Have You Obeyed The Command In The Bible To Be Baptized?
There are many different teachings and practices regarding baptism in the religious world today. Some have been sprinkled with water, some have water poured upon them, some have been immersed in water. Some are baptized as infants, some as a mere symbol of salvation, some to be forgiven of their sins. Some have never been baptized in water at all but claim to have received a baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Today, I want us to examine the command in the Bible to be baptized and to see just how important it is that we obey this commandment. To help each one of us answer the question, “Have you obeyed the command in the Bible to be baptized?”, we will ask and answer three more questions.
1. Have you been immersed? According to the Greek scholars, the word translated baptized in the Bible means immersed. You do not have to be a Greek scholar to understand this, just look at how the word is used in the Bible.
When John baptized the people, they came to him at the Jordan River (Matthew 3:5-6). He also baptized in Aenon “because there was much water there” (John 3:23). If John was just sprinkling or pouring water upon the people, could he not have just carried some bottles of water with him to the people?
When the Ethiopian eunuch learned of Jesus from Philip, he did not request baptism until “they came to some water” (Acts 8:36). Surely, on a journey through the wilderness, all the way from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, the eunuch had brought enough water to drink, some of which could have been used by Philip to sprinkle or pour upon him, but it would not have been enough for an immersion. Arriving at the water “both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” (v. 38). Why would they bother to get in the water if Philip could have just reached into the water with his hand to get enough water to sprinkle or pour upon the eunuch? But, there was no handling of the water, only of the Ethiopian, “he baptized him”. He did not pour him (he would have to be melted down), nor sprinkle him (he would have had to be cut into pieces) but he immersed him.
Paul described baptism as a death, burial and resurrection of the person being baptized and as a likeness of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). Only an immersion fits this description. You do not sprinkle or pour a little dirt on someone to be buried, you completely cover them up in it!
2. Have you been immersed in water? The command to be baptized was a baptism in water. No one was ever commanded to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a command to be obeyed but was a promise to be received. It was received by the apostles (Acts 2) and by Cornelius and his household (10-11). It was administered by Christ, not man (Matthew 3:11). Baptism in water is a command to be obeyed, not a promise to be received. When the command was first given is was obeyed by 3,000 souls (Acts 2:37-41). It was administered by man, not Christ (Matthew 28:19).
After the apostles received baptism in the Holy Spirit, Peter commanded everyone to be baptized (Acts 2:38). When Cornelius and his household received baptism in the Holy Spirit, Peter commanded them to be baptized (10:48). Obviously, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was not the baptism Peter commanded, as they had already received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The Ethiopian mentioned above was baptized in water after hearing the gospel of Jesus. He was not baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Saul was commanded, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). He was not told to wait until he received from Jesus baptism in the Holy Spirit, but to obey the command to be baptized. This is obviously water baptism not Holy Spirit baptism (cf. Acts 9:17-18).
3. Have you been immersed in water for the remission of sins? This is the purpose for which the commandment was given (Acts 2:38). The people were asking what to do to be saved from their sin, not what to do because they were saved (v. 37).
Baptism is just as essential to our salvation as repentance. Notice, the conjunction “and” in verse 38 indicates that they were commanded to repent for the same reason that they were commanded to be baptized, i.e. for the remission of sins.
According to Jesus, baptism is just as essential to our salvation as belief (Mark 16:15-16). Peter emphasizes the same (1 Peter 3:21).
Nowhere does the Bible teach that baptism is a mere symbol of our salvation from sin, but the act of faith in which we are united with Christ and receive forgiveness (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12-13).
Nowhere in the Bible was a Christian, having already been saved, ever commanded to be baptized. No, the Bible teaches that baptism is a part of our coming to Christ for salvation (Acts 22:16).
Have you obeyed the command in the Bible to be baptized? The importance of obedience to this commandment cannot be overemphasized. No, it does not pay for our sins, but it does unite us to the One who did pay for our sins so that we can be forgiven by God.
Jesus gave us these two very strong warnings:
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'" (Mat. 7:21).
"He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).
Will you trust Him enough to do what He said to do to be saved? If you have, do you trust Him enough to continue to obey Him?