Sunday, 27 April 2014

Sermon: Baptism

Upon looking over the sacred pages of the Bible, searching into the prophets and sayings of the apostles, we find no subject so nearly connected with salvation as that of baptism. In the first place, however, let us understand that the word baptise is derived from the Greek verb baptiso, and means to immerse or overwhelm; and that sprinkle is from the Greek verb rantiso, and means to scatter on by particles. Then we can treat the subject as one inseparably connected with our eternal welfare, and always bear in mind that it is one of the only methods by which we can obtain a remission of sins in this world, and be prepared to enter into the joys of our Lord in the world to come.

As it is well known that various opinions govern a large portion of the sectarian world as to this important ordinance of the gospel, it may not be amiss to introduce the commissions and commands of Jesus Himself on the subject. He said to the twelve, or rather eleven at the time: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” This is recorded by Matthew (28:18–19).

We read in Mark 16:14–15 these important words: - “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.” And to show how the believers are to be known from the unbelievers, He continues and says: - “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:16–19).

Now let us examine what was witnessed on the day of Pentecost, when there was a marvellous display of the gifts, according to the promise in Mark, many were pricked in the heart and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Peter said unto them: - “Repent, and be baptised 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” (Acts 2:38). Here one of the witnesses says in so many words, repent and be baptised. And we are of the opinion that Peter, having been taught by the Lord, and commissioned by the Lord, and endowed by the Lord, would be about as correct a counsellor or ambassador as we or they could inquire of to know the right way to enter into the Kingdom of God.

Again, Luke in his record of the Acts of the Apostles, says: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollo’s was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptised? And they said Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:1–6).

From the above witnesses we are informed that baptism was the essential point on which they could receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. It seems from the reasoning above that some sectarian Jews had been baptising like John, but had forgotten to inform them that there was one to follow by the name of Jesus Christ, to baptise with fire and the Holy Ghost—which showed these converts that their first baptism was illegal. When they heard this they were gladly re-baptised, and after hands were laid on them, they received the gifts according to the promise and spake with tongues and prophesied.

Now taking it for granted that the Scriptures say what they mean and mean what they say, we have sufficient grounds to go on and prove from the Bible that the gospel has always been the same; the ordinances to fulfil its requirements the same; and the officers to officiate, the same; and the signs and fruits resulting from the promises, the same. Therefore, as Noah was a preacher of righteousness, he must have been baptised and ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands. For “No man taketh this honour upon himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4).

According to the words of Jesus to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same “came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles which thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:2–5).

This strong and positive answer of Jesus as to water baptism, settles the question. If God is the “same yesterday and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), it is no wonder He is so positive in the great declaration: - “He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned” (Mark 16:15). There was no other name given under heaven, nor no other ordinance admitted, whereby men could be saved (Acts 4:12). No wonder the apostle said, being “buried with him by baptism, ye shall rise from the dead” (Romans 6:4) 

No wonder Paul had to arise and be baptised and wash away his sins. No wonder the angel told old Cornelius that he must send for Peter to learn how to be saved (Acts 10:1–6). Peter could baptise and angels could not, so long as there were legal officers in the flesh holding the keys of the Kingdom, or the priesthood. There is one evidence still further on this point, and that is that Jesus Himself when He appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus, did not inform him how he could be saved (Acts 22:10). He had set in the Church apostles and prophets, for the work of the ministry, and for the perfecting of the saints, as the grand rule of heaven was that nothing should ever be done on earth without revealing the secret to His servants the prophets, agreeable to Amos 3:7. So Paul could not learn so much from the Lord relative to his duty in the common salvation of man, as he could from one of Christ’s ambassadors, called with the same heavenly calling of the Lord, and endowed with the same power from on high, so that what they loosed on earth should be loosed in heaven, and what they bound on earth should be bound in heaven (Matthew 18:18). He, the Lord, being a priest forever, after the order of Melchezedick, and the anointed Son of God from “before the foundation of the world” (Genesis 5:43–45), and they the begotten sons of Jesus through the gospel, to “teach all nations and, lo, I am with you always, unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18–19) That is, by the Other Comforter which the world cannot receive for ye are the witnesses having testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy.

From what has already been introduced as testimony to prove that no man can be saved without baptism, it will be seen and acknowledged that if there was sin among men, repentance was as necessary at one time or age of the world as another and that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. If then Abel were a righteous man, he had to become so by keeping the commandments. If Enoch were righteous enough to come into the presence of God and walk with Him, he must have become so by keeping His commandments. And so of every righteous person, whether it was Noah, a preacher of righteousness, Abraham, the father of the faithful, Jacob the prevailer with God, Moses the man who wrote of Christ and brought forth the law by commandment, as a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ or whether it was Jesus Christ Himself, who had no need of repentance, having done no sin, according to His solemn declaration to John now let me be baptised for no man can enter the Kingdom without obeying this ordinance. “For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:43). 

Surely then, if it became John and Jesus Christ the Saviour, to fulfil all righteousness to be baptised so surely, then, it will become every other person who seeks the Kingdom of heaven to go and do likewise. For He is the door, and if any person climbs up any “other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1).

In the former ages of the world, before the Saviour came in the flesh, the followers of Christ were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ to come, because there never was any other name whereby men could be saved. After He came in the flesh and was crucified, then those that followed Christ were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified, risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven that they might be buried in baptism like Him, and be raised in glory like Him, that as there was but “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:5–6).

Now we lay down upon the alter of God that which is written in the law, that which is of God, that all men who wish to return to the presence of God the father must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ holding all the power and authority from God to administer baptism in this age proclaim that baptism is the gateway to fellowship in Christ that it is not a tool that is used to enforce membership in a church but rather fellowship in Christ, and that all who wish to be baptised and stand in fellowship with Christ must do so in order to enter in to his Kingdom. We proclaim the words written by Alma in the book of Mormon to be true when he says in the book of Mosiah the all who are baptised will “be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that we may have eternal life” It is the belief and policy of this Christ’s church that through the atoning sacrifice, baptism also brings about a full remission of our sins, it is the birth of a new life, a new life clean and pure in the service of God the father and God the Son. Again let us look at the book of Jeraneck and see that the Lord God in his wisdom did not leave his people without the Law of baptism, for we read in chapter Nine of the Book of Jeraneck that Roadnen of the people of Ridnon was desirest to be baptised and the record says:-  “Now after Hadjaneck had taught the people many things he made an end of speaking to the people and Roadnen was so overcome with the spirit that he was desirous to be baptised and all those that were with him even all his servants. Therefore with the blessing of Zioneck Hadjaneck went down into the water and he did baptise Roadnen and all that were with him, and he did baptise them in the river that flowed by the city that we call afonage and all… were baptised” (BofJ 9: 71-72). So we see that when god rises up a righteous seed he sends the Holy Spirit to testify of truth and also turns their hearts to the Lord and to baptism, and once this is done, then righteousness is established among the people and a church is also formed and established unto God.

And so it is written in all the holy text that when we are baptised we come in to the fellowship of Christ and also in to the light born again in Christ. We should not honour the Sacrament as a renewal of our promise that we make at baptism because there is no need, we have been given the gift of repentance and prayer for that purpose and when we fall short of our promise to follow the Lord we should repent and pray and offer supplication unto the Lord, but this should not be done at the partaking of the sacrament, rather the partaking of the sacrament should serve as a reminder every time we partake of sacrifice that He the Lord God made for us so that we could be baptised and enter in to his fellowship.

And so let us remember all these things and cleave unto God the Father through the Son and remember that there is but one door to the mansions of the Father everlasting, to everlasting and that door is baptism. Amen.

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