Repentance, Consecration, Baptism
"Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." (Matthew 3:15)
For some months John the Baptist had been engaged in his mission as the forerunner of Jesus, preaching: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Many in Israel had come to Jordan to be baptized of him, thereby giving a witness of their repentance of the sins which they, as members of God’s covenanted people, had committed under the Law Covenant made at Sinai. Then Jesus came requesting water immersion at John’s hands. (Matt.3:13‑17).
The Baptist was amazed at the desire of the holy Jesus to be baptized by him, and expressed his reluctance to comply with the request of the Saviour. We read: "John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" The reply of our Lord to John’s expostulation (kindly protest) is contained in our text. Jesus revealed in these words to John that it was God’s will that He should be immersed. "Then he (John) suffered Him."
The baptism of Jesus was not for remission of sin, for He had no sin. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb.7:26) and was the One "Who knew no sin". As He had committed no sin of which He had to repent, no witness by water immersion was necessary; yet He knew that for Him to do the Father’s will He must be immersed by John.
Why was Jesus baptized? It was the witness to His consecration to do the will of God which ultimately meant His death on the Cross. The will of God for Him, as was subsequently revealed, was that He should take the sinner’s place and die as an offering for sin, thereby redeeming the condemned race of Adam.
As John immersed Jesus in the Jordan, it symbolized His entire submission to the will of God which finally resulted in His death. This was of His own volition, the giving Himself as a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (Matt.20:28; 1 Tim.2:3‑6).
Our Lord’s earthly experience from Jordan to Calvary culminated on the Cross when He cried: "It is finished". After being in the tomb for parts of three days the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the mighty power of God. The resurrection of our Lord was shown in the symbol of His baptism, when John raised Him from under the water of the Jordan.
The followers of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot give themselves as a ransom for the sinner race; this mighty work was completed by the Saviour. Nevertheless we are called by God to follow in the steps of the Master; and as He fulfilled all the will of His Father, so must we conform to God’s will as He reveals it to us.
We believe, therefore, that the Saviour left us an example, and by following in His steps, we should give the witness of our consecration to God in precisely the same way as He did.
Water baptism was taught and practised by Jesus during His ministry on earth. (John 4:1‑2). It was also observed by the Apostles and the early Church; the record of the Acts of the Apostles shows this.
The Pentecostal sermon preached by the Apostle Peter concluded with an appeal to his hearers: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38).
The result of Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God in the city of Samaria, was that many "were baptized, both men and women." (Acts 8:12). When Philip, by the aid of the Holy Spirit had joined himself to the Ethiopian eunuch and had preached Jesus to him by expounding the prophecy of Isaiah 53, we read that the eunuch desired to be baptized, and Philip replied to his request: "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The eunuch responded: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Then Philip immersed him in water, and Philip being caught away by the Spirit, the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:35‑39).
Saul of Tarsus, when converted into the Apostle Paul, was baptized. When Peter had obeyed the Divine command and had witnessed concerning Jesus to Cornelius and his household, they were all baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 9:17‑18; 10:44‑48). The Apostle Paul also practised water immersion of Christian converts (Acts 18:8; 1 Cor.1:16).
The Gospel proclaimed by Jesus Christ and the Apostles announced God’s command to all men to repent. (Matt.4:17; Acts 17:30). No creature has a right to sin; it is rebellion against God; and since the first advent of Christ, the command has gone forth to the sinner to repent. This command of God must be obeyed by all who would gain everlasting life through the sacrifice of the Saviour. Some hear the injunction of God to repent of sin in the preaching of the Gospel during this present life, and being drawn of God (John 6:37,44) respond to the Divine command. Such give their heart to the Lord in consecration, and receiving the Holy Spirit are begotten to the hope of the resurrection from the dead, and if they are faithful to their Lord they will experience the first resurrection and share the Lord’s glory in the realms of light.
The residue of mankind will have to obey the command of the Creator to repent, if they desire to enjoy the blessings of restitution, which will be offered to each member of the human race, during the reign of Christ with His Church over the earth during the Millennial Age.
Repentance of sin implies deep sorrow for sins of the past and a complete turning from sin to serve righteousness. All who do this during the present age are drawn by God to Jesus as the Saviour and in Him, all such have revealed God’s great love for mankind (John 3:16‑17).
It is the revelation of the love of God in Christ that draws the heart to Him, and we are constrained to reciprocate the Divine love by giving ourselves in consecration to God. (2 Cor.4:6; 5:14‑17). He loved us first and we respond to this love by devoting ourselves to Him. (1 John 4:9,10,19).
The covenant of consecration, or giving our hearts to the Lord, is between ourselves and God alone, and the Bible reveals that having taken this step, we are begotten of the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught this when conversing with Nicodemus (John 3:1‑15). "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." This is the Christian’s earnest of eternal life.
The Apostle Paul in the sixth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans expounds the significance of consecration to God as baptism into Christ. This is the real baptism of which water immersion is the symbol and witness. (Romans 6:1‑5). The teaching here is that those who have given their hearts to the Lord in consecration have died to sin; and that like as Christ was raised by the glory of the Father, so the Christian should walk in newness of life. He here refers to the Christian having died to sin and from henceforth experiencing the newness of life, the resurrection power in the life.
The resurrection power in the Christian life is the result of the rich indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and this will produce the fruit of righteousness unto holiness, for without holiness shall no man see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14).
God has made full provision for our holiness in the Cross of Christ; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; our union with Christ; our Lord’s present ministry for His people; the Bible, the Word of God; the creation of the new man; the discipline of our Father, and the second coming of Christ when the Church will be glorified and enter into the glorious work of blessing of all mankind. Thus the Lord Jesus Christ through His cross, our union with Him, His present ministry for us and His glorious return, provides all needed grace for our living for Him.
Our Christian life will be seen by all with whom we come in contact. We shall, "as we have...opportunity, …do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith," (Gal.6:10) and keeping the Divine commandments will follow the Lamb whithersoer He goeth.
The Forest Gate Church Bible Monthly