Baptism – Don’t Leave Home Without it!
If you got saved last week, then spoke to Pastor Mary about being baptized, but got in a car wreck and died before you actually got baptized, are you still saved? Yes! Salvation is an act of faith, and true faith is known by your Creator.
Then why did Jesus mention baptism (a public event) right along with salvation (a private event)? Must be important.
Did you know that baptism has been used over many centuries to show allegiance to a person or ideology? In earlier times, people becoming students of a “master” of knowledge or performance, like a revered rabbi, might be baptized to publicly display their dedication to the master’s service, and their intent to learn in hopes of also becoming a master in that field. They might “sit at the feet” of this teacher for many years, sharing all of life, and serving in whatever way they were able. Eventually, when properly prepared, the master would send them out to teach or act on his behalf, with his authority, to fulfill his orders.
In Christianity, where actual salvation is a confession and inward acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice to release us from the penalty of our sins and grant us access to God’s Eternal Presence (in a nutshell), baptism is the outward, or public, symbol of our dedication and submission to Jesus Christ in our “becoming.” We openly declare our obedience to Jesus Christ, becoming a part of the fulness of His Church. We bring to His Church the gifts we receive from Holy Spirit, as well as having full right to benefit from the gifts given to others who have submitted themselves to Jesus as their Savior. Further, we then owe a portion of love to our personal enemies, and those who have yet to accept Jesus’ sacrificial gift of eternal life in His Presence.
As Christians, Jesus calls us to “follow” or emulate him in word and deed.
John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
So, we as Christians being baptized:
1) Obey Christ as loving followers, and 2) Present a public, joyful witness to ourselves, and others, of our forgiveness and commitment.
There are many reasons that baptism is important, and we need to understand them to better walk as Christians. After Jesus’ resurrection, He really started pulling His disciples together and not just teaching, but giving orders He expected to be obeyed. You see, the time to convince them was well over. It was time for them to start doing (not just FOR Christ, but WITH Christ), here on earth, as would be done in heaven.
Mt 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” NLT
Obedience is a really hard concept for us Americans to swallow, generally. We tend to be an independent lot. Speaking as a native of Montana, now living in Idaho, I can tell you us northern folk have an even larger share of that streak. Also, there are those of us who have been hurt, or misled by a leader or leaders, or maybe by a church, and we have trust issues.
Baptism, however, is a sign of trusting God; not people. We should always remember that everyone standing with us in faith has fallen, and will fall again. It’s one reason we are called to meet together and encourage one another – to behave as a “body”, rather than a soloist. You will fall, too, by-the-way. We must not worship fellow believers – but, worship and obey Jesus Christ!
Skipping the “obey” part right off makes it easier to not obey later, as you walk out your faith in life. NOT skipping the “obey” part right off makes it easier to obey later, as you walk out your faith in life. What we do as new believers is a huge training ground, like teaching our bodies “muscle memory” in karate, so that if we are ever challenged, we will have already practiced so we are protected, and can meet a test with success, even protecting others in the midst of a trial, also training others, as God would have us do. Even when we fail, we can look back and see that we really tried, rather than just giving up, or giving in. That makes doing better next time more likely, and easier.
Beyond obedience, which is a huge act of love toward Christ, baptism is also an act of authenticity. We are BEing what humans were meant to be – as God created us. Even more than that, we are BEing effective Image Bearers. Effective first in our own lives as we follow Christ’s examples and orders, and then, also, in the lives of those around us. Further, every point of obedience and/or attention to God in our life is a strike against evil. It is an example of how things should be done on earth, rather than an example of how our flesh can bow to the influence of evil, or just to people, instead of our Lord and Savior. As Christ submitted Himself to God’s Will, even to death on a cross, so our submission to God gives us not just blessings, but authority. Jesus Christ knew who He was, and what He was about, and it showed.
Mt 7:29 For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. KJV
Lk 4:32-33 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. NKJV
Lk 4:36-37 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” NKJV
Authority to walk out our faith in the face of adversity is such an effective weapon of spiritual warfare – no matter who you are or where you came from.
Ac 4:13-14 …when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. NKJV
So, as we move immediately from becoming a believer to BEing a walker of faith like the disciples, Jesus calls us to baptism. Scripture shows us great examples of baptism accomplished before testing, and ministry.
