Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: July 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Brand Plucked out of the Fire

Chapter Eight
A Brand Plucked out of the Fire

      Zechariah chapter three presents a dualism in prophetic types.  Joshua, “the high priest,” represents the nation of Israel still under captivity but released back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.  We can also see by the description of Joshua’s high priestly attire, that Israel is still defiled before the LORD.  We know from history that God’s purpose in this return of this remnant and rebuilding of the temple is that Messiah would be the rejected stone.  The point is that God is building a living Temple of a New Genesis in which to dwell amongst His redeem.  The cornerstone (Luke 20:17) of that living Temple and that whole New Genesis “in Christ” is the birth, death, burial, and resurrection/glorification of Jesus Christ.  There is no other way! 
Jesus had to die for the sins of the people before He could be their kinsman Redeemer.  The point of the text is not just that the Jews killed their promised Messiah.  The point of the text is that every one of us necessitated the death of Jesus because of our condemnation and sin (Romans 3:23, 5:12, and 6:23).  It was my sins personally that necessitated the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  It was our sins that nailed Him to the Cross and brought Him to give “up the ghost” (John 19:30) for our sins.  It is only when we understand all of this that we can understand the words, “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30).  This means God’s whole redemptive plan in Christ “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) “is finished.”  Your eternal destiny can rest in a finished work of redemption.  

Imagine yourself standing in the judgment hall when Pilate asked the question, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ (Matthew 27:22)?  How would you answer?  You know from Scripture that if Jesus does not die, you are damned to an eternal existence of unimaginable torment prepared for fallen angels.  You know from Scripture, that in the death of Jesus, He will crush (Genesis 3:15) Satan’s death hold on humanity and redeem all that will trust in what His death accomplishes.  You also know from Scripture, that the grave will not be able to hold Jesus and He will be resurrected and glorified to reign forever on the throne of David.  How would you answer Pilate’s question?  The very knowledge of the word “Christ,” by which Pilate identifies Jesus, represents an understanding of a Redeemer born to die for the sins of humanity.  Knowing what you know, how would you answer Pilate’s question?  Knowing what we know, we MUST say we would shamefully answer with the crowd, “Let him be crucified.”  We MUST answer, “Let him be crucified,” because His crucifixion was the will of God!  And, we MUST acknowledge that each of us contributed to the necessity of our Saviour’s death.  Weep oh sinner!  Weep not for your sins, but for what your sins have necessitated.  Then, and only then, will you understand what it means to repent.  

1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD {preincarnate Son of God}, and Satan {the adversary of redemption and all of humanity} standing at his right hand to resist him {hinder humanity’s salvation}” (Zechariah 3:1).

The picture before us in Zechariah chapter three is what God sees.  We must always be cognizant of the reality that how we see things is not always what God sees.  God shows us three individuals involved in the conflict of the Ages.  The conflict is about who is in dominion and who will ultimately possess dominion over this creation.  We see Joshua representing the remnant of the redeemed but still defiled and clothed in his defiled garments.  We see Satan the fallen and defiled angel whose purpose of existence since his fall is to keep humanity bound to his destiny by the chains of sin and death resisting everything God does to reconcile humanity to Him.  Finally, we see the “angel of the LORD,” or the Messenger of redemption in the Son of God the promised Redeemer.  

Although Satan is presently the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and the “god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4), his eternal destiny is sealed.  Satan is neither omnipotent (all-powerful) nor omniscient (all-knowing).  Although angels are superior in abilities to humans, Satan is a still a created being with many limitations.  Although Satan has taken humanity’s lordship over the first creation, every individual human can still choose God to be Lord over his soul, spirit, and body.  This is the opportunity of salvation offered by grace and received through faith.  The point is that even though all of humanity is fallen in sin and condemnation with Satan, we do not need to remain in that fallen state.  There is a “door” of escape from the lordship of Satan in the Person of Jesus through His death burial, and resurrection.  We can choose another Lord and another existence.  The door of the prison is opened, and the chains of sin are broken.  There is no need to stay in the prison living under your deserved condemnation.  Freedom is offered to “whosoever will call upon the Name of the LORD” (Romans 10:13). 

“And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand {Joshua representing the remnant of Israel redeemed by grace through faith} plucked out of the fire” (Zechariah 3:2)?

