The first installment in this series was designed to introduce the significance of baptism in the work and ministry of John, who “appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). The ministry of John was to “make ready the way of the Lord” (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3), to announce the arrival of the Messiah, because “the kingdom of the heavens” was “at hand” (Matt. 3:2; Mark 1:15). The preparatory work of John was that Messiah “might be manifested to Israel” and thus he “came baptizing in water” (John 1:29-32). Jesus, as Israel’s promised Messiah, had come into the “world” of the Old Covenant (Gal. 4:4), in order to “save (deliver) his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), as the sacrificial “lamb of God” (John 1:29). It was this “world” of Israel that God so loved, “that He gave his only-begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16) 1 The specific focus of the ministry of both John and of Jesus, prior to the cross, was in preaching to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6; 15:24). While other redemptive considerations will be given to the inclusion of Gentiles later in this series, it is of vital importance for now to keep in mind to whom and for what purpose baptism was being practiced prior to the cross.
It has always been there, but people continue to pretend not to notice it. The metaphorical expression, “the elephant in the room” was first attributed to an article that appeared in the New York Times on June 20, 1959 and has come to refer to, “an obvious truth that is being ignored or going unaddressed,” or “to a problem or risk no one wants to discuss.”1 The reluctance to discuss something that is simply impossible to overlook is natural, especially when cherished traditions with emotional attachments are involved. However, pretending that something does not exist does not necessarily make it somehow magically disappear. Continue reading
Did the “church” that was established on the Day of Pentecost continue beyond the transition period, or was the purpose fulfilled in A.D. 70?
This is a controversial subject and has created a discontinuity of thought within the Preterist community over the past few years.
There is no questioning the fact that Jesus promised to build His “church” (Matt. 16:18), further stating that “the gates of Hades” would not prevail against it. Moreover, the apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus proclaimed, “to Him [Christ] be glory in the church to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:21). The question then becomes, “If Christ was to receive glory in the ‘church’ throughout ‘all generations’ does this not necessarily imply that it was to continue as part of the ‘everlasting’ Covenant (Heb. 13:20)?” Continue reading
A joyful crowd of believers is gathered along the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean as the sounds of the gentle waves flow majestically toward them. Songs and choruses of praise and adoration fill the air as people slowly stream into the water, greeted by the smiling faces of those there to baptize them. Following their confession of faith in the Lord Jesus, men and women are quickly and quietly lowered into the water but for a moment and immediately emerge to the excitement and expectation of a brand new life. The “old things” of their former sins and lifestyles are now buried, the “new things” have come! The expectation is that their “new birth” has been accomplished and their identification with Christ is now complete.
Is this the meaning of baptism?
This article is the first in a series intended to address some of the important Biblical concepts related to baptism in relationship to what was first introduced by John the Baptizer (Matt. 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-20; John 1:19-34). It was during this period of time, in the face of impending judgment that Israel entered into her “last days” (Matt. 3:7-12; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-21; II Tim. 3:1). For one to understand baptism properly, there must be given due consideration to its importance relative to the ebb and flow of redemptive history that was moving toward the approaching “end of all things” (I Pet. 4:7), at the “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3; 28:20). The Great Commission given by Jesus to His apostles (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:46-49), specifically included baptism and thus forms an inseparable connection to the time, manner and purpose of when that commission would be fulfilled (Matt. 28:18-20). The question addressed in this series concerns the matter of duration of practice. Is it possible that the purpose of baptism was fulfilled during the “last days” between the Cross and A.D. 70 and thus is no longer applicable to believers living now in the “age to come” (Heb. 6:1-5)?