The Importance of Baptism
THE IMPORTANCE OF BAPTISM
Not all that long ago, a young preacher for another group here in Brady, came in to my office and asked, “Why does the church of Christ emphasize baptism so much? Why do you all think it is so important?”
- His question indirectly expressed how a large number in the realm of religion feel about baptism: “It is not that important!”
This morning I hope to answer his question and in doing so explain to you why baptism is not only important, but why it is essential when it comes to salvation.
Let’s begin here in Matt. 28: 18-20.
- As we begin, I want you to know, that some people criticize us for our stand on baptism because they say that we are promoting “works righteousness.”
- In other words, they say that “baptism is a work…and no one is justified by works…and therefore when we endorse baptism we are endorsing righteousness by works.”
Look starting in vs. 18: And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ”
The thing I want you to notice in this verse are the 4 commands given.
- Jesus says, “Go”…”make disciples”…”baptizing”….and “teach.”
- “Baptizing” is commanded by our Lord.
- If Jesus has “all authority” and He commands “baptizing in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”, should we do what He commands?”
- Baptism is something that is to be done in obedience to His command.
And, when it comes to “making disciples” Jesus says that baptism is indispensable.
- If one wants to be a follower of Jesus, you can’t leave it out!
In this passage Jesus is not teaching “righteousness by works.”
- He is teaching a “righteousness by faith.”
- You believe what He says…and your belief causes you to obey!
- Baptism is an “act of faith.”
As far as “righteousness by works” is concerned….no where is baptism ever connected with the word “works”….or listed in a list of works as though it were a work also.
Now let me say something else about this passage.
- Do you see the commands, “go”….and the command “make disciples”…and the command, “teach?”
- Every religious group that considers Christ to be Lord obeys those commands.
- They “go….and they strive to make disciples….and they teach.”
- Why is it that many of them obey and practice those commands and leave baptism out?
- Is it because It is easier to get people to just “say that they are disciples of Christ” than it is to get them to manifest their faith and obedience by being baptized?
Now, this passage is what is known as the “Great Commission”; these are the last words of Christ here on this earth; this is the instructions that He left for His disciples; He wants His disciples to do this until He comes back again.
- Did they do what He commands here?
- They did: Acts 2:38ff; Acts 8:12 – Philip and the Samarians; and Simon the sorcerer; Acts 8:38 – The Ethiopian Eunuch; Acts 9 – the conversion of Saul; Acts 10 – the conversion of Cornelius and his family; Acts 16 – Lydia and her household; and then the Philippian jailer and his family; Acts 19:5 – some disciples in Ephesus; 1 Cor. 1:16 – the household of Stephanos.
- Baptism was practiced in every conversion recorded in the New Testament; Christ commanded it; His disciples obeyed; so should we.
One more thing from this passage that I want you to see. Jesus says, ““Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
- We look at this and think we are to do this by the “authority of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” and we are.
- But that word “in” in the Greek is the word “eis” and should be translated “into”; in fact the American Standard Version does translate it “into.”
- That word “eis” or “into” speaks of a “place entered into.”
- What that means is, when an individual is baptized they are baptized “into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”; that individual becomes theirs; it infers possession.
And this idea is supported by the Apostle Paul in Titus 2: 14 when Paul speaking of Christ says, Christ Jesus; 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
- 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,
- At baptism you become the possession of “the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
- But, what if you are not baptized?
Let’s look at MARK 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
Notice in this passage what baptism is associated with?
- It is associated with belief…or faith….and salvation.
- Belief is expressed in the act of baptism.
- If you believe…if you believe that Jesus is Lord…if you believe in His life and His death…if you believe in your sins and your condemnation from those sins…if you believe that He can save you and He can save you…you are going to be baptized…and you will be saved.
- But if you don’t believe…if there is no baptism…then there is condemnation.
Faith and baptism go hand in hand.
- There are two choices in the NT.
- One choice is to believe and be baptized.
- The other choice is don’t believe and don’t be baptized.
- One leads to salvation…the other to condemnation.
Now, let me mention something else here. Jesus says, ““He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.”
- A lot of people baptize or sprinkle infants.
- What is it about Christ; His life and death and salvation; what is it about sin and condemnation can an infant believe?
- As far as I know there are no examples in the Bible of infants or small children being baptized.
