This post is a continuation of my first post on Baptism. If you haven’t already – you can check that out here.
If you have, welcome back! Let’s just dive right in.
So what did Jesus’ disciples do?
We aren’t told everything Jesus shared with His disciples after His resurrection. We know that He spent 40 days with them (Acts 1:3) – teaching them about the Kingdom of God. We may not have been told what Jesus said, but if we just read on, we can see the disciples living out Jesus’ commands.
The book of Acts is the only book in the bible that describes how people came to faith. In the gospels (Matthew – John) Jesus had not died, His blood had not been shed and believers were still under the old covenant. The letters (from Romans to Revelation) are letters written to believers (people that had already been baptised and come to faith). This is important, because if we want to learn practically how to exercise our faith, enter the kingdom of God – and be ‘born again’ – the book of Acts is crucial.
In Acts, every single recorded incident of an unbeliever coming to faith includes baptism (not including the broad references to many people who ‘believed’ and were ‘added to the number of believers’):
- Acts 2:39 – 3,000 baptised on the day of Pentecost
- Acts 8:12 – believes in Samaria baptised by Phillip
- Acts 8:13 – Simon the sorcerer baptised by Phillip
- Acts 8:36-48 – Phillip baptises the Ethiopian Eunuch
- Acts 9:18 – Saul (who becomes Paul) baptised by Ananias (Acts 22:16)
- Acts 10:47-48 – Cornelius & his household baptised by Peter
- Acts 16:15 – Lydia and her household baptised in Philippi
- Acts 16:33 – The jailer and his family in Phlippi in the middle of the night baptised by Paul & Silas
- Acts 18:8 Crispus (the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth), his household and many Corinthians were baptised
- Act 19:5 – believers in Ephesus baptised
Where is the ‘altar call’? where is the ‘baptismal class’? where is the ‘sinner’s prayer’? No where to be found. You see, there are many traditions we have adopted as believers that are simply not biblical. They may seem like ‘good ideas’ but they are not God’s ideas.
God’s plan shows us – that in order to be saved – the response required from the unbeliever who now believes (and has repented) is to be baptised in water.
But what about faith alone…
Many believers are offended by the idea that ‘more than’ faith is required for salvation. When I speak with people about the importance of baptism – I typically get this response: “but we are saved by faith alone!”.
Yes, that is true, but my question is this – what does faith mean? what does it mean to believe in Jesus? to have faith in Him?
In my first blog post I asked a question; if I told you “GET OUT OF THE ROAD, A CAR IS ABOUT TO HIT YOU!” and you turned to me and said “Thank you! I believe you – I have faith in what you have said” – but you do not move – do you really believe me?
In the bible faith does not exist without action (not works – action).
The faith required to save is not a mental exercise or belief in God (the bible says even demons believe in God (James 2:19)). The faith required for salvation is faith in Jesus – as Lord. That means we recognise His lordship by doing what Jesus says.
Phillip’s encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch shows how faith and baptism work together:
Phillip had just finished sharing the gospel with the Eunuch:
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” Phillip said “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him.Acts 8:36-38
To believe and have faith in Jesus is to follow the way He showed us to be saved.
To be clear…
I have gotten a few responses to my first post and baptism and so I want to be clear about this: baptism alone cannot save. Baptism without faith / without repentance is a swim in water. Additionally, a person can be baptised and still fall away from the faith (we see this in Simon the sorcerer). In order to write this Good news series, I have taken deep dives in repentance, now baptism and will speak to receiving the Holy Spirit next. To me, these are all necessary to enter and experience the kingdom of God. My job is not to pass judgement on who is and is not saved – but to declare the fullness of the gospel. The scriptures show me that baptism is a mandated part of salvation. In the next section we’ll explore just how spiritual baptism is.
The spiritual effect of baptism
We as believers at some point adopted the idea that baptism is a symbol; but there is no scripture to back up this idea. We believe this because overtime, we have made baptism a religious ceremony and our human traditions have stripped baptism of its spiritual power.
But I urge you – let us not believe our experiences or traditions over the Word of God.
Here’s what the bible actually says about baptism:
- Baptism is for salvation
…and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 3:21
Baptism (done in faith & repentance i.e. the clear conscience) is to save because it spiritually unites us with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
2. Baptism is for the washing away of our sins
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptised and wash your sins away, calling on His name. – Acts 22:16
A note here: This is why Jesus was only baptised to fulfil all righteousness. He is the only one to have lived on earth without any sin to wash away. Baptism must always be with heart of repentance – a heart that knows it has sin that needs to be washed away.
3. Baptism is where our [dead] spirit is buried (the human spirit has been dead in sin from the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God)
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death …Romans 6:3-4a
4. Baptism is when our spirit is given eternal life – raised up with Jesus
… just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.Romans 6:4b – 5
5. Baptism is where we are set free from a body ruled by sin
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sinRomans 6:6 (see also Romans 6:3-5 above)
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.Colossians 2:11-12
6. Baptism is where we ‘put on’ Jesus’ nature
…for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.Galatians 3:27
Baptism: In summary
- Baptism literally means immersion
- Baptism is mandated by Jesus for salvation
- Baptism is spiritual not symbolic
- Baptism is for the washing away of sin
- Baptism is a burial of our old spirit and a birth of our new spirit
- Baptism without faith / repentance is a swim
A practical example of baptism
Here’s a video I love showing the true power of baptism. Many of the baptisms I have experienced look like this. Baptism is powerful and it is spiritual. Most times, people experience deliverance from demons.
Want to be baptised?
If you have never experienced repentance or baptism in water or receiving the Holy Spirit – we can talk about it more. Please feel free reach out to me here.
Tell next time. Stay Blessed. x