Are you sick of yourself — your way — the world's way? Do you abhor what your life has been? Do you want to change? Are you changing? If your answers are "Yes!" then there is something more you must do.
It is time to take positive action, when finally you come to see just how far short you fall — how utterly unsuccessful and useless you are compared to Christ. The beginning of repentance is seeing the self for what it really is. To determinedly begin constructive changes — to embark on growing in good character — is the natural consequence. Is this happening to you? If you grasp the fact that you really need to CHANGE, and are in the process, you must seriously question: "What's next?" God commands another step! That next step is baptism!
Absolutely Free Gift
Baptism brings together, in symbolic grandeur, three wonderful gifts: 1) the precious BLOOD of Christ, 2) the WATER of regeneration, 3) the HOLY SPIRIT. Everything in this magnificent picture is absolutely free! There is no way to pay for it. It cannot be earned. Christ generously offered His body and blood in the supreme sacrifice. This offering is great enough to cover the sins of all mankind. Staggering as it may seem, all of your sins may be washed away in the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:10; Rev. 1:5). Baptism is an essential "doorway" in the corridor to salvation.
Christ Commands You!
Jesus Himself has set the pattern. His followers baptized even more people than did John the Baptist (John 4:1). Later, after His resurrection, He pointedly commanded His disciples to preach the gospel worldwide and to baptize all believers (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16). On the day that the New Testament Christian Church was established, conscience-stricken converts implored the apostles to tell what must be done to get right with God. On the, authority of Christ, Peter gave an immediate, decisive, conclusive but simple answer, "Repent, and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). Three thousand were baptized that day. Philip continued the same practice (Acts 8). Paul, much later, carried right on without deviation from the established example (Rom. 6:3-5, Col. 2:12). Ever since that fateful day, God's ministers have held to exactly the same ceremony. No One — EVER — has been given authority to change any part of the procedure. For any man, or group of men, to introduce any change is totally unwarranted. There has been no scriptural change whatsoever. We should still be practicing the very same rite, in the very same way, for the very same reason, on the very same kind of people today! Nonetheless, men have introduced human ideas, human changes.
Sprinkle or Splash?
God could have inspired another word than the Greek baptizo to be used in discussing this important topic if He had not wished to perfectly picture the THREEFOLD meaning of WASHING, BURIAL and RESURRECTION (Rom. 6:4-5). For example, the words ekcheo, prosch eo and katacheo all come from the root cheo, which means to POUR OUT. They are used in such scriptures as John 2:15, Acts 2:17-18, Revelation 16:1-4, Hebrews 11:28, Matthew 26:7 and Mark 14:3 in reference to pouring out money, the Holy Spirit, vials of wrath, a box of ointment, and sprinkling the blood of sacrifice. Some churches pour or splash water at their "baptisms," erroneously thinking this is what God means when He says baptizo. Another word, rantizo, is used in Hebrews 9:13, 19, 21; 10:22; 12:24; and I Peter 1:2, where it means, as it always does, to SPRINKLE. Some churches sprinkle (rantizo), thinking they are baptizing (baptizo). The words just do not say the same thing. They are entirely different! God inspired the Greek word baptizo to be used in every case when His Scripture deals with BAPTISM. This word is NEVER translated by the English word "sprinkle." It does mean to "wash" or "bathe," but by DIPPING, SUBMERGING, IMMERSING. It is used as a figure of speech to indicate being overwhelmed. It is used classically when speaking of people swimming and a ship sinking. You can't swim in the outpouring of a handful of water. A ship can't sink in a splash. A body can't be buried in a sprinkling of anything — water or dirt. Baptism simply has no connection with sprinkling or pouring. Other words are used for those meanings.
Baptism pictures the complete covering of a dead body by placing it in a watery grave. But there is much more to the picture. Even as the "old, dead body" of the convert is entombed in baptism it is being literally washed — cleansed. This COMPLETE washing of the exterior symbolizes the internal — mental — moral — washing and regeneration of the mind. A readying for an altogether new man to be resurrected to an altogether new life. To adequately capture and portray this simple yet complex picture, John the Baptist went to Aenon to baptize "because there was MUCH WATER there" (John 3:23). When Jesus was baptized we are expressly told that He "went UP... OUT OF the water" (Matt. 3:16). He had been DOWN IN IT! Read Matthew 3:13-17, putting "immersed" where the word "baptized" occurs — for we have already seen that is exactly what the original language means — and it all becomes very clear. For an additional and clinching illustration notice that Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch both "WENT DOWN INTO" and came "UP OUT OF THE WATER" in order to properly accomplish the baptism (Acts 8:38-40).
Into the Family
Some people are mixed up about the simple, straightforward instructions of Christ in Matthew 28:19. The phrase "in the name of the Father ... Son, and... Holy Spirit" gives them trouble. Don't allow the little word "in" to confuse you as it does them. The Greek word is a bit more distinct and should better have been translated "into." Christ is simply stating that baptism places the convert in — or into — the family name of God. Remember, Peter has told us those who repent and are baptized will receive the Spirit of God (Acts 2:38). Those led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14). The receipt of the Holy Spirit makes the converted person part of the family of God. "... We are the children of God... joint-heirs with Christ..." (Rom. 8:16-17).
In Whose Name?
Christ is not ashamed to call us brethren (Heb. 2:11). These words
"This complete washing of the exterior symbolizes the internal washing and regeneration of the mind. A readying for an altogether new man to be resurrected to an altogether new life."
depict a FAMILY relationship! We are made a part of the family of God. It is natural then that we are to have the NAME of God. We are baptized INTO the very same name — it is also a title — which describes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The name is GOD! ONE name fits the entire family. Having this one name does not at all detract from the wonderful name of Jesus. When we have God's Spirit, we are His and Christ is in us (Rom. 8:9-10). We now have the same MIND and we think like He does (Phil. 2:2, 5). Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20). We now begin to live like the rest of the family of God, for we have been placed input INTO — it! Jesus built His Church and set up an organized ministry to run it (Eph. 4:11-13). His chosen ones act in His stead. What they do is as if it had been done personally by the Christ (John 13:20). He impressed this fact firmly insofar as baptism is concerned. Jesus did NOT baptize. He had His disciples do it for Him — IN or BY HIS AUTHORITY (John 4:2). They acted in His stead or in His name! No baptism is legal except it be done by the authority of Jesus Christ — in his name!
Christ has given this responsibility to His ministry. Not all who think themselves ready for baptism are. It demands mature profound evaluation. It must not be taken lightly. It's not for children. John the Baptist sent many of the Pharisees of his day a — packing when they presented themselves to him. He unabashedly advised them to go do the things which would prove to him they were actually ready (Luke 3:7-8). Even if you have already been baptized, seriously consider that it may not be valid. Such has happened to others. Simon Magus believed the message the deacon Philip preached. But his subsequent baptism proved to be a dunking only. When the more discerning Peter and John surveyed the situation, they summarily refused to lay hands on the unrepentant Simon (Acts 8:13, 21-23). But note that the now more experienced Philip correctly decided the Ethiopian eunuch was ready for baptism (Acts 8:36-37). Just so, Ananias told Saul (who became the apostle Paul) that it was now time for him to be baptized (Acts 22:16). God's ministers have spiritual discernment (I Cor. 2:14; 12:10). They are qualified to determine whether or not the convert is truly repentant and ready to be baptized. More than likely there is a true minister of God living near you who would be more than happy to help you evaluate your spiritual condition. He can help you to better understand yourself and what God expects of you.