As we continue in our study of Growing in Christ, we come this morning to a very important subject – ‘Baptism.’ In our study this morning we will endeavor to answer questions such as:
- What is baptism?
- Why is it important?
- Who should be baptized and when?
As always, we will look to God’s Word for our guidance.
In Acts 2, we find the church on the Day of Pentecost. As you well know, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and the church was born. As evidence of the Spirit’s coming, the apostles were given to special ability to speak in other languages and dialects. The reason for this is found within the passage. The phenomenon naturally drew the attention of the thousands of Jews who were in Jerusalem at that time in order to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. As they stood watching in amazement, they began to ask – ‘How are you able to do this and what does it mean?’ Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, preached to them the first gospel message concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Peter preached to them the gospel, the Holy Spirit brought conviction upon their hearts and many of those listening cried out and asked what they must do in order to be saved.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
To repent means to have a change of mind. It means to make an about-face. Prior to this, these same men had rejected Jesus. Twice in his message Peter told them that they were the ones who crucified Jesus. Then he said – ‘Repent of your rebellion and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.’ Why did Peter tell them to be baptized?
I. What is Baptism?
A. What Baptism is Not:
Water baptism is not a means of salvation. It is not a part of our salvation. There is no saving power in water. According to scripture, a sinner can be cleansed of his sin only by the blood of Jesus.
- 1 John 1:7 … the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
- Rev 1:5 … Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
As the old song says – “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
Why then did Peter tell them to repent and be baptized? What did Jesus mean in Mark 16:16?
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
What did Jesus mean when He said – ‘he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved?’ The natural assumption is that we must be baptized in order to be saved. However, note carefully what our Lord said – “…but he that believeth not shall be damned.” What keeps a man from being saved? Did Jesus mention a failure to be baptized? No. Jesus said a lack of saving faith is what keeps us from salvation. The act of baptism is an expression of our faith. Dr. Harold Willmington writes – ‘… the words belief and baptism are inseparably linked together in the NT. Believe is the root … of which baptism becomes the fruit.’ (Willmington’s Guide to the Bible)
That water baptism is not a part of our salvation is evidenced both by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He often went out of His way to offer salvation to even just one individual. Yet Jesus never baptized His converts. Scripture says that His disciples did; but Jesus Himself never did. (Jn 4:1-2) Does it not seem logical that if baptism was necessary for salvation, Jesus would have baptized men and women?
What about the Apostle Paul? How did Paul view baptism? Paul told the Corinthians – “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2) Paul gave his life in order to tell others about Jesus, yet Paul rarely ever baptized one of his converts. As a matter of fact, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:17 – “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” Paul valued baptism. The first thing he did after his conversion was to be baptized; yet Paul did not view baptism as necessary for salvation or as a part of the gospel message.
We may summarize it by saying that we are baptized – not to be saved, but because – we are saved. Following the Lord in baptism is one of the ways we declare our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
B. What Baptism Is and Why It Is Important
The word ‘baptize’ means to dip or submerge. A perfect example of what this word means is found in someone dying a piece of fabric. In order to change the color of a piece of cloth, we must ‘baptize’ it into a dye solution so that the cloth will take on the characteristics of the dye. Into what is the believer baptized and how does it affect him?
The believer is baptized into what Jesus Christ accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection.
1. The Bible says that Christ died for our sins. (1 Cor 15:3) When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we are made a part of His sacrificial death. We are united with Him in what His death accomplished. Scripture says that Christ died for our sins. More specifically, Christ died for ‘MY’ sin and for ‘YOUR’ sin.
Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Water baptism is a symbolic representation of Christ dying for our sins.
2. After His death on the cross, they took Christ’s broken body and they placed it in a tomb. His body had been mutilated through all that had happened to it. It was as the slaughtered body of a lamb that had been slain as an Old Testament sacrifice.
They placed His body in a tomb and there it remained for three days, verifying the fact that Jesus had died for our sins. Christ’s body was placed in the grave as a sign of His death FOR sin. The immersion of the believer into water is a sign of his death TO sin.
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed , that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
3. But Christ did not remain in the grave. On the third day He came out of the grave. His body went into the tomb, beaten and battered. Though His friends did all they could to clean His bloody body up before they placed it in the tomb, no doubt it was still a horrible sight. But on the third day Jesus walked out of that tomb; not with a mutilated body; but with a glorified body. The resurrection transformed His body into a new creation.
Thus we read in scripture –
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
When the baptized believer comes out of the water, he symbolizes both the resurrection of Christ, as well as his own resurrection to now walk in the newness of life. He enters into the water – symbolic of the sinner that needs to be crucified. He is immersed into the water – symbolic of the burial and putting away of his old sinful self. And he comes out of the water – symbolic of the saint walking in the newness of life.
Water baptism is a picture of what we learned last week from 2 Corinthians 5:17
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
When a believer submits himself to be baptized, he is declaring:
- I have put my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior
- I will now follow Him as my Lord
II. A Visible Illustration of Baptism
Today we have the blessing of watching three individuals honor the Lord through water baptism. Rejoice with me as we are reminded of the death, burial and resurrection of the believer.
III. Who Should Be Baptized?
A. Everyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness) of sins…
Throughout the New Testament we see that believer’s baptism went hand-in-hand with faith in Christ. A willingness to submit to believer’s baptism is the first sign of our salvation. The men at Pentecost repented of their sin and were baptized. The apostle Paul repented of his sin and was baptized. The Ethiopian Eunuch repented of his sin and was baptized. Lydia and her household repented of their sins and were baptized. The Philippian jailer repented of his sin and was baptized.
That has been Christ’s plan from the very beginning and it remains so even unto today. It is part of the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Our Lord said –
Matthew 28:19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” CSB
Perhaps you are someone who needs to be baptized. We are setting aside Sunday morning, March 11, for another time of baptism. If you need to be baptized, I would encourage you to come and talk either with myself or Pastor Zack. Let us help guide you and you follow the Lord as one of His disciples.
B. Do I need to be ‘re-baptized?’
Sometimes when someone rededicates themselves to the Lord, they want to be re-baptized. There is no scriptural support for that. You don’t need to be born-again over and over, and you don’t need to be baptized over and over.
However, occasionally there is someone who may have made a profession of faith when they were very young, and were baptized; yet when they became older, they began to question their salvation decision and baptism. Often I have people say – “I did it but I don’t remember it”, or “I did it but I didn’t really understand.” Therefore, many of these same individuals often request to be re-baptized, now that they understand the gospel and are a true born-again believer. If you have questions about this and would like to be re-baptized, please come and talk to us.
Baptism will not save you; however, that does not mean that we should take baptism lightly. I believe that baptism is very sacred and important because it is the Lord’s ordained way for us to declare our faith in Him and to begin the exciting journey of becoming one of His disciples.