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A River of Life

 

The Story . . .

2 Kings 5:1-14

Naaman was a brave, rich, and famous commander

for the armies of Syria who contracted leprosy, the most

dreaded disease of Bible times. Leprosy meant isolation from

loved ones and a slow, wretched death. A Hebrew slave girl

who worked in Naaman's house said that if her master would

only go to the prophet Elisha in Israel, he would heal Naaman

of his leprosy.

Willing to grasp at any thread of hope, Naaman made the

long trip to Israel. With him was a small

band of personal bodyguards and a

king's ransom to pay for this miracle of

healing. When Naaman finally stood

before the humble house of the prophet,

Elisha would not come out. Instead, he

sent his servant with these simple

instructions: "Go and wash in Jordan

seven times, and thy flesh shall come

again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."

2 Kings 5:10.

The prophet's command to wash

implied that Naaman was dirty! Being

told to wash seven times-and in a

muddy river, no less-was too much for

the proud Syrian general. In a rage,

Naaman spun his horse around and

began riding home. But in order to reach

Damascus, Naaman had to ride by the Jordan River. As he

passed by, Naaman's servants urged him to try the prophet's

advice. So he stopped his horse, slid down, and laid aside the

armor that covered the awful evidence of his leprosy. Naaman

slowly stepped down into the waters of the Jordan. Six times

he plunged under the water with no results, but when he came

up the seventh time, the leprosy was gone! His skin was as

pure and healthy as a baby's.

Just as Naaman experienced restoration, you too can have

a healing new-birth experience!

 

The Study

 

Fill in the blanks after reading each Bible text.

1. What New Testament prophet used the Jordan River for

baptizing, or cleansing?

Matthew 3:1, 5, 6 In those days came _______________ the

_______________, preaching in the wilderness of Judea. ... Then went

out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan,

And were _______________ of him in Jordan.

NOTE: The Gospel stories begin and end with the subject of baptism. Obviously

this is a very important teaching to Jesus (Matthew 28:18, 19).

2. What glorious Bible ceremony symbolizes a "washing"

from the leprosy of sin?

Acts 22:16 Arise, and be _______________, and wash away thy sins,

calling on the name of the Lord.

NOTE: The Bible ordinance of baptism symbolizes the washing away of sin from

a person's life, as well as the new birth.

3. According to the Bible, how many different kinds of

baptism are acceptable?

Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, _______________

_______________.

NOTE: At least 15 different ceremonies are called baptism today, but according to

the Bible, there is only one true baptism.

4. What does the word "baptize" mean?

Colossians 2:12 _______________ with him in baptism, wherein also

ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath

raised him from the dead.

NOTE: The Greek word "baptizo" means "submerge," "plunge under," or

"immerse." A person has not been baptized unless he has been completely

submerged, or buried, in water. This word "baptizo" is always used in the Bible in

reference to the sacred ordinance of baptism. The Greek words for "sprinkling" or

"pouring" are never used.

5. Jesus is our example. How was He baptized?

Mark 1:9, 10 Jesus came ... and was baptized of John in Jordan. And

straightway coming _______________ _______________ of the water,

he saw the heavens opened.

NOTE: John baptized Jesus by immersion in the same river where Naaman was

cleansed from leprosy. Note that they were "in" Jordan (not on the riverbank)

and that Jesus came "up out" of the water. This is why John was baptizing in

"Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there." John 3:23.

Christians are to follow the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21), who was baptized

by immersion "to fulfil all righteousness." Matthew 3:15.

6. How did Philip baptize the treasurer of Ethiopia?

Acts 8:38, 39 They went _______________ both into the water,

both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were

come _______________ _______________ of the water, the Spirit

of the Lord caught away Philip.

7. What other truths are symbolized by baptism?

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that

like as Christ was _______________ _______________ from the dead

by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

NOTE: Baptism symbolizes Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. There is

first death to sin, then burial of the old life of sin in the water, and finally

resurrection from the water to a new life. Baptism by immersion fits the

symbolism perfectly. The life of sin dies, then there is brief suspension of breath

while the person being baptized is leaned backward into the water until the

body is fully covered, or buried, in the water. Then the person is raised up out

of the water, taking a fresh breath as a newborn baby, to live an entirely new

life, symbolizing the resurrection. No other form of baptism fits this Bible

symbolism. Some say they keep Sunday holy in honor of the resurrection,

but this practice is never mentioned in the Bible.

8. How important is baptism?

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be

_______________; but he that believeth not shall be damned [lost].

John 3:5 Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he

_______________ enter into the kingdom of God.

NOTE: Baptism is clearly mandated by Scripture as essential. However, when

baptism is impossible, as it was for the thief on the cross, Jesus gives that person

credit for His baptism (Matthew 3:15).

9. What blessed ceremony can be compared to baptism?

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ

have _______________ _______________ Christ.

