Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You Must Be Born Again

I’d like to discuss the requirement to be born again in order to make it to heaven.  Many people have had some kind of religious experience, but they have not been born again. Some people have been in church since they were children, but they have never been born again. If you were to take a survey in most churches around the world, asking people if they have been born again, I suppose very few would honestly be able to say they have been. So to begin, let’s see what the Lord Jesus Christ said about being born again.

He told Nicodemus, who was a religious leader of his day, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (Joh 3:3).  That means you cannot see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.

Then He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  (Joh 3:5). That means you cannot enter the kingdom of God unless you experience this second birth, which is one of water and the Spirit.  This is simply another way of saying that you must have a new birth of the Spirit of God, and that it is not enough to be born naturally as all humans are.  When He referred to being born of water, He was speaking about water baptism.

He also said, "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'” (Joh 3:6-7). That means it is absolutely necessary to be born again, since He used the word “must”.  It’s not an option but an obligation.

How to Be Born Again
But how can a person be born again?  Nicodemus wondered the same thing. He asked, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" (Joh 3:4). The Lord explained to him that He, the Son of Man, would be lifted up on a cross.

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (Joh 3:14-15)

That was a reference to His role as the Messiah, or Christ, as I explained in my article, The Son of Man. And He was referring to His sacrificial death by crucifixion in the place of sinners, so that they could have eternal life.

You see, when God delivered the Israelites from Egypt and they were in the wilderness, some of them were bitten by snakes and died, because of their sin. So God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole for people to see.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.’ And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Num 21:8-9)

Jesus explained to Nicodemus the similarity between the bronze serpent and Himself. It was a type or picture of Christ. In the same way as the Israelites were saved from death by looking upon the bronze serpent fixed to a raised pole, so anyone who would look upon Jesus Christ nailed to a cross and lifted up, would have eternal life.

Jesus continued, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  (Joh 3:16).  This means that God loves you so much He sent His Son to die on the cross for you, so that if you would believe in Him, you would not perish, but have eternal life. He said, “whoever believes in Him,” and that includes anyone.  It’s good news, because if it were not for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we would all perish in hell.  That’s because we have all sinned and fallen (Rom 3:23).  Nobody has lived up to God’s perfect, glorious standard. Paul called that “falling short of His glory”.

It’s wonderful to know that we can be saved from the terrible fires of hell by believing in Jesus.  But it’s not enough just to know it; you need to do it. You need to personally repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus alone to save you. Look to Him as the Israelites looked upon that bronze serpent. Without Him you will surely perish. He died on the cross for you, and God raised Him from the dead on the third day! He is alive forever. Will you trust Him to save you?

New Life in Christ as LORD
I would also like to explain what it means to believe in Him. It’s not simply agreeing that He’s the Savior of the world or that He died on the cross. It means you must undergo a radical conversion by the power of the Holy Spirit. God will change your whole life. It begins the moment you repent of all your sins, confess that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. You must surrender your whole life to Him, and ask Him to come live inside your heart to be your Lord and Savior. Once you do that, He will begin to transform you into His own image by the power of the Spirit.

Some people stop at John 3:16 and don’t go any further. But I’d like to quote the remaining verses in that passage, since they explain to us about the person who truly believes in Jesus with saving faith.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." (Joh 3:17-21)

The Lord contrasted those who believe in Him with those who do not. On the one hand, he who believes in Him and is born again is not judged. He comes into the Light, so that it may be plainly seen that his deeds have been done in the sight of God. He practices the truth. Notice the emphasis on the deeds and the practice of one who believes in Jesus. That’s what Jesus meant in John 3:16 by believing in Him and having eternal life. If a person claims to believe in Him, yet his life is not changed, then He does not know the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord described such a person in exact opposite terms from the way He described the one who truly believes in Him. The one who does not believe in Jesus has been judged already. He still loves the darkness rather than the Light, for his deeds are evil. Since he does evil, it shows that he hates the Light. He does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. Once again, notice the emphasis on the deeds of the one who does not believe. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if a person says they believe in Jesus as their Savior, if their life has not been changed. If one continues to practice evil, after he has believed in Jesus, then he still loves the darkness rather than the Light. He has rejected the Light. If he fears that his deeds will be exposed, then he reveals that actually his deeds are evil.

