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Why did John the Baptist baptize with water?

In today’s Bible study, I want to teach on the true significance of water baptism in light of Hebraic thought and history, as well as the practice of the early Christian Church.

The Ministry of John the Baptizer

John was called “John the Baptist” – not because he was a member of the Baptist church, nor was he ordained in the Baptist denomination (thank God Christianity wasn’t divided into  denominations in those days), but because he practiced water baptism as an outward demonstration of a person’s repentance from sin and committing their lives to God.

John the Baptizer preaches by the River Jordan

John was a direct male descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses. He was a Kohen (or Cohen) the distinct priestly line of Kohenim that were only permitted to minister in the Old Testament Temple. Although John was raised in traditional Judaism and his father Zachariah (also a Kohan) served as a priest in the Jerusalem temple, John chose not to follow his priestly heritage. It was God’s will that John not be contaminated by the corrupt religious system of his day. He was a Nazarite from birth and was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb (Luke 1:15). Instead, he obeyed God’s call to be a prophet to the nation of Israel (The prophet Jeremiah was also a Kohenim and expected to serve as a priest after his father, but later became a prophet in obedience to God’s calling). But, John was not just a prophet; he was distinguished with the great honor of being the forerunner of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

John’s greatness cannot be denied. Every one of the four Gospels begins their account of the ministry of our Lord by recording some of John’s words of introduction. Jesus Himself spoke very highly of John in this manner:

“I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”  – Matthew 11:11.

Water Baptism in the Early Church

The early church was first comprised of all Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic-Hebrew). The first apostles and their growing number of disciples were but one of many Jewish sects at that time (such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) In fact, the first disciples of Jesus did not call themselves “Christians” (only years later was this term coined), but simply followers of “The Way” – a shortened version of “the true way” or “the right way” in comparison to traditional Judaism and other religions. These early believers in Jesus continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple and observe the laws of Judaism.

However, these early followers of The Way differed greatly from other Jewish sects in that they believed that Jesus is the Messiah, that He had died for the remission of our sins (as the Holy Lamb of God), and that His resurrection from the dead ushered in a new age of God’s kingdom rule in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Everywhere, they preached in Jesus’ name and water baptized all new converts into The Way. They grew into a community of believers in Jerusalem devoted to practicing Jesus’ teachings, prayer and fellowship.

Water baptism (by full immersion in living water) was not a new concept to Jews. It was actually a common practice in those times. All pious Jews frequently immersed themselves in ritual pools known as “Mikveh’s”* to spiritually purify themselves. So the idea of water purification was not foreign to most Jews when John the Baptist came on the scene. They understood his message of repentance from sin and the corresponding outward act of purification by washing and immersion in a pool of water or river.

The Forerunner of Messiah.

Jesus is baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness.

John the Baptizer began his prophetic ministry around A.D. 28. His body was lean and hardened by years of solitary desert life. His hair and beard was long and unkempt, and he dressed in a single garment made of rough camel’s hair bound by a leather belt. He traveled the land preaching a passionate message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Many responded to John’s call for repentance and spiritual renewal. They would immediately wade out with John into the Jordan River, and he would baptize them as an outward demonstration of death to the old life of sin and resurrection to a new life of righteousness in Christ. Unlike the frequent Jewish Mikveh washings, John’s baptism was a one-time event for a renewed people of God.

John was God’s true prophet who led the way for the beginning of the Christian Church. Although he admitted that he was not the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah had long ago declared him to be the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah: “[John was] the one crying in the wilderness, making straight the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptizer’s prophetic message struck conviction of sin and fear of God’s judgment among his hearers, so much so that even the religious Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by him. On one occasion he thundered at these religious leaders, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come! Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’…” John dispelled their false sense of security: neither their birthright as Jews nor their religious heritage nor their important leadership positions, would save them from God’s wrath to come if they did not open their hearts in true repentance; they were just as spiritually condemned as non-Jews.

Jesus the Messiah was greater than John.

John himself admitted he was not the Messiah, but a humble messenger of God. When questioned about whether he was Elijah, or “The Prophet” (spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18-19), he told them “I am not.” “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he [Jesus the Messiah] is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. One day while John was preaching, he saw a figure approaching him and immediately stopped and cried aloud, “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is mightier that I, for he was before me” (John 1:15) When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, he was astonished and said, “I need to be baptized by You!” But Jesus insisted, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-14).

