12 - The Command of Jesus
Let us now revisit Jesus‘ command in the great commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes AND is baptized will be saved, he that does not believe will be condemned” Mark 16:15 -16, (also Matthew 28:19). Understanding God‘s plan of redemption, we can see why Christ commanded baptism for those that believed the gospel and why belief in the gospel is a prerequisite to baptism and salvation.
TESTIMONY OF THE EARLY CHURCH. The early church universally believed, taught, and practiced baptism for the remission of sins. Many of the first and second century writers took their training directly at the feet of the apostles. For example, Barnabas wrote in 70 AD, “Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down in the water... We indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement. However, we come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear of God and the trust of Jesus in our spirit.” What Christ commanded in the great commission, we see the apostles carrying out in the examples in the book of Acts. We see this same gospel taught in the epistles and universally believed, taught, and practiced by the early church.
SUMMARY. In baptism we accept, by faith, the promise of salvation, our sins are removed, we are made holy (sanctified), and Jesus adds us to His kingdom, the church. In His kingdom we accept the headship of Christ and commit to a life of loving faithfulness to His authority and commands (Matthew 28:19; John 14:15).