It doesn't matter what such a person says with his mouth about Jesus, if his deeds are still evil. He must turn from the darkness to the Light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he has done has been done in the sight of God. Even though he may claim to believe in Jesus, if he does not obey the Lord, he still stands condemned. He will not see life, since the wrath of God remains on him. That is what the apostle John meant when he wrote at the end of the third chapter of his gospel, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Joh 3:36, NASB).

The original Greek word for the expression "does not obey" in John 3:36 is "apeitheo", which means "disobedient, or obey not." That word "apeitheo" comes from another word that means "disobedient", so the gospel explicitly warns us against disobeying the Lord. The word may also be used to mean "to disbelieve (wilfully and perversely), not believe, or unbelieving." (Strongs).

Likewise, Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Mat 7:21).  Notice the requirement that one must do the will of the Lord’s Father in heaven in order to enter the kingdom of God. The emphasis again is on what a person does. The Lord laid stress on one’s deeds. Put that together with what Jesus told Nicodemus that you must be born again to enter the kingdom, and you will clearly see that they are one and the same. A person who is born again must do the will of God, and his faith must be accompanied by action.  It’s not enough to call Jesus “Lord.”

Jesus said, "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'” (Mat 7:22-23). The same emphasis here is on one’s deeds. Those who practice lawlessness do not enter the kingdom of God. They do not enter heaven. The Lord will tell them to depart from Him and say He never knew them, even though they call Him Lord. It all goes back to their deeds.

Some people like to think that because we are saved by grace that there are no rules to follow. Well, I have news for those people. The apostle Paul said that Jesus became the source of salvation for all who obey Him. (Heb 5:9). There are still commandments that we must obey. So when you make Jesus your Lord, you agree that He will be the Master of your life and He will determine what you may and may not do. Always remember that as you walk out your faith, once you have first been born again.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  "Born Again" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: You are invited to read Evidence of the Second Birth, Where will you go when you die?, Few will be saved, Costly Grace, The Cost of Discipleship, Doulos Training School, By Grace AloneAll Things Are New!, Holy Washings - Part I, Entering the Kingdom of God, The Obedience of Faith, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, The Law of Christ, Law of Love in the New Testament, The Judgment Seat of Christ, and Is Obedience Optional?. The Home page of this blog also has more articles. You may access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Holy Washings - Part I

Water baptism is an important step in a believer's walk with God. Water baptism is one of the ordinances the Lord gave to the Church for us to do. This is an elementary teaching about Christ that you must understand and practice. So let's find out what the Word says about it.

Water Baptism
First of all, John came baptizing with water in the Jordan. It was a baptism of repentance (Mt 3:11).  Yet Jesus came to be baptized by him. John tried to forbid the Lord, but the Lord insisted that they must fulfill all righteousness.

"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?' But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he permitted Him." (Mat 3:13-15)

If our Lord, who knew no sin, was baptized, then you can be sure this is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.

It's an outward sign of what we have already demonstrated by our repentance and faith in Christ. Not everyone has a chance to do this, like the thief on the cross.  In that case, it's not going to keep them from heaven. As with the thief, the Lord said, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise." But normally you must be baptized after you repent and give your life to Jesus.  The Lord commanded it when He gave the Great Commission to His disciples:

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'" (Mat 28:18-20)

We see that the apostles and other disciples who preached the gospel followed this pattern. When the Ethiopian eunuch got saved, he was baptized immediately when they came to some water.

Paul explained the significance of water baptism when he wrote to the Romans in the sixth chapter.

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection," (Rom 6:3-5)

When we are baptized, we are united with Christ in His death. As we go down in the waters of baptism, the old self is buried beneath the water with Christ. When we come up out of the water, we are raised with Him to new life.

