How great was the sin of Adam and Eve, the father and mother of all mankind. Their choice of disobeying the word of God caused the great separation between God and man. But when the fullness of time came to reveal the only way of reconciliation back to Himself, He sent word to His servant Zachariah by an angel, saying:
“…your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John…he will be great in the sight of the Lord… and he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him [the Messiah]… so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13,15-17).
When the promised child was born, his father rejoiced with gladness, and prophesied saying:
“You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76,77, emp. added).
John the Baptist grew in the might of God, and while he was in the wilderness, the Lord spoke to the prophet with a divine command to reveal the knowledge of His way to have mankind’s sins removed. Therefore, John left the wilderness “and came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:2,3; Mark 1:4). John the Baptist was preparing the people for Christ by having them repent of the sins they’ve committed then immersing them in the bodies of water around the regions where he was going (John 3:23).
Thus the knowledge of sin remission was shown: the immersion in water. This was the preparation for the Lord Jesus Christ, who would soon explain and show why John the Baptist was immersing people in water for the remission of sins, and completing it with His sending of the Holy Spirit as a pledge and seal of redemption to become God’s possession (Acts 2:38, Ephesians 1:13,14; 2 Corinthians 1:22).
The new birth
John the apostle wrote that “as many as received Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God…who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13). The birth of the confessed believer is a divine one by the Almighty above and not by any man. The Lord Jesus Christ emphasized this statement later in chapter 3, telling Nicodemus, “except you be born again from above, of water and the Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3,5). It wasn’t until the brutal crucifixion of the innocent Messiah and His burial and resurrection that His disciples finally understood why water immersion was essential to be born again.
Paul explained what the Christian’s immersion in water means in Romans 6:3-7 after he’s repented:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
It’s the divine parallel to the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection. Jesus died for sins; we’re meeting Him to die to them. Once we’ve died to ourselves (repented), we bury it through water immersion and rise again from there as new individuals and become united to Christ, to His body. We have been freed from sin. Therefore, the baptized Christian should be practicing walking in righteousness with a new state of mind devoted to God.
When the believer is not baptized and is taught that he doesn’t need to be, the believer walks away still dead to Christ and alive in his sins in bondage. This passage explains why God had John the Baptist baptizing: he was showing the people how to die to themselves to live for the Christ.
The apostle expressed again that water immersion is the operation of God and the believer’s spiritual circumcision:
in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the operation of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions (Colossians 2:11-13).
Christ’s hands are operating on the confessed believer, purifying him with His own blood. This is God’s “washing of regeneration,” not for the removal of the filth of our flesh, but of a good conscience toward Him (Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21). We die to ourselves first and bury our old self in the water, then, upon rising into the newness of life in the likeness of the Lord’s resurrection, we receive the renewing, indwelling of the Spirit (Titus 3:5). Therefore, one does not “catch” the Holy Spirit at random, nor receives Him without a proper baptism, nor is one automatically saved by the “sinner’s prayer.”
Our old self has to go first before receiving the new. You cannot put new wine into old wine-skin bottles, can you? Do you not need new bottles for the new wine (Matthew 9:16,17)? We need a new body for the Spirit who is holy, not our old bodies which has not been baptized still laden with sins. Those who reject this operation and deem it optional for purification is still in his uncircumcised flesh. My dear readers, since when has a commandement of God been “optional” (Psalm 119:4)?
Added to the Lord’s body
What Christ meant when He said, “except you be born again you cannot enter into the kingdom of God”, He was talking about being added to His body, the church (Colossians 1:13, 18) which He promised to build (Matthew 16:18) and fulfilled His promise by purchasing it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The kingdom of God is the body of believers who’ve been to added to Him after being baptized (Acts 2:41, 47). The church is neither divided into sects/multiple bodies (i.e. denominations) with various doctrines and beliefs, because the Lord stated that His church be perfected in unity and oneness like the Father and the Son are one (John 17:21-23). The apostle Paul again stated that there is but one body (Ephesians 4:4), which means church and that all confessed Christians should speak the same doctrine in one mind and that there be not any divisions (1 Corinthians 1:10). There is but one church, and Paul collectively called all Christians the church of Christ (Romans 16:16). The church is pre-denominational because denominationalism started hundreds of years after Christ already established His church on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Therefore, the universal church is neither Catholic nor Orthodox, Nestorian nor Lutheran, Calvinist nor Protestant, Baptist nor Methodist, Pentecostal nor Jehovah Witness. It has been divinely called the church of Christ (Romans 16:16) and the believers have divinely and individually been called Christians only (Acts 11:26), and “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12, emp. added).