Christ’s last commandment
The last commandment Jesus gave His disciple before his ascension to heaven is recorded in Matt 28:18-20. As should be expected it is very significant. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The importance of this verse has been diminished by neglect of Christian teaching in recent years. The words that are used in the commandment are explicit and unequivocal. St. Marks gospel records it this way. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15)
A point not often stressed is baptism is nearly equal in importance to the requirements of salvation as the confession of sin and profession of faith. The verse from 1 John 1:9,10 makes this clear. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” 1 John 1:9-10
Public confession of faith in Christ is likewise a fundamental requirement of all those who would follow Christ. Jesus said in Matt 10:32-33, “ “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
Taking the words of the last commandment of Jesus at face value we must come to the conclusion that water baptism is as important to salvation as the confession of sin and public profession of faith in Christ and therefore believers need to take the sacrament of baptism very seriously
The spiritual experience that baptism symbolizes is explained in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, chapter six, verses 3 & 4. He writes; “Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Another obvious symbolism is that of cleansing and purification. Not of the dirt and grime of the physical body that is cleansed by water, but the inner spiritual cleansing of the soul by the precious blood of Jesus. John writes in 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Pastor Gene Holman of Living Word Fellowship in Gardnerville is a member of Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.