1Cor 15:29 The Necessity of Baptism 10/3/2010 ßą
#1. What Baptism? What Washing? (1Cor 15:29-31, Rom 4:8, Psalm 32:1-2, 1Cor 15:17)
#2. The First Resurrection and the Gift of Faith (1Cor 15:34, Rev 20:4-6, 21:8, John 5:24-25)
#3. Raised with Christ and in Christ (Eph 2:4-9)
Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 15:29 (2X). This is a long chapter. So it is not surprising that we are only halfway into this chapter. But today I am including the mysterious verse 29, which speaks of being baptized for the dead. What does that mean? And thus the title for this sermon is, “The Necessity of Baptism” (2X). Before we get to the solid meat of this sermon we first have to cover some basic principles concerning baptism, as it occurs in the Bible. We begin reading a relevant section of this chapter, 1Cor 15:29-44,
1Co 15:29-44 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. But some (man) will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? (Thou) fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
We can see that we will not only cover the baptism for the dead, but we will also have to look into some details concerning the resurrection itself. Let us begin with the question: How do we enter into this world? The answer is: We are born dead! We are born dead in trespasses and sins, both in body and in soul. And this applies to every person who is born into this world. In the sight of God the natural man is dead, for we cannot do anything that pleases God. We read in Rom 8:8, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” And let us not deceive ourselves in thinking that only little babies are innocent, for God says of all little babies that have just been born in Psalm 58:3-5, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.” We cannot see it, but God can see their heart, and God says that their heart is as wicked as that of little rattlesnakes. Their cries are lies. They are like the deaf adder, which is another poisonous snake, which will not listen to the voice of charmers. They go astray as soon as they are born, for they are already wicked while they are in the womb. God says in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” In other words, I was already immersed in sin when my mother conceived me. She did not sin in the act of conception, but I was already full of sin when I was conceived. Put a sticker here in 1Cor 15, and please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:1 (2X). And so, when I say that we were born dead, I meant that we were born spiritually dead. We were born dead in trespasses and sins. This is how God stated it here in Eph 2:1-3, where we read, “And you (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” And thus, the elect of God are “by nature the children of God’s wrath, even as others” who never become saved. Please turn one page to the left to Eph 1:3 (2X). There is something special going on with God’s elect. We know that God has reserved for Himself a special group of people who are God’s elect, for God says in Eph 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” These are God’s elect who are in the same manner “dead in trespasses and sins, even as others who never become saved”, but who are not in the same manner “under the wrath of God, even as others who never become saved”, for God has determined that we should be cleansed from our sins at some point in our life. That is why God says in Eph 2:3 that we are “by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” And what is the evidence that we will be cleansed from our sins? God says that we are washed from our sins, which is the same as we are baptized for our sins, for the word baptism means “washing”.
#1. What Baptism? What Washing? (1Cor 15:29-31, Rom 4:8, Psalm 32:1-2, 1Cor 15:17)
Please turn now to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 15:29 (2X). There we read this mysterious verse:
1Co 15:29, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?”
