Reading: John 3:1-17
[*] In our last corps, our Corps Secretary Arthur went on a trip to the Holy land, and when he returned, he gave his testimony, and told us how he had been baptized in the Jordan river. What an experience that must have been - it was obviously most exhilarating for him.
[*] Shortly after Joy (our daughter) came back to the Lord, she was baptized in the river Ugie, in Peterhead, and it was freezing, but what a joy she felt, as she witnessed in this way, publicly, that she was now following the Lord.
BEFORE I SAY ANY MORE THIS EVENING, I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR, THAT I AM NOT OUT TO DISCREDIT THE VALIDITY OF WATER BAPTISM AS A SCRIPTURAL WITNESS OF THE ONE WHO HAS DIED TO THE OLD LIFE AND RISEN TO NEWNESS OF LIFE IN CHRIST - WHICH IS THE SYMBOLISM OF BAPTISM!
[a] When I was just a young teenager, I was preaching at a meeting in a church in Northern Ireland.
[b] I was preaching on the very Scripture on which I am preaching this evening - including verse 5 which says, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”
[c] At the end of the meeting, a man approached me, and verbally attacked me, telling me in no uncertain terms that I had failed in my duty of telling my congregation that the only way of Salvation was to be water baptized! After all it did say we must be born ‘of water’ and of the Spirit!
[d] In my innocence as a young Christian, I found it difficult to understand that anyone could be unlearned enough to actually believe that! I thought it was only the false cults who taught it!
[e] And I was not a Salvationist at that time, and was already myself baptized in water, as a witness of my faith in Christ - not because I felt it would improve me or my Salvation!
[a] So what is the verse telling us, if it is not promoting water baptism as an essential part of the way of Salvation?
[b] All you’ve got to do is take it in context! We must never take a verse in isolation!
[c] Jesus explains and expands in the next verse, verse 6, what He is saying! “What is born of flesh is flesh - of the physical is physical; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (Amplified Bible)
[d] So Jesus is emphasizing the fact to Nicodemus, that we must be born twice - PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY!!
IT IS NOTHING TO DO WITH WATER BAPTISM!
[e] After all - can water cleanse the soul? How stupid to suggest it!
Water is for cleansing the body - the OUTWARD being.
[f] It is the Holy Spirit, applying the Blood of Christ which cleanses the soul - the INWARD being!
[g] My dear friend, if you’re in this meeting tonight, and you’re needing your soul saved, I do not point you to a church, or a creed, or a penance, or a confessional or water baptism - I POINT YOU TO JESUS CHRIST Who said, “I am the way the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”
I would be failing miserably in my duty if I pointed you anywhere else, for He is the only One Who can save your soul!
[a] But does it really matter if Christians tag on either infant or adult water baptism as being essential? Does it do any harm?
YES I THINK IT DOES! I GIVE YOU THE FOLLOWING REASONS -
[b] It is wrong to UNDERESTIMATE THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, and COMPLEMENT IT WITH OUR OWN ACTIONS!
[c] It is a gross insult to the Lord, to BELITTLE the worth of cleansing BLOOD OF CHRIST, by insisting that the BLOOD HAS INSUFFICIENT MERIT on it’s own to save a repentant soul!,
[d] I believe those who teach such, have LEFT THE APOSTLE’S TEACHING, substituting it with one of their own making.
THEY PERVERT THE TEACHING OF SCRIPTURE AND THE TEACHING OF THE ONE WHO SAYS, “I AM THE WAY!”
[e] I believe the Scriptural teaching of the Apostle Paul, when he said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.”
[f] He was making it very clear, that his preaching of the Gospel did not include baptism, so therefore it was not necessary to Salvation.
[g] Once we start substituting the precious Blood of Christ with WATER, we are in big trouble!
Not only are we asking people to put their faith in something that can never save them, but we insult God’s provision of Salvation through the death of His beloved Son!!
[h] Peter said, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received from tradition from your fathers; BUT WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, AS OF A LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH AND WITHOUT SPOT.”
NOT A MENTION OF WATER ANYWHERE - IN FACT IT COULD BE LOOKED UPON AS ONE OF THE ‘CORRUPTIBLE THINGS’
[i] It says so simply in John 1:12, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Children of God, even to them that believe on His Name.”
[a] For a period of time, I corresponded with a minister in America about this subject, as I had read one of his sermons on the Internet, and took him to task for his emphasis on baptism as an essential element of Salvation.
[b] In one of my letters to Bill, I said,
I can but re-echo the words of Scripture in 1 John 5:12, which say, “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
It is the “baptism into the Body of Christ” which saves us, not water. "By one Spirit, we are all baptized into one Body"’ (1 Corinthians 12:13)
I am glad, with Paul, that Christ has sent us today, not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel of Salvation through the crucified and risen Lord. He has done all that is necessary for our Salvation.
Whilst, like yourself, I believe, that “faith without works is dead,” the proof that accompanies the validity of someone’s faith, surely is to ‘walk in newness of life’ and to become a ‘new creature in Christ’. Thank God, I have seen the Lord’s grace exercised so often in the transformation of lives, without any recourse to water baptism, that it confirms my conviction that God’s Grace is neither withheld nor limited, by someone’s failure to undertake this ‘confession of their faith’.
Salvation most certainly is conditional on repentance of sin, belief in the Saviour Who died and rose again for us, and confession of Him before men, but I cannot accept for one moment, that we also must tack on baptism as one of those conditions, or essential proofs that our faith is real.
[c] I believe it is highly significant, that when Paul gives his testimony of conversation to Agrippa in Acts 26, his baptism (3 days later) doesn’t even merit a mention! (Acts 9:9)
[d] Paul was converted and transformed on the Damascus road, not when he confirmed his faith through baptism!
[e] If you need your sins forgiven, and your life transformed - JESUS CHRIST CAN DO IT RIGHT NOW, IF YOU WILL LET HIM!
HIS OFFER OF MERCY IS IN NO WAY LIMITED BY THE ABSENCE OF WATER.
[a] He died and shed His blood on the cross for you, so that you could be saved.
[b] “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” the Philippian Jailor was told! (Acts 16:31)
[c] We have no authority to change that Gospel, or add one solitary thing to the message! God will judge us severely if we dare try!
He says in Revelation 22:18-19 "If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life."
[d] Have you entrusted your life to the Saviour Who took your sin in His Own body on the cross?
If you have - you’re saved! If you haven’t, you’re lost!
Where do you stand just now??
I have done my best to clarify the simple message of the Gospel.
Are you saved?? If not, why not?? Come and find Christ just now.
Songs 371 , Pr Chorus 62, Chorus 149, 306 , Pr Chorus 106, 347