Friday, November 12, 2010

Baptism - The Tiberias Way

In a nutshell, Tiberias is very much associated with its miraculous signs and wonders especially through the power of Holy Communion and the Anointing Oil. The head pastor, Yesaya Pariadji, claims to receive this special commission from God himself, here is an excerpt:

"Tiberias received a special commission from the Lord Jesus to reveal the power and significance of the Holy Communion and the Anointing Oil. ... We pray that in these last days, through the bread, wine, and oil, we are sanctified, restored, healed, perfected, and sealed as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven"

That is a brief introduction to give you an idea of what Tiberias is about. Beside those three, Tiberias also holds a firm belief in the power of baptism; it is believed to have the power to restore people back to the images of God. And this is what I'm going to talk about; I'll try to summarize their belief about baptism, and I would like to know what's your opinion on that.

Their concept of baptism came after Pariadji's struggle about the right way to baptize: immersion or sprinkle. He claimed that God personally showed him five times that immersion is the way to go, and it is with this method that we can be restored to the images of Christ, referring to Gen 1:26, full of miraculous power. He strengthened his argument by confidently stated that it was God himself who showed him, and if proven to be untrue, his mouth shall be knitted and be thrown into hell.

Matthew 21:23-27 was where he drew his teaching from:
1. Because the Pharisee hinted that John baptism was from the authority of Heaven (v 25), then baptism must come from Heaven and thus, has the power to send us as citizen of Heaven, and thus, has the power to give us heavenly power as we are restored back to the images of Christ.

2. The right baptism is John's baptism, referring to verse 25. And upon this verse, he built the teaching that only a person who possesses the spirit of martyrdom (like John) is allowed to do baptism. A powerful and correct baptism is conducted by the right person (those with spirit of martyrdom) with the right method.

3. Pariadji then claimed to have the spirit of martyrdom, given by God himself. He was taken to Heaven, stopped by for a brief visit to Hell and saw the suffering soul of the condemned. He quickly knelt and cried at Jesus' feet and pleaded for God to let him serve their sentence, let him sacrifice his life to replace them. He insisted and pleaded three times, and finally God answered:

"Today, your pact is fulfilled, you indeed have the spirit of martyrdom like John. Thus, you are given the power to conduct the Holy Communion; power reserved only for those with the spirit of martyrdom."

What is the pact that he is talking about here? He shared that he always wanted to meet with people who is more sacrificial than him. If God fulfills it, he will honor his promise to God (no elaboration on the promise) Thus, the pact is honored when he met Jesus; he met a person who is more sacrificial than him.

4. Mark 16:16-18 unpack the signs of those who have been baptized: drive out demons, speak in new tongues, delivered from unfortunate events (pick up snakes with their hands), and heal people.

So, those were some important key points that he made about baptism. He certainly believes about the power of baptism to sanctify people, that the right baptism is only John's baptism, and he is the official person to carry out the baptism ceremony because he is endowed with the spirit of martyrdom from God.

I have heard lots of disagreement amongst denomination about baptism: requirement for salvation, immersion or sprinkle, the significance, etc, but have never heard of what Pariadji just introduced. Lots of people hold the belief that baptism serves solely as a ceremonial ritual or celebration to mark a Christian. It seems to me that Tiberias holds a much broader and more significant view of baptism, or even stands in contradiction to that view. And the ultimate question remains, how should we view this, and what The Bible says about it.

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