The emphasis of this text is that although Satan is the “god of this world,” he is not God.  Satan seeks to obfuscate the will of God and the simplicity of redemption offered by grace and received through faith.  Satan's adversity to God’s will of redemption is rebuked and the will of God is brought into focus.  

Joshua, typical of all the redeemed, is the “brand plucked out of the fire.”  The “brand” was another stick or poker used to tinder the embers in a fire.  The wooded poker as it is used to tinder the embers would become dried and ready to burst into flame itself at any further exposer to the fire.  This is how we must see every soul.  Every lost soul is like a brand kindled and ready to burst into the fire of damnation at any moment.  Hell is inevitable and imminent for the lost.  

The “fire” is the judgment and chastisement of God upon national Israel.  Satan thinks he has won in the battle for dominion because Israel is in captivity.  He may have won a momentary victory, but the war is not over.  The promise of redemption in the promise of the coming Redeemer still looms upon the horizon of eternity.  The immutability of God’s promise makes the event of redemption inevitable.  What God says He will do, He will do!  

God has chosen Israel to be His dominion nation from which to rule the world.  God has chosen Jerusalem to be His dominion city from which to rule the world.  Satan, the adversary, will be bound for the whole Kingdom Age.  This is Satan’s rebuke sealed ultimately when he is cast into the “lake of fire” at the end of the Kingdom Age.  Satan’s eternal destiny, and those refusing to repent and be “born again,” has been sealed by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all {the redeemed} be changed {glorified}, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting {poisonous stinger}? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting {poisonous stinger} of death of is sin {whose penalty is now removed}; and the strength of sin is the law {the pronouncement of guilt being placed upon the substitute and borne vicariously by Him}. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:51-57).

Zechariah 3:2 is the ultimate rebuke of Satan, which is spoken by the LORD Jesus.  Although the glorification of the redeemed has not taken place yet in time, it is a sure thing.  The redeemed are predestined “to be conformed to the image of” of the glorified Jesus (Romans 8:29 and I John 3:2).  Just as the restoration of national Israel has not taken place in time yet, it is a sure thing.  The restoration of national Israel to be the nation through which Jesus will have dominion over this world is predestined of God by prophecy and covenant.  You can count on it!  

We must always remember that we do not see all the participants in the eternal battle of the Ages.  The purpose of God’s revelation in Zechariah 3:2 is to reveal to humanity His understanding of the major contributor to the corruption of humanity and especially the fact that Satan has targeted the corruption of the nation of Israel.  Therefore, God is longsuffering and patient with sinners in their struggle to live in any semblance of righteousness.  God understands that humans are like little children under the influence of an evil adversary who uses a network of evil to get them to defile one another before God.  Satan’s methods are subtle, and covertly hidden in the dark secret lusts of men’s hearts.  It is there in the shadows hidden from the eyes of their parents and peers where Satan corrupts and inculcates the human nature with the wicked filth of human licentiousness in pursuit of the momentary pleasures of “sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).  Satan and his devices need to be understood.  Therefore, it is the grace of God in exposing him through prophecy and direct teaching of the Word of God.  Learn Satan’s devices.  But even more important, learn to use what God has provided to defend against those devices. 

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong {be strengthen or spiritual enabled} in the Lord, and in the power {strength or dominion} of his might {this is the power or might of God that indwells the believer in the Person of the Holy Spirit -enabling GRACE}. 11 Put on the whole armour of God {God’s enabling grace is define in the provision of the pieces of spiritual armament provided to the believer by God.  Putting on this spiritual armament is what defines putting “on the new man”; Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10}, that ye may be able to stand {in spiritual combat} against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood {The greatest resource of a wrestler is to out-strength his opponent.  In a battle of two wrestlers of equal abilities, the one with the greatest strength will overwhelm the resources of the other.}, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places {This struggle cannot be won with human wit, or human strength}. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand {to stand against the constant barrage of satanic onslaught of evil devices and weapons of temptation beyond human imagination} in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Satan’s two main devices against believers have been historical constants:

1. Divide with false doctrine and selfishness and conquer by creating the necessity for doctrinal warfare and contending for the faith
2. Defile with sin and conquer when the power of God is lost due to the breach of fellowship with God

“3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by” (Zechariah 3:3-5).

          Joshua as the High Priest of Israel represents the nation of Israel trusting in the “works of the Law” for their righteousness before the LORD.  Joshua is clothed “with filthy garments” - excrement covered and defiled.  This is how God sees our own efforts at self-righteousness.  The prophet Isaiah accurately reflects God’s view of man in self-righteousness; “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags {as menstrual rags}; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).  Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expands upon God’s view of humanity striving for their own righteousness before God.  This is how God sees all humanity, even the best of the best. 

9 What then? are we better than they {those living in blatant, licentious unbelief without any restraint upon their lusts}? No, in no wise: for we have before proved {previously charged and proven guilty} both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin {under bondage of condemnation; death and eternal separation from God and capable of the most heinous wickedness}; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher {If we were able to look inside ourselves, we would see ourselves as God sees us; an open grave filled with a rotting corpse}; {now God gives examples of how the rot and decay in our souls manifests itself in our actions and attitudes as corrupting tools of Satan} with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:9-18).

          What would humanity become if left apart from the restraints of the Word of God and the convicting of our consciences by the Holy Spirit of God?  We are only beginning to see in our own day what the world must have been like just before the great flood of Noah’s day.  We are just beginning to see what the cities and people of Sodom and Gomorrah must have been like before God necessitated their destruction.  

We are watching the warning of Christ about the social evolution where “iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12) before our very eyes.  Iniquity will fully develop to its fullest extent once the Church (all true believers) is raptured from the face of the earth at the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation of God’s judgment of the nations. 

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away {religious apostasy or revolt against the truth of God} first, and that man of sin be revealed {the embodiment of evil influences and corruption in the antichrist} , the son of perdition {possessed of Satan}; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth {restrains or holds down} that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth {same word translated ‘withholdeth’ in verse six; refers to the Restrainer in the Person of Holy Spirit through His filling of indwelled believers} will let, until he be taken out of the way {in the rapture of all Church Age believers}. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them {the Christ rejecting antichrist unbelievers who are in rebellion against God and all of God’s inspired truths} strong delusion, that they should believe a lie {that the antichrist is there new god, who will deliver to them the world of total licentiousness that they want and demand}: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thessalonians 2:1-12).

          Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel” (Zechariah 3:3).  The way things are can be changed by the Word of the Creator.  Most people have little understanding of what the clothing of the High Priest of Israel represents.  The High Priest of Israel represents the people of Israel to God.  Joshua, meaning everything he is and does is defiled by his filthy garments in this text, is how God saw the nation of Israel represented in Joshua. 

11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Haggai 2:11-14).

          The picture before us in Zechariah 3:3-5 is the miraculous work of God during the last half of he seven-year Tribulation known as “Jacob’s trouble.”  Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7).  Revelation chapter seven gives us the details of what God does to bring Israel to faith in Jesus during these last three and a half years of Great Tribulation.  During these last years of “Jacob’s trouble,” God will miraculously turn the hearts of Jews living on Earth to trust in Jesus as their Messiah and be “born again” through the Blood of the Lamb.  One hundred and forty-four thousand glorified Jews living in Heaven will be sealed in their foreheads with the Name of God.  They are returned to Earth to Israel to preach the Gospel to the Jews during the last half of the Tribulation.  A new nation of “born again” Jews will be created. 

9 After this {the sealing of the 144,000} I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 1 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation {no definite article, therefore this is not referring to the seven-year tribulation}, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears {remorse for previously having rejected Jesus and blasphemed His Name} from their eyes” (Revelation 7:9-17).

          Clothing Joshua with clean priestly garb and the turban of the High Priest shows the restoration of the office of the High Priest.  However, the position of the High Priest will one day no longer be Old Covenant, but a new Melchisedecan priesthood where Jesus will be the High Priest (Hebrews chapters five and seven).  Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua.  Therefore, the transition is from the the High Priesthood of Joshua under the Old Covenant to the High Priesthood of the glorified Jesus under the New Covenant.  We see the transition from the imperfect shadows (types) of the Old Covenant to the perfect reality fulfilled in Christ in the New Covenant.  This is detailed in one of the most remarkable texts in the Bible.

7 Then said I {Jesus, the Messiah}, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein {the constant ritualistic Old Covenant repetitive offerings}; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first {Mosaic Covenant and its priesthood}, that he may establish the second {the New Covenant and it new priesthood}. 10 By the which will {the ‘finished’ once forever offering of Jesus to fully propitiate the wrath of God} we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every {Old Covenant} priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man {the incarnate Jehovah as High Priest Jesus}, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down {work of redemption was ‘finished’} on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant {the New Covenant} that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more {under the New Covenant, sins are perfectly cleansed and removed as far as East is from West, not just covered over as they were under the Old Covenant}. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:7-18).

          Zechariah 3:6 begins a warning to the Mosaic Covenant Levitical priesthood of Israel represented in Joshua, the present High Priest at the time of Zechariah.  The admonition is a repetition of the “blessing and curse” of the Mosaic Covenant applied particularly to the responsibilities of the priesthood under the Mosaic Covenant.  If the Mosaic Covenant remnant priests remained faithful to God in their duties, God would retain their priesthood for the time being.  If they were not faithful, God would replace their priesthood with another.  

6 And the angel of the LORD protested {a duplication or repetition} unto Joshua, saying, 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these {probably the angels} that stand by” Zechariah 3:6-7).

          Again, the longsuffering of God is emphasized.  Although most of the priesthood of Israel had already failed in their “charge” to teach the Word of God and administrate righteousness in the nation by judging the household of God in their trespasses against God, Joshua represents the faithful remnant now restored to their duties and are back in Jerusalem.  Every new generation does not need to continue in the consequences of failure from their preceding generation.  God is the God of forgiveness and new beginnings.  Every believer can be faithful to his commission regardless of failures of preceding generations.  

Every day dawns anew with a freshness of opportunity before God if the believer wants it.  Regardless of yesterday’s failures, each new day can begin fresh when our hearts and minds are filled with repentance and a new desire to serve God that day.  Sins and failures will bruise us and wound us spiritually leaving many scars to remind us of our frailty in the struggle for righteousness before God.  Yet, it is through our daily struggles, failures, and revivals that we learn of our human and sinful frailties and God’s omnipotent grace available to us.  Only then will we learn to cling to “the Rock that is higher” than ourselves (Psalm 61:2). 

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
 Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Understanding Water Baptism

The Watered Down Doctrine of Water Baptism

There are several Bible texts to which we might refer as Ecclesiology in a nutshell.  One such text is Acts 2:37-47.  A second such text is Ephesians 4:1-16.  Another is I Timothy chapter three.  The ordinance that connects the believer in uniting with a local church and the beginning of his own practical Ecclesiology is the ordinance of water baptism. 

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 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. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them {the local congregation at Jerusalem} about three thousand souls. 42 And they {those believers who were saved and baptized uniting them to formal and covenantal membership with the local church of Jerusalem} continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple {probably second story meeting rooms in the Temple; see Acts chapter three}, and breaking bread from house to house {there were no formal meeting places yet}, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:37-47).

The word “added” in Acts 2:41 is translated from the Greek word prostithemi (pros-tith'-ay-mee), which means to be joined or united together.  In this context, the union is covenantal like a marriage.  Many of these individuals were not from Jerusalem.  When they returned to their homes in other cities and nations, they would become the seeds for local churches to begin in many other cities.  Most of these new converts would become foundational people for the early missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas as they started new local churches according to the book of Acts.

          Perhaps the greatest failure in understanding water baptism is the failure to understand the spiritual dynamic of the way water baptism connects the “born again” believer to the doctrine of the Church (Ecclesiology).  Water baptism is intended to reflect a believer’s understanding of an already accomplished spiritual reality in the “born again” believer’s eternal and supernatural connection to the Person of Jesus Christ.  Water baptism is a covenantal testimony to accountability regarding the way a person lives life.  The covenantal testimony of agreement is only for believers “born again” of the Spirit of God.  That covenantal testimony of agreement is primarily between the believer and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Every believer will give account of his faithfulness to that covenantal testimony of agreement to the Lord Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

          Almost all Greek Lexicons give the two primary definitions of the Greek word baptizo (bap-tid'-zo) as to either dip or immerse.  In the context of theological meaning, as water baptism portrays Spirit baptism in Romans 6:1-10 and as water baptism portrays the believer’s understanding of his salvation through faith in the Gospel as detail in I Corinthians 15:3-4, there are three aspects necessary in the ritual portrayal. 
These three aspects give us why the word dip is really the best translation of baptizo (bap-tid'-zo), in that to dip means to both immerse in water and to then remove from the water.  This was the word used to signify the dyeing of a garment.  Once the garment was dipped and removed from the dye, its color was changed.  

