Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?

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The title of this article is the name of an old hymn most of you are familiar with. It’s a jewel among many other hymns like “There Is Power in the Blood” and “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” The trend I am aware of in some of today’s congregations is exhibited in “worship teams” whose goal is to “lead” churchgoers in worship via repetitive chorus-songs. Though the topics of repentance and the infilling of Yahuwah’s Holy Spirit can still be found in the lyrics of these choruses, something very sad stands out to me: the subject of baptism in water is notably non-existent in them. Why is this?

The unvarnished truth is that believers in times past possessed a much more biblical understanding of the importance and, I contend, the absolute necessity of water baptism than do the overwhelming majority of professing believers today! Baptism is a topic that is of utmost importance to anyone hoping, as I do, to rise to meet Yahushua at his triumphant return. Because the Messiah and the Apostles gave baptism as a command, it is a nonnegotiable necessity for anyone preparing for that great event!

Tragically, there are multitudes of people who read their Bibles, attend church, profess to follow Messiah, etc. who are oblivious to the fact that they’re suffering from a serious lack of sound biblical teaching on the greatly important topic of baptism!

As I was sharing with friends the need we all have to be immersed in the name of Yahushua for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:38), the “man of the house” (who had been eavesdropping nearby) countered my claim with the adamant declaration that “if a person truly understands the New Covenant Scriptures on baptism, they’ll know that the only baptism we need today is baptism in the Word!” My host then began to remind me: “The thief on the cross next to Yahushua wasn’t baptized; and he was saved!”

Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahushua Messiah for the remission [forgiveness] of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” - Acts 2:38 (emphasis supplied.)

Amongst the many New Covenant scriptures which cement the requirements for salvation, I find the simplest “formula” for beginning the walk that can lead to salvation in Acts 2:38. It is in this passage where we read how the remaining eleven Apostles stood in agreement with Peter when he made the proclamation: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahushua Messiah for the remission [forgiveness] of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Despite the very simple clarity of this statement, its literal baptism command has been dismissed by many — “explained away” by many who believe they’ve found a more “spiritual” understanding for this verse. This is very dangerous since any explanation a person gives as a means to circumvent a clear command is outright disobedience, not “enlightenment” (Mark 7:13).

I return our attention now to the thief, mentioned earlier, who made two highly important statements. Responding to the insolent, self-interested comment directed at Yahushua by the unrepentant thief, the other thief said, “Do you not fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing wrong!” (Luke 23:41). In the next verse, he followed his rebuke with this statement to Yahushua “Master, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” In these two passages, we find evidence of the contrite thief’s repentant heart and his faith in Yahushua as the promised Messiah. These statements, together, were sufficient for Yahushua to assure the thief that there will, indeed, be a place for him in Yahuwah’s Kingdom when Yahushua returns to establish it in its fullness and authority over all the earth (Luke 23:43).

About ten years ago, I differed with a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor who (like my friend) insisted that baptism (though given as a command by Yahushua and the Apostles), is “only a preferential ritual for every believer” as “an outward expression to the world of one’s inner faith and salvation.” In concluding his comments to me, the SDA pastor asserted that baptism “is a greatly misunderstood topic if it is taken to be an outright requirement for salvation.” To justify his claim he cited (you guessed it!) “the thief on the cross.” I could not relent from my claim that baptism is an indispensable element of salvation, so the gentleman asked that I present the information supporting my position at the next week’s Bible study. I accepted the invitation.

three crosses

As I spent preparation time in the Scriptures, I became absorbed, again, with a question of mine that had, for many years, remained unanswered in regard to baptism: “How is it that one’s sins are forgiven when they get baptized in Yahushua’s name? After all, what they’re going down into is only water!” Invariably this query brought the same response: The forgiveness and cleansing of sins one receives when one is baptized come in response to one’s obedience to the command to be baptized. Peter gave us the answer. “Eight persons were rescued through water. That water is a symbol of water baptism, which now saves you, not the removal of filth from the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward Yahuwah through the resurrection of Messiah, who is now at the right hand of Yahuwah” (1 Pet. 3:20-22).

Time and again Yahuwah instructed that the blood of sacrifices had to be applied to the base and horns of the altar, to the right ears, right thumbs and right big toes of priests and others in the Old Covenant Scriptures, to the doorposts and lintels of His people’s homes on the night of the Passover, etc. In any of these instances, if Yahuwah’s instructions for the blood to be applied had not been carried out, the consequences would surely have been tragic! This being true, why wouldn’t the blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sins also have to be applied to us? In an earnest prayer, I asked Yahuwah to show me how it is that the water of baptism brings about the cleansing from sin that we all need so much. Should Yahuwah choose to shed light upon this matter for me it would not only render the position that baptism is “only a ritual” indefensible, it would — far more importantly — reveal a great cleansing power made available through Yahushua’s blood. I realized the answer upon discovery of another question posed to me from within: “When they pierced My Son, what was it that flowed from His side?”

Blood and water! In the silence when the blood and water flowed from Yahushua’s side it was the single moment Yahuwah had been waiting for since the beginning of His great eternal plan! Therefore, not to understand the significance of the blood and water and what they each accomplish for us is to fail to comprehend a most critical aspect of Yahuwah’s salvation plan, and makes His Son’s life, teaching, death and suffering all in vain!

When a repentant person complies with the command to be baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38 et al), Yahushua’s blood brings forgiveness of sins while the water of baptism cleanses from sin all in a single act of obedience! Blood also ratifies the New Covenant (Heb. 9:22; 10:29; Mark 14:24). Through Messiah, the dim light (the Old Covenant) came to its end, superseded by the New Covenant ratified through the covenant blood of him who is the True Light (John 1:9). In Yahushua we truly find “the more excellent way” alluded to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:31. (Paul also contrasts the letter of the old with the spirit of the new in Romans 2:29; 7:6.)

Scriptures I knew well began to come alive with new meaning in my freshly-opened understanding: “when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Yahuwah, Exod. 12:13); “if I do not wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8), and I understand something written by the Apostle Paul much better now than I ever would have imagined before. When I went down into the waters of baptism, when his precious blood was applied to me, it was this event and means by which my life became “hidden with Messiah, in Yahuwah” (Col. 3:3). You see, from the time when a repentant person is immersed in Yahushua’s name, whenever Yahuwah looks upon that one, He sees the blood of His Son covering them, since immersion would be similar to how a person would look after being immersed in a vat of red paint. When Yahuwah sees Yahushua’s blood covering a person, He is reminded that the price of sin has been paid. Thus, He is able (as He says in Exod. 12:13) to “pass over” us, averting death; the inevitable consequence of sin. So it is that one’s life becomes “hidden with Messiah in God.” It’s so comforting to know this.

The lyrics of another old hymn come to my mind. Its title asks the question: “What can wash away my sins?” What follows is a flow of praise: “Nothing but the blood of Yahushua! Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow!” I will never, ever be able to sing any of the old “baptism” hymns, discarded and outdated to so many, in the same way! They are precious reminders of the blood that still covers me, cleanses me and keeps my life hidden with Messiah in the eyes of my God. Yahuwah’s answer to the earnest question of my heart gave me “new eyes” to the all-important role that Yahushua’s blood and water baptism play in His great salvation plan. Years of faulty teaching on this topic have created a mass of people who are dangerously ignorant (I mean this in the kindest sense), of their need to be baptized “in the name of Yahushua for the forgiveness of sin” (Acts 2:38; 4:12; 10:48, 19:5; Luke 24:47).

repent and be baptized

This is a non-WLC article written by Shelly Hostetler.

We have taken out from the original article all pagan names and titles of the Father and Son, and have replaced them with the original given names. Furthermore, we have restored in the Scriptures quoted the names of the Father and Son, as they were originally written by the inspired authors of the Bible. -WLC Team