Ready to take your faith public?
We are having a baptism Sunday at Onward on August 20. If you would like to be baptized please contact Pastor Bryan.
Why should we be baptized?
When should we get baptized?
How should we be baptized?
There is a story in the book of Acts, chapter 8, about Philip and an Ethiopian man, which answers these three questions. Philip, one of the original seven deacons of the early church, is lead by the Holy Spirit to go to a certain road that led south from Jerusalem to Gaza. And there, travelling on that road in a chariot, was the treasurer of Ethiopia. He was a god-fearing gentile and he was on his way home after having been to Jerusalem to worship. And he was sitting in the chariot reading the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, where it predicted the sufferings of Christ: Philip ran over alongside the chariot and asked him if he understood what he was reading. He said he didn’t and so he invited Philip to ride in his chariot and explain the Scriptures to him. And Philip began with that passage and explained that it was talking about Jesus and his death on the cross and resurrection for our sins. He shared the good news of the gospel with the man. Let’s pick up the story in verse 36 to observe what happened next:
Acts 8:36-39 – “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 37 Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
How should we be baptized?
The word baptize used here is a translation of the greek word “baptidzo” which literally means “to be immersed.” Verse 38 says that both “Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water”. This tells us what the normal method of baptism is intended to be.
When should we be baptized?
We should be baptized after we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who died and rose again for our sins. The Ethiopian wasn’t baptized until after he had put his faith in Christ. The only pre-requisite to baptism is faith. Faith in Christ for salvation must come first. This is seen throughout the book of Acts. For example, when Philip went to preach the gospel in Samaria, the Bible says:
Acts 8:12 – “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
Belief clearly preceded baptism. This means that if you have faith in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, there is no good reason why you shouldn’t get baptized as soon as possible. There is a myth in many people’s minds that baptism is a sign of maturity, and that until you’re mature in your faith, and you’ve been a Christian for a while, and you’ve overcome most of your sins, that you shouldn’t get baptized. But that’s simply not true. The Ethiopian wasn’t a mature believer. He was a new believer. And yet Philip didn’t tell him to wait. Philip simply said in verse 37, “If you believe with all your heart, you may” get baptized.
Why should we be baptized?
Let me give you two reasons
1. It demonstrates outwardly what has happened inwardly
Paul said it like this in Romans 6.
Romans 6:3-4 – Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
The inward reality is that when we are joined by faith to Christ, our sins are dead and buried, and we have a new life. So, in baptism, when you go down into the water it pictures how your sins are dead and buried in the grave of God’s forgiveness. Then, when you come up out of the water, it pictures how you have a new life, a life that is now indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. So, water baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and it pictures our death, burial, and resurrection with him.
It’s a bit like wearing a wedding ring. In our culture, when you get married, you place a wedding ring on the fourth finger of your left hand as an outward sign and symbol that you’re married. Now, the wedding ring does not make you married. If an unmarried person decides one day to start wearing a wedding ring, it doesn’t suddenly make them married. But if you are married, the ring is like an outward visible testimony of your marriage commitment. Likewise, when a person is baptized, they are publicly identifying themselves with Jesus Christ. They are saying, “I belong to Christ. I am his and he is mind.”
2. It’s a step of obedience to Christ
Baptism is not a suggestion, or a good idea, it’s a command from the Lord. After the resurrection and just before his ascension, Jesus gave this command to his disciples:
Matthew 28:19-20 – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus gave us a command. That means that getting baptized is simply a step of obedience. In that sense it is crucial to your Christian life as a follower of Christ because at the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus is to be obedient to the Lord. Many Christians are lacking in joy because they have not been obedient. Acts 8:39 tells us that after the Ethiopian was baptized, he “went on his way rejoicing.” Obedience brings joy. While it’s true that baptism is not essential to salvation, it is essential to obedience, and obedience is essential to joy and fruitfulness in your Christian life. If you’re reading this, and you haven’t been baptized since coming to believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then why don’t you take this important step on August 20 at Onward.