So John obeyed Jesus and baptized Him (even though Jesus should be the one baptizing John). As soon as Jesus emerged from the water, everyone saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus “like a dove” (not an actual dove, but the Spirit’s gentle presence), and a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16).

The Christian Rite of Baptism

Water baptism by full immersion is the correct method.

John the Baptizer pioneered the rite of water baptism practiced in most Christian churches today. Although certain churches practice a “sprinkling” type of baptism, the correct way has always been by full immersion. The proper manner of baptism as performed by John, the twelve apostles, and the early Christians is the complete dunking method. The penitent sinner should acknowledge his repentance from sin and accept Jesus as his Savior while another believer or minister of God stands beside him or her, and extend God’s forgiveness and acceptance into the Christian family. According to Jesus’ command, the words should be spoken over the new convert, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When I was a baby I was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest with the sprinkling of water on my forehead. But after I left the Roman Catholic Church and became a Born-Again Christian, I was baptized again. This second time it was by full immersion in a pool of water – just as Jesus and His disciples did.

If you have accepted Jesus the Messiah as your Savior and Lord and have never been water baptized (by full immersion), it’s time that you did so. You can be water baptized in a church baptismal, a swimming pool, a river, or even a spa – as long as you do it prayerfully with a repented heart towards God. Make sure you are able to go completely under the water; that’s how true believers have done it from the very beginning of the Christian church.

If water baptism was important to Jesus, it should be important to us. Don’t keep putting it off. I know God will bless you in a special way for honoring His Word.

–         Luis Josephus

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* The Jewish rite of water purifification in a Mikvah (pool) was known as Tevilah. Tevilah was by full body immersion with “living” water from a Spring. The Mikvah had the proportions 3 cubits long & 1 cubits deep and 1 cubit wide. This was done for purifications before certain events such as spiritual cleansing, coming into the presence of God, marriage, and also after certain events such as childbirth and disease. Tevilah was also one of three requirements for conversion of the Gentiles to Judaism. The washing of hands & feet commonly practiced was a miniature Tevilah.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:
“Do I need to be baptized to be saved?”
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Ruth’s Vision of Jesus

Ruth Gottlieb

Ruth Gottlieb

Ruth Gottlieb is a Holocaust survivor who lost her parents in the Nazi Death Camps. In 1945, the Nazis evacuated Auschwitz and Ruth and 7,000 others were left behind. The Soviet army liberated them from the camp and Ruth eventually migrated to Israel. Her complete story was told to Jews For Jesus Ministry at: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v20-n04/auschwitz-mengele-and-the-god-who-was-with-me

Although she was raised in the Jewish religion, she relates how one day she received Jesus as her Savior, Lord and Messiah:

Jesus walks on water“In the 1980’s at one point I lived in a hotel in Tiberius, Israel.  I could see the Sea of Galilee from my room. One day, I had a vision in which I saw Yeshua (Jesus) walking on the lake. It wasn’t a dream; I just saw him! So I told my daughter and I got more and more interested in Jesus and read many books about him.

When we moved back to France, we were still seeking and reading. Then one day, I was walking on the beach in Nice, and I met a Christian woman named Rosemund. We spoke about Jesus for quite a while. When we began to read the Bible together, it suddenly became very clear to me that Jesus was our Jewish Messiah. I talked with my daughter, and over time she too came to believe in him.

Jesus was Jewish. He taught from the Hebrew Scriptures. In his day the New Testament didn’t exist. He died for our sins voluntarily – no one murdered him, neither Romans nor Jews. Some people claim the New Testament is anti-Semitic. What an idea! It’s not in the least bit anti-Semitic. All you have to do is to read it and you will find a book that is thoroughly Jewish.

I’ve always wondered why God took me out of the concentration camp and restored my health. There are millions that died. I was not saved thanks to my own wisdom. I recognize that God saved me, but why me?. I don’t know the answer.

Since I have come to know Yeshua, I have a whole different way of thinking. I don’t need to go to be entertained or a lot of material things to be happy. I am just more content. Most of all, I have peace in my heart knowing that my sins are forgiven and that one day I will be with my Messiah in heaven.”

Regardless of your culture or religious background, believe that there is one true God, and Jesus Christ (Messiah) His only begotten Son. He died on the cross to redeem all men from their sins. He rose from the dead after three days and three nights and now sits in heaven at the right hand of God the Father interceding for His people, and awaiting the day of His return to the earth. Won’t you receive Him today as your Savior, Messiah and Lord of your life?