          In the believer’s portrayal of salvation and his baptism with the Spirit, the three aspects of salvation are all portrayed by dipping in water.  These three aspects of salvation are the salvation of the soul from Hell, the salvation of the spirit from corruption through practical sanctification and continual cleansing, and the salvation of the body through resurrection/translation in glorification.  The mode of water baptism therefore must portray all three of these aspects of salvation. 

1. Death, in that the “old man” (the believer’s sin nature) was crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6 and Colossians 2:20)
2. Burial with Christ (Romans 6:4) signifying the “putting off” (Ephesians 4:22) of the “old man” (Colossians 3:8-9)
3. Resurrection with Christ (the “old man” is not part of the resurrection; Colossians 3:1) and the “putting on” (Ephesians 4:24) of the New Nature “in Christ” to “walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:4) in the union and unity with Christ in the baptism with (I Corinthians 12:13), and filling of (Ephesians 4:3 and 5:18), the Holy Spirit

          Because there is such a shallowness in understanding the spiritual significance of what is portrayed in water baptism, we have created generation after generation of extremely shallow Christians.  To make water baptism merely a testimony of salvation is a great abuse of the ordinance.  As I have said repeatedly in these studies, water baptism is connected to sanctification, not salvation.  Secondly, that sanctification is always connected to formal local church membership.  Sanctification within the ecclesia is the biblical pattern of the practice of water baptism throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

We find this transition from positional sanctification in the believer’s standing “in Christ” in Romans 5:2 leading into practical sanctification through the supernatural enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit in Romans chapter six.  These verses are critical in teaching an individual the spiritual significance to a decision to be water baptized.

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us {the yielded believer becomes a potential distribution center of God’s grace}” (Romans 5:1-5).

          The phrase in Romans 5:2 is critical to our understanding of Spirit baptism -“into this grace wherein we stand {continue or abide-in the sense of a new level of supernatural existence}.”  If we understand the word “grace” to mean the potential for the supernatural enabling of a believer’s life, we can understand how water baptism is intended to portray the believer’s understanding of positional sanctification as the entrance into this new supernatural existence and the potential for the release of the Christ-life through practical sanctification and the filling of the Spirit.  Because the emphasis of water baptism is wrongly put upon a mere testimony of salvation (looking backward), most new converts miss the significance of water baptism as its intent is to give them a new vision (looking forward).  The new forward vision that is part of a proper understanding of water baptism is that of a believer’s supernatural potential as he learns to die daily to self and completely yield to the indwelling Spirit of God. 

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound {the gift of God’s supernatural enabling is not about living permissively or selfishly}? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:1-6). 

Obviously, water baptism is intended to portray an understanding of certain absolutes necessary to being supernaturally enabled to live each moment of our lives in practical sanctification before God.  To allow someone to be water baptized without their understanding of these absolute necessities in order to live a sanctified life is perhaps the greatest of abuses to the beginning of that new life “in Christ.”  Therefore, explanation of water baptism should involve the in-depth explanation of three levels of commitment to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

A commitment to die daily to the “old man”

I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (I Corinthians 15:31).

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:19-21).

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law {no limitations}. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).

A commitment to ongoing repentance, confession, and cleansing of sin to live as much as is possible in perpetual “fellowship” with Christ

5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:5-9).

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:8-11). 

Total and absolute yieldedness to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and the will of God revealed through the Word of God

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God {this is the twofold model and spiritual view of the believer modeled in water baptism}. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin {the sin nature} shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin {the sin nature}, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:7-19).

          Obviously, a decision to be water baptized is intended to connect a saved believer to a commitment to discipleship.  Therefore, a water baptism decision is actually an enrollment into God’s ordained organization for discipleship, which is the local church.  Water baptism is intended to be the entrance into the discipleship process and the covenantal agreement that defines New Covenant living and ministry within the context of a local church community.  Clearly, Jesus taught these various levels of commitment necessary to being one of His true disciples. 

25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. . . 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27 and 33).

