The Relationships of Baptism
   With thanks to Raymond Kelcy

   By Paul Robison

In 1990, center fielder Brett Butler left the San Francisco Giants as a free agent, joining the cross-state rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  When Butler returned to San Francisco for the first time as a Los Angeles Dodger, Giants fans greeted him with a mixture of boos and cheers.  The cheers turned to boos, however, when Butler gave a hug to manager Tommy Lasorda.  Butler later said, “That hug turned a page in my career. It said: 'I'm an L. A. Dodger now; I'm no longer a Giant.  That gesture just kind of solidified it.  I wanted the crowd to know without a doubt that I'm a Dodger.”  Butler's hug became a specific point in history where an old relationship with the Giants was broken and a new relationship with Dodgers was solidified and made public.  The apostle Peter declares in 1 Peter 3:21: “There is an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God).”  Baptism is like Butler's hug.  It solidifies our relationship with God.  In fact, did you notice how Peter says that it actually “saves us”?  It is that public specific point in history where we can say: “I have left playing for Satan and his team, and I'm now playing for Jesus and His team!”  It is an answer of a good conscience toward God.  One can rightly reason: “Jesus was baptized, and He taught that each person needs to be baptized as well.  I will give up the sinful pleasures of this world, and I will be immersed to obey God's will, and everyone will know whose side I am on!”
 
“In studying New Testament baptism, we need to see the relationship it sustains to various items.  We can see its importance by seeing how it is related to other things.  We are told that a preposition is “The part of speech that denotes the relationship of an object to an action or thing.” In this [sermon, the various prepositions that are used in connection with baptism will be discussed and explained so that we can gain a better understanding of the purpose and importance of baptism]” (Kelcy).
 
First comes the preposition “in”.  “Let us note ... that baptism is IN water.  Water, therefore, is the element in which baptism is performed. John baptized in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:6).”  [John 3:23 states: “Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there.”  “Much water” shows us that John was immersing those who came to him.]  “We know that Jesus was baptized in water, for we are told that [following] His baptism, He ‘went up straightway out of the water’ (Matthew 3:16).  Philip and the Ethiopian came to a certain water, they both went down into the water, and they came up out of the water (Acts 8:36-39).  At the household of Cornelius, Peter asked: 'Can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?'  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord' (Acts 10:47).  Paul told the Ephesians that the church is sanctified and cleansed 'with the washing of water by the word' (Ephesians 5:26).  In the epistle of Hebrews, we are told that our bodies have been 'washed with pure water' (10:22).  Ephesians 4:5 tells us that there is but one baptism: 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism.' That one baptism for today is, of necessity, the baptism commanded in the Great Commission for it was to be practiced 'even to the end of the world' (Matthew 28:20). ... [Thus water baptism, the one and only baptism, is to be performed all over the world in all cultures and in all ages until Jesus returns.]  Baptism is IN water.  [We also see that] baptism is IN the name of Christ, as we just saw in the case of Cornelius: ‘And Peter commanded them to be baptized IN the name of the Lord’ (Acts 10:47).  On the Day of Pentecost, Peter commanded the Jews to repent and be baptized 'IN the name of Jesus Christ' (Acts 2:38).  When the men at Ephesus heard Paul preach Jesus, 'they were baptized IN the name of the Lord Jesus’ (Acts 19:5).  To be baptized in the name of the Jesus Christ would mean, of course, that we are to be baptized by His authority.  It is not by the authority of any man or any group of men.  We are to be baptized because Christ commanded it: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:15-16).  Being baptized in the name of Christ also suggests the idea that we are doing it with an eye to His glory and honor. Also, there is the idea that we are obeying Christ and depending upon His merit, looking to Him for the results, and realizing that we have no merit of our own. … We are to be baptized fully aware of Christ's authority and the merits of His sacrifice on our behalf” (Kelcy).  So, we have seen that we are baptized IN water and IN Jesus' name.  This is the relationship of baptism to the preposition “in”.
 
