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Scripture Memory: Security.
VERSE : John 10:27, 28 
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

25 November 2012
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:

Rev Colin Wong (John the Baptist: More than a Prophet, Mat 11:2-19)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Quek Keng Khwang (God is So Good! Psa 116)

2 December 2012
8 am Worship Service:

Rev Calvin Loh (Esther: For Such a Time as This, Esther 4:14)
1045am Worship Service:
Rev Charles Seet (Esther: For Such a Time as This, Esther 4:14)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Colin Wong (Sow in Tears...Reap in Joy, Psa 126)

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WATER BAPTISM

As our Catechism Class begins next Lord’s Day (9:30 am, 2nd December at Beulah Centre room 5-4), it would be good to consider some questions on the subject of baptism.

What is baptism?

It is one of the two sacraments ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ to be practised by the Church. Of these, baptism is only done once, as a public initiation of the new believer into the body of Christ. The Lord’s Supper is done regularly – and it is only for those who are baptised. New believers who want to be baptised should attend a catechism class as preparation for baptism – to be taught the basic truths of the Christian faith, and to examine themselves and be examined that they have truly received Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour. Those who were baptised before but not in a true church of Jesus Christ are to be re-baptised before they can be admitted into membership in Life Church.

Why should you be baptised?

1. To identify yourself publicly with the Lord Jesus Christ, in His death, burial and resurrection. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27, cf. Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:3,4)

2. To obey the Lord’s command given in the great commission. "…baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28:30, cf. Acts 2:38)

Baptism does not save. "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." (1 Corinthians 1:17) The dying thief on the cross was not baptised, but he was saved (Luke 23:42,43). The Bible teaches that baptism is only an outward sign of an inward grace. It distinguishes Christ’s disciples from the rest of the world, and comforts them.

How should you be baptised?

Water is to be used for baptism. Acts 8:36 – "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Acts 10:47 – "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"

However, there is disagreement among Bible-believing Christians on the amount of water. Immersion requires a large amount of water, like a pool, a lake, a river, or the sea. On the other hand, sprinkling does not require much water and can therefore be easily carried out anywhere – in the desert, in a church, in a home, and at a hospital bed. Those who practise baptism by immersion usually cite the following arguments:

1. The Meaning of the Word "Baptise": Many claim that the word ‘baptise’ means "immerse" and only"immerse." But a comprehensive study published in 1867 by James W. Dale entitled, Classic Baptism, has conclusively proven that "immerse," is not the basic meaning of the term ‘baptise’. The word can mean, "to plunge, to pour, to tinge, to sprinkle, to dye," and many other actions.

2. The Practise of the Early Church: It is claimed that the mode of baptism used by the apostles was immersion. However this is unlikely because Acts 2:41 tells us that after the Apostle Peter preached his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, "…they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Archaeology has shown there could not have been sufficient water supply for so many to have been immersed in Jerusalem in one day. Even if there had been, the people of Jerusalem would hardly have allowed their water supply to be polluted by 3,000 unwashed bodies. These new believers must have been baptized by sprinkling.

3. John’s Baptism at Aenon: "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized." (John 3:22,23) This verse is often said to settle the whole issue of the mode of baptism. If John the Baptist needed "much water" to baptize, then most assuredly, he must have baptized by immersion. Or else, why should he need so much water?

The answer is that Aenon is so-named because of the abundance of springs in that area. And to this day, the springs that trickle at Aenon through marshy meadow land on their way to the River Jordan, offer little or no facilities for immersion. It is unlikely that John would leave the River Jordan (which is the largest source of water supply in Palestine) for any other area in order to find more water.

But we can understand why he did this when we read Ezekiel 36:25 – "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." At certain times of the year, when the Jordan overflowed its banks, it became very muddy and unclean. John the Baptist needed to comply with the requirement for clean water stated in Ezekiel 36:25, and the abundant springs at Aenon provided water that is both fresh and clean for sprinkling.

4. A Picture of Burial: It is claimed that only immersion fulfils the picture of baptism found in Romans 6:4 –"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."

However Jesus was not "buried" as in being covered over with earth below ground level. His body was laid in a sepulchre, which is a cave hewn out of rock above ground level with several chambers for placing dead bodies. Hence the body of Jesus was never underground.

The Greek word thapto that is translated as "bury" in Romans 6:4 simply means to ‘put into a grave,’ or to ‘entomb’ or to ‘honour with funeral rites’ (e.g. Matthew 8:21,22). Hence there is no necessity for a person to be immersed underwater when he is baptised.