The two parts of this verse are two questions, which are repetitions of each other. There are more than ten different explanations of this verse. It seems as if this verse teaches vicarious baptism for those who have died without having been baptized. But that is a bunch of nonsense. This will violate all kinds of Biblical principles. Even if this was a custom in the early church, we find no such confirmation in other parts of the Bible, and thus we must reject it right away. Instead we must find an explanation which is most simple, and which harmonizes with the basic principles of salvation as we already know it. We are those who were dead. This verse does not refer to someone else who has died. When Christ saved us, He saved us in our soul; He cleansed our souls from sins; He made our souls ready to enter into heaven. But our salvation is not complete, because our bodies have not been saved yet. Our bodies are still inclined to evil. It does not mean that our bodies are still accumulating sins, for Christ paid to save our whole personality. We are not accumulating sins, for God says both in the OT and in the NT, “blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Where is that found? This is found both in Rom 4:8 and in Psalm 32:1-2. Our bodies are saved later at the rapture of the last day. Secondly, the word “for” which appears twice in 1Cor 15:29 does not mean substitution. That word “for” is the Greek word “huper”, which does not mean “in the place of”, but it means “on behalf of”. In other words, we cannot use this verse to explain some mysterious ritual that we do in the place of someone who has already died. Thirdly, we must remember that what occurs outside the body, like water baptism, definitely does not synchronize with what God does inside us, in our soul. If that were the case, God would have a salvation plan of works, and that we cannot accept. The ceremony of water baptism is only a sign pointing to something that God has done in our soul, or that God hopefully will do in our soul. In this light, the two questions of this verse can be thought of as implying, “Why am I saved in my soul if my body is not included in God’s salvation program? What kind of salvation is this if it includes only part of me? That is not a very good salvation at all.” In other words, “Why am I baptized in water if my body does not rise on the last day? Why am I subjected to this ceremony which points to the salvation of my body and soul if my body does not rise at all? In other words, verse 29 is a repeat of what is already stated in 1Cor 15:17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” This is our inner confidence, because our souls have been baptized; which means our souls have been washed.
1Co 15:32-33 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners
The apostle Paul says, “I have fought with evil men at Ephesus.” But if the dead rise not, then it had profited me nothing that I stood up for the name of Christ at Ephesus, for then I am still in my sins, and I will face the wrath of God like all other men are. In that case, let us just eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. What did God mean by that? Please turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 22:12 (2X). In this section of the Prophecy of Isaiah God shows us a similar situation in the life of the nation of Judah and here is where the phrase “let us just eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” was taken from. We read in Isa 22:12-14,
Isa 22:12-14 And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
In verse 12 God says, “The people should have repented.” The next verse is the one quoted in 1Cor 15:32, which states that instead of coming to their spiritual senses, they rejoiced in the pleasures of this world, and they said, “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die”. Then God concludes in verse 14 that the result of their folly is that they will be judged and will face an eternity in Hell. Therefore, the thought of Isa 22:13 as well as 1Cor 15:32 is this, “If we are not resurrected to glory, but we are resurrected to wrath as all other men are, then let us live like them now and get whatever joy we can get out of our temporary physical life.”
With all his physical troubles the apostle Paul should be crying; instead he is rejoicing. Why is he rejoicing? He is rejoicing because the promise of the resurrection is true, and he is looking forward to a glorious eternal life with Christ. That is why he fought with beasts at Ephesus. Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 19:8 (2X). We should not think that the apostle Paul got into a hand to hand combat with the Judaizers, or that he had a physical fight with animals in a sport that they enjoyed at Ephesus. That was not at all his lifestyle. We should rather understand that in 1Cor 15:32 the apostle describes the difficult spiritual battles he had with the Judaizers at Ephesus, and with Demetrius the silversmith. We read in Acts 19:8-12,
Ac 19:8-12 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
Entire chapter 19 of Acts refers to Paul’s stay at Ephesus. All together the apostle Paul stayed three years at Ephesus, which we read in Acts 20:31, longer than at any other city where he ministered. Most of the people today live as if there is no resurrection from the dead, and no reckoning of their sins. God is no longer in their life, for they will just eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. But the Bible speaks clearly of a First Resurrection and a Second Resurrection. Also, there is a First Death and a Second Death. Please turn to 1Cor 15:34 (2X).
#2. The First Resurrection and the Gift of Faith (1Cor 15:34, Rev 20:4-6, 21:8, John 5:24-25)
1C 15:34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame
Remember that this entire chapter speaks of the resurrection of the body. With that in mind we understand that verse 34 paraphrased says, “Think out of a sober mind. Stop thinking like the world. Think what is right in the sight of God. Understand that the sin of not believing the resurrection leads to a sinful life; a life of not having to give an account of your sinful life. Please turn now to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 20:4 (2X). The Lord speaks here symbolically of a thousand years as the period of time between the cross and the beginning of the FTP. Most churches do not take these verses symbolically, which is very odd, because they take everything else around it symbolically and thus why not these verses? The real reason is that they have come to the Bible with their own agenda, and they want to find only verses that fit their own agenda. We read in Rev 20:4-6,
Re 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The souls of them which had not worshipped the beast are all those whose names are written in the Book of life, for Rev 13:8 and Rev 17:8 tell us that these are all the elect of God. Blessed and holy are they which have part in the first resurrection, for on them the second death has no power. What is the second death? Please turn one page to the right, to Rev 21:8, and there we read these ominous words,
Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Therefore, the second death is to be cast into the lake of fire, which is a symbol of Hell. Let us now turn to John 6, for there we also find verses that speak of the first resurrection and the second resurrection. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 5:24 (2X). The Lord speaks here about the fact that He has been appointed the Judge over all the earth on the last day. For as the Father raises up the dead, and makes them alive, even so the Son makes alive whom He will. We read in John 5:24-25
Joh 5:24Verily verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
Notice that the graves are not mentioned, but the dead are mentioned, which means that these are the walking dead; they are those who are dead in trespasses and sins. And what has become the state of the dead who hear the word of Christ; and did you notice that the word of Christ here is singular, it is the Bible? They that hear and believe have passed from death unto life; they have experienced the first resurrection. They shall not come into condemnation, because on them the second death hath no power. The Lord Jesus says, “The hour is coming, and now is.” In other words, ever since the time that the Lord walked on this earth, about 2000 years ago, unto this day, people have been hearing the voice of the Son of God, not with their physical ears, but with their spiritual ears, hearing Jesus speak to them from the pages of the Bible, and they that heard have passed from death unto life. God gave them the faith to believe, and this gift of faith was not because they were such good people, but because God’s grace was poured out upon them entirely as a free gift. They have been transformed from sinners into saints. Now, the OT saints are saved the same way the NT saints are saved. The OT saints read their OT scrolls, and they too heard Christ speak from those scrolls, but His words were speaking about future events when Christ promised to make atonement for their sins. These promises did certainly come to pass, for God does not lie. How was it that OT saints could hear Christ speak from he scrolls, whereas most OT Jews did not hear? It was because salvation is a free gift, and OT saints received their faith just as freely as NT saints. It was not easier or more difficult for OT saints to understand the Gospel of God, for it was always as impossible for OT people as for NT people. Only God can give His elect the understanding of the Gospel he or she needs to be saved, and no one can derive it by his or her own intellect; that is an impossible task.
Put a sticker here in John 5, and please turn again to 1Cor 15:35 (2X). The first resurrection was a resurrection of the soul. The second resurrection is a resurrection of the body. We read in 1Cor 15:35-44,
1Cor 15:35-44, But some (man) will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? (Thou) fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
In other words, we do not even know if we shall be able to recognize one another, for the bodies that we will receive are most likely not like our human body. The analogy that God gave here in this chapter is that of a brown seed going into the ground, but the green plant that comes out of the ground is totally different. That will be the change we may expect when we receive our glorified bodies. Please turn again to the Gospel of John 5, John 5:28 (2X). Now we can see that the second resurrection comes in focus. We read in John 5:28-29,
Joh 5:28-29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Notice here that the graves are mentioned, but not the dead. It means that not all that are in the graves belong to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Some of the bodies that are in the graves belong to saints whose soul is now with Christ in heaven. Therefore, John 5:28-29 speaks of a different time frame than John 5:24-25. Did you notice that this time the Lord Jesus did not include the words “and now is”? This event is occurring on the last day when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of Christ. The bodies that belong to the saints shall be changed to a glorified body, and shall be raptured to be with Christ, and there they shall be reunited with their souls. The bodies that belong to the unsaved shall in the same hour also be changed to bodies that are fit for Hell, and shall be joined to the souls of those persons to whom the bodies belong. What does it mean to be raptured to be with Christ? Please turn in your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, 1Thes 4:13 (2X). In this Epistle the Lord praises the church at Thessalonica for their faithfulness to the Gospel of grace, and for their work of faith, and for their labor of love, and for their patience of the future hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. And now the Lord will reveal to that church the glory that shall befall them in the rapture on the last day. We read in 1Thes 4:13-18,
1Th 4:13-18 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words”
This is the rapture on the last day. The words “we which are alive and remain” occurs twice, and refers to those saints that are still alive at the time the Lord Jesus comes again, and remain alive when all the unsaved have been smitten of God and have died. Then all those who have died, both the saints as well as the reprobate will be resurrected. The new bodies of the saints shall be joined to their souls, whom Christ shall bring with Him, and the bodies of the reprobate will be joined to their souls, and will stand for trial before the Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. We understand a little in what bodies the saints and the reprobate are going to appear. When we see that the apostle John fell down before the angel who guided him around in the NH&NE, we understand that John thought that this was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In fact John made this mistake twice. But then the angel said in Rev 22:9,
Re 22:9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
This is truly amazing. When the Lord Jesus comes again and we receive our new glorified spiritual bodies, we will look so glorious and majestic that the unsaved will think that they have seen God. On the other hand, the reprobate will also receive a new body, but it is not a glorified body. Their bodies will be so repulsive that the saints, who will do the judging with Christ, will feel no anguish in their soul when they condemn the unsaved to be cast into the lake of fire. On the other hand the saints do not just receive glorified bodies, but they will receive glorified spiritual bodies. I do not know what a spiritual body is. It is not an ethereal body, or a see-through body. But let me explain that we must receive a spiritual body. Let us suppose that there are celestial bodies in that new universe. When we wish to be in the farthest corner of that universe which is a million light-years away and look around, we are instantly there. There is no objection from our spiritual body to such great acceleration, and we are constantly in contact with our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, without even carrying a cell phone. Such is the great perfection we will receive when we receive our new glorified spiritual bodies. Let me speak now about the timing of our first resurrection. Please turn again to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:4 (2X)
#3. Raised with Christ and in Christ (Eph 2:4-9)
After God told us that we were by nature the children of wrath, He also revealed to us that we are His elect children, and that He has something special reserved for us. And then, what follows in Eph 2:4 is so wonderful that we stand in awe that God would do such a thing. We read in Eph 2:4-9,
Eph 2:4-9 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We knew that we have a merciful God. But even after we were the cause of the suffering and death of His Son,
God told us that He has made us alive together with Christ. In other words, He has made us alive in AD 33. But I thought that He made us alive in the 20th century. Yes that too. But God arranged it so that the year AD 33 can also be counted as the time when He made me alive, for when the Lord Jesus Christ had atoned for all the guilt of my sins, He finished all the requirements to make me alive. And since I was not around in the year AD 33 it is clear that I had nothing to do with it; it was done for me, and it was done to me. That is why we read in verse 5, “by grace are ye saved”. And then we read, He has raised us up together in Christ, and He has made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ, in order that in the ages to come He will show the exceeding riches of His grace and kindness toward us who are His elect. And again, “for by grace are ye saved”. Let us pound this in our heads “for by grace are ye saved”, and let us not get on the bandwagon of those who proclaim loudly “For by faith are ye saved”. Let us be clear on this fact as stated in Eph 2:8, “that our faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.” To make sure we understand this God says it again: “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” It is a good thing that our faith is not of ourselves, for if it was of ourselves, if we embrace Christ by our faith, then it is worthless, for then you are puffed up with pride. You have put your trust in your faith, and that is worthless.
Moreover, God declared in His eternal counsel that our salvation was as good and secure in His sight when He chose us to be the Bride of His Son. And this He did in eternity past, before the foundation of the world. And thus we are puzzled by three points in time in which God declared us clean and justified in His sight: #1. In eternity past. #2. in AD 33. #3. in the 20th century. However, in God’s timing it is all the same, for He lives outside of time. What a glorious creator. This is the God I love to serve.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.