          Water baptism connects the believer to a covenantal relationship in formal membership with the local “body of Christ,” which in turn connects the believer to the ongoing process of discipleship within that local assembly.  A commitment to discipleship is a commitment to learn the Word of God and live the Word of God through “the work of the ministry.”  The “work of the ministry” is to proclaim the Gospel, baptize those that are saved into local churches, and teach those that are baptized to “observe” (live or do) the teachings of Jesus.  The “work of the ministry” is never separated from the sending authority of the local church.  A person must be connected covenantally to the “body” of a local assembly in order to have authority to minister in the Name of Jesus Christ as the “head” of that local assembly.  Anything else is completely foreign to biblical practice.  

          Water baptism, as it relates to the local church, represents Spirit baptism as it relates to the “church of the first born” in the “general assembly and in “the regeneration.”  Jesus, in His incarnation, became a new and last Adam in the union of His humanity and deity.  In His humanity, He succeeded where the first Adam failed.  There are two Bible texts that, when read in conjunction with one another, give us the depth necessary to understand this radical dispensational transition in “the regeneration” (the “new creation” or New Genesis “in Christ’).  We will not comprehend the covenantal responsibilities of water baptism within a local church assembly until we understand water baptism’s spiritual reality in Spirit baptism.

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet {aorist} to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered {aorist} us from the power of darkness, and hath translated {aorist} us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have {present} redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness {remission of the penalty} of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn {pro-tot-ok'-os, in preeminence, not in time: see John 8:58-‘Before Abraham was, I am’} of every creature {created being}: 16 For by him {the eternal, self-existent Son of God} were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him {again, eternal preeminence or Lordship is implied}: 17 And he is before {used in the sense of above, or superiority} all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church {referring here to the “general assembly” rather than the local assembly}: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:12-20). 

‎A.W. Tozer said, “In many churches Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak that if it were poison it would not hurt anyone, and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone!”  This is certainly true regarding the doctrine of the Church.  I believe watered down Christianity begins with a watered down view of water baptism.  

In Colossians 1:15-17, the emphasis is on the ETERNAL BEING of Jesus.  In Colossians 1:18-19, the emphasis turns to the present resurrected glory of the Incarnate One.  Jesus is Lord of the Church (the “first fruits” of the New Creation).  The “church” is composed only of people who have put their faith in the FINISHED WORK of Christ for their salvation (both living and dead).  They have already been “born again” into this “kingdom . . . of light.”  The word “church” in Colossians 1:18 refers to the future resurrected and glorified body of believers that will rule and reign with Christ during His one-thousand year reign on earth.  Nonetheless, the “kingdom . . . of light” is still in their present reality of existence along with this material world.  However, salvation is not the only qualification for formal membership in a local church.  Water baptism is intended to precede formal membership in a local assembly and portray the covenantal responsibilities of New Covenant Christianity in a commitment to become a disciple of Jesus.  If we miss this significance of the ordinance of water baptism, we miss its primary purpose.  

Jesus is “the beginning” (Colossians 1:18) of this New Creation.  The emphasis of this text is not on the “church,” but on the regeneration to this NEW LIFE (existence) - the New CREATION.  Jesus is the beginning of the New Creation as the now eternal God\man.  The intent of the discipleship process within the organism of a local assembly is to teach the enrolled disciple to know the Word of God and how to live the Word of God through the supernatural enablement of the indwelling Spirit of God. 

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away {aorist tense}; behold, all things are become {perfect tense} new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus is the “firstborn out from among the dead” into this New Creation.  In the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, what man sees as an end, God sees as a beginning of a New Genesis.  

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:51-57).

It would be of little value to be Lord of a dead and condemned creation.  Jesus died so we could become part of His New Creation.  “All things” (Colossians 1:17) refers to both the spiritual and material universe including the “church.”  Spirit baptism places the “born again” believer into that New Creation.  Water baptism is intended to portray the understanding of separation from the cursed creation and the understanding of being separated unto or into the New Creation.  Discipleship teaches the believer how to live supernaturally in this world although he is no longer “of the world” (John 17:14).  The words “might have pre-eminence” (Colossians 1:18) means Jesus is made Sovereign LORD.  As the Son of God, He has always been Sovereign LORD.  Colossians 1:18 is referring to Jesus as the new Federal Head of humanity in His restoration of Adam’s lost dominion to Satan.  This restoration of dominion will not happen until Christ takes Kingdom Age rule of planet earth and Satan is bound for the thousand years of the Kingdom Age.  However, there is a present aspect of this dominion restoration in this present worldly existence when individual believers make personal choices in submission to the will of God.  That is what the word “might” means. 