Why do we practise sprinkling for baptism?

1. It is foretold by the Prophets: There are explicit verses where sprinkling is clearly mentioned in the Bible, and it is associated with the coming of Christ. E.g. Isaiah 52:15 reads, "So shall He sprinkle many nations"(Cf. Ezekiel 36:25).

2. It was prescribed by the Law for purification rites: The real origin of baptism is found in the Law of Moses. The Law is full of ceremonial purification rites which the New Testament calls "baptisms." E.g. "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings [i.e. baptisms], and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation." (Hebrews 9:10)

How were these "baptisms" done? "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh…" (Hebrews 9:13 cf. Numbers 19:17-18) Hebrews 9:19 tells us further, "For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people," (cf. Exodus 24:6-8)

All purification was done by sprinkling: The sprinkling of water alone, or sprinkling of water and ashes, or sprinkling of oil, or sprinkling of blood. And that is why it is called "diverse washings" or "different kinds of baptisms" in Hebrews 9:10.

3. Christ was sprinkled to be made a Priest: When John the Baptist declined to baptise Jesus on the grounds that he himself needed to be baptised by Jesus, Jesus gave him a powerful reason that he could not refuse. Matthew 3:15 – "And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him."

What is meant by the reason given, "it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness"? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 6:25 – "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us." What law was Christ faithfully obeying at His baptism? It is the one found in Numbers 8:6-7, "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them."

The Levites were the tribe which provided the priesthood of Israel. Jesus Christ is our High Priest forever (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 5:5; 9:11). His baptism was therefore the ceremonial act of ordination to the priesthood. Before any man could become a priest, he must be sprinkled with water not just by anybody, but by one who is already a priest. John the Baptist, the one who baptised Jesus, was a priest inheriting the office from his father, Zacharias (Exodus 29:9; Numbers 25:13; Luke 1:5,13).

4. Sprinkling is an apt symbol for Holy Spirit baptism: The link between water baptism and Spirit baptism is found in Acts 1:5 – "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." This was fulfilled a few days later. When the apostle Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost, he interpreted the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy – "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…" (Acts 2:17) Sprinkling is a more appropriate symbol of pouring than immersion.

Cf. Acts 11:15,16 – "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." The water baptism of Cornelius and his family in these verses was obviously symbolic of the Spirit baptism they had received. Since Peter said that the Holy Spirit had fallen upon them, sprinkling, with its application of water downward on a person’s head, supplies the most appropriate symbol of this act.

There are many other reasons for sprinkling as the biblical mode of baptism. When the Ethiopian official was baptised by Philip, they were both out in the desert (Acts 8:26). Hence the water they found (v.36) could not have been large enough or deep enough for immersion. It was probably a shallow desert pond in an oasis.

Thus we have seen several good reasons why sprinkling should be used for baptism. Having said all that, we must recognise that this is not a doctrine that should divide Bible-believing Christians. It does not mean that Christians who are baptised by immersion are not saved or that their baptism is invalid and they must be re-baptised in the correct way. Baptism is only the outward sign of the inward grace. The inward grace is what matters. Thus, while we hold to sprinkling, those who have been baptised by immersion must be regarded as members of the body of Christ, provided they are truly born again.

Dear Reader, if you have believed in Christ but have not been baptised yet, will you not obey the commandment of God? "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ ..." (Acts 2:38) –Pastor

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EMMANUEL REFORMED BIBLE LECTURES

Time: 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm; Venue: Beulah House.

Mondays: The Poetic Books of the Old Testament (Rev Charles Seet)

Thursdays: The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev Ho Chee Lai).

Lectures begin on 7 January 2013.

Please complete registration forms available at the reception counter and place them in the box.

‘Early Bird Discount’ of $5 will be given to those who register before 3 Dec 12.

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1) Catechism Class for Easter Baptism on 31 March 2013 commences next Lord’s Day at Beulah Centre Rm 5-4, 9.30 am. Those seeking baptism, reaffirmation of faith and transfer of membership must attend the Catechism Class.

2) LTF Camp 2012. Speaker: Rev Peter Chng. Theme: "Metamorphosis!" (2 Cor 5:17). Dates: 10-14 Dec. Age: 12-17. Registration closes TODAY — slots are limited. For more information, contact Elder Lim Ching Wah at 9183-6783.

3) Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Clarence Khoh on God’s gift of a baby boy on 18 Nov 12.

Preaching appointment: Rev Seet at Shalom BPC, 9 am. Rev Quek at Life Evening Service, 6pm.

 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11