Pray this prayer and mean it with all your heart:

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you that You sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins. I repent of my sinful life; please forgive me. I invite Jesus to be my Savior and Lord of my life today. Help me to be the man (or woman) of God You want me to be. Amen.

If you just prayed this prayer, you have now been forgiven of all your sins. Start attending a Bible-believing church regularly where you can continue to grow in your Christian faith. If you need a Bible or other Christian literature, write us and we’ll send it to you absolutely free.

– Luis Josephus

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SCRIPTURE READING:

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus Walks on the Water

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

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Let God speak through you

Luis Josephus 1“Trust in the LORD (Jehovah) with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes… “ – Proverbs 3:5-7

Many times as I sit down to write these inspirational messages, I have no idea what I’m going to say. I study the Bible, pray and ask God to speak through me, and by faith the words begin to flow from my mind unto my computer.

Afterwards, people will hit the “Like” button or email me that the message touched their hearts and came to them “at just the right time.” I cannot take any credit for this since it was God who obviously directed the whole thing. He gave me my message, and placed it in the right place at the right time, for someone who needed to hear it.

God wants to use you too.

As you humbly make yourself available in God’s service (whatever area that may be), He too will direct your paths. Do not measure your success on how precisely you accomplished your task or how eloquently you delivered your speech, but by what God did through you. Simply pray and make yourself available for God’s anointing to rest upon you. He will do the rest.

God can do great and mighty things through the humblest person who trusts Him implicitly, and allows His divine Spirit to direct their paths.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I trust you completely with my life. Guide me everyday in the paths that I must follow, and use me to be a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

–         Luis Josephus

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Testimony of Rose Price – Nazi Concentration Camp Survivor

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rose Price went to be with the Lord in the spring of 2015. She was 87 years old. Rest in Peace, dear one.  – LJM

Rose Price spent five years in a Nazi concentration camp. She narrowly escaped death time after time at the hand of her German tormentors. Her entire family except for her sister and aunt, never came out of the death camps. She recalls, “I was hit on the head with a cross by a Roman Catholic priest simply because I was a Jew. He called me a ‘Christ killer”. For many years Rose learned to hate the “Jesus” of her persecutors and vowed never to have anything to do with Christianity. But when she met “the real Jesus” of the Bible – the one who truly loved her and died for her redemption, she willingly embraced Him as her Messiah.

– Luis Josephus

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Click below to watch Rose’s YouTube testimony:

Click below to read Rose’s complete testimony:
http://www.jewishvoice.org/site/DocServer/Holocaust_Rose_Price.pdf?docID=201

Click below to read other Testimonies of Faith:
https://yehudafm.wordpress.com/category/testimonies-of-faith/

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Rose Price

Rose Price was born of Orthodox Jewish parents in Poland. As a small child she tasted deeply of the persecution that the Jewish people have endured down through the ages. Rose, along with the millions of Jews living in Europe personally entered into a dark time in human history known as the “Holocaust.” A time when a man named Hitler who, inspired by Satan, set his face to destroy the entire Jewish race.

During the horror of World War II, Rose spent five years in concentration camps, narrowly escaping death time after time from the hand of her tormentors. Her entire family except for her sister and aunt, never came out of the death camps. But out of the smoldering ruins of Europe, God brought forth smoldering remnants of human life, and one of these firebrands was Rose.

After immigrating to the United States, Rose met and married Charlie Price and settled in Philadelphia to raise a family of four children — two daughters and two sons. Rose was president of her neighborhood synagogue in spite of the fact that she did not believe in God. The horrors of the war had made her angry at God and she turned her unforgiving heart from Him completely. Yet she did want her children to know of their Jewish heritage and because of this became very involved in temple service.

One at a time, Rose’s daughter and husband met the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), causing great anguish and distress to Rose. The story of how she, too, encountered her Messiah and surrendered her life to Him, lets one know that God is compassionate and merciful; His love is, indeed, for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Don’t miss this vibrant testimony of how the Shepherd of Israel makes His claim on the life of one of those lost sheep, Rose Price — and how He lovingly brings her into fellowship with Him.

Rose has spoken at Churches, Synagogues, and both public and private schools in more than 30 of the United States of America. She was a featured speaker at “Berlin for Jesus” and in Nuremberg at the Anniversary of Hitler’s proclamation. She has been an honored guest in Canada, Poland, Jamaica, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

 


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Doing the first works

Bible_man_reading_1“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” – Revelation 2:4-5.

