Fulfilling All Righteousness
(READ Matthew 3:13-17)
For our text this morning, we want to focus in on verse 15. (Read)
Jesus traveled all the way from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John. We understand that this was a distance of over 50 miles, and was traveled by foot through a wilderness land. Today many say that it doesn’t matter by whom, or in what manner, or for what reason that a person is baptized. But if it doesn’t matter, then Jesus would not have journeyed all the way to Jordan to be baptized of John.
Beloved, it was a matter of authority. Only John the Baptist had God given authority to baptize at this time. Jesus must have been baptized by the one who had God’s authority. Otherwise it would not have been a righteous work, because it would not have had God’s authority or approval. God would not have been pleased with His Son (notice verse 17). And our Lord’s ministry that followed would not have been pleasing to the Father either because it would not have had the proper beginning, thus Jesus couldn’t have been our Savior. So we see that proper authority in baptism is important!
Jesus then gave the authority to baptize to His church. After the passing of John, we only see the Lord’s church administering baptism in the New Testament. Therefore, since John the Baptist, only the Lord’s New Testament Churches have God given authority to baptize. This is a hard saying to receive today, but apart from the truth of the Scriptures it isn’t important what men may think. What is important is what God reveals in His Word, and our obedience to His revealed will.
It is the believer’s place, beloved, to fulfill all righteousness; that is, to do what God says is the right thing to do. And this is what we want to speak on this morning. Fulfilling all righteousness; or striving in our lives as believers to do the right thing in God’s eyes. Not what we think or what the world teaches, but what God teaches in His Holy revealed Word.
Notice our text again (Read verse 15). We want to observe 4 phrases found in our text this morning. These phrases are: 1) Suffer it to be so; 2) It becometh us; 3) To fulfill; 4) All righteousness.
1. First this morning, we wand to observe the phrase “Suffer it to be so”.
Although our text is speaking to John about baptizing Jesus, I believe that this thought can also be used to speak to the believer…to suffer, or allow it to be so! That is, surrender and submit yourself to this gracious ordinance of the Lord’s Church. This is the beginning and landmark of true Christian service. This is where Christian service begins for the born again child of God in this age. Christian service apart from this first work of Scriptural baptism, is not service at all in the eyes of God. How can it be? If a believers will not “suffer” or allow the first command of obedience to Jesus, what other commandment can or will he obey?
But the command to the believer is, “suffer it now to be so”. It is not optional to identify oneself with Jesus in the waters of baptism, but a command. Baptism shows forth the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins. Baptism is a picture of our faith in Jesus and all that He suffered on the cross for us. And baptism pictures His burial in that tomb, which shows that our sins were put away forever more. And it pictures His glorious resurrection from the dead whereby we are justified and forgiven, and have eternal life because He every liveth for us. Baptism acknowledges to God and to the world that we believe in this blessed gospel of Jesus. It is a testimonial in type, which pictures our faith in the gospel. Yes, beloved, the commandment is to “suffer it now to be so”. Surrender your life to this first work of obedience to Christ.
Beloved, by suffering it now to be so, we are on our way to fulfilling all righteousness in our life of serving the Lord acceptably.
2. Secondly this morning, we want to notice the phase “It becometh us”.
This morning we want to observe two of Strongs definitions for the word “becometh”.
1. First, “becometh” means to stand out, or to be conspicuous. Therefore, through baptism the believer stands out and becomes conspicuous to the world and to other believers that we are Christ’s and that we are identified with Him and His cause.
-In baptism we are identified with Jesus and His saving gospel for our sins…
-In baptism we are identified with His body, that is, His local New Testament Church…
-In baptism we are telling the world that we are Christ’s and Christ is ours. We are no
longer the world’s, or Satan’s, or even our own- but now we belong to Jesus…
-In baptism we stand out and are conspicuous. Thus baptism is a testimony and a witness
to our faith in the saving work of Christ.
