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The First Step in Our Life of Faith

 

Matthew 3:13-17  … As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water…

The first 4 gospels in the New Testament all showed that Jesus’ life of ministry began with baptism. Through His example, we can know that baptism should be the first step in our life of faith.

Let us take some time to understand about this important ceremony

 

Rebirth & New Life

 

Everyone living on this earth is destined to die due to our sins (Romans 6:23). 2,000 years ago, Jesus taught that the way to salvation and eternal life is to be born again with a new life.

John 3:3-5  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

Here, Jesus Himself made known to us the criteria to enter the kingdom of God, that is, to be born of water and of Spirit. This symbolizes baptism.

1 Peter 3:21  and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.

Water is water, but the water used in baptism contains the promise of salvation. This makes the baptism ceremony a sign of salvation (Mark 16:16).

Additionally, baptism also contains a precious promise that we sinners must receive to be saved—the forgiveness of our sins.

Acts 2:38  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is a turning point in our life when all our past sins and transgressions are forgiven and we start a new life (Romans 6:1-4), being born again as a child of God.

Galatians 3:26-27 NCV  You were all baptized into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ. This means that you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Timing of Baptism

 

Since baptism is such an important ceremony directly linked to our salvation, it makes it urgent as well and should not be delayed. Just as critically ill patients need to be administered with treatment as soon as possible, we should quickly be baptized lest we regret missing the chance for it. Regarding this, the Bible shows clearly how uncertain life can be, that we cannot even boast that we have a guaranteed “tomorrow”.

Proverbs 27:1  Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Luke 12:16-21  And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Some may think that we should first have a deep understanding about God before we receive baptism. However, this is against the order established by God.

Ephesians 1:7-9  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ…

As written, we can receive all wisdom and understanding about Christ through the forgiveness of sins (which can be attained through baptism). Therefore, as long as one is willing to believe in God, he should first be baptized. Then, he continues to learn the words of God and grows in faith. The Bible also contains numerous examples of people receiving baptism as soon as they heard the news about Jesus (Acts 8:26-38, Acts 10:47-48, Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:29-34).

 

Place and Conditions for Baptism

 

Is there a specific venue, time, or condition for baptism to be carried out? As we look at the acts of the Apostles, we can see that they baptize people regardless of place and conditions.

Acts 8:26-38  Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him… The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

As Apostle Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, the eunuch saw some water along the desert road and immediately, was baptized. In this situation, he could have delayed baptism and waited until they returned to his palace—at the comfort of his home, with clean water and clothes to change. However, Apostle Philip did not stop the Ethiopian eunuch at that time, but rather went into the water and baptized him immediately. Here is another record of baptism in the book of Acts.

Acts 16:29-34  The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

After all the prisoners fled the prison after an earthquake, the jailer in charge wanted to kill himself. However, Apostle Paul and Silas preached the word of God to the jailer, and at midnight, the jailer and his household were baptized. Instead of waiting until the next morning at daybreak to conduct baptism, baptism was conducted immediately, there and then.

 

How to Conduct Baptism

 

How should baptism be conducted? Before Jesus’ ascension 2,000 years ago, He specifically said that correct baptism must be conducted in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

Jesus taught that baptism must be done in the name of the Savior. In the age of the Son, only baptisms in the name of Jesus were valid. For those who were baptized but not in the name of Jesus, they were told by Apostle Paul to re-baptize.

Acts 19:3-5 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”“John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Right now, we are no longer living in the age of the Son, but the age of the Holy Spirit. What baptism is valid for our age? Now, it is imperative that we receive baptism in 3 names—the name of the Father—Jehovah, the name of the Son—Jesus, and most importantly, the name of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is not merely a ritual, but it is a regulation that contains God’s promise. We can be saved when we are baptized according to God’s commandments.

