The third foundational principle listed in Hebrews chapter 6 is the doctrine of baptisms. Different denominations within Christianity have differing views and dogmas concerning baptism. I’m not going to argue doctrine here today, it is a very touchy subject and many people get very bend out of shape. I am only going to look at what is said in scripture and draw conclusions from what the Holy Spirit reveals.
In Hebrews 6:2 the word "baptism" is plural. It is "the doctrine of baptisms" [plural], not "the doctrine of baptism" [singular]. This means the complete doctrine of the Christian faith includes more than one baptism.
The New Testament mentions four different baptisms. These are:
-Christ's baptism of suffering
-The baptism of John
-Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The definition of the word "baptize" used in the Bible means to entirely immerse or submerge in something.
Because this subject covers so much ground in Scripture, I'm going to be breaking this up into 3 parts. Today I would like to talk to you about the first two baptisms and next time we will talk about Christian baptism and then after that, we will conclude with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
There is one baptism in the New Testament which we will call the baptism of suffering. This baptism is spoken of by Jesus, “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!” (Luke 12:50) and is also mentioned in Mark 10:38 where the sons of Zebedee asked for the honor of sitting with Christ on His right and left sides in Heaven. Jesus answered: "Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of and be baptized with that I am baptized with?" Jesus was speaking of the suffering awaiting Him through His death for the sins of all mankind. He was to be immersed in suffering, buried in the tomb, and resurrected in a new body. This is what is meant by Christ’s baptism of suffering.
The baptism of John the Baptist was baptism in water connected with the message of repentance. John the Baptist was born miraculously to Zacharias and Elizabeth (Luke 1) and God had a special plan for his life. He was to serve as the "forerunner" of Jesus Christ, (no pressure or anything). And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. (Luke 1:76-77)
The word "forerunner" means one who goes before and prepares the way. John was to preach the message of repentance and baptism to Israel to prepare them for the coming of their Messiah, Jesus Christ: I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)
The ministry of John the Baptist was the beginning of a new spiritual age. We know this because of what is said in Luke 16:16: The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
Before the time of John the people lived under the law. Prophets and priests served as spiritual leaders and interpreters of the law. Only the priests had access to the presence of God in the temple, serving as mediators between the people and God and offered sacrifices for sin as God had commanded; this all changed with the coming of Jesus Christ. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus made access to God possible for all men. Jesus now serves as the mediator between sinful man and a righteous God, the veil between us and the Holy of Holies was torn.
John made two demands on the people: Repentance and public confession of sins. Only those who were willing to meet these God-given requirements were baptized in the river as a public testimony that they had repented of their sins.
When some of the religious leaders came to John to be baptized, he refused to do it. He demanded that they show evidence of real change in their lives before he would baptize them. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:7-8) Repentance and remission of sins was required by John before he would baptize.
The phrase "baptism unto repentance and remission of sins" does not mean that these two experiences followed the act of being baptized in water. Baptism was a visible confirmation that those being baptized had already experienced repentance and forgiveness.
Next time we will get into the details of present day Christian baptism and what it means in our lives, and we’ll go through some of the more widely held traditions and what Scripture says about them.
Let’s close today in prayer.
Lord. We stand before you today and thank you for this opportunity to share in fellowship with one another in your name. Please bless us as we go about our week in humble obedience to Your will as You have revealed it to us. In Jesus name we pray for Your honor and glory, amen.