Baptism is one of the key covenant ordinances of the Besorah (Gospel) signifying outwardly, by full immersion in water, in the presence of witnesses, the spiritual rebirth and comittment to Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and the Messianic Communmity (Church) already acquired inwardly through that spiritual regeneration (the New Birth or New Creation) brought about by repentance and emunah (faith) in the work of the Son of Elohim (God) on the Cross. It is therefore very much tied in with conversion, a willingness to be disciplied (Mt.28:19) and live the Torah lifestyle of Messianic Israel.
Baptism is not a solitary, self-sufficient ordinace but is closely linked to the reception of the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the laying-on of hands known variously as Confirmation, Chrism or Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Though this is the order in NCAY, there are a variety of orders in the Scriptures:
Through baptism the presence and work of the risen Messiah (which is what the Ruach/Spirit makes real to the believer) is shared within the Messianic Community (Church), thus the importance of the laying-on of hands. This gift is seen by Luke not as static transmission but as dynamic interaction, a perspective also shared by Johannine teaching (Jn.3:1-8; 1 Jn.5:6-8).
- 1. Baptism, hands, gift of the Ruach - in Acts 19:5-6 the use of hands is immediate whereas in 8:14-17 the laying on of hands is deferred and done by others;
- 2. Hands, Ruach, baptism (Ac.9:17.19); and
- 3. Ruach, baptism (no mention of laying on of hands) (Ac.10:4411:18).
Baptism signifies, by the choice and agency of the one being baptised, incorporation into the death and resurrection of Messiah (Rom.6:1-11) wherein Messiah is 'put on' like a garment, thereby receiving the new identity beside which all of the usual distinctions dissolve (Gal.3:27-29). By making the comparison of Israel's fragmented band of refugees' baptism into Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1 Cor.10:2), Paul shows how those who are baptised into Messiah thereby find a new identity and family through their covenant with Yahweh.
Baptism or immersion, then, essentially signifies the full or total incorporation of born-again believers into Messiah's New Covenant Torah-based community of the new creation by the grace of Yahweh through the Ruach (Spirit). It both signifies the initial inward spiritual transformation as well as the commitment to remain transformed, to be obedient to all the mitzvot (commandments), to pursue onward sanctification and spiritual maturity by becoming proactive in overcoming the fleshy or carnal Adamic nature (Rev.2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 17:14; 21:7) through Messiah until perfection (Mt.5:48; Heb.11:40).
Baptism corresponds to the third annual festival of Messianic Israel called Yom haBikkurim or the Day of Firstfruits. For more on spiritual correspondences, see the Divine Tavnith or Pattern page.
|Inner Reality/ Decision(s)
||Outward Ordinance/ Action(s)
||Corresponding to festival of|
|Decision for Messiah (Alef)
|Repenting of sins
|Born again, spiritual regeneration
||Baptism by immersion (at 8 years of age or older) into Messiah & Messianic Israel
|Full membership (Mem)
||Bar/Bat-Mitzvah Covenant to obey Torah (renewed annually) = Chrism or Confirmation (at 12 years of age or older), Master's Supper & Betrothal after a minimum of one year's probation following baptism
||Interview with Chavurat Bekorot
||Training, Ordination (at 30 years of age or older), Annual Weighing & Covenant renewal
|From Servant to Friend (Taw)
||Full HEM (Holy Echad Marriage) & eligibility to fully enter Holy Order