In Colossians 1:18, Jesus is also referred to as “the firstborn of all creation.”  This does not refer to Jesus being the first created being.  “Firstborn” is a Hebraism - a Hebrew phrase, idiom, or custom that can only be understood by understanding the idiom or custom.  Being the “firstborn” was a position of priority.  Therefore, the “firstborn” was usually the oldest in the family and resultantly held the patriarchal position of priority (“preeminence,” Colossians 1:18). 

27 Also I will make him {the Messiah} my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. 28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. 29 His seed {the Redeemed} also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven” (Psalm 89:27-29).

“And he {Jesus} is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).  Christ Jesus possesses this position of “preeminence “as the “last Adam” (I Corinthians 15:45) and as the new Federal Head of the New Creation based on the fact He is the “firstborn from the dead.”  This means Jesus was the first to be glorified and the first human to be regenerated (regeneration is not the same as salvation).  

The first Adam was created in the “image of God,” but that image was defaced in his fall into the corruption of sin.  Water baptism signifies an understanding of a disconnect from the cursed Adamic family and a new connection to the family of God (John 1:11-12).  Jesus was born into the cursed creation but was not a descendant of fallen Adam.  Therefore, Jesus did not possess a sin nature because the sin nature is passed seminally through the father, not the mother (Romans 5:12).  The eternal Son of God needed to become human to be the kinsman Redeemer of humanity.  He did not need to be saved, because he was never lost in sin.  

Therefore, a believer’s baptism with the Holy Spirit is a baptism into the “new creation” of the last Adam and the “church of the first born.”  This “church of the firstborn” exists embryonically in local churches during the Church Age.  The whole of the “church of the firstborn” will have its first assembly at the rapture (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).  At that time, all believers from all individual local churches existing during the Church Age will be united in “the general assembly.”  Because Christians have a superficial understanding of what has happened to them in their baptism with the Spirit into the “body of Christ,” they also have a superficial understanding of what water baptism is intended to portray in its connecting the believer to his covenantal responsibilities within the “body of Christ” in his local church. 

18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling {sanctification not propitiation}, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:18-29).

          Water baptism connects the believer’s thinking to the spiritual dynamic of his Kingdom Age responsibilities within the Church Age (Hebrews 12:28).  Water baptism also disconnects the believer’s thinking from this world and connects him Eschatologically to the future destruction of the original Adamic creation (Hebrews 12:25-27).  

Water baptism is a testimony that unites a “born again” believer with other “born again” believers as accountability groups established within various local churches.  This unity in the formal membership of a local church exists within the process of discipleship (Ephesians 4:1-32).  This unity grows through the ongoing process of discipleship on three fronts of spiritual growth:

1. Unity in doctrine that is acquired through detailed teaching of the Word of God and personal study of the Word of God
2. Unity in missional purpose to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, baptize those saved in the “Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach “them to observe all things,” which defines the third front of unity
3. Unity in practice, which defines the ministry of a local church comprised of individuals who understand the responsibilities of holy living and the obligations of their individual positions as believer-priests before God

Ephesians 4:1-32 is Ecclesiology 101.  It is the exposition of God’s intent in the ordination of the local church defined in its doctrine, purpose, and practice.  This threefold “unity of the Spirit” can never exist in any believer’s life until that believer first unites himself with a local church. 

14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Timothy 3:14-16).

          God has ordained the ministry of the local church as the central vehicle of discipleship.  Although the home and family unit are prominent institutions within the plan of God, the Great Commission was given to the Church.  The home and family unit are not the “pillar and ground of the truth.”  The local church is “pillar and ground of the truth.”  The two ordinances of water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are local church ordinances administrated through the authority of local churches.  There is no such thing scripturally as a parachurch organization.  

     Show me a ministry that emphasizes the home at the expense of deemphasizing the local church and I will show you an unscriptural ministry.  Show me a mission organization that is not directly connected and submissive to the local church and I will show you a mission organization that is abortive to the ordained methodology of God.  This is a fundamental doctrine.  Water baptism is God’s ordained ordinance that introduces every “born again” believer to live within this dynamic of obedience within and through local churches. 

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.