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The Moment of Truth - Lesson 8

Born of Water and the Spirit
 

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Let us pray together before beginning this lesson:

Our Father,

Your word has revealed great things until now, and we know that You still have many important things to teach us.

May You reveal them during the next lessons that, through the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, we put them into practice.

May these teachings help us better reflect Your image in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.




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2 Kings 5:1

Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance to Syria.

He was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper.

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Let us begin our lesson with this Old Testament story relating the experience of Naaman the Syrian, a leprous man in search of healing.




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2 Kings 5:9,10

So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.

And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying,

«Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall come again to you, and you shall be clean.»

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Having heard about Elisha the prophet, Naaman decided to visit him to be healed of his leprosy.

Elisha did not deign to meet him. Nevertheless, he let him know the way to be healed: washing himself seven times in the Jordan river.




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2 Kings 5:11,12

But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said,

«Behold, I thought, “He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.”

Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean?»

So he turned and went away in a rage.

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Not expecting such a method of healing, Naaman, furious, was getting ready to leave without following the instructions of Elisha.




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2 Kings 5:13,14

And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said,

«My father, if the prophet had bid you do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather then, when he said to you, “Wash, and be clean”?»

Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like to the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

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The waters of the Jordan had no miraculous properties.

What really healed Naaman was only his obedience to Elisha’s instructions.




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1 Peter 2:21

Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.

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1 John 2:6

He that said he stays in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

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Just as Naaman was asked to dip in the Jordan, God also asks us to show in a concrete way that we take a stand for Him.

What does God ask us to do?

Let’s turn our eyes towards our Savior Jesus Christ, our example in all things.




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Matthew 3:13-15

Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade Him, saying,

«I have need to be baptized of You, and come You to me?»

And Jesus answering said to him,

«Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.»

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Jesus was not a sinner, so He did not need to be baptized: this is why John the Baptist opposed His baptism.

But Jesus wanted to leave us an example, so that we «fulfill all righteousness.»




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John 3:22

Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judaea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized.

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Matthew 28:19,20

[Jesus said,]

«Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you.»

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Jesus taught His disciples the importance of baptism.

Just before leaving for heaven, He commanded them to baptize each new convert.




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Romans 6:3,4

Know you not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?

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.

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What does baptism mean?

It is a gesture symbolizing our desire to die with Jesus, leaving behind us the «old man», that is, our former life of sin, and thereafter walking in newness of life.




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Romans 6:5,6

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.

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2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.

Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

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Baptism symbolizes the replacement of the old man by the new man.




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Colossians 2:12

(...) buried with [Christ] in baptism, wherein also you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead.

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Romans 6:11

Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Let us remember: baptism symbolizes our death to sin (death of the «old man») with Jesus Christ, followed by our new birth in Jesus Christ.




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1 Peter 3:20,21

The long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us.

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The apostle Peter uses the Flood account to make us understand the meaning of baptism: in answer to God’s call, Noah and his family «were saved by water.»

Just as for Naaman the leper, water saved nobody: it is God who, through water, saved those eight souls from death.




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1 Peter 3:21

The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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Just as Noah answered God’s call by a concrete deed, entering into the ark, we must also answer God’s call by a concrete deed: our baptism.

This is «the answer of a good conscience toward God», the public demonstration of our faith in Jesus Christ.




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Ephesians 5:25,26

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.

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Matthew 10:32

[Jesus said,]

«Whoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven.»

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Baptism is, in a sense, the marriage of the believer with his Savior Jesus Christ.

Such a union must be entered into publicly!




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Ephesians 4:5

[There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

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Now, how must baptism be administered?

Some people say that it is necessary to immerse the candidate, to cover him completely with water. Others claim that a simple sprinkling of water is sufficient to baptize.

The method of baptism may be considered as a minor point by some people, but let’s make no mistake about it: the Word of God attaches great importance to this point.

According to the Bible, there is only one real baptism, one way of baptizing: what is it?




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John 3:23

And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there.

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The only kind of baptism taught by the Word of God is baptism by immersion: the candidate must be plunged into water to be baptized.

