Some people hear the gospel of the Kingdom preached to them, repent from their sins, and then attempt to live the Christian life, skipping the step of baptism. There are many different reasons for this.
Some don’t want to.
Some don’t believe we have to.
Some just never get around to it and don’t really think it’s that big of deal. It’s not exactly high on their priority list…
So, is it important? Do we have to? When do we get baptized? Are we in a rush? Should we do this immediately, or can we procrastinate and put it off? How much should we know, understand, and believe, before we say, “I will?”
Let’s see what Scripture tells us about this subject of BAPTISM:
1) Do we HAVE to?
Based on the Great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 24:19-20.
If Jesus commands us to make new disciples and baptize them, then we need to obey that commandment.
2) Why be baptized? Is it important?
How major or minor is this symbolic act as a part of our Christian walk? Pretty major!
A.) To be saved and obedient to our Lord Messiah
Jesus said in Mark 16:16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”
If you “believe and are baptized, you shall be saved”. Salvation is a pretty big deal that I certainly don’t want to mess up or play around with. If it’s a simple thing, and I have no reason why I cannot perform this action, then why would I choose not to obey Him, especially if it could mean my salvation?
I have had this discussion many times with people, and I always bring up the thief on the cross who was promised by Jesus that he would see him in the kingdom when he comes….he certainly hadn’t had the opportunity to be baptized, yet he was obviously saved. I’m sure there are certain circumstances and exceptions that God may make in people’s lives. Yet, who wants to take the risk if you have some water and someone to baptize you? What holds you back? Is it your unbelief, or is it your unwillingness to obey God?
B.) To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
3) When do you get baptized?
“But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.” Acts 8:12
I think a simple understanding and knowledge of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God [that it will be an everlasting kingdom that is to come, with Jesus as King, here upon the earth] is fundamental. We must know and understand that Jesus is that anointed King of that coming Kingdom; that he was miraculously created in the womb of Mary by God’s Spirit (thus Jesus was called the Son of God). We must understand the basics of who Jesus was and is ~ that he was the one who was prophesied about in the Old Testament by the prophets as the Messiah [anointed king], to bring us the good news of the Kingdom, to die on the cross for our sins, and then be raised by God to immortality, the first man ever to receive this gift. Jesus ascended into heaven, exalted by God, to sit at His right hand, until the time has come, when God will send His Son back to the earth, to begin to set up and establish his millennial rule and dominion over the entire earth. If you understand these basics and believe them; then by george, you’re ready to get baptized! It’s really not that complicated, is it? Even a CHILD can understand these truths and believe!
I think of the story with the Ethiopian. Philip showed up, preached Jesus to him, and then as they went along, the Ethiopian cried “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he [the Ethiopian] answered, “I believe that Jesus Messiah is the Son of God,” and then Philip baptized him.
What is interesting was, the Ethiopian’s reaction to finally getting to understand Scripture and getting a grasp on who this Jesus was. As soon as he understood, something clicked, and he wanted to be baptized right that minute! Can you imagine his excitement? His thrill? His desire to be baptized? He didn’t want to wait. He didn’t want to ponder it. He believed, and he was baptized. So, I think the underlying issue isn’t whether you should be baptized, or when you should be baptized, but DO YOU BELIEVE? If so, then go get baptized. Don’t delay.
4) By Whom Should you be baptized?
Interestingly enough, the Bible does not command your baptism to be by anyone specific. The Great Commission was spoken to all of us, not just twelve men. It applies to all of us. Not just pastors. The Bible does not require a baptism be performed by an elder of one wife, deacon, man or woman, Jew or Gentile. It remains silent on this subject. Of course, like any other topic, where there is freedom in Christ, MAN likes to make up his own rules and add them to Scripture. However, if we are going by Scripture, there are no mandates on who may baptize you. Common sense tells us, it will be by another believer, a sister or brother in Christ Jesus, who shares your belief in the Gospel of the Kingdom and Jesus Christ.
5) What does Baptism signify?
“And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Luke 3:3
“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
“having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up in Him [Jesus] through faith in the working of God, who raised Him [Jesus] from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” Colossians 2:12-13.
Baptism – to be immersed in a body of water, to go completely under the water – signifies death – going down to the grave and being buried; dead in our sins; dead to our old sinful, fleshly, worldly selves.
To be raised up out of the water symbolizes us being resurrected or raised to a new life, to be a new creation in Christ Jesus. We are thus ‘born again.’ It is a rebirth – even as adults – to become new again. Our sins of our past life, our mistakes, our poor choices and behaviors that God would have found displeasing are wiped clean by the blood of Jesus. We are cleansed. Our sins forgiven.
With Baptism, comes repentance. We acknowledge and confess our sins, turn away from our old way of life, and choose to walk in a new path. From this day forward, we will choose to walk in the Spirit – guided by God’s Spirit [the Holy Spirit] – defined as “the mind and energy behind the works and word of God” (Greg Deuble). This gift of the Holy Spirit will help us walk the Christian life. To attempt to do so without God’s help, is to try by using our own power and strength. The results will be a far cry from what God has planned for us. With man, this is impossible, but with God, we can begin to see the transformation that He will begin to work in our lives, to begin the process and journey of conforming us into the image of His Son, Jesus.
Baptism, therefore, is one of the initial steps of your walk with Christ Jesus; since to walk with him and obey him, and walk in the Spirit, we must be baptized by the Holy Spirit, and that typically comes with our water baptism (although there is one noted case in Scripture that I know of, that it came later).
Baptism is important, we must do it, and we should not delay. Those who oppose it or drag their feet, with some excuse of why they are not being baptized, are the ones who are resisting God. Quit struggling and give Him ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind, ALL your strength, and obey Him in ALL His commands. You cannot pick and choose which commandments that you’re willing to do, and cast aside and argue about the ones you’re not comfortable with. Yes, it might cast you out of your comfort zone…however, if you’ve followed God for very long, when isn’t He casting you out of your comfort zone? He wants to stretch and grow you, and that means change.
The first step to true change and transformation: when you decide to obey His Son in this command to be baptized.
What’s holding you back?
“The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.” Mark 1:15
“And Peter said to them,
“Repent and let each of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.”
“So then, those who had received his word [of the kingdom] were baptized and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
Acts 2:38-39, 41.
Can you begin to IMAGINE what the Church would begin to look like, the type of power that we would see God utilizing in and through us, if we repented from our sins, believed in His Gospel of the Kingdom and Jesus Christ, and were baptized in the Name of Jesus? Perhaps, we would see 3,000 people added daily… imagine! Better yet…. BELIEVE!