How many people who profess to follow Jesus Christ have never been baptized? What time period normally elapses between a person putting their faith in Jesus and getting baptized? In asking these questions, I must admit that I’m increasingly amazed at the disparity of what we live out versus what the Bible teaches.
Unquestionably, baptism is important to God (and therefore should be to us), or it would not have received the emphasis we find in the New Testament. Before Jesus left His followers to return to heaven, He specifically commanded them to make disciples and as part of the process, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19,20).
I remember getting trained as a counselor for a Billy Graham Crusade. We were taught how to share the gospel but I don’t recall any mention of baptism. In fact, I can’t remember watching any crusade or attending any church where the decision to follow Christ was immediately accompanied by baptism. Yet, this was the standard practice of the early church!
The Greek word for baptize is baptizo. The root of this word was used in the first century for immersing a garment into bleach and then into dye, both cleansing and changing the color of the cloth. In the Bible baptism was conducted by immersing people under water—typically in a river or lake. Both infant baptism and sprinkling as a form of baptism occurred after Saint Augustine‘s (354-430 A.D.) clear formulation of the doctrine of original sin. People baptized their babies to ensure they would be saved should they die. Because it was not considered safe to immerse a baby under water, sprinkling occurred. This practice was not Biblical yet still became part of Catholic and many Protestant churches’ tradition.
Acts 8:36—As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, there’s water! What would keep me from being baptized?”
In every case of conversion described in detail in the book of Acts, baptism is mentioned. Clearly it was a major practice of the Apostles and the natural conclusion to preaching Christ. Baptism alone does not save a person. Nor should it be preached that without baptism a person cannot be saved or we are adding a condition for which passages like Romans 10:9,10 make no mention. Obviously the thief on the cross Jesus promised salvation to was not baptized nor are those who confess Christ on their deathbed or who die accidentally shortly after believing in Him.
In studying N.T. passages here are some more helpful facts to consider:
1. John baptized with water whereas Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire—Mat.3:11.
2. Repentance precedes baptism—Acts 2:38, 19:4.
3. Baptism included both sexes—Acts 8:12.
4. Water is the substance used for baptism—Acts8:36-38.
5. Baptism is done in God’s Name to those who have become believers—Mat. 28:19, Acts10:47,48.
6. Whole households were often baptized meaning both adults and children could be baptized—Acts16:15.
7. Baptism symbolized a washing away of sins—Acts 22:16.
8. Baptism saves us (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ—1 Peter 3:21.
9. Our baptism is symbolic of Jesus’ death and resurrection and symbolizes our future resurrection—Romans 6:3,4; Colossians 2:12.
10. Evidently, in the early church, there were people who got baptized on behalf of those who had died but were never baptized—1 Corinthians15:29.
11. We are baptized into Christ—Galatians 3:26,27.
12. There is only one baptism necessary—Ephesians 4:4-6.
If you have never been baptized but you have placed your faith in Jesus, why wait, get baptized! We impoverish ourselves and weaken the church when we neglect this practice. Baptism is an outer expression of faith for the inner change that has taken place when Jesus became our Lord. It shows our sorrow over sin and demonstrates commitment to following after God! As such it is a powerful testimony to all who witness it. If you haven’t been baptized and have the ability, I highly recommend immersion over sprinkling. It is deeply meaningful and symbolic and obeys what the Scripture teaches. As a sacrament, baptism holds tremendous meaning and value and honors God, which as we know, is something to think about . . . in reveration!
©2007 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Charles Swindoll in Signposts Along Life’s Journey (1997) Insight for Living, CA p . 10.