This is why the Bible says that John needed «much water» to baptize.

In fact, the verb «to baptize» comes from the Greek verb «baptizo» which means «to immerse», «to plunge into», «to submerge», as any good dictionary will confirm.




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Matthew 3:16

Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.

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After His baptism, Jesus came up from the water.

This verse clearly shows that He was immersed, plunged into the waters of the Jordan.




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Acts 8:36-39

As they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said,

«See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?»

And Philip said, «If you believe with all your heart, you may.»

And he answered and said, «I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.»

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip.

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If sprinkling of water were enough, why did Philip and the eunuch go «down into the water»?




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Colossians 2:12

(...) buried with [Christ] in baptism, wherein also you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead.

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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.

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Only one way of baptizing can be in harmony with the symbolism of burial: baptism by immersion.




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Matthew 28:19,20

[Jesus said,]

«Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you.»

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Having said this, the next question is: are there preliminary qualifications for baptism? The Bible answers: Yes.

Indeed, as we will see in the next verses, the candidate for baptism must have faith in Jesus Christ and repent of his sins.

Since babies cannot fulfill these conditions, they cannot be acceptable candidates for baptism.




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Mark 1:5

And there went out to [John] all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

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Acts 2:38

Then Peter said to them,

«Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.»

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As we can see, confession of sins and repentance must precede baptism.




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Acts 8:36,37

The eunuch said, «See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?»

And Philip said, «If you believe with all your heart, you may.»

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Acts 18:8

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house.

And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

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Also, to be eligible for baptism, the Word of God declares that it is necessary to believe in the Lord with all our heart.




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Acts 8:12

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

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The Bible mentions the baptism of «men and women», but never of babies or young children.

In fact, infant baptism is a practice which began in the third century A.D., to increase the number of «believers» in the Church.

Nevertheless, the Bible is clear: the only valid baptism is the baptism of a person fully aware of his decision.




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Acts 2:41,47

They that gladly received [Peter’s] word were baptized. (...)

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

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1 Corinthians 12:13

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

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Through baptism, we enter into God’s great family: the Church.

We also become laborers in His harvest, gladly working for Him.




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1 Corinthians 12:20,27

But now are they many members, yet but one body. (...)

Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

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2 Corinthians 5:20

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.

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Through baptism we become a part of the body of Christ, the Church, working according to the gifts and talents God has given us.

Being His ambassadors, we represent His kingdom on this earth. What an honor it is!




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Luke 3:21,22

It came to pass that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove on Him.

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Acts 2:38

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

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Having taken a stand for God by our baptism, we can rely on the work of the Holy Spirit who will help us to perform our function as ambassadors for Christ, purifying our heart from all iniquity.




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John 3:5

Jesus answered,

«Truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.»

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Mark 16:16

[Jesus said,]

«He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.»

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As this lesson is drawing to a close, we must understand the importance of baptism in the life of each Christian.

These words from Jesus show that baptism is not an option for whoever wants to follow Him, but rather a necessity.

Then, what will our decision be?




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John 13:15

[Jesus said,]

«For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.»

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Jesus, having never sinned, did not need to be baptized. But He was nevertheless baptized to give us an example to follow.

Now we must ask ourselves, individually:

«As for me, will Jesus have made this gesture for nothing? Will I follow His example by accepting baptism too, or will I go on as if He had done nothing?»




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Acts 22:16

And now why tarry you?

Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

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May the Holy Spirit open our hearts and guide us, as we make this important decision concerning our baptism.




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Let us pray:

Dear Lord,

As we seek Your Word to discover Your will for each one of us, very important choices are continually facing us.

Today, You taught us that we must be baptized by immersion, to become a member of Your great family, Your Church.

This decision is not easy, but through Your Son, You have given an example to guide us, and You grant us the power of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may have the strength to take a stand for You, and to publicly demonstrate it by our baptism.

Assist us, dear Savior, as we make this crucial decision. In Jesus Christ.

Amen.


The test of Lesson 8 is waiting for you!


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