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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Two on Baptism

1 Peter 3:18-22 tells us that in the event of Noah's ark and the flood we should see baptism. As the ark passed through the flood, so we pass through the waters of baptism. But it also points to the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). The dove that Noah sent out first returned to rest at the ark, finding no land. Being sent out a second time, she returned with an olive leaf. And being sent out a third time, she found a resting place elsewhere, and did not return to the ark. The fact that she was sent out every seven days, seeking a Sabbath rest, in essence, should not be overlooked. This occurred as the waters receded, and the ark came up out of the waters, as it were. In Jesus baptism, the Spirit descended as a dove and rested immediately upon Jesus as he came out of the waters of the Jordan. Jesus is our ark of deliverance from the waters of God's judgment.

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In Matthew 3:11-12, John the Baptist tells of the coming of Jesus, who he says will baptize "with the Holy Spirit and fire". The baptism with water by John precedes the baptism with fire by Jesus. Baptism is a sort of judgment. For the righteous, it is purifying and saving. For the wicked, it is destructive. We then see in vss. 13-17 the arrival of Jesus and His own baptism with water. To accomplish is mission of baptizing with fire, He Himself must first pass through the baptism with water. This is echoed in Peter's treatment of the coming judgment in 2 Peter 3. The judgment on the ancient creation came first by water (vss. 5-6), speaking of the flood. But the judgment to come would be by fire (vss. 7-12). Jesus himself spoke of this judgment by fire in connection with baptism (Luke 12:48-49). He would first pass through His baptism by fire, only later to bring the fire of judgment upon the earth Himself. I will leave aside, for now, questions of the fulfillment of 2 Peter 3. It is worth noting, however, that Jesus Himself never passed through a judgment of literal fire.

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