| WHAT IS THE GOSPEL (Pt 1)
The apostle Paul said, "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). What does the word "the Scripture" in the clause "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" means? It means the Old Testament. The apostle Paul said that Jesus died for all our sin according to the covenant and revelation of the Old Testament. How did He atone all our sin? He did it through His righteous act: His baptism and His death on the Cross.
You know, in the time of the early church, there was no Christmas until the end of the 2nd century. The early Christians along with the Apostles only commemorated January 6th as "the day of Jesus' baptism," and it was the only early church's commemoration.
Why did the Apostles lay great emphasis on the Baptism of Jesus? It is the secret of the true Gospel of the water and the Spirit, which they received from Jesus and preached to the world. Jesus said, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). The Bible said that Jesus came by water and blood to save us from all our sins (1 John 5:6). Blood means the Cross, then what is the meaning of water?
(I hope for you not to be confused with the water baptism of believers and the Baptism of Jesus. Please pay attention to the meaning of Jesus' baptism thoroughly. Now we are not focusing on the water baptism of believers or the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.)
Why was Jesus baptized by John the Baptist? Why did Jesus proclaim His Baptism to be "fit for us to fulfill all righteousness?" (Matthew 3:15)
Hebrews 10:1 says, "For the law (those sacrifices) having a shadow of good things to come . . ." Let's see the typical sacrifice God gave to His people for their salvation in the time of the Old Testament. If anyone sinned and was guilty, the sinner had to offer a sin offering to make atonement for his sin. Let's see Leviticus 1:3-5. "If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Then he shall put his hands on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the Lord; and the priest, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting." Here, we can see that the sin offering had to satisfy three conditions below to be lawful before God.
(1) to prepare a sacrificial animal without blemish (v. 3).
(2) to put his hands upon the head of the burnt offering (v. 4).
(3) to kill (to bleed) the sacrifice to atone for his sin (v. 5).
In these verses above, we must confirm God's law that the sin were to be transferred to the head of the sacrificial animal by means of the laying on of hands before the sacrificial animal was killed. It's a very important truth. You can find so many expressions like "laying hands on the head of the sin offering" for the remission of sin in the following chapters of Leviticus. Leviticus 16:21 says, "Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shell send it away into the wilderness by the hands of a suitable man."
When Aaron, the high priest laid his hands on the head of the goat, all the sins of the Israelites were transferred to the head of the goat. When a sinner laid his hands on the head of a sacrifice, his sins are transferred to its head. In the same way, when a person is ordained to the priesthood, a minister lays his hands on the head of the person in order to pass the priesthood. Therefore, "the laying on of hands" was the act of passing sins onto the sacrifice. It means "to pass on to."