Mark 16:16  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved…

开始信仰生活的第一步

 

马太福音 3:13-17  …… 耶稣受了洗,随即从水里上来……

 

新约当中的前四册都向我们阐明,耶稣的福音事业是从他受洗的时刻开始的。我们也可以通过耶稣的榜样而知,洗礼是信仰生活的第一步。

让我们通过圣经的教导来了解这一重要的仪式。

重生以及新的生命

 

这世上的每个人都会因为罪而最终面临死亡(罗马书 6:23)。 因此,两千年前耶稣以肉身来临的时候教导人们说,若想获得救赎和永生就必须接受洗礼。

约翰福音 3:3-5耶稣回答说:“我实实在在地告诉你:人若不重生,就不能见神的国。” 尼哥迪慕说:“人已经老了,如何能重生呢?岂能再进母腹生出来吗?”耶稣说:“我实实在在地告诉你:人若不是从水和圣灵生的,就不能进神的国。

 

耶稣告诫我们,进入天国的前提是从水与圣灵之中重生,也就是经受洗礼。

彼得前书 3:21  这水所表明的洗礼,现在借着耶稣基督复活也拯救你们;这洗礼本不在乎除掉肉体的污秽,只求在神面前有无亏的良心。

 

水依旧是水,但是用于洗礼的水包含了救赎的应许,也因此赋予了这个仪式神圣的意义(马可福音16:16)。

此外,洗礼还带给了罪人们另一个宝贵的应许——罪的赦免。

使徒行传 2:38  彼得说:“你们各人要悔改,奉耶稣基督的名受洗,叫你们的罪得赦,就必领受所赐的圣灵

 

洗礼是我们生命的转折点,使我们罪得赦免,获得饶恕与新生(罗马书 6:1-4), 从此以上帝的儿女的身份开始新的生活。

加拉太书 3:26-27 所以,你们因信基督耶稣,都是神的儿子你们受洗归入基督的,都是披戴基督了。

 

领受洗礼的时机

 

既然洗礼是关乎救赎的如此重要的仪式,那就不应该有任何拖延。正如重症病人必须立即入院接受治疗一样,我们也应该立刻接受洗礼。生命中充满了未知,圣经也告诫我们世事无常,因此人们不可将重要的事情都寄托于以后再做。

箴言 27:1  不要为明日自夸,因为一日要生何事,你尚且不能知道。
路加福音 12:16-21就用比喻对他们说:“有一个财主田产丰盛,自己心里思想说:‘我的出产没有地方收藏,怎么办呢?’又说:‘我要这么办:要把我的仓房拆了,另盖更大的,在那里好收藏我一切的粮食和财物,然后要对我的灵魂说:“灵魂哪,你有许多财物积存,可做多年的费用,只管安安逸逸地吃喝快乐吧!”’神却对他说:‘无知的人哪,今夜必要你的灵魂,你所预备的要归谁呢?’凡为自己积财,在神面前却不富足的,也是这样。”

 

有些人可能会说,我们应该在全面了解了上帝之后再决定洗礼。其实,这样的想法也是违背上帝的旨意的。

以弗所书 1:7-9我们借这爱子的血得蒙救赎,过犯得以赦免,乃是照他丰富的恩典。这恩典是神用诸般智慧聪明,充充足足赏给我们的,都是照他自己所预定的美意,叫我们知道他旨意的奥秘……

 

如圣经中记录的一样,通过罪的赦免,我们便可获得智慧,去充分理解上帝的旨意与奥秘。然而,赦罪是以洗礼为前提的。因此,一个人只要愿意去相信上帝,就应该先接受洗礼。在那之后,他便可以继续学习上帝的话语,增强自己的信心。对此,圣经也记述了相应的例子——许多人都是在初次接触了耶稣的福音之后就欣然受洗(使徒行传 8:26-38,使徒行传 10:47-48,使徒行传 16:13-15,使徒行传 16:29-34)。

 

洗礼的地点和条件

 

洗礼仪式是否受特定的时间,地点等条件制约呢?通过了解使徒们的行为,我们便可知,它是没有这些方面的限制的。

使徒行传 8:26-38有主的一个使者对腓利说:“起来,向南走,往那从耶路撒冷加沙的路上去!”那路是旷野。腓利就起身去了。不料,有一个埃塞俄比亚人,是个有大权的太监,在埃塞俄比亚女王干大基的手下总管银库。他上耶路撒冷礼拜去了,现在回来,在车上坐着,念先知以赛亚的书。圣灵对腓利说:“你去,贴近那车走!”腓利就跑到太监那里,听见他念先知以赛亚的书,便问他说:“你所念的你明白吗?”他说:“没有人指教我,怎能明白呢?”于是请腓利上车与他同坐。他所念的那段经说:“他像羊被牵到宰杀之地,又像羊羔在剪毛的人手下无声,他也是这样不开口。他卑微的时候,人不按公义审判他。谁能述说他的世代?因为他的生命从地上夺去。’太监对腓利说:“请问,先知说这话是指着谁?是指着自己呢,是指着别人呢?”腓利就开口从这经上起,对他传讲耶稣。二人正往前走,到了有水的地方,太监说:“看哪,这里有水!我受洗有什么妨碍呢?”于是吩咐车站住,腓利和太监二人同下水里去,腓利就给他施洗。

 

当使徒腓利给埃塞俄比亚的太监传道的时候,太监看见身边的路旁有水,因此立即受了洗。作为朝廷的重臣,太监本可以先回到他的行宫里,在舒适的环境下用清水洗礼。但是,使徒腓利和太监都没有拖延,而是立刻完成了仪式。

再来查看以下圣经中的另一个例子。

使徒行传 16:29-34禁卒叫人拿灯来,就跳进去,战战兢兢地俯伏在保罗、西拉面前,又领他们出来,说:“二位先生,我当怎样行才可以得救?”他们说:“当信主耶稣,你和你一家都必得救。”他们就把主的道讲给他和他全家的人听。当夜,就在那时候,禁卒把他们带去,洗他们的伤,他和属乎他的人立时都受了洗。于是禁卒领他们上自己家里去,给他们摆上饭,他和全家因为信了神都很喜乐。

 

看管使徒保罗一行的禁卒在经历了地震之后,发现牢狱的门都敞开了,以为犯人都已逃跑,因此拔刀想要自杀。然而,保罗和西拉并没有逃跑,反而向禁卒传讲了上帝的真理。听了真理的禁卒一家在当夜就接受了洗礼。从此看出,使徒保罗也没有丝毫的延迟,没等到第二天天亮就立即给禁卒一家施洗了。

 

如何进行洗礼

 

洗礼应当如何进行呢?两千多年前,耶稣升天之前明确地告诉我们,必须要以圣父、圣子、圣灵的名施洗。

马太福音 28:19  所以你们要去,使万民做我的门徒,奉父、子、圣灵的名给他们施洗……

 

耶稣告诫说,洗礼要以救主的名来执行。比如在圣子时代,就要以耶稣的名施洗。那些没有照此行的,都被使徒保罗告知要重新施洗。

使徒行传 19:3-5保罗说:“这样,你们受的是什么洗呢?”他们说:“是约翰的洗。”保罗说:“约翰所行的是悔改的洗,告诉百姓当信那在他以后要来的,就是耶稣。”他们听见这话,就奉主耶稣的名受洗。

 

当今,我们已经不再生活于圣子时代,而是处在圣灵时代。因此,以谁的名受洗才有效呢? 我们必须奉着圣父耶和华、圣子耶稣以及圣灵的名洗礼才行。

洗礼不仅仅是一个仪式,更重要地是它包含了上帝的应许。只要我们跟从上帝的旨意接受洗礼,便可以获得宝贵的救赎。

马可福音 16:16  信而受洗的必然得救,不信的必被定罪……

ANNOUNCEMENT
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In adherence to the Post-Circuit Breaker Phase One measures, the World Mission Society Church of God Education Centre will remain closed.

All education will continue to be conducted online.

Let us do our part to adhere to the details of the measures and stay safe. Please be physically and spiritually healthy!