We have a very special day today here at First Baptist as we celebrate the two ordinances we believe our Lord has commanded His church to participate in The Lord’s Table which we celebrated this morning. Now this evening we will celebrate Believer’s Baptism.
There was once a young Baptist Pastor, fresh out of seminary. He was conducting his first Baptismal service. You can imagine he was just a little nervous, and in his nervousness he got his scriptures confused concerning baptism and The Lord’s Supper. He said I now baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Now as he lowered this believer into the water, he added, “And now drink ye all of it.”
The baptism of believers in Jesus Christ by immersion is the most obvious major distinction of the Baptist Church. While other Churches may teach & practice baptism, very few require it for church membership. Some practice the baptism of infants and adults by either sprinkling or pouring. The Baptist position on this doctrine is truly distinctive.
Why should Baptists stand practically alone on an issue that many Christians think of to be merely peripheral? Why should we be so specific about what we believe about Baptism?
The simple answer is: Because the New Testament teaches believers baptism by immersion, and the early Church in obedience to Christ’s command, practiced it. We wish to stand firmly on what the Scriptures teach, even though we may stand alone. This evening we will take a look at what the Scriptures clearly teach about “Believers Baptism”.
I. The Authority for Baptism
The authority for baptism comes directly from our Lord Jesus Christ. The command to baptize is associated with the authority given Him by the Father. One of our Lord’s last commands to the Apostles was to baptize. In Matthew 28:18-20 we read: “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 record of the Apostles’ obedience to this command to make disciples, teach, & baptize is found in the Book of Acts. The word and command of Christ alone was their authority, and it is ours as well.
The point is that we do not receive authority from any human source to baptize, not even the Church. The Church did not invent baptism, Our Lord did. The Church is to administer Baptism.
In John 14:15 Jesus said “If you love Me you will keep my commandments.”
This includes the command to baptize given to ministers of the Word and the command to be baptized which is directed to every born again believer. The command to a believer to be baptized is voluntary, but it is not optional.
II. Who Should be Baptized
1. All who hear the Word and come to faith in Jesus Christ. Those who have come to trust Him alone as their Savior and Lord. Rom 10:8-9 “8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
On the day of Pentecost, the First day of the Church, the day of birth for the Church, we read in Acts 2:41 what the Church practiced on it’s very first day; After Peter preached that first Sermon we read;
Acts 2:41 “41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
The order in Preparation for baptism is hearing the Word of God, trusting in or receiving Christ as Savior and then Baptism follows. This is the order that is repeated through the early Church in the book of Acts. (8:12; 8:36-39;10:44,4,48; 16:30-34; 18:8)
It is clear in the Scriptures that unless baptism is preceded by saving faith it has no meaning at all.
2. Adult believers are to be baptized, not infants.
The passages in the Book of Acts are clear that the divine order was hearing, believing, (salvation) then baptism. Infants cannot express faith and experience salvation, nor can they join in the benefits and responsibilities of fellowship in the Church.
We must also remember that the command of Christ to baptize was also associated with the command to teach. Infants cannot be instructed and therefore can hardly be included in baptism.
III. The Mode of Baptism
How should a believer be baptized?
Since baptism is a symbol, it is vitally important what mode is used, since the reality of the event pictured must agree with the symbol.
What is the real event that is pictured by baptism? It is the believer’s participation in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rom 6:3-4 “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Crucial to our belief that immersion is the proper and only New Testament mode of baptism is:
1. The meaning of the word. The English word baptized was not translated from the Greek New Testament but it was transliterated from Greek word, in other words they brought the Greek word right over to the English instead of using an English word to translate it. Baptizo which meant at the time the New Testament was written, “To dip” or “to immerse”, “to put or go under water”. If you were to consult a number of Bible Dictionaries & Greek Lexicons you would see that this is exactly the meaning of the word. Many scholarly works can also be consulted and we would find the meaning here to be just this; “To dip” or “to immerse”
2. The Translation of the word.
If all these scholars and sources agree so closely on the translation of the word Baptizo, why was it not translated “immerse” in the first popular version of the English Bible. This would have saved us all a lot of explaining and disagreement. There is no doubt that the word was transliterated by design for the Church at that time was practicing what mode of baptism? The church at that time was practicing sprinkling. There were a few Anabaptists of which the Ana has been dropped; now we are just called Baptists, these Baptists of that day taught and practiced immersion, they were thought at the time to be heretics, they were hated and persecuted, but they followed the biblical pattern for Baptism. The translators of our first English Bibles couldn’t agree with what these “Baptists taught”. So their way out was to take the root word Bapto, and by adding “ism” they formed the noun and with ize they created the verb. Now we today continue to need to explain and wrestle with the correct meaning of this word.
IV. The Symbolism of Baptism
When a believer is baptized, the believer is buried in the water and brought back up again as a picture of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Which Romans 6:3-5 makes very clear,
3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
Believer’s Baptism is an outward symbol of an inward condition. It is a picture of what the Holy Spirit has done within the believer; He identifies the believer in Jesus Christ with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Baptism is like a wedding ring: they both symbolize transactions. A wedding ring symbolizes marriage, just as baptism symbolizes salvation. Wearing a wedding ring does not make you married any more than being baptized makes you saved. If a person, especially a woman, does not wear a wedding ring you can almost always assume that the person is not married.
So it was in New Testament times. If a person was not baptized, you could probably assume that he or she was not a believer. On this we must be clear: baptism is a symbol of salvation and only a symbol. But, like a wedding ring, it is such an effective symbol that it should never be taken for granted.
V. The Necessity of Baptism
Why should a believer be baptized?
1. Christ commanded it Matthew 28:18-20
2. Obedience to Christ requires it John 14:15-24
3. The Scriptures clearly state that the early Church practiced it Acts 2
Water Baptism does not save us or impart saving grace to us as some have wrongly taught. New life in Christ should lead to baptism as a result of salvation; it is not the means to salvation. It is simply something Christians are commanded in scripture to do once they have trusted Christ as Savior, to testify to the world that they are now identified with Jesus Christ, they are His, and they are a part of His Church. It clearly points to the inward reality of the new life In Jesus Christ.
Have you followed the Lord in obedience and been baptized?
If not, why not?
Let’s pray as our candidates for Baptism prepare to follow our Lord in the waters of baptism this evening.
Hymn #349 “Trust & Obey”