- However, some who were baptized as an infant who had no idea of what or why, consider their baptism as binding.
Now, look at ACTS 2:38.
Peter had been preaching about Jesus and telling the people that when they crucified Him they crucified the Messiah…and the people cry out, “What shall we do?; vs. 37. And look at Peter’s response:
38 “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Notice how Peter said, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.”?
- I mentioned at the beginning that one of the major ideas found today in religious circles is that baptism is not necessary for the forgiveness of sin.
- Instead they teach that you experience the forgiveness of your sins first, and then you can be baptized as a symbol of your forgiveness…and only if you want too.
- They say that the meaning here is not, “be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins”….rather it is “because of the forgiveness of your sins.”
Well let me share with you three thoughts concerning this passage.
- The Greek word here for the word “for” is the Greek word “eis.”
- “Eis” is never translated “because.”
- The word “because” in the Greek is the word “epi.” A completely different word.
- This Greek word here translated “for” means “into…toward…pointing too…with a view toward…for the purpose of.”
You are baptized “for the forgiveness of sin; see Acts 22:16.
- They have to twist the passage to make it say what they want it to say.
Another thing I want you to think about here.
- If this word here in Acts 2:38 were translated “because” of the forgiveness of your sins”…when did they repent…and when did that forgiveness take place?
- You see, in the verses just before this, Peter tells these people that they have crucified the Messiah.
- The have committed a horrible sin!
- And immediately they say, “What shall we do?”
- It makes absolutely no sense for Peter to tell them to “repent and be baptized “because” of the forgiveness of their sins.”
- If their sins have already been forgiven…there is no need for him to tell them this.
- And besides, when were they forgiven?
- It says, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.”
- Or “repent and be baptized” in order to be saved.
- No one in the religious world says that you don’t have to “repent.”
- And yet they say, “you don’t have to be baptized!”
- Isn’t that strange.
- You have to twist this passage to keep it from saying what it says.
This passage says what it says.
It says, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
No one is saved…no one comes into the presence of God…no one enters into the kingdom of heaven still bearing their sins.
- It can’t be done.
- Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sins “separate us from God…and it causes Him to hide his face from you.”
- 2:1-3 tells us that our sins and trespasses, “make us dead”…separated from God.
- You cannot go to heaven still carrying the shame, guilt and responsibility of your sins.
The only way you can go to heaven is to have your sins forgiven…and that forgiveness takes place at baptism.
- The blood of Christ is what forgives…it is what atones for them.
- Baptism is the when.
Now let me close with this.
Someone might say, “Well, what’s the big deal.” “What difference does it make?”
- “Why are you so emphatic about this?”
I will tell you.
- People every day….by the thousands…are being convinced that they are saved…without baptism.
- That they are saved by simply “calling on the name of Jesus” and asking Jesus to come into their heart to save them.
First of all, that is less scriptural than baptism will ever be…and yet people believe that.
But the reason I am so concerned about this…and the reason you should be so concerned about this…is because people by the thousands and thousands…are believing they are saved…when in reality….they are not.
- And some of them are not just people….they are our sons…and daughters…and moms and dads.
This is a horrible deception!
- And what adds to the tragedy of this is…some of us who have been baptized for the remission of our sins….are almost indifferent to this horrible teaching…
- And the fact of the matter is…we often endorse it by acknowledging those who practice it and who teach it as “brothers and sisters in Christ”.
What this dangerous doctrine should do is it should break our hearts and motivate us to oppose it like we would any other false teaching that leads people astray.
What about you this morning?
Were you “baptized for the forgiveness of your sins?”
Or were you forgiven separate and apart from baptism.
Were you saved when you were baptized?
Or were you saved even without baptism?
Were you baptized as an infant?
Think about how and when you were saved?
If you were not baptized in accordance with what the Bible says…it may be that you were never saved at all.
Please, give it some serious, prayerful thought.
Don’t take a chance with this.
WE are talking about an eternity in heaven or an eternity in hell.
Don’t you want to make sure you have it right?
Right according to what Jesus says:
“He who has believed and has been baptized, shall be saved.”
If you want to study about this more…please come see me.
If you want to just get it right this morning…we are here to assist you.
If you want to give your life to Christ…and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins…what ever your need is….
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023