Last week at East Point, I preached on baptism. The New Testament writers, led by the Holy Spirit, describe baptism as the time and place that we are united to Christ by God’s grace. Here are my sermon notes. If you have additional questions about baptism and how we submit to God, please contact me. God bless!
Jadyn’s “No, I don’t wanna get baptized!” statement in the swimming pool….
She knew that the word “baptize” means going under the water. Our English word “baptism” is an anglicized version of the Greek work baptisma which does mean to immerse, to dip, to plunge, but the practice of baptism in Christ’s church involves a lot more than someone simply getting wet.
Christendom at large has taken a rather simple, straightforward practice and really muddied the waters, and there are all sorts of misunderstandings taught in various churches today about what baptism is, what it means, what it does, and who it’s for.
I want to take our time this morning to give what I hope will be a clear overview of what baptism really is. I’ve wrestled all week with how to present this material, and I’ve settled on a pretty simple approach. I’m going to read to you a number of NT passages about baptism, and I want you to listen and think about what they mean. And as we look at these, I’ll put a list up on the screen summarizing what these Scriptures tell us about baptism.
As I go, at the risk of distracting myself, I’m going to invite you to text your questions to me (200-7780) or to write them on the back of a white card in front of you so I can read them later. And I want you to come and talk to me if you have additional questions or want to study more about this critical element of coming to faith in Jesus.
- I’m actually going to begin with the kinds of things you will often hear me say about baptism:
Baptism is something we submit to in faith because Jesus did it and he specifically commands us to be baptized to become his disciples. Baptism is a work of God that, through His mercy and grace, indentifies us with the death and resurrection of Jesus, cleanses us from our sins, seals us with His Spirit, and joins us to His bride—the church.
- Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3 all say that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
- Matthew 28:18-20… Baptism is commanded for all who would be Jesus’ disciples
- Titus 3:4-7 and Colossians 2:11-12… Baptism is not a human work that earns salvation! We put our faith in “his own mercy” and in “the powerful working of God”!
- Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:11-14… Baptism is an identification with and a joining with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
- Galatians 3:26-27… Baptism is putting on Christ through faith
- 1 Peter 3:20-21… Baptism is a vehicle which saves us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
- 1 Corinthians 6:11… Baptism results in sanctification (God makes us holy, purified, consecrated) and justification (God declares us free and renders a favorable verdict)
- Acts 2:1-41… Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- Acts 22:6-16… Paul was told to wash away his sins in baptism, calling on the name of the Lord
- Acts 19:1-6… Baptism must accompany our belief in Jesus in order to receive the Holy Spirit
- Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13… Baptism is a marker of our unity in the body of Christ.
- notice Peter’s application of Joel’s prophecy about “calling on the name of the Lord”
- even John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)!
But, some will object based on Ephesians 2 and Romans 10. Let’s see what Paul, who himself was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, said in his letters.
- Ephesians 2:1-10… I fully agree and preach that we are saved by grace through faith as a gift of God. But as I’ve already said, being baptized is not a work. It is not something I do to earn my salvation. It is a passive act of faithful obedience. God does the work, I just allow myself to be buried in and then raised up out of the water.
- Romans 10:5-13… notice that this is the same letter where Paul already said that we are united with Christ and receive his grace in baptism. Here in chapters 9, 10, and 11, Paul is emphasizing that we do not earn our salvation according to works of the law. His emphasis is on belief and confession that come from the heart rather than simple law-keeping. But Paul would never say that obedience is unimportant. And belief/faith must be active to be real according to James 2. And even Jesus said that those who love him will keep his commandments! And what did Jesus command just before he left the earth to join his Father in heaven? To “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [he commanded us]” (Matt. 28:19-20).
I know that there are others who focus on Romans 10 or Ephesians 2, but they sadly fail to recognize that overwhelming evidence that even Paul who wrote those passages was himself baptized and himself taught that baptism is what unites us to Christ.
I don’t agree with only a part of what Paul said. I agree with all of it. We are saved by grace through faith. But we don’t receive God’s gracious forgiveness of sins until we’re in Christ. And the way into Christ is to join him in his death, burial, and resurrection. And the way we do that, according to Scripture, is by being baptized in water.
The time comes when every one of us has to respond to God in faith–not the faith of our fathers or mothers or grandparents, but our own faith based on our own reading and understanding of Scripture. If you have questions, please ask so we can study this together. We’re talking about salvation.
And if you’re ready now having heard the truth from God’s own word, then come and repent of your sins, confess Jesus as Son of God, and be baptized into him for the forgiveness of your sins.
What does the Bible say about baptism?
- Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3
- Matthew 28:18-20
- Titus 3:4-7 and Colossians 2:11-14
- Romans 6:3-11
- Galatians 3:26-27
- 1 Peter 3:20-21
- 1 Corinthians 6:11
- Acts 2:1-41
- Acts 22:6-16
- Acts 19:1-6
- Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- Romans 10:5-13
What do you say?
Should you be baptized into Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures?