“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:36–39
As we have been reading through the book of Acts we see that baptism is a big deal to the New Testament Church. Over and over we see people believe in Jesus, repent of their sins, get baptized and begin living a new life! Today I wanted to take a couple minutes to talk about baptism. Is baptism a big deal? Yes it is!
What is baptism? Baptism is the covenant commitment of a Christian. In a lot of ways it is like a wedding ceremony with Jesus. You can get married without a big wedding, but when you are excited about it, you invite all your friends to see you make your vows. When people heard the gospel of Jesus proclaimed they wanted to know how to respond. The apostles didn’t shy away from the answer. In this passage Peter clearly told them what to do:
“Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
The first thing they had to do was to believe in Jesus which followed with repenting of their sins and then getting baptized in (or into) the name of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a public declaration; what you are saying is this, “I need Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I will change the way I live. I admit I was going the wrong way and I commit to going the right way. I am covenanting myself to permanently serve Jesus, live the way He commanded and worship Him with my life.” That is the heart of someone getting baptized. We don’t do infant baptisms because infants and small children are not able to make this decision.
One way to explain what baptism is to clarify what it is not. Baptism is not a ceremony that gives you salvation. Although the water is symbolic of us being cleansed from our sins, no water can wash away your sins, only trusting in the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus can cleanse sinners. Baptism is not a free ticket to heaven. Although many baptisms are monumental steps for believers, I have seen many people ask to get baptized and it was of no significance because they didn’t have a heartfelt commitment to the Lord. They were just hoping for a quick fix or religious certificate. John the Baptist offered harsh words to people that didn’t understand His baptism. “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Matthew 3:8 John knew that the baptism was simply a pledge of a clean heart; the proof of that covenant was in their actions. So as I explain baptism today, it is a pledge to live your life for Christ, the proof of that is not the water; it is the lifestyle that follows.
Why should I get baptized? Maybe you shouldn’t. That’s right, baptism isn’t for everyone. If you have not fully committed your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then baptism will not push you over the top into that relationship. If your husband, wife, parents, or friends want you to get baptized into their religion, then baptism will do you no good. BUT if you have heard the Gospel of Jesus, if you believe that He died on the cross for your sins and if you have decided to turn from the old life and serve Jesus as your Lord and Savior THEN you should get baptized. And when you get baptized for the right reason you participate in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Baptism is a funeral; are you ready to die to your old nature? Baptism is a birth; are you ready to live a new life in a new way? Baptism is a wedding; we are made one with Christ! “…4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. 5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. Romans 6:4–8
When should I get baptized? If you believe with all your heart and you have repented of your sins (not obtaining perfection but being committed to change), then you should get baptized as soon as possible! If you are old enough to understand whole hearted faith than get baptized now! Even if you have been in the faith a long time but have never been baptized, then get baptized now. If you were “baptized” as an infant then you didn’t make that personal profession so get baptized now! In the Bible there was no test period between confessing Jesus and getting baptized. They didn’t send people to a 4 week class or go home and interview their family, but they did demand a confession and a commitment. The only biblical waiting period is the time between hearing the message and deciding to believe it and follow it. After that decision is made, baptism is immediate.
Baptism this Sunday This Sunday we are having a baptism after Church. At least 3 saints are going to go to the water for a funeral, birth, and wedding! If you have given your life to Christ, and are committed to this for life, then we want you to join us! Email me PastorPat@AshfordChurch.org or call me so we can talk about! Bring some shorts and a t-shirt and a warm change of clothes on Sunday! After the baptism we will celebrate! Bring a potluck item and we will have a party at my house! I am really excited and I hope that some of you that are on the fence will dig in and make that commitment to Christ. Not because baptism will push you over the top, but because you know what you need to know, and you know it’s time to take the plunge into a fully committed relationship with Christ! “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17