Jesus is speaking to many of us through this letter to the Church of Ephesus who had “lost their first love.” These Ephesians church members were still blood-washed, born-again believers, but they had lost the excitement and devotion they once had for Jesus. Remember when you first got saved; how excited you were about God?

Spiritual backsliding is a common problem in the church. After years of walking with God, many of us may slowly begin to neglect spending quality time with God or even going to church. Our faith becomes lukewarm and we might also backslide morally. The solution for correcting this problem, Jesus said, is to remember therefore from where we have fallen; repent, and do the first works again.

Since the first step is to repent, we need to acknowledge our sins to God and ask Him to forgive us. He is always merciful and faithful to forgive us, and to cleanse us, once again, from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Secondly, we must start from scratch in our faith and “do the first works” we once did in the beginning. What are the first works?

  • Studying the Bible daily.
  • Spending quality time in prayer and hearing God’s voice.
  • Going to church regularly and saturating your spirit with sound biblical teaching, and collective praise and worship.
  • Fellowship regularly with other believers.

If you have lost your first love, or drifted away from God, or fallen into immoral sins, don’t give up on Jesus, because He hasn’t given up on you. He still loves you dearly and desires to restore you back to Himself. All He asks is that you Repent, Confess, and “Do the first works” again. He will restore your life with His abundance of peace and joy.

– Luis JosephusRealJesus Logo+75x75

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comment_smComment from Pastor Emeka: “Dear Pastor Luis Yosefus, thanks for your newsletter. I am inspired and encouraged by your messages and revelations of the word of God. I am a pastor of a small fellowship in Corby, United kingdom (People for Christ Ministries).


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Hanukkah Verses Christmas

Mosaic of Maccabee Revolt: Faithful Jews cleanse the temple of pagan defilement and restore the worship of the one true God.

Mosaic of Maccabee Revolt: Faithful Jews cleanse the temple of pagan defilement and restore the worship of the one true God.

More and more born-again believers in Jesus Christ [Messiah] are now celebrating Hanukkah each year instead of Christmas. They have discarded the pagan practice of observing “Christ-Mass” and begun to observe Hanukkah instead in a New Testament context. For more information on the fallacy of Christmas observance, read our article: “Was Jesus really born on December 25th.”?

Hanukkah’s historical origin.

The Hanukkah holiday we celebrate this week originally commemorated the defilement of the Jewish temple in 167 B.C. by the Roman ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes when he attacked Jerusalem, purposely sacrificed a pig (and other abominable creatures to the Jews) on the temple altar, and forced everyone to worship Zeus, his pagan god.

A small number of faithful and heroic Jews, known as the Maccabees, fought back and regained control of their temple from the Roman invasion. Immediately they cleansed the temple and restored the worship of the one true God, Yahovah.

The miracle associated with Hanukkah occurred when the Jewish priests only had enough oil for the Candelabrum to give them one day of light. But they prayed in faith, and God miraculously made the oil last for eight days until more oil could be produced. Thus, the significance of the eight days of Hanukkah where one new candle is lit everyday. The ninth candle is called the “Shammash” (Hebrew: Servant), used to light all the other candles.

New Testament meaning of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah should remind us that our bodies should be cleansed daily of any spiritual defilement because we are the personal dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Let us live in such a way as to honor and please God with our bodies. When you commit sin, you must confess it quickly and ask God to forgive you and cleanse you once again from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

– Luis Josephus

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Divine Surprises

Spirit-Lifting Thoughts for Today_150 x 150_jpg“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the LORD.” –Isaiah 55:8

God’s blessings sometimes come to us in obvious ways, other times in not so obvious ways. Obvious ways would include personal health, happiness, and provision, the love of family and friendships, the enjoyment of art and music, the beauty of nature.

But did you know that God’s blessings also come in unexpected ways? I like to call them “Divine Surprises,” since you never anticipated them. Even difficulties and adverse circumstances are God’s blessings in disguise. He promises to make all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

We must not even hold on to our plans too tightly; our heavenly Father (who always does what’s best for us) may change things around a bit. He may surprise you with something better than you had planned! Trust Him implicitly.

PRAYER:

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for every blessing in my life today – those that I expected, as well as those that I didn’t, for I know that Your ways are not always my ways, and You always do what is best for me. I trust You implicitly with my life, Lord. Continue to bless me and surprise me in any way you see fit in your perfect wisdom. In Jesus’ name I ask, amen.

– Luis Josephus

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