Shelby G. Floyd
Many of the Old Testament ordinances and institutions were typical of the ordinances and institutions of the New Testament; for instance, the tabernacle and later the temple, along with its ordinances and institutions, were typical of the New Testament temple of God, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Surrounding the tabernacle and the temple was a large enclosure in which anyone might congregate: this was typical of the world at large. Beyond this, the Jews were allowed to assemble, but still, there were further restrictions. Only the priests could pass into the court of the tabernacle. As they faced the tabernacle proper, there was first the brazen altar on which they offered their sacrifice to expiate their sins and the sins of the people. Next, they passed from the brazen altar to a laver, or as it is sometimes called a bath; it was also called the laver of purification. Every priest had to wash and to cleanse himself in these waters of purification before entering into the sanctuary to offer up his worship to God.
The Washing of Regeneration
These three items, (1) the brazen altar, (2) the laver or bath, and (3) the sanctuary, are typical of Christ and his church. In the transition from the world into the church, everyone must first come into faith in Christ as the all sufficient sacrifice for sin; in faith, everyone must look to the cross where Christ shed his blood once for all. But, a person must in faith be baptized in water, which is styled in the New Testament as the bath of regeneration, which clearly is an allusion to the waters of purification in the Old Testament laver. Having then been regenerated, each person enters the sanctuary, the New Testament church or temple, to offer up spiritual sacrifice to God. It is then and only then, that each person may worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Therefore, baptism or the bath of regeneration stands between faith in Christ as our sacrifice and worship in his church.
Let us notice several inspired statements concerning the bath of regeneration: first, we shall examine the statement that Paul made to young Titus,
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life…” (Titus 3: 4-7 ESV).
In this statement we notice that it was not by any of our own works of righteousness that God saved us, nor was it by any of our own works of righteousness that God was moved to save us, but it was because of God’s kindness, love and mercy that he saved us through his Son Jesus Christ. However, that love, kindness and mercy only saves us by and through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. This is clearly a definite reference to New Testament baptism for the remission of sins. Baptism is styled here as an act of ablution or purification of sins.
The Washing of Water by the Word
To generate means to make alive; to regenerate means to make alive again. Since every person that is accountable is dead spiritually speaking through his trespasses and sins, that person needs to be made alive again or regenerated. This is brought about by a bath of regeneration which refers to baptism. So each person then is spiritually made alive in baptism.
The Holy Spirit is the agency which brings about the regeneration and the renewing; but the Holy Spirit does this through the instrument of the word of God. This may be clearly seen in the next passage which we examine.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5: 25-27 KJV).
In this we notice that the church, the people of God, have been cleansed and sanctified to holy service with the washing of water by the word. Again, this is a reference to New Testament immersion or baptism.
In Titus 3: 5-6, the Holy Spirit is said to be the causal agent in bringing about the regeneration and the renewing; whereas, here the word of God is said to be that cause which brings about the effect of a washing or cleansing. There is no contradiction, the Holy Spirit is the agent, and the word of God is the instrument which the Holy Spirit uses in cleansing the soul and purifying the heart of every one who enters into service for Jesus Christ.
Sins Are Washed Away in Baptism
Next, let us notice Paul’s statement to the Corinthians as to how they were washed or cleansed from their sins,
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 NIV).
According to this inspired statement, many of the members of the Corinthian congregation had formerly been guilty of the sins catalogued herein, but now were in a different state because they had been washed, sanctified and justified by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the agency of the Spirit of God. Again, it is very plain as to how this was brought about. Since Jesus had all authority in heaven and earth, it was by his authority that the Holy Spirit announced the terms of forgiveness through inspired men such as the apostles. Therefore, the Spirit of God brought about the washing, sanctification and justification of the Corinthians by and through the teaching of the inspired apostles. Thus the washing here is a clear reference to baptism. Every sinner should arise and be baptized washing away their sins (Acts 22:16). We are not left in doubt along this line for Luke the inspired historian states, “. . . and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18: 8).
Therefore, just as the priests could not enter into the sanctuary to worship God without having first been purified in the laver or bath of water, so no one today can enter into the New Testament worship with God’s approval without having first been baptized. Jesus plainly said that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Copyright © 2014 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved