When Jesus here in John 18 proclaimed to Pilate that He was born to be the King over a kingdom that is not of this world and that all who are part of this kingdom hear his voice, He was proclaiming something that in inherent in Kingship, that He as the King gives some standard of truth, a “law.” He began a New Covenant in which all who are His sheep must adhere to. Kingship and authority go hand in hand. They are inseparable. The King gives the standard that must be followed.
Paul told the Colossians in 1:9-10 that he prayed that they would “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…”
If we want to be fully pleasing to God, we need to be filled with the knowledge of His will. But where do we get this knowledge? The only way in which we can “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding…and increasing in the knowledge of God…” is to, as Paul says in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…” Only the word of Christ given through His Apostles and Prophets can equip us with the knowledge we need to be pleasing to God. We cannot know whether anything is pleasing or displeasing to God unless He reveals it to us in His word.
But the question arises, how does our King in His word communicate these things to us? I believe He communicates His will to us the same way any of us communicate our will to others. Parents, whenever you want to communicate to your kids that something is pleasing to you, how do you do it? Can I suggest you do it in one of three ways. You will either TELL them that what you want them to do, SHOW them what you want them to do, or IMPLY something to them in what you tell them or show them. Is there another way but these three ways to communicate your will to someone? This is how God in His word communicates His will to us.
- He TELLS us what pleases or displeases Him in direct statements and commands;
- He SHOWS us what is pleasing or displeasing to Him with illustrations or examples; or
- He IMPLIES something to us. He desires that we make logical conclusions from what He has told us or showed us.
He tells us, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). If we want to be pleasing to God, we will do what He tells us to do here in this direct statement to be saved. God uses both direct statements and commands to show us that baptism is something we must do to be pleasing Him.
Jesus gives us a multitude of examples in scripture of people being baptized. We learn in these examples that a way of baptizing that pleases God is by immersion. John was baptizing because it was a place where there was much water (John 3:23). When the Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized, we see that they went down into the water and then came out of the water (Acts 8:38-39). We are not given any examples of other modes of baptizing that are pleasing to God other than immersion. It is also the only mode that is inherent in the definition of the word.
God also implies certain things to us in scripture about baptism. God implies to us that preaching about baptism is included in “preaching Jesus.” We are told that Philip preached Jesus to the Eunuch, and the Eunuch responded by saying as they travelled, “look, water, what hinders me from being baptized?” This implies that Phillip told him about baptism. Another thing God implies to us in scripture about baptism is that babies cannot be baptized. Since he tells us that one must believe, repent, and confess Jesus as Lord before baptism, then it logically follows from this that an infant cannot be baptized because they are not able to do those things. Also, when God tells us Mark 16:16 that we need to believe and be baptized to be saved, and when He shows us in Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost that one must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, God is implying to us that these passages apply to us if we want salvation and the remission of our sins. We must us the ability to reason and the logic that God gives us as we come to commands, direct statements, and examples within the Bible as to whether they apply beyond their original audience to us.
How our King reveals His will on baptism shows us how He reveals what is pleasing to Him regarding every Biblical doctrine/teaching. Once again, what other way is there for our King to reveal His decrees to us other than these three ways? This is how communication works, and this cannot be denied. It is a self-evident truth. One cannot communicate their will about anything without telling you something, showing you something, or implying something to you, and if you disagree that God communicates in these three ways, try to do so without telling us something, showing us something, or implying something to us.