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Beautiful Believer’s Baptism

Acts 8:35-39


The most wonderful thing that ever happens at this church doesn’t take place in that baptistery, though we’re happy to have baptized a number in it since we’ve been here and thousands over the years.  And we can have a great crowd like we did last week, but the most wonderful thing that ever happens here doesn’t happen in this room necessarily, or even at this altar…it happens inside the human heart, when a man, woman, boy or girl accepts Jesus Christ as Savior!


Salvation is a matter of the heart, you cannot see it w/ your eyes…and so God has left us this wonderful picture…a portrait of the work of the new birth:  baptism!


There’s much confusion today about baptism:

        Important or unimportant?     Essential to salvation or not?

        Done immediately, or wait a while?  Baptize babies, or only adults?

        Pouring, sprinkling, or immersion?


All these questions can be answered dogmatically from Acts 8.


5 Bible facts regarding baptism:

1.     Baptism is a symbol, not a sacrament

Sacrament=a means of receiving the grace of God

        The Roman Catholic Church catechism reads:  “Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, and makes us children of God.”

        Another well known denomination has in its literature:  “Holy Baptism is the washing of regeneration, by which the new birth is wrought.  Since baptism is a means of grace for salvation, we must not delay the baptism of babies.”


What does the Bible say about that?

8:37         You have to believe w/ all your heart



2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

First the receiving, then the baptism



10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost…?

First the receiving, then the baptism


Acts 16    

16:30 Philippian jailer… said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

(Come on, Paul, here’s your chance, it will be recorded for all eternity…)

16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Later on, we find that he was baptized…

First the receiving, then the baptism

        Baptism is a symbol…not a sacrament!        


What does it symbolize?

        The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.


        And, it’s symbolic not only of that event from the past, but pertains also to the new believer in the here and now…as they are dead to an old life, and are risen to walk in newness of life!


6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Baptism is a symbol, not a sacrament.


Why do you bury someone?  To kill them?  Or because they’re already dead?  (please don’t bury me if you’re not sure…[before 8 a.m. it can be unclear])


Why do you put a soldier in a uniform?  To make him a soldier or because he IS a soldier?


Why do you put on a wedding ring?  To make you become married or because you ARE married?

        Why will we baptize someone in that tank?  To save them or because they HAVE BEEN saved?


What will happen up there is a symbol, not a sacrament.


2.     Baptism is for believers, not for babies.


You have to believe w/ all your heart

        This disqualifies infants, as they are incapable of understanding and believing.


One denomination wrote this:  “Yes, we baptize babies.  All historical churches do.  The Roman Catholic.  The Orthodox Catholic.  The Lutheran/Presbyterian/Episcopals/Methodist…only the Baptists do not baptize babies, and such modern denominations which have been influenced by them.”  [influenced by the Bible!]


Acts 8 said, “IF thou believest, thou mayest…”

        Now, I believe that babies and small children are SAFE, but not SAVED. 

Ill.—King David’s baby / sick / David wept, fasted, prayed for it / but it died / and David cleaned up and began to eat / his servants said, why? / David said, when the baby was alive, there was still hope of it living…but now the baby is gone, and nothing I can do can bring him back…and then he said, but one day, I will go to him!

        And in the wonderful character of God, the Bible teaches that any young one who dies under the age of accountability passes thru that cradle of safety directly into the arms of Jesus!  And thank God for that…esp. when you think about all the precious, aborted babies which never had a chance!


C.H. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, one day was in a public debate w/ a man over infant baptism.  They stood before a crowd.  The opposing man said, this is how we’ll do it…I’ll share my strongest verse supporting infant baptism, then you’ll have a chance to share your verse that you think refutes infant baptism…fair enough.  The man said, in support of infant baptism, here’s my verse:  “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Spurgeon said, my verse is Job 1:1—“There lived a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.”

The man scoffed, “What does that verse have to do w/ infant baptism?”

        Spurgeon:  “About as much as yours does!”


Infant baptism is an atrocious, man-made doctrine which results in men and women developing a false sense of security, resting on an event they cannot remember, not of the heart, not Biblical, for the salvation of their never-dying soul!

Baptism is a symbol, not a sacrament…for believers, not for babies!


3.     Baptism is by plunging under, not by pouring on

The Greek word for baptize is baptizo … which, w/out exception, always means to immerse!

Acts 8:39 says, they came up out of the water!


When Jesus set the example of baptism, he was immersed, and came up out of the water!  He wasn’t sprinkled.


Joke—Don’t you think we’ve had a dry summer?  I tell you, it is so dry...(how dry is it??) that the Baptists are starting to baptize by sprinkling, the Methodists are giving out wet-wipes, the Presbyterians are giving out rain checks, and the Catholics and Episcopalians are praying for the wine to turn back into water!


Some say, why make such an issue out of this…if it’s just a symbol anyway, then what does it matter the method used?

        The fact that it is a symbol (involving Christ, no less, is exactly the issue)

        If the OT teaches us anything at all, it teaches us that the Lord takes his symbols very seriously! 