-Baptism is also a landmark in the life of the believer. It marks a turning point and a milestone in one’s life. It testifies of a new life in Christ begun, and that there is no turning back to the old life of sin. It testifies one’s death to sin and self, and resurrection to newness of life to serve Jesus in and through His local New Testament Baptist Church.
-Therefore Baptism becometh the believer in that in Baptism he stands out in this distinct and wonderful testimony of Jesus and the new life in Him.
2. Secondly, the word “becometh” means to be becoming, seemly, or fit. Therefore, baptism is becoming to the believer, or seemly, or fitting.
-Baptism is comely. That is, baptism beautifies the believer’s life.
-Baptism is the apparel which we “put on” to show forth Christ as born again believers.
-Baptism is beautiful because it pictures the saving work of Jesus Christ for the believer’s sins.
-Baptism is beautiful because it pictures the new life of obedience to the Lord Jesus.
Therefore baptism becomes the born again believer because it clearly and illustriously identifies the believer with Christ, and because it beautifies the believer’s new life in Christ.
3. Thirdly, we want to notice the phrase “To fulfill”.
We want to observe just two of the several Strongs definitions of the word “fulfill”.
1) First we notice that fulfill means to make complete in every particular; or to render perfect.
Beloved, baptism is part of completing or perfecting the Christian life, and the work that Christ has begun in us as newborn believers. Our Christian life and experience, therefore, cannot be complete without baptism. I am not speaking about the eternal state of the soul, beloved, but the Christian life that we are to work out with fear and trembling.
Beloved, God is a God of order. There are steps along this road of grace that must be followed in the order that are given by the Lord. Constantine the Great wanted to be baptized at the end of his life, to be sure that all his sins were washed away. But what he didn’t understand, is that baptism does not wash away sins. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away sins! Only the work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary as our sacrifice for sins, and by faith in His death burial and resurrection for our sins, are we saved. No meaner work will do. No work of man, however righteous it may seem, will ever help to save us- including the righteous work of baptism. We cannot add to the saving grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and faith in the gospel for salvation.
Therefore, saving faith in the gospel of Jesus must precede baptism. But the Christian life of service, beloved, must begin with baptism. This is God’s order! This is the order given in the great commission to the Lord’s church. The Christian life that does not include baptism, is incomplete! It is imperfect! The life of a believer who is not baptized will never be fulfilled. He will always have a shadow of doubt and guilt over his head because he has never surrendered his life unto the Lord, and followed Jesus in the waters of baptism. So then, to begin to complete the will of God for your life as a believer, you must surrender to this first work of baptism and church membership, and from there go on to perfection in Christian growth and service in the Lord’s church. This is essential in order to have a fulfilled Christian life.
2. Secondly, the word “fulfill” means to cause God's will to be obeyed as it should be, and God's promises to receive fulfillment.
Baptism for the born again child of God is to obey God’s will as it should be. Those who profess to believe in Jesus as their Savior, who do not submit to scriptural baptism, are not obeying the Lord as they should. Such a one will ever be plagued with guilt and doubting until they follow through in obedience to their Lord’s command. Their conscience will never be free and clean, knowing they are living in disobedience to the Lord.
1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
You see, if a believer does not answer that good conscience by following through in baptism and service through the Lord’s church, then that conscience will once again become defiled. Doubts and questions will arise in the heart and mind: “did I really trust in the Lord Jesus; am I really saved”…And rightfully so! If there is no fruit and evidence in our lives of salvation, then doubts and fears very well should assail in the heart. We should call into question our salvation experience. We certainly should examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith or no!
And also, as we saw in our second definition of the word “fulfill”, it speaks of receiving God’s promises. Beloved, many of the promises and blessings of God are received as a part of obedience to our Lord’s commands. Salvation is unconditional, as we know from the scriptures.