NOTE: Baptism is like the marriage ceremony. The Bible says, "For thy Maker

is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name." Isaiah 54:5. As a woman takes

her husband's name in marriage, so Christians take the name of Christ-

thereafter to be called Christians. Both ceremonies must be based on love and

commitment if they are to be meaningful. Baptism is as essential to the

Christian life as a wedding is to a marriage.

10. What command did Jesus give to His people just

before His ascension?

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,

_______________ them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and

of the Holy Ghost.

NOTE: Peter followed this command when on the day of Pentecost he told the

penitent people, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus

Christ." Acts 2:38.

11. What biblical qualifications must precede baptism?

A. Understand Jesus' teachings (Matthew 28:19, 20).

B. Believe all of Jesus' teachings (Mark 16:16).

C. Repent of past sins (Acts 2:38).

D. Believe with all your heart (Acts 8:37).

E. Agree to turn from sin (Luke 3:7, 8; Romans 6:5, 6).

F. Accept Christ as your personal Saviour and experience the new birth

(2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3, 5).

NOTE: Since an infant cannot comply with any of the above steps, obviously it is

not scriptural to baptize a child until he is old enough to comprehend the gospel.

12. Where did all of the counterfeit forms of baptism

originate?

Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the

_______________ of men.

NOTE: Baptism by immersion was the only form of baptism practiced during

Bible times and for centuries after the cross. But then, misguided men introduced

other forms of baptism for the sake of convenience. Thus, God's sacred ordinance

of baptism was distorted and its rich symbolic meaning obscured.

13. What does the Bible say about those who put the

teachings of men before the truth of God?

Matthew 15:9 But in _______________ they do worship me, teaching

for doctrines the commandments of _______________.

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other

gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be

_______________.

14. But doesn't the baptism of the Holy Spirit replace

baptism by immersion?

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and _______________

_______________ every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the

remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the _______________

_______________.

NOTE: No! Notice that while Peter was preaching (Acts 10:44-48), the Holy

Spirit fell upon all who were listening, many of whom had not been baptized. But

even though they had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter

insisted that they be baptized in water as well.

15. Is rebaptism ever proper?

Acts 19:2-5 They said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether

there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye

baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily

baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they

should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

When they _______________ this, they were _______________ in the

name of the Lord Jesus.

NOTE: One day when Paul was preaching in Ephesus, he found 12 men who

had been baptized by John the Baptist, but who had never heard of the Holy

Spirit. So upon receiving this substantial new light, they were rebaptized. Likewise,

if a person has completely lost his Christian experience, he should be rebaptized

upon returning to the Lord. Rebaptism is also appropriate if a person was not

baptized in the biblical method.

16. Is baptism connected with joining a church?

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and

the same day there were _______________ unto them about three

thousand souls.

Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the

Lord added to the _______________ daily such as should be saved.

Colossians 3:15 Ye are called in one _______________.

Colossians 1:18 He is the head of the body, the _______________.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into

_______________ body.

NOTE: The Scriptures are unequivocal. All of God's people are called into one

body, which is the church, and we enter it by baptism. After birth, a baby must be

placed in a family for nurturing, protection, and growth.

17. If I refuse baptism, whose counsel am I refusing?

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the _______________

of _______________ against themselves, being not baptized of him.

18. When Jesus was baptized, what did His Father say?

Mark 1:9, 11 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from

Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. ... And there

came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am

_______________ _______________.

NOTE: When any of God's children repent of their sins and are baptized, He is

well pleased.

 

Your Response

Would you like to begin preparing for the sacred rite of baptism so God can say of

you, "Thou art my beloved son [or daughter], in whom I am well pleased"?

ANSWER: _______________

If you would like to know more about baptism, contact the pastor or group

leader who is presenting these studies and express your desire.

 

Supplement

This section provides additional information for further study.

The Model Baptism

Jesus was not baptized because He needed cleansing from sin, for He was

sinless (1 Peter 2:22). This is why John the Baptist was so perplexed when

Jesus came to the Jordan River, asking to be baptized by him. John said, "I

have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" Matthew 3:14.

So why was Jesus baptized? There are three main reasons. First, He was

baptized in behalf of those who cannot be baptized themselves. Sometimes

when people accept the Lord in prison or in a hospital, circumstances do not

allow them to be baptized. Jesus gives them credit for His baptism. The thief

on the cross was one example (Luke 23:43). Second, Jesus was baptized as an

example, that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). And third, Jesus

was baptized so we can, by studying His experience, know what to expect

by faith.

To illustrate, let's take the following verses word by word and see what we

can expect from our baptism. Matthew 3:16 and 17 reads: "And Jesus, when

he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens

were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove,

and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my

beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

"The heavens were opened" = We receive access to God.

"He saw" = Our spiritual eyes are now opened, giving us

new understanding and perception.

"The Spirit of God" = We recognize His leading.

"Descending like a dove" = Peace gently enters our hearts.

"A voice from heaven" = We will begin to hear that still, small voice.

"My beloved son" = We are adopted into His royal family and

become citizens of a different country.

"I am well pleased" = God gives us complete acceptance and

forgiveness.

 

 

 

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