Testimony of John the Baptist
By Dennis Huebshman
Prior to the start of Jesus’ ministry, when He was about 30 years old (Luke 3:23), His cousin John was baptizing people for “remission of their sins”. The Covenant of the Cross had not yet taken place, but John was preparing the way as a forerunner of the Messiah. (Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1) (any emphasis mine)
John had disciples who went to him and spoke about Jesus, who was also “baptizing” people. They were probably thinking that Jesus was trying to pull people away from John, and were concerned about it. In John 3:29-36, John assures them that Jesus is the One the world has been waiting for, and that he (John) was only the forerunner. In verse 30, John states, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. John knew that his role and his ministry was about over, and in verses 35-36 states, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. (36) Whoever believes in the Son, has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the Wrath of God remains in him.” (see also John 3:18 and 1 John 5:10-12)
One point here needs to be made. It’s stated in John 4:2 that Jesus, Himself, did not baptize anyone. That was left to His disciples. Also, His ministry did not start until He was 30 years old so that He could have credibility in the Temple. Numbers 4 covers this throughout that chapter. A person had to be thirty and up to fifty to qualify to do work in the “tent of meeting”, which later was applied to the Temple.
In Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-23, the baptism of Jesus is described. Matthew 3:11, John states, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who 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 fire.” (ESV)
John initially was reluctant to baptize his cousin, Jesus, as he felt Jesus needed to be the one to baptize him. Matthew 3:15, “But Jesus answered him, let it be so now, for then it is fitting for us to fulfill all unrighteousness”
Jesus was not baptized for the remission of His sins, as there was no sin in Him. His was an act of submission to the Father, and to lead by example. When He came up out of the water, the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) descended on Him like a dove. (Matthew 3:16) This would signify that when one accepts Jesus as their Savior, asks forgiveness of their sins, and asks Him to save them, their soul is “immersed” or is baptized with the Holy Spirit at that moment.
Water baptism is not what saves us. When one is immersed in the water, it is an outward demonstration that they have already accepted Jesus as their Savior, and the Holy Spirit is already in them. To state that water baptism saves us implies that we can do something to “earn” our own Salvation. In my youth and teen years, I was part of a church that said if you weren’t water baptized, you were hell-bound, no ifs ands or buts. This was before I began to read the scriptures for myself. Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy by the washing of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus covered us totally with His sacrifice; it’s up to us to accept or reject His gift.
Ephesians 2:8-9 expressly says that “by Grace” we’re saved through Faith, not of our “own doing”. If we could do anything – except to accept the sacrifice of Our Lord and Savior – then His death on the cross was a wasted effort. I for one do not want to try and tell the Father that His Son died in vain.
As a note here, although we are saved though the Holy Spirit baptism, I believe it’s proper to show we proclaim Jesus though water immersion, if possible, as this would be an outward profession that we are not ashamed of our Savior (Luke 9:26). “For whoever is ashamed of Me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the Holy Angels.” There are some people who are physically unable to be immersed in water. However, they are fully capable of being totally immersed with the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist was not afraid to proclaim Jesus as being Lord, and he also was not hesitant to tell people when they were sinning. Ultimately, this cost him his life here, but gained him a home with the Heavenly Father. Yes, the covenant wasn’t actually sealed until Jesus died and was resurrected; however, there would definitely be a place with Jesus for the one who was His forerunner.
Today, John would be an unpopular pastor, as he would give only the true word. No ear-tickling here. His goal would be to save souls, not fill seats and collection plates. Satan and his demons would do everything in their power to shut him down, just as they did through Herod and Herodias. He would be labeled by the “far-left” society as a “hater”. In some countries, he would be martyred for his testimony. I believe even today, this would not have stopped John from serving his Lord.
WE are in the times Jesus spoke of when there will be a falling away from the faith. People will go for false prophets and their “feel-good” messages. Christian hymns are being replaced with stage production “heart thumping” songs to “inspire” the audience. Paul told of the disintegrating attitudes that will prevail, and they are all evident in our society right now. Jesus said that in those times, to “look up” for our redemption draws near. (Luke 21: 28) We are just about at the end of this age, and the next one will not be believer-friendly at all. In fact, it will be the worst 7-years this earth has ever experienced.
This can all be avoided by following Romans 10:9-13, and believing John 14:6 is absolute. Jesus knew the numbers would be “few” (Matthew 7:13-14), but will save all who truly call on Him to be forgiven. (Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13)
Our Savior willingly gave His life on the Cross (John 10:18) so we could be forgiven of all our sins. His was the only sacrifice the Father will accept. Those who refuse will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). It’s an individual choice, and each of us has to make it for ourselves.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the place that Jesus has made ready for me (John 14:1-3), and for all our believing loved ones. He’s ready to make you an eternal home if you will accept Him as your Savior.
Today would not be too early, as we do not know the day or hour He will return to call His Church up to meet Him in the air. With all the happenings on this earth right now, it’s only a matter of time for the Father to send Jesus to save us from the coming Wrath. It’s a decision that will reward you for all eternity.