The gospel of His baptism that
made us clean
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made
both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished
in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances,
so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and
that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the Cross, thereby
putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were
afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by
one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners,
but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having
been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together,
grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together
for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
What has alienated
man from God?
His sin has done.
The adopted child due to poverty
Half a century has passed since the end of the
Korean War. But it left tremendous wounds among the Korean people. In the aftermath
of the Korean War, many young children were adopted to foreign countries. Even
though the United Nations forces came to Korea and helped us enormously at that
time, but many children were left fatherless after the soldiers left.
Many of the UN soldiers who had wives and children
here left their families behind when they returned home. Many of these children
were then again abandoned to orphanages by their mothers and then sent away
for adoption to foreign countries. It was actually very fortunate that these
young people could find foster parents and be brought up very well.
These adopted children realized that they looked
quite different from their parents and their neighbors as they grew older, and
they learned that they were adopted from a far away country called Korea. ‘Why
did my parents abandon me? Did they send me away to this country because they
hated me?’ With their young minds, these children just couldn’t understand what
Their curiosity and hatred toward their real parents
began to grow in tandem with a longing to meet them. ‘I wonder what my parents
look like? How could they abandon me? Did they do it because they hated me?
No, there was probably a reason for this.’ They probably had many misunderstandings
and sometimes even felt extreme hatred. And at other times they likely resolved
not to think about it anymore. Before they were even aware of it, time had passed
and the children grew up to be adults. They got married, had children and formed
families of their own.
I became interested in these children through
a program on one of the local TV networks. In this program, a TV reporter interviewed
a woman now living in Germany who had been adopted. This woman was in her twenties
at that time and was studying theology. At first, the woman very much tried
to avoid meeting the reporters because she didn’t want anyone else to become
aware that she was adopted. The reporter persuaded her to understand that submitting
to an interview would help stem the tide of adoptions to foreign countries.
The woman agreed.
One of the reporter’s questions was, “What would
you say if you could meet your real parents? What are you most curious about?”
The woman answered, “I just can’t understand why they had to put me up for adoption.
I want to ask them if they hated me.” Her birth mother saw the woman’s interview
on TV, contacted the broadcasting station, and said that she wanted to meet
her daughter. This is how the two came to meet.
The mother went very early to the airport and
waited for her daughter’s arrival. When the young woman emerged from the exit,
her mother could only stand there and weep.
These two people had never met face to face. The
first time the mother saw her grown-up daughter was when she appeared on TV.
Even though they spoke different languages, they could talk with their hearts,
and through the emotional looks they exchanged. They touched each other’s faces
while the mother begged for forgiveness for what she had done. All she could
do was cry and repeat that she was very sorry.
The mother brought her daughter home and they
ate together. Of course, the daughter only spoke German and the mother only
Korean so they couldn’t communicate verbally. But somehow the fact that they
were mother and daughter allowed them to make themselves understood. They had
many wordless conversations and expressed themselves through gestures, touching
each other’s faces and talking with their eyes and their hearts.
By the time she returned to Germany, the daughter
knew that her birth mother loved her. The same reporters that had conducted
the previous interview spoke to her once again before her departure. “There
was no need for me to ask why my mother had given me up for adoption. My mother
is poor even now. Wealthy people in this country are so rich that they drive
foreign cars, but my mother is still living in poverty.” She went on to say,
“Even though I didn’t ask my mother that question and didn’t receive an answer
from her, I could see that she sent me away to save me from poverty. That is
why I didn’t feel the need to ask her that question, and why all doubts and
hatred are now gone.”
People become alienated from God due to the sin in their hearts
Why do we become separated from God, and why can’t
we draw near to Him? The woman who was put up for adoption learned that her
birth mother sent her away to save her from poverty. Is the same true of God?
God created us in His own image. What could have separated us from Him? The
answer is that Satan tempted man to commit sin, and sin separated him from God.
Originally, God created man in His own image and
dearly loved His creation. Men were made as an object for God’s love and possessed
more nobility than any other creation. However, a fallen angel named Satan worked
to alienate man from God. Satan tempted man not to believe in God’s words, and
made him eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Man was thus separated from God due to his sin.
Man was disobedient to God. Man did not eat the fruit of the tree of life, which
gives eternal life and which God allowed, but instead ate the forbidden fruit
that gave him knowledge of good and evil. The result was that man was separated
Previously the object of God’s love, man disobeyed
and became separated from Him out of arrogance. Due to the sin that came to
dwell in his heart, man was eventually alienated from God. After that, man lived
apart from God for a long time and complained, “Why did God abandon us after
He made us? Why did He let us commit sin? Why does He send us to hell after
making us weak? It would have been better if He hadn’t made us in the first
place.” We lived with many questions, as well as curiosity, doubts and hatred
before we were born again.
When I saw the adopted woman on a TV program,
I realized that the relationship between man and God is the same as the relationship
she had with her real mother. No tribulation, misunderstanding, curse or sin
of any kind could separate man from God under any circumstances. Also, I could
understand that even though the relationship between God and man is based on
love, it was still possible for misunderstandings to occur.
Just as the mother hadn’t sent her daughter away
out of hatred, so God separated Himself from man not out of hatred but because
of sin. There is no reason for God to hate man and no reason for men to hate
God. We love each other. The reason that man remains separated from God is that
he became a sinner after succumbing to Satan’s trickery.
God has embraced us through Jesus
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were
far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our
peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained
in ordinances” (Ephesians 2:13-15). The Lord was baptized by John and took
away all the sins of the world in order to abolish the law of commandments.
He then shed His blood on the Cross in order to save man from his sins and allow
him to be embraced by God. God has now embraced those who were cleansed by Him.
Have you ever imagined a world without water?
