On this day set aside to remember the death of Jesus on the cross, take time to consider the immense significance.  Paul Washer points to the text of Scripture where Jesus Christ died for sinners and ascended to the high throne of God—something no man has ever done in the history of humanity.

What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean? — On this Good Friday, it’s important to consider the work of Jesus on the cross.

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “I Am the Bread of Life” — A good sermon by John MacArthur covering one of Jesus’ “I AM” statements that focused on His body.

$5 Friday: The Atonement, Jesus Christ, & Assurance — Some good books on this Good Friday for $5.

Why We Call the Worst Friday ‘Good’ — David Mathis writes, “God wrote “good” on the single worst day in the history of the world. And there is not one day — or week, month, year, or lifetime of suffering — not one trauma, not one loss, not one pain, momentary or chronic, over which God cannot write “good” for you in Christ Jesus.”

Hank Hanegraaff’s Conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy — James White deals with the conversion of Hank Hanegraaff to Eastern Orthodoxy and explains the central belief system of EO.

Sermons about Christ’s Death — Sermons about Jesus’ death from the ministry of Alistair Begg.

Why It Is a Thrill to be Alive in Him — A good article by Gloria Furman worthy of your attention.

Theology Word of the Week:  Baptism

Baptism. In order to provide a unified treatment of baptism from its biblical roots to the present day, it is discussed here in two parts: the biblical theology of baptism, and reflection upon it in historical and systematic theology.

1. Biblical theology

Nature of the rite. Baptism as a washing in water with a spiritual significance had its roots in the OT and pre-Christian Judaism. The law prescribed bathing of persons deemed to be ‘unclean’ (see e.g. Lv. 14:8–9 and Lv. 15). Aaron and his sons were ceremonially washed at their ordination to the priesthood (Lv. 8:5–6). On the Day of Atonement Aaron had to bathe himself on entering the most holy place, and again on leaving it (Lv. 16:3–4); the person who released the scapegoat in the desert similarly had to bathe himself, as also he who burned his clothes (Lv. 16:26–28). Such ritual acts of washing led to a symbolic application in prayer for spiritual cleansing (e.g. Ps. 51:1–2, 7–10).

Shortly prior to the Christian era a kind of baptismal movement took place in the Jordan valley, the most notable instance of which was the monastic community at Qumran (cf. Dead Sea Scrolls). Originating among priests who rejected the temple worship as corrupt, its members emphasized the maintenance of ritual purity through daily baths, accompanied by repentance. It is possible that the baptism administered by John the Baptist was a radical modification of the Qumran practice. He preached ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ (Mk. 1:4) in preparation for the coming of the Messiah and his baptism of Spirit and fire (Mt. 3:11–12). Since his baptism was a conversion-baptism it was once for all, in distinction from the repeated washings of the Qumran community. Whether Jewish proselyte-baptism arose early enough to influence primitive Christian baptism is uncertain; it formed part of the initiation of Gentiles into Judaism, namely through circumcision, baptism and offering of sacrifice; since women had only to be baptized and offer sacrifice their baptism naturally assumed greater significance.

The submission of Jesus to John’s baptism, intended to prepare sinners for the coming of the Messiah, is explicable only as a deliberate act of solidarity with sinful men and women. It was the initiation of the process whereby the saving sovereignty of God came among men, issuing in his ministry of kingdom-of-God word and deed, his death and resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit. It is not surprising therefore that the missionary commission, given by the risen Lord, included a command to baptize (Mt. 28:18–20). The expression (baptize) ‘in the name of’ in a Semitic context signifies baptism ‘with respect to’, but especially denotes the baptism’s basis and purpose, to enter into a relationship of belonging to God. Greek readers would understand the phrase very similarly, as meaning ‘appropriation to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with the use of this name’ (W. Heitmüller, Im Namen Jesu, Göttingen, 1903, p. 121).

Meaning of the rite. In the apostolic teaching on baptism the rite primarily signifies union with Christ: ‘All of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ’ (Gal. 3:27). The language reflects the stripping off and putting on of clothes at baptism (cf. the use of the imagery in Col. 3:9–14); ‘putting on’ Christ denotes receiving Christ, being in Christ, and so becoming one with him. In the Pauline instruction, since Christ is the crucified and risen Lord, baptism signifies union with Christ in his redemptive acts; it includes the thought of being laid alongside him in his tomb and one with him in his resurrection (Rom. 6:1–5; Col. 2:11–12), and so participating in the new creation initiated by his resurrection (2 Cor. 5:17) in anticipation of the resurrection for the final kingdom (Col. 3:1–4). Baptism further signifies union with Christ in his body, the church, for to be ‘in Christ’ is to be one with all who are united to him (Gal. 3:26–28; 1 Cor. 12:12–13). And since union with Christ is inconceivable apart from the ‘Spirit of Christ’, baptism signifies renewal by the Holy Spirit (so already in Peter’s Pentecostal proclamation, Acts 2:38, and in Paul’s theology of the church, 1 Cor. 12:12–13). Baptism also signifies entry into the kingdom of God, for the salvation of Christ is none other than life under the saving sovereignty of God (cf. Mt. 12:28; Jn. 12:31–32; Rom. 14:17; Col. 1:13–14). Its connection with baptism is referred to in Jn. 3:5, where ‘birth from above’ (v. 3) is explained as birth ‘of water and the Spirit’. This is best understood as alluding to the baptism of repentance, to which Nicodemus had declined to submit, and the outpouring of the Spirit which should come with the kingdom of God. In the gospel these two features become united through the redemption of Christ; baptism in the name of Jesus in repentance and faith, and the recreative action of the Spirit and entrance into the kingdom of God thus become one complex event. Finally baptism signifies life in obedience to the rule of God, as the main sentence in Rom. 6:4 indicates: ‘We were … buried with him through baptism into death … in order that … we too may live a new life.’ This is briefly illustrated in Col. 3:1–17 and worked out in detail in the catechetical instruction of the NT.

All this presupposes a fundamental assumption of the apostolic proclamation, that baptism is an embodiment of the gospel and of man’s response to it (1 Pet. 3:21 illustrates it perfectly). Most Christians, however, have been baptized in infancy; how does their baptism relate to the apostolic exposition of baptism? The traditional belief that it applies without modification is questioned by many sacramental theologians. A theology of infant baptism will emphasize the initiatory function of the rite within the community of the Spirit, having respect both to the accomplished redemption of Christ and the goal of appropriation of that redemption by faith and consecration to the service of Christ. Whatever the age of the baptized, baptism signifies grace and call for lifelong growth in Christ with a view to the resurrection at the last day. [1]


  1. Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 69–71.
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