But many of the other promises and blessings of this life, and the life to come, are conditional upon our performance and obedience to the Lord. Our rewards in Heaven are conditional upon performance and obedience. The blessings of being a part of the bride of Christ is absolutely dependant on scriptural baptism and church membership. The bride will be made up from the Lord’s true churches, and baptism is essential to being a member of the church. Therefore, if there is no baptism and no church membership, then there is no hope of being in the bride of Christ. In addition, there are special blessings of protection and power and provisions in this life, that are provided only to members of the Lord’s churches. Beloved, I tell you of a truth, I would not want to be outside of the Lord’s church for one second of my life. I need the Lord’s church and all the special love and care that Jesus pours out upon His people in His churches. I cannot begin to express what the Lord’s churches have meant to me over the years, and how the Lord has helped and blessed me and my family over the years through His church.
So then, to fulfill means to obey God’s will as it should be, and to receive of the promises and blessings of God as a result of obedience to the Lord.
4. Fourthly and finally we want to notice the phrase “All righteousness”.
We want to observe three Strongs definitions of the word “righteousness”.
1. The first definition is “the state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God.”
2. The second definition is “the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God”.
Beloved, these two definitions of righteousness do not apply to the righteousness obtained by our baptism. A righteous condition for sinful man before His Maker, is only obtained by faith in Jesus and His imputed righteousness. Beloved, not one of us possesses this kind of righteousness. For the Bible says in Romans 3:10… “As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one”.
We only receive righteousness with God by faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary. There on the cross the great transaction was made. There Jesus took upon Himself our sins and our unrighteousness, and our condemnation, and our punishment. In exchange He gives us His perfect righteousness that He obtained by His perfect life of obedience to His Heavenly Father. And part of our Lord’s perfect righteousness was His baptism, which pictured why He came down to this sin cursed earth. And that was to suffer, bleed and die for the sins of His people, to be buried in the tomb, and in 3 days to rise again from the dead for His people.
3. The third definition of righteousness, however is suitable to believer’s baptism, which is “integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting.
The last two meanings in this list especially apply to baptism, which are rightness and correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting. Beloved, submitting to believer’s baptism is the right thing for a believer in Jesus to do. It is right, and therefore baptism is fulfilling all righteousness for your life of obedient service to the Lord. Surrendering to Scriptural Baptism is also correct thinking, feeling, and acting. The spiritual mind is a right mind in which desires to fulfill its Lord’s will. It also feels right about obeying the Lord and following the Lord. And it is acting right by following through in obedience to the Lord’s command.
We notice in Matthew 3: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Beloved, it is well pleasing unto the Lord when His born again children surrender to Scriptural baptism. It is good and blessed to know that we are well pleasing to the Lord; that God almighty is pleased with our life, and that He approves of our service to Him.
Beloved, no matter how false religions pervert this precious doctrine of baptism, may we realize how important this precious ordinance is to the born again child of God. Baptism isn’t essential to salvation, but it is essential to obeying the Lord, and rightly serving the Lord, and being a member of the Lord’s church, and to being a part of the bride of Christ. May we as Baptists, who are named after this very precious ordinance, may we always teach and preach the importance of baptism, and not minimize and de-emphasize it. Remember, baptism is a part of the great commission. Those who believe need to be baptized and be a part of the Lord’s church where they can learn and grow up unto the fullness of the stature of Christ, as we are taught in Ephesians chapter 4 and other places.
Finally, those who are saved by the grace of God, are led by the Holy Spirit of God to follow the Lord in Scriptural baptism and church membership.
1 Cor. 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
This verse teaches that believers are led by the Holy Spirit of God to follow the Lord in baptism and service through His local New Testament Baptist church, which is His body. It is not of our own heart and mind that led us to this place, but our salvation and our submission to Christian service through baptism and church membership, is all owing to the Holy Spirit of God, Who causes His people to be willing in the day of His power.
Is God pleased with your life this morning? Are you a believer? If not, why not? If you are a true believer in Jesus, have you submitted to Scriptural baptism? May God help you to do so even now. “…here is water; what doth hinder you to be baptized?