The Baptism of John
The river Jordan is a type of judgment. We read,
“Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, AS THE LORD YOUR GOD DID TO THE RED SEA, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” Joshua 4:22-24
Crossing the Jordan safely, i.e. on dry ground, was a type of salvation. It typified escaping the waters of judgment. It was the opposite of the fate experienced by Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. In fact, Jordan comes from the Hebrew Yarden [H3383; yar·dān’; which means descender in the light of descending down (going from a higher status or elevation to a lower; much like the fall of man). It comes from the root word Yarad [H3381; yä·rad’; which means to go down, descend, decline, march down, sink down; to sink or be be prostrated; to bring, let, or take down; to be brought or taken down. These words point to the judgment, wrath, and condemnation of God against those who were brought down, even taken down, by their sin.
Those who were baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist were acknowledging judgment rightly deserved; they were acknowledging the fact that they by nature were under the just wrath and condemnation of God. They were confessing their sin and (symbolically) fleeing from the wrath to come in so doing. John’s baptism, as with all prior (ceremonial) water baptisms, was a ceremonial washing. It also represented the washing, cleansing, and purifying of the mind in the sense of repentance from sin and religious idolatry. It did not grant repentance nor did it grant remission of sin but it symbolized it; it pointed to that true repentance that comes as a gift of God when we are baptized into Christ by the Spirit of God upon regeneration. In itself, it was a ceremonial act/ordinance only (involving water) — but it pointed to a much greater spiritual reality.
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ and he “preached the BAPTISM of REPENTANCE for the remission of sins.” But remission of sins comes only via the Person and work of Christ as made experientally applicable/effective in our lives by the Holy Spirit upon regeneration and conversion (when we are granted repentance and belief/faith). Repentance (metanoeō / metanoia) is a change of mind, a turning of the mind. Before we can believe the Truth, God must turn us from dead works and idolatry. God turns our mind to believe the Truth and to receive the spiritual things of God upon regeneration. Repentance comes before faith just as John the Baptist came before Christ (in time, as a type). The two go hand in hand upon regeneration, but the mind must be turned away from error and towards Truth before it can believe the Truth. We see this changing or turning of the mind when persecuting, blaspheming Saul — “trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Consider repentance as it relates to belief (faith), spiritual baptism, and conversion:
Mark 1:15 “….The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and BELIEVE the gospel.” —> REPENT first, then BELIEVE.
Repentance is a gift of God and faith is a gift of God. They are essentially simultaneous, though one logically proceeds the other.
Acts 19:4 “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of REPENTANCE, saying unto the people, that they should BELIEVE on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” John preached (and baptized unto) REPENTANCE saying that they should BELIEVE on Him.
Act 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, 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 Ghost.”
So many want this be baptized to mean, or refer to, water baptism; I too fell into this same error. But we do not receive the Holy Ghost by first being immersed or sprinkled. This REPENT and BE BAPTIZED is 100% synonymous with REPENT and BELIEVE (the Gospel) as covered here: http://lookuntothelord.com/2013/12/11/the-cup-and-the-baptism-part-two/ –and then– here: http://lookuntothelord.com/2013/12/12/the-cup-and-the-baptism-part-three/
The true baptism of repentance is the taking of the (both fiery and watery) baptism of Christ on the cross and making it applicable to us, by faith, in time, when the Spirit of God quickens and converts us, and causes us to believe the Gospel truth. As stated in those links, one cannot separate (spiritual) baptism, from atonement, propitiation, or God-given faith.
Acts 3:19 “REPENT ye therefore, and BE CONVERTED, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”
This is the same as saying REPENT and BELIEVE, or REPENT and be BAPTIZED, it’s all the same thing… water baptism IS NOT in view in any of this. Likewise, that your sins may be blotted out equals “for the remission of sins.”
Acts 26:20 “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and TURN TO GOD, and do works meet for repentance.”
Again, REPENT and TURN TO GOD equals REPENT and be BAPTIZED which equals REPENT and BE CONVERTED which equals REPENT and BELIEVE. When we were (spiritually) baptized, the God who granted us repentance and turned us away from error (unto Himself), likewise converted us and gave us that faith required to believe in, and rest in, the Truth.
Water Baptism is not our public profession of faith (in the New Testament era or ever). It is not our answer of a good conscience before men. It was an ordinance that was against us, signifying our sinful state and just deserving of wrath — but for God’s people — the Lord blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us, which were contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross (Colossians 2:14). Colossians 2:11 speaks of spiritual circumcision; physical circumcision was done away with in light of the spiritual antitype. Colossians 2:12 speaks of spiritual baptism; physical baptism was done away with in light of the spiritual antitype. We know that they were done away with because Colossians 2:14 declares it is so. Let us not trust in or be divided over obsolete ordinances; let us rest in the reality of — spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism — all in light of the finished work of our blessed Lord.
To God be the glory, in Christ!
- The One Spiritual Baptism
- The Death Knell of Water Baptism [Colossians 2:8-23]
- Baptism: 1 Corinthians 12:13 Amplified By Ephesians 4:4-6
- William Mason [1719-1791] On The End of Water Baptism [from the supralapsarian.com website; my back-up copy, to prevent loss of such documentation, can be found here: william-mason.]
- Spiritual Baptism: Henry Pinnell on Baptism from http://www.supralapsarian.com/Henry_Pinnell.html