Baptism does not make one a disciple of Christ. In John 4:1-3, we see that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John. Note that the verse does not say that Jesus made disciples by baptizing them.
In Matthew 28:19, we are commanded first to make disciples (KJV mistakenly translates this teach) and then we are commanded to baptize them. Who are the ‘them’ but “them disciples?” Luke 6:40 tells us we make disciples by converting them to want to be like the one Master—Jesus Christ.
Once the ones we teach make that decision, they can then be buried (not sprinkled) with Christ in baptism, as he was buried in the tomb (Rom 6:4). Who would dispute that Acts 2:38 says baptism is for the remission of sins?
We were made free from sin when we obeyed that form of doctrine (Rom. 6:17-18). This form we obey is our decision to crucify the old man, be buried and raised with him (Rom. 6:3-6). The form of doctrine we obey is the form of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Paul’s sins were washed away in the waters of baptism (Acts 22:16). Baptism saves us from the power of darkness (Mark 16:15-16). Baptism puts us into the one spiritual body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Christ’s spiritual body is one and the same as Christ’s church (Eph. 1:22-23). Thus when one is baptized into the body he is baptized into the church (1 Cor. 12:13).
We do not want to study baptism deeply at this time. We will understand baptism more fully after we understand the eternal purpose of God. Therefore we will discuss baptism in a later study. We know that baptism is part of what saves us (1 Pet. 3:21).
In Matthew 28:20, the last command of this race in the Great Commission is to observe all things he commanded the apostles. This part of the great commission is as important as the first two. Loving God is defined as keeping His commandments (John 14:21). Also, in John 14:23, if a man love God he will obey his commandments. If we obey one or two commandments, we love Him a little. In Matthew 22:36-37, we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. There are commands in the New Testament concerning the mind, the soul, the heart and the body.
Loving God is obeying his commandments. How could our love not include obedience to every command? No one is justified in obeying only some of the commands of God (Matt. 23:23). One must understand that the love of God is obedience to His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). To love God fully is to obey all of His commandments.
Some may say we cannot obey all the commands of God, but we have to acknowledge that his commands are not too heavy to bear (1 John 5:3). Jesus tells us his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matt. 11:29). According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, we can bear all temptations to obey all of His commandments.
God only works all things together for those who love Him—to those submitting to His commandments (Rom. 8:28). We are created as beings who are owned by a master (Luke 17:10). If we are to get “credit” for our obedience, we must obey willingly (John 8:29). Even if we obey because we are forced, we will not be condemned (1 Cor. 9:16-17); however, there is no reward without willing obedience.
Proverbs 27:19 says, “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”
James 1:22-25 reads, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
Can we indeed walk in Jesus’ steps? Are we his disciples?
Articles and Books by Beth Johnson