Next, comes the preposition “by”.  “1 Corinthians 12:13 declares: 'For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and all have been made to drink into one Spirit.' What is the meaning of being baptized BY the Spirit?  It means to be baptized in accordance with the teaching or according to the instruction of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit teaches us through the written word. The Word is called 'the Sword of the Spirit' (Ephesians 6:17).  Several times in the second and third chapters of Revelation, the apostle John says: 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'  They were to hear what the Spirit was saying by reading what John, by inspiration, was writing to them.  When we follow the teachings of the New Testament, we are following the teachings of the Holy Spirit. That which we do in obedience to the instructions of the New Testament, we are doing BY the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, to be baptized BY the one Spirit is to be baptized according to His teachings.  Paul used the expression ‘by the Holy Spirit’ earlier in the chapter.  Look at 1 Corinthians 12:3: 'Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.'  What do we have here?  If any man says that Jesus is Lord, it must be by the Holy Spirit.  Clearly, this means that he must learn this truth by the teaching of the Spirit.  To speak by the Spirit would indicate speaking by the Spirit's directions; hence, to be baptized by the Spirit would mean to be baptized according to the Spirit's directions.  This harmonizes beautifully with Jesus' teaching relative to the New Birth: [“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”] (John 3:5).  When one hears the teaching of the Spirit, believes that Jesus is God's Son, repents of his or her sins, confesses Christ as Lord before others, and is baptized for the forgiveness of sins, according to the directions of the Holy Spirit, he or she is thus born again, born of the water and of the Spirit” (Kelcy).  We have seen that we are baptized BY the Spirit.  This is the relationship of baptism to the preposition “by”.
 
Next comes the preposition “for”.  “After hearing the great sermon preached by the apostle Peter, the Jews on the Day of Pentecost asked: 'What shall we do?'  In reply, Peter said: 'Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call' (Acts 2:38-39).  It would seem that this clear command should never have been misunderstood.  We see a group of Jews convicted of sin and convinced of the Deity and authority of Jesus Christ. They ask what to do.  Peter tells them to repent and be baptized FOR the remission or forgiveness of sins.  Some say that this teaches that remission of sins come BEFORE baptism, and others say it teaches that remission of sins comes AFTER baptism.  Which position is right?  Those who say that we enjoy forgiveness of sins before baptism tell us the preposition 'for' in this passage means 'because of' or 'on account of', and that they were being told to be baptized because they were already saved.  It is true that the English preposition 'for' does sometime have the meaning 'because of.'  [Luke 14:17 states: “Come, for all things are now ready.”  Come, because of all that has been prepared.]  However, the Greek preposition EIS from which our word 'for' is translated does not have that meaning in this [passage].  A group of sinners is wanting to know what to do, and Peter is telling what to do, the entire context indicating that he is telling what to do in order to enjoy the remission of sins, baptism being a part of his instructions.  The American Standard Version has rendered the word 'unto' instead of 'for' showing that these translators recognized that these believers were being commanded to be baptized in order to obtain the remission of sins.  Let us look here at another instance of the expression, 'for the remission of sins.'  In instituting the Lord's Supper, Jesus said: 'For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins' (Matthew 26:28).  [Did you catch it?  Did your hear] the same expression, word for word, in the English and also in the original language: 'for the remission of sins'.  [Now here's a question worth thinking about:] Did Jesus shed His blood because sins were already forgiven or in order that sins might be forgiven?  Definitely, He shed His blood in order that sins might be forgiven.  [This means that] we are to be baptized in order that our sins might be forgiven” (Kelcy).  So we have seen that we are baptized FOR forgiveness.  The opposite of this means that if you have not been baptized in Jesus' name, then you are living in an unforgiven state, and you are under God's wrath.  This is the affirmation of Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, [God made people spiritually alive even though they had been spiritually dead.  Now listen how those who are spiritually dead continue to be described:], in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience [you're either a son of obedience or disobedience; there is no middle ground], among whom once we also conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind [that's what many don't want to give up to be a Christian], and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others [there's the point, those of you this morning who are not children of God remain in your sins as children of wrath].”  This is why the invitation is extended at every service.  Not a one who has heard the good news of Jesus should remain under God's wrath.  He wants to make you spiritually alive, and that forgiveness is obtained at the time of your baptism!  Baptism is “for” the forgiveness of sins.  This is the relationship of baptism to the preposition “for”.
 
