Baptism

“What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:36
 
Did you ever wonder if believer’s baptism was an option for a Christian? Maybe you figured it was kind of like a good idea, but not really necessary? Something you might eventually get around to doing one day, some day? Think again!
 
It may come as a surprise, and perhaps even a shock, but baptism is actually a clear and firm command to be followed by all believers in Jesus Christ. Before departing into heaven, Jesus told his disciples to make disciples by baptizing them and then teaching them. His disciples understood that it was a command, not a suggestion that they were to follow.
 
After the Apostle Peter finished his first sermon in Jerusalem at Pentecost, in response to the crowd asking him what they were supposed to do, he told them to believe and be baptized. In that instance, he was speaking with both clarity and authority about the necessity of being baptized. For him, belief and baptism were interconnected and inseparable. A short while later, after seeing a great number of people come to faith at a Roman centurion’s home, the Apostle Peter actually ordered them to be baptized.
 
No matter what you may have come to believe (or convinced yourself of), baptism is way more than a suggestion, an option, or a good idea. It’s a command for all believers to follow. And of course, we all know that when a command is given we can either chose to obey or disobey. Seriously, for a Christian, wouldn’t you agree that it’s always better to obey the commands of God?
 
The Great Commission
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mt 28:18-20
 
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mk 16:15-16
 
The Great Multitude in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:37-41
 
Cornelius the Centurion, in Caesarea
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. Acts 10:44-48
 
a very tiny gap of time
 
Some believers understand that baptism is a command, but somehow come to the conclusion that they can wait as long as they would like before they obey. However, the Scriptural evidence points strongly and consistently to the fact that believers were baptized immediately upon conversion. Seriously, there was no lag time between making a confession of faith and obediently being baptized.
 
Others make up man-made reasons and requirements that they place upon themselves as an excuse to hold off on baptism. Some say, “I need to straighten out my life first,” or “When I’m older,” or even “When I’m finally a strong and mature Christian,” or worse, “When I’m worthy to be baptized.” While sanctification (the process of setting yourself apart for God and seeking to lead a holy life) is a worthy and natural goal for a believing Christian, it has nothing at all to do with being baptized. Further, the overwhelming biblical evidence is that the one and only requirement for baptism is belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Which begs the question, “If you have believed, why are you delaying your baptism?”
 
Here are eight biblical examples of baptism that show how quickly people got baptized after coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ:
 
1. The residents of Samaria (including Simon the Magician)
 
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. Acts 8:12-13
 
2. The Ethiopian Eunuch on his way back to Ethiopia
 
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. Acts 8:35-38
 
3. The Apostle Paul on his way to Damascus
 
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. Act 9:17-19
 
4. Cornelius, his relatives and close friends, at his home in Caesarea
 
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. Acts 10:44-48
 
5. Lydia and her family, after a prayer meeting in Thyatira
 
And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. Acts 16:13-15
 
6. The jailer and his family, after an earthquake in Philippi
 
Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Acts 16:30-34
 
7. Crispus, his family, and many others, in Corinth
 
Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. Acts 18:8
 
8. A dozen believers in Ephesus (who didn’t know they were supposed to be baptized)
 
And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all. Acts 19:1-7
 
following in his steps
 
Believers in Jesus are also known as disciples of Jesus. The fact is that disciples willingly and obediently follow their master and seek to become like him. Are you willing to follow Jesus by being baptized? Our Heavenly Father was “well pleased” with Jesus getting baptized. Don’t you want to hear the same blessing upon yourself when you get baptized?
 
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Mt 3:13-17
 
it's all about love
 
It could well be that like the dozen believers that the Apostle Paul found in Ephesus, that immediately following your conversion, you simply were unaware of the significance and necessity of being baptized. It could also be that you have intentionally been putting off baptism for some (non-biblical) reason. The possibility also exists that you knew (and know) you were supposed to be baptized, but have been guilty of procrastination. No matter what the reason, rationalization, or excuse, if you have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and have not yet been baptized, you are living in disobedience to a clear command of Christ as well as potentially being a poor role model for new believers who are looking to you to figure out how to properly and obediently live the Christian faith. Beyond that, you are also missing out on the amazing blessings that await you upon your baptism.
 
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Jn 14:15
 
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 Jn 5:3
 
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Cor 11:1
 
 just ask yourself…
 
1. Without baptism, have I seriously been united with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection?
 
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Rom 6:3-11
 
2. Without baptism, have I really “put on Christ?”
 
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 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 no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:26-28
 
3. Without baptism, have I truly put off the “the body of the flesh?”
 
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col 2:11-14
 
4. Without baptism, have I honestly appealed to God for a good conscience?
 
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Pt 3:21

you were just a baby
 
Yes, there are four accounts in the book of Acts that speak about "households" being baptized. Were there infants in those families? No one really knows.   To argue from silence or assumption - either way - is really senseless. However, it is good to know that there is no specific account or reference in the New Testament of any infant ever being baptized. All the written accounts record that baptism only took place after a person came to a knowledge and confession of saving faith in Jesus Christ - something it is reasonable to assume that an infant is not capable of doing. 

If you were baptized as a baby, you need to ask yourself if you repented of your sins, believed in Jesus Christ, and clearly wanted to identify with and follow him when you were baptized. Beyond that, ask yourself whether as an infant, you truly understood you were uniting to Christ in his death, burial and resurrection (Rom 6:3-11), in what way you really “put on Christ” (Gal 3:26-28), exactly how you “put off the body of flesh” or were “raised through faith in the powerful working of God” (Col 2:11-14), and if you distinctly remember appealing to God for a good conscience (1 Pt 3:21). If none of these things actually occured when you were baptized as an infant, then you should really seek to be baptized as a believer.

the call
 
Think about it, why did Jesus, his Apostles, and his disciples place so much importance, significance, and emphasis on baptism immediately following conversion… and you don’t?
 
Seriously, has the Holy Spirit finally convicted you through the Word of God that you need to be baptized? Have you come to the logical and biblical conclusion that you should now obediently follow the commands of Jesus and his Apostles so as to be baptized and experience the full blessings that await you? What in the world are you waiting for? When you think about it, there’s nothing preventing you from being baptized. It’s time!
 

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