Baptism is not something new, instituted by Yeshua for a new religion he was starting called Christianity, but it is the immersion found in the Torah. In Christian writings, they will say it is a “spiritualization” of the old Levitical washings, but that is not true. John is called the “immerser” because he immersed Yeshua and this was a subtle insinuation that Yeshua was now a “Christian” and so were his disciples and their disciples.
The mystery religions had their rite of baptism, and these mystery religions had no influence on biblical water purification at first. But, once the Jewish influence disappeared and things took place outside of Israel, the mystery religions had more and more influence. By the second century, the Church made it a rite to enter the Church, which meant salvation, but we are saved by faith. However, this idea can still be seen in many Christian denominations. Some seminaries have taught that Paul did not think that baptism was essential to salvation, but his view was similar to that of the mystery religions (we have the documentation). On the contrary, those that interpreted Paul were influenced by the mystery religions so they dealt with what Paul said like a mystery religion.
Some taught that 1 Cor 15.25-34 was saying that the Corinthians baptized their dead in an almost “magical” rite that was similar to the mystery religions, when in fact that is not what those verses are talking about. The term used for “baptized” is “washed” and it is merely saying that if they didn’t believe in a resurrection, why were they washing their dead to prepare the body for a resurrection according to Jewish burial customs.
Tertullian taught that baptism conveyed eternal life. If that is true, here is a Church Father who didn’t need Yeshua. Eventually, this concept was used to baptize infants to make sure they would go to heaven. By the time of Justin Martyr, it was believed that baptism “washed away all previous sins” but in reality a person is forgiven by faith, and water purification is just a ceremony that illustrates this.
This concept of eternal life and baptism comes out of the mystery religions and could only be done once. The only substitute for it was martyrdom. Heb 6.2 mentions many immersions, but by the second and third centuries, Christianity followed the practice of the mystery religions.
Tertullian believed you should not use this “one time” rite so early in life and advocated that a person shouldn’t be baptized till his character was formed. Not everyone agreed with this, but some waited till later in life to be baptized so that one’s record of sins was practically full. That’s why Constantine waited till his deathbed to be baptized.
The method of immersion is totally separated from the Jewish practice by the second century onward. The term “sacrament” is defined as “the term applied to baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which are generally believed to be instituted for the perpetual observance of the Christian Church and placed among its means of grace. As signs, they represent in action and by symbols the great blessings of the covenant; as seals they are standing pledges of the divine fidelity in bestowing them on certain conditions, being the Spirit’s instrument in aiding and strengthening the faith which they acquire, and in assuring to that faith the present bestowment of its object” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p 942).
As you can see, baptism is one of the main sacraments of the Church. Now, when we talk about the Torah, we know that it is a foundation the rest of the book is built upon. It is the way things will be when the Messiah returns. The Torah deals with the laws of purity and to the Jewish people, this was very important when there was a Temple and a priesthood. It regulated the life of a Torah observant believer. They never got away from these ritual purity laws and the people were always conscious of them.
Christianity has no concept of them . Immersion falls under the laws of purity. If you have no concept of how they are linked, your ability to understand it is almost non-existent. These ordinances were given to man by God, but don’t think that by doing these ceremonies that you gain any righteousness with God. That has never been the message that the Lord was trying to convey.
He said that if you think that you are a righteous person because you go to the Temple, go back to Shiloh where I put my name at the first. They believed in Shiloh and thought they had the Ark and that they were invincible (Jer 7.12). But he took Shiloh and the Ark away to show them that was not what the Lord was saying.
Christianity took baptism and made it into this magical “gateway” to God, but it was never intended to be that way. They did the same thing with the Lord’s Supper. It pre-existed the Church Fathers but they turned it from a communal meal consecrated to God that taught spiritual concepts and had special songs and prayers (Passover is an example) into the necessity of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ in order to have “life.”
Ignatius said it was the medicine of immortality and the way to have eternal life. Justin Martyr believed the same thing and said that the Lord’s Supper was for our salvation.This is nothing but idolatry. The Lord’s Supper, in the Hebrew sense, was a meal but eventually Christianity separated it from a meal to something with “magical” attributes. It transformed into what is called “the Eucharist” which transformed the bread and wine into something it was not, the actual blood and flesh of Yeshua through “transubstantiation.”
These concepts were borrowed from the mystery religions and the sharing of a meal “with a god” is to become a partaker of the divine nature according to their theology. This is nothing but nonsense. It eventually took on the themes of a sacrifice offered to God by a priest. Cyprian believed that it was the business of the priest to serve the altar and to celebrate the divine sacrifices. As a result, the Catholic concept of the Supper was believed to be a sacrament in which Yeshua was really present and the believer partakes of Christ and brought into union with him. It also was taught that this “sacrifice” was a way to have God be more gracious to the partaker, and to the dead as well because this “meal” was done in commemoration for the dead.
These essentials were well in place before Constantine. However, the Scriptures teach that if a person is justified by faith, God has entered into a covenant with them. Their names are written in Heaven and they are sealed unto the Day of Redemption. The Lord’s name is in that covenant and because of that, the covenant stands forever.
You cannot “re-crucify” the Lord over and over again. That is what is done in “the Mass” and it is done everyday. A person must keep going back to be saved by partaking of a wafer of bread. You can’t be saved, lose it, be saved and lose it over and over again because you would be crucifying him again and again. In Part 11, we will begin by discussing the concept of the forgiveness of sins, the composition of the Church, the rival religious forces, especially Mithraism, and the struggles of the Church leading up to the time of Constantine.