On the day of Pentecost, when the people came under conviction for sin at the preaching of the gospel, and asked what they should do, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Act 2:38)

He taught that you must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (into His authority) by faith in Him, for the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, repentance and faith in Christ are essential, and so is water baptism.

By the way, when Peter said "you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," he spoke of the need to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is also a baptism. Due to the limited scope of this article, I will not go any further into that here, except to mention the importance of it again before my closing.

The apostle Paul also taught that the Lord gave Himself up on the cross for His Bride, which is the Church, to make her holy, and that He cleanses her by the washing with water through the Word of God. He said, "...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Eph 5:25b-26, NIV).

I believe as John Wesley did that the expression "washing with water" refers in part to water baptism, which is an "outward and visible sign" that cleanses us from guilt and the power of sin, if we receive with it "the inward spiritual grace." It was only through this study of the Word on holy washings that the Spirit of God revealed to me the connection of this Ephesians passage with water baptism (see my comments in the table below), and upon further research I later discovered to my delight that both John Wesley and Matthew Henry saw the same connection. Before this I had never heard anyone make this connection, so the fact that these two holiness preachers wrote about it hundreds of years ago seems to confirm what the Lord revealed to me.

However, there is more to this Ephesians passage than simply water baptism. For Jesus told His disciples, "You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you." (Joh 15:3). Therefore, we know that He also cleanses us with water through the Word of God, just as Paul said in his epistle.

Origin of Baptism
So where did the idea of baptism originate? Do they have any precedents in the Scriptures?

Ceremonial Washings
Under the Law of Moses, they certainly had ceremonial washings that the priests did in the tabernacle and temple. These were required in order to make them ceremonially clean. But these were only types and they have been fulfilled in Christ our high priest. So while they were a type of washing, they were not carried over into the New Covenant as a requirement for believers.

The Red Sea a Type of Baptism
The best type of water baptism in Scripture, which shows us the origin of it was when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Paul referred to this when he said:

"For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." (1Co 10:1-4)

The Flood of Noah's Day a Type of Baptism
Peter also referred to the flood during Noah's day as a type of baptism as well. He said:

"When the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," (1Pe 3:20b-21)

Peter taught that just as the few people, only eight persons, were brought safely through the water, likewise,  baptism now saves you. That's pretty clear. Noah's ark being brought safely through water was a type of the repentant believer being saved through baptism (for more on that topic, please see Noah's Ark a Type of Christ). Note that Peter said that baptism is not about the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience.

Baptism Types, Analogies, and Their Meanings
I'd like to present to you the various baptism analogies and their meanings in the following chart, in order to better help you correlate them together:

Scripture text Corresponding Analogy Type of Washing Purpose of washing Meaning of text
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Ac 2:38) (None in this passage) Water baptism For the forgiveness of your sins Water baptism accompanied by repentance and faith in Christ provides forgiveness of sins.
“…in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you…”(1Pe 3:20-21a) Flood Water baptism A flood to destroy sinners and an ark to save the righteous Just as Noah and his family, eight people in all, were brought safely through the flood water, so baptism saves you from being destroyed with sinners.
“…not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (1Pe 3:21) Bath Water baptism To remove dirt from the flesh and make the person completely clean Baptism is not just a bath that removes dirt from the body, but it is an appeal to God for a good conscience, as well as a pledge to God to keep a good conscience.
“…all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?”(Rom 6:3) Grave Water baptism To be united in Christ’s death and burial in the grave One who is baptized into Christ has been immersed into His death under the water
“…we have been buried with Him through baptism into death…” (Rom 6:4) Grave Water baptism To be united in Christ’s death and burial in the grave One who is baptized into Christ has been buried with Him under the water
“..we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death…”(Rom 6:5a) Grave Water baptism To be united in Christ’s death and burial in the grave One who is baptized into Christ has been baptized into His death under the water
“…we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…” (Rom 6:5b) Grave Water baptism To be united in Christ’s death and burial in the grave One who is united with Christ in His death through baptism will also be united in His resurrection from the grave
“…there arose a discussion on the part of John's disciples with a Jew about purification…”
(Joh 3:25)
Washing Water baptism (and possibly ceremonial washing) To purify the person John’s disciples discussed or argued with a certain Jew about “washing” (Greek, katharismos).
“And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.'" (Joh 3:26) Washing Water baptism To purify the person John’s disciples (in the context of the discussion with the Jew about washing) reported to John that Jesus was baptizing beyond the Jordan and all were coming to Him.
“…cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word…”(Eph 5:26a, NIV) Washing Water baptism (and possibly foot washing) To cleanse Through the power of His Word making His work on the cross effective in our lives, the Lord washes His Bride, the Church, cleansing her from the guilt and power of sin in the waters of baptism.
“…to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”(Eph 5:26b, NIV) Washing Water baptism (and possibly foot washing) To cleanse The Lord’s purpose in water baptism is to present His Bride to Himself as a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle, but holy and blameless.
“the elementary teaching about the Christ …instruction about washings…” (Heb 6:2) Washing Water baptism and foot washing To cleanse Since the word “washings” (Greek baptismos) is plural, and the Greek may refer to baptism, washing, or ceremonial washing, this text probably means that new believers must be instructed about both water baptism and foot washing.
“…our fathers were all under the cloud…and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud …Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness”
(1 Cor 10:1b-2,5, NIV)
The glory cloud Water baptism To be immersed under the presence of God’s Holy Spirit All the Israelites were under the same cloud of glory, yet their bodies were scattered in the wilderness because God was not pleased with them. Likewise Christians who have been water baptized could still perish if they set their hearts on evil things as the Israelites did.
“…our fathers…all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses…in the sea…Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness”
(1 Cor 10:1b-2,5 NIV)
The Red Sea Water baptism To pass through the waters (of death) out of bondage All the Israelites passed through the same waters of the sea out of the bondage of Egypt, yet most of their bodies were scattered in the wilderness because God was not pleased with them. Likewise Christians who have been water baptized could still perish if they set their hearts on evil things as the Israelites did.

Must We Be Immersed?
There are many Christian churches that baptize people by sprinkling them with water. I don't see any Scriptural basis for it. The word "baptism" in the Greek refers to total immersion. As I read the Bible, that is what John the Baptist did, it's what Jesus did, and it's what the apostles did. All the analogies I have just cited in the chart above imply total immersion. The burial with Christ in a watery grave, the flood, the Red Sea, the glory cloud, and the bath. Therefore, I do not advise anyone to be sprinkled but to be baptized by complete immersion.

Water Baptism Itself Does Not Save You
Let's never forget that while baptism is necessary, along with repentance and faith in Christ, we must not set our hearts on evil as the Israelites did, who consequently perished in the wilderness. They did not make it into the promised land, which is an example for us as a warning.

As Paul said, “…our fathers…all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses…in the sea…Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” (1 Cor 10:1b-2,5 NIV)

"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" (1 Cor 10:11-12. NIV).

Just as the Israelites all passed through the same waters of the sea out of the bondage of Egypt, so are we as disciples all baptized in water into Christ. And just as most of their bodies were scattered in the wilderness because God was not pleased with them, likewise those who have been water baptized could still perish if they set their hearts on evil things as the Israelites did. Therefore, water baptism itself does not save you.

Must We Be Baptized "In the Name of Jesus" Only?
I would like to mention another important point. There are certain Christians, such as oneness Pentecostals, who emphasize that we must be baptized in the name of Jesus only. They teach that if you were baptized in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, that your baptism was not valid. They teach that the original apostles all baptized disciples in the Name of Jesus Christ, and therefore, if you were not explicitly baptized with those exact words, then they say you need to be baptized again specifically in the Name of Jesus. I think this is an error they make. Here are some of the Bible verses they quote:

Act 2:38, "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"

Act 8:16,  "For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Act 10:48,  "And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days."

Act 19:5,  "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Act 22:16,  "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name."

As I have already stated earlier in this article, our Lord Himself taught us to make disciples and baptize them "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Mat 28:19). That's quite clear, and we know who He meant by "the Son." He was not talking about someone else but about Himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Scriptures are clear on this point.

While the Scriptures do say the early disciples baptized disciples in the name of Jesus Christ, you should understand what that means. Anything that is done in the name of another person is done in their authority. If you can legally sign checks in someone's name, it means you do so in their authority. Your signature carries the same authority as theirs, if you have been authorized to do so. Likewise, a law enforcement officer carries out his work in the name of the law, such as when he arrests a criminal. He cannot do so in his own name but in the name of the law of the city, state, or municipality he serves, because he has been authorized to do so. All arrests he makes are in the authority of the law.

The Lord said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Mt 28:18-19. NIV). By noting the word "therefore", we understand that the authority to make disciples and baptize them comes from the Father through Jesus. Just as Jesus came in the Father's name, which the Father gave Him (Joh 17:11b), likewise, Jesus came in the Father's authority that was given to Him, which He has in turn delegated to His chosen servants. To be baptized "in the name of Jesus" means "by the authority of Jesus".  Therefore, if you were originally baptized "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" when you began to follow Christ, I don't think you need to be baptized again, unless your first baptism occurred as a baby, or by sprinkling, or any time before you had actually repented of your sin and given your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

I think that those of us who baptize disciples should do so "in the name of the Father, and the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit." And I also think it's very important to get disciples baptized with the Holy Spirit and baptized with fire (Mt 3:11).

Putting it All Together
In this part-one article I have explained both the requirement of water baptism and the reason for it, as well as its origin and types in Scripture. I trust that it has helped you to understand a little better the correlation of the various analogies and what they were intended to teach us about baptism. This is part of the initiation process for every new disciple, and it only needs to be done once. If you have repented and given your life to Jesus Christ, but have never been baptized, then this is an important next step for you to take in your walk with God. I urge you not to delay in carrying it out.

Continue to Holy Washings - Part II.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted. "Baptism" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. The "Water Baptism" graphic used by permission from Broadway Church, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Author's note: After you have read Holy Washings - Part II, please also see Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, Entering the Kingdom of God, All Things Are New!, The Link Between Two Realms, and The Name of Jesus. You may find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Holy Washings - Part II

In my first article, Holy Washings - Part I, I explained the elementary teaching of Christ regarding water baptism. In this second part, I'd like to explain foot washing as another elementary teaching of Christ. So let's find out what the Word says about it.

Foot Washing
The apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment." (Heb 6:1-2).  These are six elementary teachings about Christ that are considered foundational.  Notice that he said "instruction about washings" using the plural form and not the singular form of "washing". When we read this we usually think of water baptism, which is one washing. But I believe I can prove to you from Scripture that the apostle here spoke of both baptism and foot washing.

On the night He was betrayed, during the Last Supper when the Lord established the New Covenant, He also got up from the supper and began to wash His disciples' feet. 

"Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, *got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." Peter *said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter *said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus *said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, 'Not all of you are clean.'" (Joh 13:1-11)

There are some key points I want to highlight. Peter forbid the Lord to wash his feet initially. But the Lord told him that unless He washed Peter's feet, he had no part with Him. Then Peter insisted that the Lord not only wash his feet, but his hands and head. Interesting character that Peter was! He tended to make radical statements like that. One minute he insisted the Lord would never wash his feet. Next minute he wanted the Lord to give him a bath. But the Lord told Peter that he had already bathed, which was obviously referring back to his initial repentance and baptism. Even Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, so we can be sure that Peter and the other disciples were baptized also. The Lord assured him he was already clean, with the exception of Judas who was not clean. Jesus said that he who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet. The key point here is that one who has been cleansed initially upon coming to Christ does still need to wash his feet. As the Lord said, unless He washed their feet they would have no part with Him, so this was necessary.

The gospel passage continues, "So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." (Joh 13:12-17)

The key points I want to highlight here are that if Jesus, the Lord and the Teacher, washed His disciples' feet, we also ought to wash one another's feet. It's that simple. For He gave us an example that we also should do as He did to His disciples.We are not greater than our Master. But it's not enough just to know these things. Jesus said that if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. He was clearly expecting His disciples to do this to one another.

When Jesus said, “You also ought to wash one another's feet” (Joh 13:14), the Greek word for “ought” is “opheilo”, which means “to be under obligation (ought, must, should); be bound, duty, be indebted, must needs, or owe.” That makes it clear the Lord taught the necessity of foot washing among the saints. His words to Peter were that he could have no part in Christ unless Jesus washed his feet.

In order to better explain Christ's teaching about foot washing, I will put it into a table format and show you verse by verse: 

Baptism and Foot Washing Analogies
I'd like to present to you the various baptism and foot washing analogies used in this passage, and their meanings in the following chart, in order to better help you correlate them together:

Scripture text Corresponding Analogy Type of Washing Purpose of washing Meaning of text
“He who has bathed…is completely clean”
(Jn 13:10)
Bath Water baptism To make the person completely clean Water baptism cleanses a person entirely. There is no need to be water baptized a second time.
“He…needs only to wash his feet”
(Jn 13:10)
Foot washing Foot washing To cleanse the feet Foot washing cleanses a person where their walk has not been perfectly clean.
“…And you are clean…”
(Jn 13:10)
Bath Water baptism To make the person completely clean All the disciples had been water baptized and were clean.
“…But not all of you… For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’"
(Jn 13:10-11)
Bath Water baptism To make the person completely clean Judas was not clean, although he had been baptized.
"I do not speak of all of you…'he who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'”
“Jesus…became troubled in spirit, and testified… ‘…one of you will betray Me."
(Joh 13:21)
Bath Water baptism To make the person completely clean Judas (baptized yet not clean) would betray Jesus
"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.”
(Joh 13:14)
Foot washing Foot washing To cleanse the feet As the Lord our Teacher washed His disciples’ feet, His disciples ought to wash one another’s feet.
"For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”
(Joh 13:15)
Foot washing Foot washing To cleanse the feet As the Lord our Teacher washed His disciples’ feet, His disciples ought to wash one another’s feet.
"If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
(Joh 13:17)
Foot washing Foot washing To cleanse the feet If His disciples know they ought to wash one another’s feet, and they do so, they are blessed.
“the elementary teaching about the Christ …instruction about washings…” (Heb 6:2) Washings Water baptism and foot washing To cleanse Since the word “washings” (Greek baptismos) is plural, and the Greek may refer to baptism, washing, or ceremonial washing, this text probably means that new believers must be instructed about water baptism and foot washing.
“…cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word…”(Eph 5:26a, NIV) Washing Water baptism and foot washing To cleanse Just as the Lord washes His Bride through the power of His Word, cleansing her from the guilt and power of sin in the waters of baptism, foot washing has a similar purpose for those who are already clean through baptism.
“…to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”(Eph 5:26b, NIV) Washing Water baptism and foot washing To cleanse The Lord’s purpose in water baptism (and foot washing) is to present His Bride, to Himself as a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle, but holy and blameless.

Baptism Itself Does Not Save You
As we see from the example of Judas Iscariot, he was not clean, although he had been baptized. So water baptism itself does not cleanse you. Unless there is genuine repentance, accompanied by saving faith in Christ, water baptism is merely a ceremony. Although Judas was water baptized, he still continued to help himself to the money bag (Joh 12:6), which is stealing; and the Scripture says that thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10). He also betrayed the Lord, and Jesus said that it would be better for him if he had never been born (Mt 26:24). Jesus said that not everyone who says to Him, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of His Father in heaven (Mt 7:21). Therefore, Peter said that Judas left his ministry as an apostle to go to the place where he belongs (Ac 1:25), which is in hell, where he has been tormented since that time.

Foot Washing Does Not Save You
I would like to build on my last point in order to emphasize something about foot washing. Just as water baptism itself does not save you, neither does foot washing. In other words, if you religiously practice this ceremony, and have no genuine repentance and saving faith in Christ, then it is meaningless. You might as well be washing windows. But if you are a true disciple, then you will be blessed if you wash the feet of other disciples.

Foot Washing Unto the Lord
When a disciple washes another disciple's feet, they are actually washing the feet of Jesus.  For He said, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (Mt 25:40). So I ask those of you who are still hesitant to do this, why wouldn't you want to wash the feet of Jesus, if you truly love Him? As Paul said, "Whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men..." (Col 3:23, KJV). Therefore, wash one another's feet with all your heart!

Foot Washing for a Spotless, Holy Bride
As I mentioned already, the apostle Paul said, "...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Eph 5:25b-26, NIV). While I believe the expression "washing with water" refers to water baptism, it may also refer secondarily to foot washing.

If the "washing with water" that Paul spoke of refers to both baptism and foot washing, as I believe it does, then this gives even greater meaning to the practice of foot washing. It also agrees with what Jesus said to His disciples when he taught them the importance of foot washing (Joh 13:10, 14). Just as the Lord washes His Bride through the power of His Word (Eph 5:26; Joh 15:3; 17:17), cleansing her from the guilt and power of sin in the waters of baptism, foot washing may serve a similar (though not identical) purpose for those who are already clean through baptism. His purpose is to present His Bride as a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle, but holy and blameless.  Therefore, foot washing may play a role in the ongoing sanctification of our body, soul, and spirit, so that we are kept blameless at the coming of our Lord.

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." (1 Thes 5:23-24, NIV).

Could it be that foot washing is to our sanctification as water baptism is to our salvation? I think there is a strong case from Scripture to support that notion. If it is so, we understand that, as with water baptism, it is an outward visible sign of an inward spiritual grace. It all happens through the truth of His Word (Joh 15:3). For Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth" (Joh 17:17, NIV).  We also understand that the sanctifying work is performed by the Holy Spirit (1 Pe 1:2). As we disciples pray and ask for it, the Holy Spirit takes our white garment and washes it out, cleansing away all the stains, and He presses it out, removing all the wrinkles.

Putting it All Together
In this two-part article on instructions about washings, I have shown from Scripture the great importance of both water baptism for repentance and foot washing in the life of every disciple. Water baptism cleanses a person entirely when done as an outward expression of genuine repentance and faith in Christ. There is no need to be water baptized a second time.

If you have repented and given your life to Christ as your Lord and Savior, you should be baptized in water. Jesus did it, and taught His disciples to do so also (Mt 28:19-20). His disciples were water baptized and they baptized their disciples, too. But don't forget that the Lord also taught His disciples by example to wash each others' feet as well. He said they ought to do so, and would be blessed if they did so.  Foot washing cleanses a person where their walk has not been perfectly clean.  It's also a great way to practice humility and love in imitation of Christ. And when you do so, you will be doing it unto the Lord along with anything else you do for the least of His brethren. Therefore, I see no reason why any true disciple would not want to practice foot washing.

Still there is even another baptism that I mentioned briefly in Holy Washings - Part I, which is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. This wonderful baptism is necessary to be a powerful witness for Christ who lives a holy life (Ac 1:8; 1 Pe 1:2). I strongly recommend reading that article and praying to receive that gift as well.

And there is also the Baptism with Fire that John the Baptist referred to, as well (Mt 3:11).  So we see that our Lord has made perfect provision for us to receive these washings, so that we might be purified, sanctified in spirit and soul and body, kept blameless unto His coming. Be sure to avail yourself of every gift the Lord has provided for His children, so that you don't miss out on the glory to follow.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted

Author's note: Also see Holy Washings - Part I, Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, Entering the Kingdom of God, All Things Are New! and The Link Between Two Realms. You may find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.