Now let's consider the preposition “into”.  “First of all, we are baptized INTO one body.  As we read earlier in 1 Corinthians 12:13: 'For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and all have been made to drink into one Spirit.' Other passages clearly state that the one body is the church.  Ephesians 1:22-23 affirms: 'And He [God] put all things under His feet [Jesus'], and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.'  Colossians 1:18 declares: 'And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence [or supremacy].'  Before baptism, we are not members of the church.  We are baptized INTO the church.  Luke tells us that the 'Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved' (Acts 2:47).  And Jesus Himself declared in Mark 16:16: 'He who believes and is baptized will be saved.' The perfect harmony of all these statements is evident: Believe and be baptized to be saved, and the Lord adds the saved to the church or the one body over which He is head!  You can't join the Lord's church!  Next, there is baptism INTO the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Kelcy).  Jesus says in Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Those are Jesus' words, and they just as relevant today as they were when He first uttered them.  We see clearly how He links discipleship to baptism INTO the names of spiritual Beings.  “Here we see the combined authority of the Godhead. To be baptized into these three names means to be brought into subjection to the complete authority of heaven.  It brings one into covenant relationship with the Godhead, and into the fullness of the blessings of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  It brings one into possession of the blessings of heaven.  Another association with into is that baptism is INTO the death of Jesus.  Paul proclaims in Romans 6:3-4: 'Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized INTO Christ Jesus were baptized INTO His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism INTO death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.' Christ tasted death for every person (Hebrews 2:9).  However, not all will profit by His death.  His death will benefit only those who contact it, only those who accept the benefits of it.  It is in baptism that we become united with His death.  [Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection are re-enacted once again at each person's baptism for they die to themselves, are buried in the water, and they rise up from the water a new creature!] Lastly, there is baptism INTO Christ.  Galatians 3:27 affirms: 'For as many of you as were baptized INTO Christ have put on Christ.'  John informs us that the whole world lies in the evil one (1 John 5:19), but Paul tells us that there is no condemnation or wrath to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1-2).  Also, in Christ, we find there are all spiritual blessings, redemption or freedom from Satan, and one becomes a new creation (Ephesians 1:3-7, 2 Corinthians 5:17)!  How do we get INTO Christ?  We are baptized into Him.  We are thus baptized into the realm where all spiritual blessings are!  This is the relationship of baptism to all spiritual blessings.  [For example, one of those blessings is God's indwelling Spirit. Listen again to Peter's words in Acts 2:38: “Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  The gift of God's indwelling Spirit is given at baptism.]  Without baptism, one has no spiritual blessings and remains in the realm of Satan” (Kelcy).  This is the relationship of baptism to the preposition “into”.
 
“Here is an important question for your consideration: Have you been baptized in water, in Jesus' name, by the one Spirit, for or unto the remission or forgiveness of sins, into the one body, into the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, into the death of Christ, and into Christ?  A person who has not been scripturally baptized cannot claim any spiritual blessings because they still are not in Christ.  If you have not been baptized, resolve to do so immediately” (Ibid.), so that you will no longer be under Gods' wrath nor under Satan's rule.  Colossians 1:13 declares: “He [God] has delivered us from the power darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin.”  There are two kingdoms: Satan's or Jesus'. Right now, God looks down and sees that you are either in the kingdom of darkness or in the kingdom of His beloved Son.  There is no middle ground.  You are either out of the body of Christ or you are in the body of Christ.  Baptism is that decisive point where deliverance from Satan and a transfer from his kingdom into Jesus' kingdom takes place.  The old hymn has it right: “Buried with Christ, my blessed Redeemer, dead to the old life of folly and sin; Satan may call, the world may entreat me, there is no voice that answers within.  Dead unto sin, alive through the Spirit, Risen with Him from the gloom of the grave!  All things are new, and I am rejoicing, in His great love, His power to save!  Sin has no more its cruel dominion, waking 'in newness of life,' I am free—glorious life of Christ, my Redeemer, which He so richly shares now with me.  Dead to the world, to voices that call me, living a new, obedient but free.  Dead to the joys that once did enthrall me—Yet tis not I, Christ liveth in me” (Chisholm)!  Here are two other questions for your consideration.  Please ponder them carefully in light of eternity: “And now why are you waiting? Why not arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord? (Acts 22:16).  Be immersed into Jesus right now!