Letters From Lucy Question #2 Answered
Answer #2, Baptism
Jesus showed us in the bible that we should be baptized. Because he was baptized, and he clearly tells us to follow his example. If we do not follow his example and bear good fruits (actually try to follow him every day and do his will) he talks about the tree being cut down because it bears no good fruits. So it isn’t useful to god. What I’m wondering is why is baptism only done sometimes? Why is it optional? Kendra mentioned you don’t have to be baptized to be a part of the body of Christ.
Hello Lucy; let’s dig into the topic of baptism shall we.
Baptism is a big step in Mormon doctrine. It is the first step in becoming a member of the Church and the first rung of the ladder in keeping the laws & ordinances of the gospel. So your question is a very valid one.
In the Mormon’s 4th Article of Faith is says “Baptism by immersion is for the remission of sins. This belief is also held by others like the United Pentecostal Church and the Christadelphians, so it is not a practice unique to Mormon Church only.
These groups use arguments from passages like Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; John 3:3-5 and Mark 16:16 to name just a few. There are good answers to all these opinions.
FIRST: There is NO mention in the whole Old Testament that a person needs water baptism in order to be saved or come into a diving favor with God.
SECOND: Jesus was introducing a whole new concept about God to the Jews and eventually to the Gentiles. In the past God laid down laws that He expected the nation of Israel to follow, because they were His representative to all the Gentile nations.
But with the coming of Jesus, God was doing a brand new thing – the Church, which is both Jews & Gentiles, will now be His representative on earth.
Let’s look at John 3:5. “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of waterand the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
The Mormon Church picks this up and says “see you have to be baptized to enter the Kingdom of God.” Lucy, context is very important here.
(a) Christian baptism was not started when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. This came with the formation of the Christian Church later on.
(b) What was going on in Nicodemus’ mind when he heard this? Context shows that when Jesus said “you must be born again” in verse 3, Nicodemus was thinking of physical natural birth. He is thinking of the amniotic sac (fluid where the baby grows) and thus thinking in natural terms. This is why he questions how a man can re-enter into his mother’s womb?
(c) While Nicodemus is thinking in natural terms Jesus is thinking in spiritual terms. Notice verses 6-7 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.”
(d) Jesus is talking about a spiritual baptism not a physical baptism. The implication is, the first birth is physical and the second birth is spiritual.
Perhaps Nicodemus was thinking of John the Baptist and his work in the Jordan River calling Israel to repent and demonstrate their humility with the baptism of repentance? Again context is important here.
The Jews baptised Gentile proselytes (converts) in ritual cleansing ceremonies. Because John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, he took this baptism, which was only performed on Gentiles, and applied it to the Jews themselves. This is a symbolic evidence of changing your mind and an attitude to go in a new direction. A recognition of sins and a desire for spiritual cleansing.
John himself said that he was paving the way for the Messiah. In other words, he was getting people’s hearts ready to receive the message of the gospel from Jesus, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
This brings us to your question… “Why was Jesus baptized?”
(a) He didn’t get baptised for the remission of sins because He didn’t have any (2 Corinthians 5:21)
(b) Jesus did get baptised to identify with John’s disciples
(c) Jesus did get baptised to place his approval on John’s ministry
(d) Jesus did get baptised as a demonstration for believers to follow
(e) Jesus did get baptised to show the religious hypocrites, that were watching, that John was indeed speaking the truth
(f) Jesus was baptised for a very special reason:
“And Jesus answering said unto him, (John) Suffer it to be so now: for thus, it becometh US to fulfill all righteousness.” (King James Bible).
“But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.” (New American Standard Bible) (Matthew 3:13-15)
Jesus was baptized to fulfill the legal requirements for entering the priesthood. His baptism was an INAUGURATION to begin His ministry. He was not entering the Aaronic Priesthood (as mentioned yesterday because he was from the tribe of Judah). His baptism was a recognition that he was the one and only possessor of the order of Melchizedek.
Four specific procedures had to be followed for the transferal of the priesthood from a father to a son.
- Submerged in water for purification (Leviticus 8:6)
- Holy oil poured upon the son’s head (Leviticus 8:12)
- A public declaration that this is his son (Numbers 20:28)
- He had to be at least 30 years of age (Numbers 4:30)
(g) Jesus was baptised because this event established the setting for all three persons of the Trinity to be recognized and involved.
“And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold a voice out of the heavens, saying, ‘this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:16-17)
In His baptism Jesus was (1) baptised in righteousness – like Melchizedek, who was the King of righteousness and Jesus entered this “order” in the same manner. (2) Jesus was anointed with oil as the Holy Spirit represents oil and landed upon Jesus. (3) The Father recognizes His Son and publically declares Him. (4) Jesus was baptised at the age of 30. So Jesus HAD TO BE baptised as the INVESTITURE into his order as HIGH PRIEST. This was His INAUGURATION!
Lucy: why does the Mormon Church confer the Aaronic Priesthood on 12 year old boys when clearly you had to be 30 years old to receive the priesthood?
And again Lucy – this brings us to another important question. When we hear the word “baptism” we have to ask ourselves which baptism is being referred to here.
(1) John the Baptist preached the “Baptism of Repentance” (Mark 1:4-8)
(2) There is the “Baptism with the Holy Spirit and Fire” (Matthew 3:11)
(3) There is the “Baptism of suffering & martyrdom” (Matthew 20:22)
(4) There is a “Baptism into Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2)
(5) There is the “Baptism into Christ and His Death” (Romans 6:3-6)
(6) There is ONE BAPTISM (Ephesians 4:4-6)
The last one (6) is the most important one.
“For by one Spirit we were all “baptized into one body” whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to “drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
Lucy; when you reached out to Jesus and asked Him to forgive you of your sins and come into your heart and you were cleansed by His precious blood you were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the family of God and you were “born again by the Spirit of God” – the very thing that Nicodemus tried to understand.
Nowhere does the Bible state that water baptism is necessary for salvation. The thief on the cross was promised paradise [THAT DAY] surely he couldn’t have been baptized.
Baptism is a step of obedience AFTER you have been born again by the Spirit of God. The other step of obedience is communion. These two steps are an outward expression of the inward miracle that has taken place when you became a child of God by spiritual adoption.
Lucy, I could write a book on the verses that the Mormons, and others, use to demonstrate that you need to be water baptised in order to be saved. In fact books have been written on the subject. I hope what I have offered on John 3:3-5 is enough to answer your question on this topic. If not please get back and I will try and tackle this subject further.
God Bless You in your quest for truth. In His Love – Don