He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.(Mark 16:16)
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:(I Peter 3:20-21)
Today in our local church, we celebrate the hopeful end of a long draught… the first baptism in more than a year and a half. True, our two baptisms amount to a “cloud the size of a man’s hand” but we humbly rejoice! As it is written,”despise not the day of small beginnings”.
In contemplating baptism, I have been meditating on the scriptures above. In what sense could it be said that “baptism now saves us”? I know that it is faith in Jesus’ blood that has procured the pardon and status of righteousness that I needed in order to “flee the wrath” of a righteous and holy God!
The Christian author Watchman Nee, an early but profound influence on my discipleship is helpful here. In the book “Love Not The World” , Nee points out that the word “salvation” is used not in a general but in a specific sense.
Nee points out that every detail of our sinful and God estranged existence has been answered to by the work of God in Christ. For example, because of our spiritual death, God gives eternal life. Sin has ruined the old creation, but God makes a new creation. Since man is under a just but severe condemnation, through Jesus, God offers man justification by faith. Redemption is multi-faceted.
Another facet of man’s ruin is the fact that he has been born and raised, in this world. The term “the world” , in the new testament usually refers to God estranged humanity as it has organized itself, independently of and to the exclusion of the only true God. It is the greek word “Cosmos”, meaning ‘the order” or “adornment”.
Thus salvation is not so much a personal question of sins forgiven or of hell avoided. It is to be seen rather in terms of a system from which we come out. When I am saved, I make my exodus out of one whole world and my entry into another. I am saved now out of that whole organized realm which Satan has constructed in defiance of the purpose of God.(Watchman Nee,”Love Not The World”,Christian Literature Crusade)
The Word of God says of the World;
* It is already under a judgment- Jesus said, Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.(John 12:31) The sentence has already been passed, the world is already judged by God , the Lord is uncompromising in his resolution. As in the days of Noah, the execution of the sentence hangs over the world like a cloud, the day of Divine vengeance draws near!
The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright(Psalm 11:5-7)
* The real ruler of the world is Satan- In the scripture above, Jesus referred to ‘the prince of this world’, who would be cast down, at the judgment of this world. Jesus would later proclaim that in the coming of Judas ,’the prince of this world comes….’. Who was he referring to? Satan, the real ‘god’ of this age, and the mind behind the ‘world system’.John, the Lord’s apostle warned us that “the whole world lies in the wicked one’s power”.
We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (I John 5:19 NASB)
* The world hates Christ- If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you ( John 15: 17-18)
Don’t let the world deceive you with it’s platitudes about Jesus as a ‘good man’ or a philosopher, the world hates the real Jesus of the Bible. He offends them because he tells them that they aren’t right, and that they need to be saved, and worse yet, that they can’t even save themselves!
The world has crafted another christianity that is more to their liking, but it is anti-christ.They hate the real Christ and would crucify him again if given a chance.That is why the world has always persecuted christians wherever possible.
* The love of the world and the love of the Father are mutually exclusive - John reveals this truth to us, in this admonition of his epistle;
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15)
Therefore we are “saved” out of this world! In this sense do Peter and Mark proclaim that “baptism saves”, or that “he that believes and is baptized will be saved”. In baptism, we are stepping over the line of demarcation, exiting the doomed world, even as Noah did , through the water.
Remember that Israel never really left Egypt until she crossed the Red Sea. Egypt went in with her, but never came out the other side as she did. There is no real leaving of the ties of this world, without a valid new testament baptism whenever possible.
Two brothers, left the World today, calling upon Jesus! They went from one Kingdom to another, they crossed the Red Sea! They passed through the flood of Judgment into the Kingdom of Light! They justified God! Hallelujah!!