Derek Prince - The Spiritual Significance Of Baptism
Now, then. Let’s look at the spiritual significance of baptism. Very briefly, it’s already stated in Romans 6, we’ll just turn back there for a moment. Romans 6, beginning at verse 3. Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Every time Paul says do you not know, I’ve observed that the majority of contemporary Christians don’t know. It’s remarkable. Every time he picks on something of which he says: do you not know, I discover that today the majority of Christians don’t know. He said: Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
So, as I’ve said before, we’re identified with Jesus in death, in burial, and thank God, it doesn’t stop there. If we’re buried with Him we’re also resurrected. And then Paul says something very significant. He says in verse 5: If we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. He’s speaking about being buried in baptism. He says if we have been buried, then we can be sure we’ll be resurrected. Then he says: Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
So, the fact that baptism illustrates is that when Jesus died on the cross, our sinful, carnal, rebellious nature was executed in Him. This is a revelation. You see, you can have your sins forgiven and still be a rebel. That’s what a lot of people do. They go to church, they confess their sins, they get forgiven and they walk out and start sinning all over again. That’s not God’s purpose. One reason why is they don’t know the historical fact that when Jesus died on the cross, our old man, that rebel in every one of us, was executed. That’s the only way out. There is no other solution to the rebel. The only solution is execution. But the good news is the execution took place more than nineteen centuries ago when Jesus died on the cross.
So Paul says you have to know that. Then he goes on, in verse 11: Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Paul says you know it, then you have to reckon it. You have to reckon that you’re dead to sin, but alive to God. And the outward process is water baptism. You go down into the grave, come up out of the grave, you leave your old sinful nature behind in the grave, you come out a new creature. All right. Now, there’s one other passage in Colossians 2 which is important concerning this. Colossians, the second chapter. Paul is writing to Christians, he says in 2:11: In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.
Under the Jewish law, circumcision was simply removing a small portion of flesh. But Christian circumcision is putting off the whole sinful nature, the whole body. And when a body has died, what’s the next thing to do? I didn’t hear you. Bury it, that’s right. It’s really an offense to leave a dead body lying around unburied. I was with the British forces in East Africa... Ehm, in North Africa, and, we never left a corpse on the ground, we always put it underground. And that, I think, is something. If you’ve died, don’t lie around unburied. Get buried. You got the point? Now, Paul goes on in Colossians 2. Having put off the body, what’s the next thing you do? He says bury it. (buried) with Him in baptism in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead.
Notice, baptism only works for those who believe. It’s through our faith in what God will do that we are raised. If you don’t believe, it doesn’t work. Now let me just give you certain important facts. Galatians 3:27: For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. What are we baptized into? Christ. We’re not baptized into a denomination or a church. This is a serious error. Again I go back to my days in East Africa. The largest evangelical mission there would not accept anybody as a member who had not been baptized into their mission. A person might have been baptized very validly as a believer, but if it wasn’t in that mission they had to be baptized into that. That is an error. It’s carnality. We are not baptized into a church. Thank God, we’re baptized into Christ. Nothing less is sufficient than Christ. Then, as I’ve said, it’s effective only through faith. And then we need to understand our new life is empowered by the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead works in us.
Now let us take very quickly two Old Testament pictures of baptism. The first we’ve already looked at in 1 Peter 3:20–21, Noah’s ark. Peter says the antitype to that is baptism in water. What is the message of Noah’s ark? First of all, judgment was coming. There was only one way of escape from judgment and that was in the ark. So, the flood represents God’s judgment, the ark, as always in the Bible, is a picture of Jesus Christ. In the ark you can pass safely through the waters of judgment. Outside of the ark you’ll be submerged. There is no other way of escape but to be in the ark, Jesus Christ. And in the ark you pass through the water in safety, and you come out into a new life, a totally different life. The old life has been washed away, a new life has opened up to you. That’s the picture of Noah’s ark.
And then there’s another picture, too, which we’ll just look at briefly, in 1 Corinthians 10. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2: Moreover brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses, in the cloud and in the sea. And then he says: These things happened as patterns [or examples] for us. So, Paul is saying every Israelite in the exodus, the deliverance from Egypt, passed through two experiences. The cloud came down over them from above and Paul says they were baptized in the cloud. They went down into the water, passed through the water and came up out of the water, and Paul says they were baptized in the sea.
So there’s this double baptism which is appointed for every believer. The cloud comes down on you from above, you’re immersed in the cloud; you go down into the water, pass through the water, come up out of the water. And when they came up out of the water they started a new life with new laws and a new leader. Everything else was left behind. And it was the water that cut off the Egyptians, very important. They’d been saved in Egypt by faith in the blood of the lamb but that didn’t separate them from the Egyptians. It was the water that separated them. And it’s baptism that separates us. We can believe in the blood of Jesus and be saved but we’re not separated till we’re baptized.
I’ve dealt with literally thousands of people who’ve been delivered from evil spirits. Wherever possible I always tell them: If you want to keep your deliverance you be baptized in water. Because, that’s the cutoff. It’s not the blood. The blood saves you in Egypt; the water separates you from Egypt. Separated by the water and by the cloud. It says they were baptized into Moses. In other words, this brought them under the leadership of Moses. Well, we are not baptized into Moses, we’re baptized into Christ. Christ becomes our leader. But in order to enter into Him in the scriptural way, we have to pass under the cloud, we have to pass through the water. It’s so vivid, so clear.
And then it says in Hebrews 11:29... well, we might read it, we’ve just got time, I think. Hebrews 11:29. Because it emphasizes it’s only by faith. If you’re an unbeliever you go down into the water a dry sinner and you come up out of the water a wet sinner. That’s the only change that takes place. I heard a man testify that once. Later on he really got saved. He was a soloist, he sang in a church. And in order to sing in the church they said: We require our singers to be baptized. He said, Okay. There he was, a dry sinner. He went down into the water and came up a wet sinner. That’s all that happened because there was no faith. Here it says of the Israelites in Hebrews 11:29: By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land.
How did they do it? By faith, that’s right. ...which the Egyptians attempting to do were drowned. Why? Because they didn’t have faith. So, if you get baptized in water but you’re not a believer, all that happens is you get drowned. You can only pass through to the newness of life by faith in Jesus. Well, this is a very serious subject. Much more serious than most denominations and churches recognize today. I’ve dealt many times with people who became convicted. They said: What do we do next? I said: Be baptized. When? As soon as possible, now. I’ve taken people down to the sea front in Florida. They had to drive to Miami which is twenty miles. I said, I’m going to baptize you but I’ve got no other clothes. They said: That’s all right, we’ll go home wet. But they had seen the importance of baptism, the urgency of baptism.
I want to suggest to you we need to have a re-orientation in the church about our thinking about baptism. It’s part of salvation. I am not telling you that if you’re not baptized but you’re a believer you will not be saved. That’s between you and the Lord. But I have no authority to tell you that you will be saved. It says he who believes and is baptized will be saved. Shall we pray for a moment. Lord Jesus Christ, you are the head over all things, to the church which is your body. We bring to you this company of people now. Only you know the hearts of each and every one. Only you know exactly in what relationship they are to you. But Lord, I pray earnestly, if there are those here who really want to be saved and become disciples but have not yet been baptized in water, that you will put an urgency in their hearts by the Holy Spirit to take that necessary step of obedience. Lord Jesus, may this be for your glory and for the building up of your body. In your name we pray, amen.