“Then they that gladly received His word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” -Acts 2:41
This verse tells us that those who believed on the day of Pentecost were baptized following their salvation. Every believer should be baptized following his salvation. We have several Biblical reasons that make baptism important.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BAPTISM
Christ is our example – Matthew 3:13-17.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was baptized. He said to John the Baptist, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Baptism was important to the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is to be our example so that we can follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21). Under The Meaning of Baptism we will consider the meaning of Christ’s baptism a little more in detail.
Christ commands us to be baptized.
In the Great Commission that Christ gave, we find that the Lord required the church to baptize those who believed. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This commission to the church commands that Christians go to witness to the world. The church is to baptize the converts, and those converts are to win others and see them baptized.
The disciples of Jesus practiced baptism.
“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus made and baptized not, but his disciples)…” (John 4:1-2)
The early church practiced baptism.
1. The Jewish converts in Jerusalem – Acts 2:41
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized.” Those who heard the Word and received Christ were baptized.
2. The converts in Samaria – Acts 2:12
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
3. The Ethiopian eunuch converted and baptized – Acts 8:38
“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch/ and he baptized him.”
4. Saul converted and baptized – Acts 9:18
“And immediately there fell from his eyes ass it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith and arose, and was baptized.”
5. Cornelius and his house – Gentiles converted and baptized – Acts 10:48
“And he [Peter] commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
6. Philippian jailer and his family saved and baptized – Acts 16:33
“And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes: and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
7. Ephesian disciples saved and baptized – Acts 19:5
“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
8. Corinthian believers baptized – Acts 18:8
“And many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” In I Corinthians 1:14-15 Paul said that he baptized a few converts in Corinth. He revealed that the Corinthian church did baptize converts but that they did not need to be divided over the personality of the preacher who baptized them.
9. Roman believers baptized – Romans 6:4
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism unto death.”
10. Colossian believers baptized – Colossians 2:12
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him.”
THE MEANING OF BAPTISM
Baptism is an identification with Christ.
As the believer is put under the water, he pictures the death and burial of Christ. As he comes up out of the water, he pictures the resurrection of Christ. “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” (Romans 6:4). Baptism is a testimony to those witnessing by the baptizing that this believer is trusting Christ in His death on the cross for sin and in His resurrection from the tomb for a life of victory. Baptism pictures our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Baptism is similar to a wedding ring.
A Wedding ring does not make us married. It is simply a symbol to the world that we are married. It is a symbol that the person married belongs to someone. Baptism is a symbol to the world that we are married. It is a symbol that the person married belongs to Someone – that we belong to the Lord.
Baptism is a step of obedience to God’s direct command. It is a public testimony of salvation in the blood of Christ as we trust in His death, burial, and resurrection (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
Then baptism is a public testimony that we want to live for Christ in the new life we have in Him (Romans 6:1-6). It is also a means of blessing, for it surely adds joy to our salvation decision.
Baptism does not save.
We are not saved by baptism. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you are on your way to Heaven whether you get baptized or not. Only the blood of Christ can redeem – not the water of baptism. Baptism is the outward symbol of the inner work which has already taken place in the one who has trusted Christ.
Christ was baptized.
Though He gave us an example through His baptism, Christ was baptized for an identification different from ours. He went out to John and was baptized in the Jordan River. John was baptizing men who confessed they were sinners and who repented of their sins. When Jesus came to John, He identified Himself with sinners. It was a picture of what He would accomplish at Calvary when He was baptized with death for our sins. When Jesus told John, “Suffer it be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness,” He was announcing that the only way that there could be righteousness would be through His death, burial, and resurrection. He opened His earthly ministry with baptism, which pictured the fact that He would become identified with sinners, take their sins in His own body (I Peter 2:24), and pay the penalty of death for those sins on the cross. He closed His earthly ministry with His death on the cross. He came to die for us, and this is shown as He opened and as He closed His ministry.
THE MODE OF BAPTISM
The only scriptural baptism is that which uses immersion. The very Greek word for baptism, “baptizo,” means “to dip, to plunge under, or to submerge.” The scriptural expressions such as “much water” (John 3:23), “down…into the water” (Acts 8:38), and “coming up out of the water” (Mark 1:10) give proof that baptism is by immersion.
The only baptism that can picture death, burial, and resurrection is immersion. “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” (Romans 6:4).
THE TIME OF BAPTISM
Baptism to be scriptural must follow salvation.
In Acts 8:36, 37 the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Philip answered, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” The eunuch had to believe before he could be baptized. The one requirement for baptism is that a person be saved before he is baptized.
Therefore, baptism of infants who are not old enough to believe is totally unscriptural. Baptism is for believers only. Please note again the verse at the head of this chapter – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
Also, a person who was baptized before he was saved is not scripturally baptized. I was put under the water when I was twelve years old. Then I was saved when I was twenty-one years old. I realized that my being immersed before I was saved was not scriptural baptism, and I requested baptism after I was saved, you are not scripturally baptized, and you need to be identified with Christ in baptism followed salvation.
Baptism must precede church membership.
The three thousand saved and baptized on the day of Pentecost were added to the church. Baptism is the first test of obedience after salvation. A believer gives testimony by his baptism. If he refuses to testify for the Lord to baptism, does he deserve to be recognized as an obedient disciple? We dare not pick the ways we will testify but take the Scriptures as the rule for our testifying.
AFTER BAPTISM, WHAT THEN?
Romans 6:4 gives the answer: “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.”
Baptism should be followed with a new walk. We should have transformed lives so that the world can see the difference. This should involve our church fellowship, our stewardship, and our Christian growth.
I close this lesson with a quote by the late Dr. M. R. DeHaan in his booklet, Water Baptism:
“In the early days of the church… baptism was a declaration that the believer was definitely identifying himself with that group of people who were called Christians and were despised and hated. To be a Christian meant something. To identify yourself with those who were called Christians meant persecution, maybe death; it meant being ostracized from your family, shunned by friends. And the one act which was the final declaration of this identification was BAPTISM. As long as a man gathered with Christians, he was tolerated, but when once he submitted to baptism, he declared to all the world. I BELONG TO THIS DESPISED GROUP, and immediately he was persecuted, hated, and despised. In baptism, therefore, the believer entered into the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. A person might be a believer and keep it strictly a secret and thus avoid unpleasantness and suffering, but once he submitted to public baptism he had burned his bridges behind him.”
Gif Credit to Source: Jimmie Tullis at ebibleteacher.com