We pick up this week in Hebrews 6 1:1-3. People were coming to the church from all different directions. There were those that believed in one of the many deities of the day, some who had no religious affiliation of any kind and baptism was the means of reception into the Church and confession of faith. There was a book of instruction written about AD 100 called Didache, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. It contained instructions about living a Christian faith and Christian life. This is written about baptism, I am inserting those written remarks here.
‘Concerning Baptism, baptize in this way. When you have instructed the candidate in all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in running water. If you do not have running water, baptize in any other kind of water. If you cannot baptize in cold water, baptize in warm. If both of these are unobtainable, pour water three times upon the head of the candidate in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Before baptism, let him who is to baptize and him who is to be baptized fast, and let any others who can do so do the same. You must bid him who is to be baptized to fast for two or three days before the ceremony.’
Using this early writing we see that baptism in the early church, if possible, was by immersion. It shows that there was a period of instruction and indicates that those who wished to become part of the church have been instructed in the way of Christian faith and life. It also sets forth alternatives should total immersion not be possible. There is a period of personal preparation that is to be considered. There is another interesting thing here. In the early days of the church no one, in the words of one commentary “ no one slipped into the Church without knowing what they were doing.” In some ways I think we don’t communicate the importance and the responsibilities of living a Christian faith and life and the fact that it is a bit more than just church membership. You must now go on to build a stronger life based on your faith in Christ. As we noted last week you must go on to perfection, having a firm foundation never look back, press on in the faith. Another point of interest was the practice of the laying on of hands and in the early church it always accompanied the baptism as the way the Holy Spirit was conveyed to those just baptized. Christianity has always dealt with immortality and righteous living, thus there is the resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, a reason to live a Christ like life. You could say that as a Christian your life from the day you accepted Christ has been one of Christian judgement. Christian judgement will never let us forget that the day will come that we at the end of this life must face God. The judgement of God is far more important than what other people think of us.
Next week we will move on to verses 4-8 in Hebrews 6. Please read these verses and prayerfully consider their meaning. See you in the Pew next week.
Life is Good