Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 14
MATTHEW 1 – JOHN THE BAPTIST
Let’s get back to Matthew Chapter 3, where we were talking about the baptism of repentance as proclaimed by John the Baptist, and how it was a natural to the Jew. They didn’t have any problem accepting this baptism. Years ago, when I was just a young deacon, and there was a lot I didn’t know, I asked one of our old deacons, “Was there any hint of baptism before the New Testament?” I can see him to this day. He said, “Oh no, Les, there’s nothing in the Old Testament concerning baptism.” But it was all back there, that’s what the whole idea of washing was about. Let me show you a verse in Hebrews Chapter 9. Here the writer is rehearsing the Day of Atonement. And he speaks of the high priest in verse 7:
“But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all (behind the veil) was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which (all of this that was taking place back in the Old Testament economy) was a figure (or a symbol, or illustration) for the time then present (at the time of sacrificial worship), in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;”
In other words, this whole sacrificial system in itself didn’t take away sin. The blood of animals couldn’t take away sin, but the point I want to make is in verse 10. All that was practiced; the sacrificial lamb, the sprinkling of the blood, and the approaching a Holy God on Holy ground, all of this was symbolic back there.
“Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers (what’s the next word?) washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.”
The Greek word translated “washing” is “Baptismos.” So if the translators would have translated the word “Baptismos” like they did every other place in the New Testament, this is how it would have read: All of these things “stood only in meats and drinks, and divers baptism.” The Jew was perfectly aware of what John was doing. It was indicating a cleansing, even though the water couldn’t take away sin. Don’t ever get that idea. It was a symbolic gesture indicating a need for a spiritual cleansing. Now go to Ephesians. What a difference is there! The Apostle Paul is writing to the Gentile Church.
“That he (Christ) might sanctify and cleanse it (He’s talking about the Body of Christ, the Church, back in verse 25) with the washing of water by (baptism? No by) the word.”
The Bible is our cleansing vehicle. It’s the Word that cleanses. And water baptism (although very appropriate for the Jew, because he was accustomed to all of that), cannot be claimed to have any kind of cleansing effect today. Because it’s the Word that cleanses daily. People can twist the Scriptures very easily, because they really don’t see what the Scriptures say. Now back to Matthew Chapter 3. So John the Baptist is preaching repentance and baptism because the King and the Kingdom are on the scene. The King is ready to fulfill the Covenant promises of being Israel’s King. Now verse 11:
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance (they are tied together): but he that cometh after me (speaking of Christ) is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he (Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”
There are two alternatives. You will either be baptized with the Spirit or the lake of fire. Those are the only choices. We are either saved or lost. The Holy Spirit Baptism is found in I Corinthians Chapter 12. In Matthew Chapter 3, what were the verb tenses, past, present, or future? Future. In the present, John is baptizing in water, but he said in the future Christ would baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Here in I Corinthians Chapter 12 we pick that up.
I Corinthians 12:12,13
“For as the body (this human body) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body (if you hurt your toe, you hurt all over): so also is Christ.”
“For by one Spirit (Holy Spirit is capitalized) are we all (not just the chosen few, but every believer) baptized into one body,…” Now what body? The Body of Christ, the Church. Every believer is connected to the Head who is in Heaven.
Every now and then I like to throw things out to make people think. Do you know that Paul never uses the illustration that we as Church Age Believers are sheep and Christ is the Shepherd? Never! Because it is so much greater to be an intrinsic member of the Body of Christ, connected to the Head, which is Christ. And that in turn is what gives us our position in Christ as a believer. We’re not like a sheep out there under a shepherd. We are part and parcel of the Head and the Body. That makes all the difference in the world. And we dare not diminish any of these things. Paul takes us into this higher plane of Christian experience, especially in the Books of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. You won’t find this anywhere else in Scripture; it’s not there. But here is one of them, that when we become a member of the Body of Christ, we become a co-heir with Christ – we are in union with Him. The Head is in Heaven, and we are left as ambassadors here on the earth until one day we will all be with Him. Let’s get back to Matthew. We have those choices we spoke of a few moments ago. We can either become a believer and experience the baptism of the Spirit or we can reject salvation and be placed into the lake of fire for the lost.
“Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner (or the granary); but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
That is the eternal doom of the wicked. Then we come to the baptism of Jesus, and I think we covered that sufficiently in our last lesson. The other thing I would like to point out is that at the baptism of Jesus you have one of two instances in all Scripture where all three Members of the Trinity appear in one place. Here they are:
“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.'” You have all three in one place at the same time here. We’ll study Jesus’ temptation next lesson. Now Chapter 4:
“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” We’re not talking about physical light, but rather a spiritual light. Let’s go to Isaiah Chapter 49 and 60. Remember what Matthew just said, that people were sitting in darkness, but they see a great light.
“And he said, `It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.””
This light will start with Israel. Recall John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” He came to the Nation of Israel and although they will reject Him, His salvation will extend to the ends of the earth. We have another one in Isaiah Chapter 60:
“ARISE, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth (this is spiritual darkness), and gross darkness the people (even Israel): but (in spite of that spiritual darkness) the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,…”
And Who is the Light? We used to sing the chorus when we were kids, “The Light of the world is Jesus.” Indeed He was! Now let’s go back to the Book of Matthew.
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent (why?): for the kingdom of heaven is a hand.”
The same message that John the Baptist preached. John is going to slip off the scene and wind up in prison, and Jesus is going to preach that same message. Because He was the King and was ready to set up His Kingdom in fulfillment of the Old Testament Covenants. What was this message called? See verse 23:
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues (for Jews), and preaching the gospel of the kingdom,…” Now let’s look at another verse:
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages (of Israel), teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom (now in association with the Gospel of the Kingdom, what do you have? Finish the verse), and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” In another place it says that “He healed them all.” What kind of a response did this Gospel of the Kingdom bring out of the believers of that Gospel? Let’s look at Matthew 16:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, `Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?’ And they said, `Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.’ He said unto them, `But whom say ye that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, `Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'”
Who died for me and rose from the dead? No! It doesn’t say that, does it? But that’s what everybody likes to think. Now our Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace Age, is that Christ died for me, was buried and rose from the dead. We find that in I Corinthians 15:1-4. But that wasn’t the Gospel of the Kingdom. Do you see the difference?
So the Gospel of the Kingdom precipitated this kind of a confession: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” What did that mean? He is the Messiah coming to fulfill the third part of the Covenant. The King Redeemer, the Prophet and Priest. Let’s look at John’s Gospel, Chapter 11 verse 23. Here we have the account of Lazarus. Mary and Martha have been distraught. They know that Jesus knew about Lazarus’ condition. They can’t understand why He doesn’t come and heal him. Jesus delays purposely because He wants to raise him from the dead. By the time Jesus gets back, Lazarus is dead. And Jesus says in verse 23:
“…Thy brother shall rise again (He’s comforting the girls) Martha saith unto him, `I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said unto her, `I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me (talking of Himself) shall never die. Believest thou this?’ (Now look at Martha’s answer) She saith unto him, `Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”
“And die for me and be raised from the dead?” No, it doesn’t say that. What was her confession of faith? “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Now let’s go to Acts Chapter 8. Here we have the Ethiopian eunuch who I’m quite sure was a proselyte because, in verse 27, he was returning from Jerusalem where he had been worshiping. Let’s read verse 35:
“The Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture (which was Isaiah 53); and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to baptized?” What has been part and parcel of the Gospel of the Kingdom? Repentance and water baptism. Compare all of these confessions: Peter’s, Martha’s, and this proselyte’s. Look at verse 37:
“And Philip said, `If though believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.’ And he answered and said, `I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'”
Who died for me and rose from the dead? No! That wasn’t his confession. All he believed was that Jesus was Who He claimed to be, the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel. Now, Acts Chapter 9 where we have the conversion of Saul on the way to Damascus:
“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision,… Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,”
“Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:'”
“But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the (who?) Gentiles, and kings (this is something new, remember God had been dealing with the Jew only with few exceptions) and the children of Israel:'”
God is also going to give the children of Israel a chance at the Gospel that He will reveal to Saul (Paul) later. So Ananias finds Saul at the house of Judas, lays his hands on him, and he could see again. In verse 18 Scripture tells us that he was baptised. Remember Saul is converted under the Gospel of the Kingdom. To prove my point, Saul immediately starts to preach what? verse 20:
“And straightway he (Saul) preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” Now as you finish Chapter 9, you will see that God will not permit Saul to preach that message, because He has something completely different in store for him and the Age of Grace or the Church Age.