Ill.--Moses’ life’s work was leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land.  It’s what he was born to do!  But in so doing, as they got to the border, Moses himself was not allowed to enter in with them.  Why?  Because earlier he struck the rock twice, abusing a serious symbol of Christ…and God said, you will not go in!  And no one will go in to heaven trusting in their baptism to get them there.


4.     Baptism is necessary for submission, not for salvation

Let me share w/ you the verses which are usually used to support baptismal regeneration (idea that baptism saves):


16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

They only quote the first half! (out of context)  Where’s the emphasis of the verse, on the baptism or on the believing?  [latter!]  So how does one come to be damned to hell?  By not believing!  And besides, when you believe you’re baptized w/ the Holy Ghost, so it makes sense that way.  Or if you want to apply it to water baptism then, well, the verse assumes that a person who has seriously been saved, naturally will follow the Lord in believer’s baptism!


We need to be open minded to other opinions, yes, but be careful of those who would lift phrases out of context...


Ill.—Did you know that the Bible says there is no God!?


14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.


Jesus said if you are serious you’ll make your decision a public one, and the Bible model for this is baptism.  And in the first century, you weren’t persecuted for being saved, you were persecuted upon your baptism … when you made your public stand … they would stand on the river banks and mock and jeer, and later you may be persecuted or even killed, for making your public stand.  [what will family think?]


Ill.—Pastor George Eager, 100 years ago / lady saved / her brother was antagonistic / threatened to give her a whipping and ‘you too, preacher!’ / many had gathered…some to witness the baptism…some the whipping! / after baptism, escorted her to buggy, approached pastor w/ whip / dropped it / w/ tears said he trusted Christ as he witnessed her baptism, was baptized, led 22 of his old cronies to the Lord / started a Baptist church in that area!


        Anyone can pray some prayer and “get their fire insurance,” so they think…but if they’re serious they’ll take their public stand!  It’s the uniform you wear when you join the Christian Army, it’s the ring you put on when you truly become a part of the bride of Christ!


Here’s another verse they try to use:


2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


Listen carefully and you’ll get a blessing:

        I know a little Greek (owns a pizza place downtown!)

The little word “for” is in the Greek eis , pronounced (ace)

        It does not mean, “in order to”, that would be the Greek word ina, (heena)

        Eis is used 1,800 times in the NT, meaning for, at, toward, unto, into, on the basis of, or on the grounds of…


In English we’d say, he was arrested FOR stealing.

        Was he arrested in order to steal?  No, because he already stole…he was arrested FOR stealing…because he stole, he was arrested.


Some of the truth is lost in the translation here…so you could read it:  repent…and be baptized because of the remission of sins!


Also, please remember that one of the key rules of hermeneutics (Bible interpretation) is this:  never use 1 or 2 hard to understand verses to try to contradict hundreds of clearly understood verses, like:


Eph. 2:8, 9  for by grace are ye saved…

Jn. 3:36  he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life

Acts 10:43  whosover believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins

Jn. 3:36  for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him…


While baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is very much necessary for submission!

        To fail to be baptized, after you know that you should, is a willful sin of omission.  But don’t feel badly to decide today to be baptized, because now you know!  But the Bible teaches you will not grow in grace until you obey the truth that God has given you…it is the 1st step of obedience…there’s no skipping steps w/ God.

        Some say, I need to grow some, and make sure I’m ready…God says, you WILL NOT grow until you take your public stand!  The BIG decision has already been made…when you were saved, that was the hard part…and yet some new Christians try to make baptism the hard part, when it should be a natural outflow of a sincere believer simply saying, I’m saved and proud of it…and now I take my public stand that I’m not ashamed of the Savior!


5.     Should be done immediately, not after a time of proving

Sometimes you’ll hear a well-meaning person say, we shouldn’t baptize them right away, we should watch them a while and see if they mean business.

        But that’s not scriptural.  Any time you see someone being baptized in the Bible, it was immediately following their salvation…


Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.


And the eunuch in Acts 8 said, here’s water, why not?


Another example:  Before he became the Apostle Paul, his name was Saul, and was responsible for the beatings and jailings of Christians…he consented unto the execution of Stephen, and yet w/in 72 hours of being saved, God sent Ananias to Paul saying, rise up and be baptized!


Baptism should be immediate.

        You know, we could watch our new converts for a couple of years and still not really know if it was real…and we shouldn’t deny a Christian the chance to grow in grace. 


Maybe you’ve been saved for some time, but not until this morning have you realized the importance of being baptized soon…nothing wrong w/ that…the Bible says, “to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”


Perhaps you have made sure you were saved recently, but not yet you can be.  And if you have been baptized earlier in life, but it was before you made sure you were saved, you can be obedient by now following the Lord in His order.


Maybe you realize today that you’ve been depending upon infant baptism for your salvation, and that you NEED to be born again.  All you got was wet, and you need to get saved, and then get baptized!  Important things will happen now in this room, at this altar, and then in that baptistery, but the most important things will happen as decisions are made in the heart.

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