Unto What Were You Baptized? Acts 19:3
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it Luke 9:23,24
Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it Not everyone that saith unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven Matthew 7:14,21
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets Luke 13:24-26
Many who desire to follow the words of God and his Son, Christ Jesus, have read the above words many times. But, what do they mean: What is required to be considered a follower of Christ? Is it just simple belief and profession? Or is there more? Let’s examine the details.
Nearly 2,000 years ago there was a prophet named John the Baptist. He preached that the Jews in the nation of Israel needed to repent from their willful sins against the Mosaic Law which God gave them at Mount Sinai. They needed to symbolize this repentance by water immersion, or baptism, in order to prepare their hearts to receive and accept the Messiah who was about to appear unto them. The only thing required of them was (1) to turn away from sin and follow God’s moral laws, and (2) to believe in Jesus. Matt. 3:6,11
Because these were the only two requirements, John protested when Jesus came to be baptized, saying I have need to be baptized of thee, and thou comest to me? (Matt. 3:14,15) Nevertheless, Jesus convinced him that it was necessary, and John baptized him. Why did Jesus ask to be immersed? Was it because he needed to repent of sin? No. In fact, this is why John did not want to baptize him. (Heb. 7:26) So, why did Jesus come to be baptized, and what did it symbolize?
Once John the Baptist was dead and Jesus was active in his ministry he made a very interesting statement that helps to explain what happened at Jordan, he said, I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! (Luke 12:50) Obviously, this was a kind of baptism different from every other baptism John had performed at Jordan. What was that difference, and how does it affect us?
Less than one week prior to his crucifixion, Jesus again made reference to this special baptism that he underwent, but this time he was more specific about how it would affect all of those who would be his faithful, footstep followers: Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can, And Jexus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized. (Mark 10:38,39) Here Jesus not only connects this special baptism he received with the drinking of a cup, but went further to say that his followers would receive the same baptism as he did at Jordan. But, what baptism was it?
Jesus said that his purpose was to lay down his life in death for the sins of the world. (John 6:51; 10:15; 15:13,14) He said, as quoted at the beginning of this article, that those who wish to follow him must lay down their lives and follow Christ daily. This is a hard path to follow. Yet, most denominations of professed Christians prominently teach that the only thing we need to do to follow Christ and receive the holy Spirit is to repent of our sins and believe on him. But what does the Bible say?
When the Apostle Paul went to the city of Ephesus during his first missionary journey he encountered about twelve individuals who are identified simply as disciples. He asked them if they had received the holy Spirit and they said We have not so much as heard whether there be any holy Spirit. Paul proceeded to ask them unto what were they baptized, and they said Unto John’s baptism. Paul said that, indeed, John baptized unto repentance and belief in the Messiah, but now that the Messiah had come there was a different baptism. They at once were baptized with Christ’s baptism and received the holy Spirit. (Acts 19:1-7) What does this account show to us, and just what is Christ’s baptism?
This account shows us that more than just repentance and mere belief in Jesus as Lord is required for Jesus to see us as his true footstep followers. In order to be a disciple we must lay down our lives in sacrifice; or in other words, deliverance of one’s life, will, time, efforts, talents, and energy to his use. We call this consecration. Christ’s baptism requires a covenant with God in which we are told: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1) Because this is a serious matter we are advised to count the cost to see if we are willing to live up to the requirements. Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that hehath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:28,33)This living sacrifice can only be acceptable through the merit, or value, of the blood of Jesus, but if we desire to be considered one who does the will of God, we must lay down our lives in sacrifice just as Jesus did.
We must also drink of the same cup as he. What is that cup? Jesus, on the night prior to his crucifixion, used it in the context of suffering unjustly. (Luke 22:37,42) The Apostle Paul informs us that drinking from this cup represents our share, or communion, with Christ in his death. (I Cor. 10:16) We are told that the saints shall judge the world and that we shall live and reign with him a thousand years, (I Cor. 6:2; Rev. 20:4,6) But how do we achieve this? Is it simply by praying for forgiveness for our sins one timeand then believing in our hearts that Jesus is Lord? Paul again says that if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him. (II Tim. 2:11,12) While it is true that our justification comes through Jesus’ blood, there is still much required of us in order to achieve the privilege of reigning with him. We are told to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil. 2:12)
For more details and greater clarification than can be made in our short article, contact us to receive the FREE booklet Why Are You A Christian? It explains, according to the Bible, the requirements and expectations God has of one who desires to follow his Son, and what the future hopes are of one who proves to be one of the called, and chosen, and faithful. II Pet. 1:10; Rev. 17:14