Not long ago, I attended a Bible meeting in Inchon City, one of the largest
ports in Korea where the tap water didn’t work at that time for a few days and
I thought, ‘People can’t live without water.’
If God would make this world waterless for a month,
it would be impossible to live in the cities due to the odor, filth and all-pervasive
thirst. We should understand the value of water, which God gave us. Just as
water is an absolute necessity for humans, the baptism that Jesus received from
John in the Jordan River is equally indispensable.
If Jesus had not come into this world to be baptized
by John, then how could believers in Jesus receive the remission of sins? Just
as people cannot live without water, everyone in this world would have died
from their sins if John hadn’t baptized Jesus.
However, since Jesus’ baptism took away all our
sins, we can now feel confident in the knowledge that our hearts have been cleansed
and we have been blessed with salvation. Jesus’ baptism is crucial to our faith.
Furthermore, His baptism is absolutely necessary for us to receive the indwelling
of the Holy Spirit.
Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples said, “There
is also an antitype which now saves us ─ baptism, through the resurrection
of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). Peter’s statement says that Jesus was baptized
by John the Baptist and shed His blood in order to save us from our sins. Jesus’
baptism, which washed away all the sins of the world, is the true gospel.
Now let’s look at the passage about the laver
of bronze written in Exodus 30:17-21. “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
‘You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing.
You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall
put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet
in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they
come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD,
they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and
their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statue forever to them ─
to him and his descendants throughout their generations.’”
In the tabernacle there was a laver of bronze,
which was set between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar, and which contained
water for washing. If this laver had not been in the tabernacle, how dirty the
priests offering the sacrifices would have been.
How much blood and dirt would stain the priests
who were offering so many daily sacrifices for the people and laying their hands
on the sin offerings and then killing them? If there hadn’t been the laver in
the tabernacle, the priest would have gotten very dirty.
This is why God prepared the laver for them so
they could draw near to Him with clean hands. Sinners passed on their sins by
laying their hands on the head of the sin offerings, and then the priests sacrificed
them to God on their behalf. God prepared the laver of bronze so that the priests
could enter the holy place, and so that they could wash with water, lest they
die. Even a priest could not enter the holy place while stained with an animal’s
blood. That is why priests washed away all the dirt with the water in the laver
in order to draw near to God after offering sacrifices for the people.
Jesus’ baptism washed away all the sins of the world
Through Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River,
all the sins of the world were transferred to Him. And His total submersion
in the water symbolized His death and His emergence from the water represented
His resurrection. In other words, Jesus was baptized by John to take all the
sin of the world, paid the wages of sin and died on the Cross. His death was
to pay the price for our sins and His resurrection gave us eternal life.
If we didn’t believe that Jesus took away all
our sins through His baptism, our hearts would be full of sin. In that case,
how could we possibly draw near to God? The gospel of the remission of sins
is not a doctrine of one denomination but the truth of God.
We cannot lead our faith without perfect knowledge,
in other words, we can’t overcome the world if we don’t really care whether
Jesus was baptized by John. Just as all living things need water in order to
sustain their lives, we need the remission of sins and the water of Jesus’ baptism
in order to live by faith and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus had to be baptized,
die on the Cross and resurrect in order to save us from our sins. This is the
gospel of the water and the Spirit, which we must believe with all our hearts.
Even though Jesus was crucified to death on the
Cross, He had done nothing to deserve such punishment. He came into this world
to wash away our sins, was baptized at age 30, and became our Savior through
His death on the Cross at age 33. God wanted to make mankind His children no
matter how fragile and sinful we were. That’s why Jesus was baptized. God gave
us the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit at the same time.
“Unless one is born again of water and the
Spirit, he can neither see the kingdom of God nor enter it” (John 3:3-5).
You have to know and believe that Jesus was baptized in order to wash away all
our sins. Even if one is a born-again Christian, if he doesn’t meditate on the
truth that Jesus Christ took away all the sins of the world through His baptism,
his heart will soon become soiled. Because we are corporeal beings, we are liable
to be soiled by sin even in daily life. That’s why we always have to live by
faith, meditating on Jesus’ baptism, His blood, and His resurrection. This faith
upholds us until the day we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus had no choice but to be baptized and die
for our sins, so we must believe that by doing so He brought us salvation. There
is nothing more we have to do than believe in this beautiful gospel in order
to be delivered from all the sins of the world.
We give thanks to the Lord, who gave us the gospel
of the water and the Spirit. The greatest gift God gave us was to send His only
begotten Son to save us from all our sins through His baptism and blood.
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The reason we couldn’t draw near to
God and were forced to live apart from Him was that we had sin in
our hearts. Jesus was baptized by John to take away all the sins
of the world and died on the Cross in order to break down the wall
that was separating God and man. The relationship between God and
man was restored by His baptism and blood. We thank Him for these
gifts. The love of the physical parent toward their child is great,
but it is incomparable to God’s love, by which Jesus saved us sinners.
Jesus’ baptism and blood are both important. If
there were no water in this world, would any living thing survive? Without Jesus’
baptism, there would be no one without sin in his heart. If Jesus had not been
baptized and if He had not died on the Cross, no one would have received the
remission of sins. Fortunately, Jesus was baptized and made the ultimate sacrifice
for us. Even though we are lacking and fallible, we can receive the Holy Spirit
by believing in His baptism and blood on the Cross.
People who believe in Jesus Christ’s baptism and
death on the Cross can draw near to God, pray and praise Him. We are now able
to praise the Lord and worship Him because we have become His children. This
is God’s grace and blessing. The gospel of the baptism of Jesus and His blood
on the Cross is truly wonderful. We can all receive salvation and the indwelling
of the Holy Spirit by believing in this beautiful gospel.