First, we see Jesus Christ, even knowing himself to be the Son of God without sin, setting the example of public baptism, then displaying success (hard earned) in private, and extreme, temptation before going on to public ministry. Jesus’ baptism was not just an example to each of us, but a way that Jesus identified with us. (Bruxy Cavey) Jesus took on human form, choosing not just to walk on the earth as a human, but instead to walk on the earth in “human-ness”, enduring all that we endure, trusting in God just like we have to. His life was victory. Jesus chose to be baptized before taking on a life of ministry. And Jesus was immediately tested after baptism…did He really mean it!? Jesus’ victory was so great, that none of us would have salvation without it. We become servants of God upon salvation, and priests (Rev 1:5-6) to Him.
Matt 3: 13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he (John) allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Matt 4:1–17 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” NKJV
Jesus’ public ministry did not begin until after he submitted to God in public baptism, and faced temptation successfully. If we, as Christians, have stood up and taken a public stand, this encourages and enables us to take a private stand at the point of temptation. The character building that occurs here is priceless as we walk through the rest of our own lives, and certainly as we minister to others. The lack of such strength, formed in a time of intense testing, has brought many down.
Our next example is Paul. He had a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ, and, after 3 days of fasting, prayer, and healing, he got himself baptized.
Acts 9:1-22 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened.
Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. NKJV
Paul was already a Pharisee – an expert in scripture and Jewish tradition. God commissioned Paul into service, and he immediately began preaching, growing in the power of God, and ministering. Years later, he would face death for his faith. He did not waver.
Neither Jesus nor Paul moved forward in their private beliefs without a public baptism. Both ministered against great opposition, both succeeded mightily. That is not to say there was not a price, but it IS to say they knew there was a price, and were ready to pay, inwardly AND outwardly, as they did in the beginning of their faith walk.
The Eunuch from Ethiopia
Ac 8:26-40 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”
So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. NKJV
This stranger was adamant to be quickly baptized once he came to belief in Jesus Christ as The Son of God. So, who are we baptized into? Is it in acknowledgement of a person who brought us to salvation? What about the church where we are baptized? What about a denomination? Paul had trouble with a church that was confusing being baptized by people with the power of God, and wrote about it in 1 Corinthians:
1 Co 1:12-16 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. NKJV
1 Co 3:4-8 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. NKJV
1 Co 3:21 Therefore let no one boast in men. NKJV
Baptism is a decision to walk with God, not man. Not out of urging by others, but out of a deep inner desire born from Holy Spirit’s indwelling; to identify with Jesus Christ. While loyalty is a wonderful thing (and important to me, having served in the military) there is just no person on this earth who is fully capable of earning the complete and utter allegiance we should reserve for our Savior. If we give that to people, we set them up to fail. If we accept such devotion, we are deflecting to ourselves what belongs to God.
What does scripture say about Baptism? Below is a list long enough that I think you can be well informed. It is not ALL verses that discuss baptism – there are many – but a good gathering of evidence for baptism.
John 3:22-23 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and (they) baptized. NKJV
Acts 2:36-42 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized…about three thousand souls were added to them. NKJV
Mark 16:15-17 And He (Jesus) said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. NKJV
1 Cor 12:12-14 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. NKJV
Rom 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. NKJV
There is a wonderful, deep sense of joy and trust in the midst of believers you will not find in other gatherings or places. It is there even if you are in a different country, and surrounded by people singing praises to God in a language you don’t understand. I experienced this on mission trips to Brazil, to Myanmar, to Thailand, and in England. If you are in trouble, you know that if someone is a Christian, they are ready to do for you what they can to help; to pray, to give shelter, comfort, food, etc. I have watched it happen so many times. Your spirit and theirs are melded in an inexplicable way that causes the wonder of it all to bubble up inside of you, and them, at the same time. What comfort!
Gal 3:26-29 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. NKJV/KJV
Baptism is a celebration of the most important and inspiring gift you will ever receive. As Christians, we are always running into spiritual battles. Some we realize, and others we don’t. Going into the world without the peace of baptism and authority of knowing who we are in Christ makes it way harder.
Pastor Mary baptized me in Lion Lake. So beautiful! So breath taking – coming up out of that water! Where will you be baptized?
April 20, 2021