humanity again. 2) Moses. He was delivered from the waters of death in a "ta-va" - a basket, an ark. God saved His people by leading them through the waters of the Red Sea, through the separated waters on dry land, rescued out of slavery, to Mt. Sinai where they are invited to become God's representatives to the nations. 3) Joshua. The priests enter the river water and it separates so that they cross on dry ground. They were led through the waters into the Promised land. 4) John the Baptist. John called people to the river to come ready to repent and to separate from their old lives and be baptized. 5) Jesus. Jesus was baptized in the same Jordan River that Joshua crossed. God spoke to Him saying, "My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased."

The thread is no accident, and it tells of God's pattern from the beginning to the end. God tells us that Jesus will rescue the world from the chaos of human evil and violence by going through death and out the other side. 

So what is baptism? It is identification with Christ's death and resurrection. Roman 6:3-7 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for the one who has died is freed from sin.

Baptism is the participation in the ancient biblical pattern of going through the waters of death and following Jesus out into newness of life. It is the sign of separation - an act of walking away from our old life and turning to the life of freedom that Jesus promises. The children of Israel were the same people on one side of the Red Sea as the other. They were the same on one side of the Jordan as the other. Noah and his family were the same. But these all had different commitments after the water. They had a defined loyalty and a declared dedication to follow after God. God had chosen them and now they were choosing God by separating from the chaos around them. 

That's what water baptism symbolizes. But this verse? 1 Peter 3:21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It doesn't save you because of a ceremony or action. But it is an appeal to God for a clear conscience. A new conscience that is wiped clean because you have passed through the waters that symbolize:

  • Jesus' death to this world
  • His burial in the tomb
  • His rolling the stone away
  • His stepping out in new life, new power, and a new day where He could declare, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

A legal appeal is an urgent request to a higher court to reverse the decision of a lower court because the decision by the lower court was wrong. Today you can appeal the court of popular opinion, the court of family and peers that condemn you, and the court of the devil himself. Appeal to Jesus and be baptized; go through the water and be separated; consecrate your life to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  1. What is new in this explanation of baptism?
  2. How would you explain the thread of separation as it relates to baptism?
  3. Do you have new understanding of 1 Peter 3:21?