1 1 What the Bible Teaches about Baptism Matthew 3:13-17 Matthew 28:19-20 I. The Method of baptism II. III. The Meaning of baptism The Motive for baptism Matthew 3: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. 14. But John forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest thou to me? 15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. 17. And lo a voice of heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Today we have the opportunity to observe both ordinances of the church. We began with baptism and we will close the service with the Lord s Supper. Jesus participated in both as an example and to teach us. I think it is important for us to understand these and God led me today to do a message about baptism. Both of these ordinances remind us of what Jesus did for us and how He has changed our life. People often ask me questions about baptism: 1. Why do some denominations sprinkle and why do some immerse? 2. If you have been saved since you were baptized, do you need to be baptized again? It is important that we understand what the Bible teaches about baptism. There may be some here who need to come today after this message and tell me that you need to be baptized. Jesus Christ put a tremendous emphasis on baptism. Listen closely today. Jesus had a public ministry of only about three years. -He began that ministry by being baptized of John in the Jordan River. -He concluded that ministry by commanding us to baptize others. Now we know how important prayer is. As a matter of fact, there is going to be a focus on prayer in our church for the month of Aug. Prayer is something we should focus on, right? Jesus could have begun His ministry by bowing down and praying. We would have said that is very appropriate.
2 2 Now you think of all the things that Jesus could have done, and all the things that Jesus could have taught, and all of the emphases that Jesus could have placed at those important times, yet, Jesus Christ placed a tremendous emphasis upon baptism. There are TWO primary mistakes made about baptism. On the one hand there are those who say you must be baptized in order to go to Heaven. That is absolutely FALSE as I ll show you later from God s Word. The thief on the cross is one example. Jesus is dying and one of the thieves on one side of Him called out for forgiveness. Jesus said to him, Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise. That thief accepted Christ as his Savior, but he never had an opportunity to be baptized. That thief went to heaven. On the other hand, others make another mistake by saying since baptism doesn t save us, it is not important. That too is a tragic mistake. The thief on the cross is often use as an example of one not being baptized, yet going to heaven. As we study the subject of baptism we will study it from the Word of God. We are not here to try and get the Bible to support our individual views about baptism. Illustration: I heard about a Baptist preacher who got a call on the telephone and the man said, Look, I need the services of a minister. The minister said, I d like to serve you if I might. What do you need? He said, Well, my dog Shep died. Old Shep has been a faithful dog and we need a funeral. I d just like to know if you d come and preside over the burial of Shep? Well, the Baptist preacher was shocked and somewhat angry and said, Why I can t do that. The man said, You can t? I am disappointed. I wanted to make a $10,000 contribution to the church whose minister will preside over the funeral of Old Shep. And then immediately, the preacher said, O why didn t you tell me that old Shep was a Baptist? You know, there are a lot of people who can move their convictions around to fit the situation, but today we are going to find out what the Bible says. The outline is simple and plain. I want us to think about the I. THE METHOD OF BAPTISM. Some people think the Bible may teach several methods of baptism. Some believe the Bible teaches sprinkling, some think if you pour water on someone s head that it is baptism, and others believe that immersion, that is, being put completely under the water is the way for baptism. Now, I said immersion, not submersion. Immersion means to dip. Submersion means to put someone under but you don t necessarily come up again. You ought to be thankful for the difference. All right, what does it take to be baptized? Let s search the Bible and find out.
3 3 A. First of all, it takes water. Look in Mark 1:8. Here is what John the Baptist said, I indeed have baptized you with water. So, it takes water. But it also takes a LOT of water. Look at John 3:23. I have always wanted to hear someone who believes in sprinkling explain this. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there; and they came and were baptized. Now why did John go out to that wilderness spot in the River Jordan to baptize? It wasn t because of the scenery because this was one of the most desolate, barren places around. Pictures of the Jordan River that we see in a lot of baptistries are just not correct. Was it because of the convenience? Absolutely not. This was out in the boon docks. It was because there was a lot of water there and it takes a lot of water to baptize. Obviously, they had water at home to cook with, clean with, and to sprinkle on their crops, but John needed a lot of water, not just a cup or two. Jesus went 60 miles one way over rough terrain to be baptized by John the Baptist. John was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim BECAUSE THERE WAS MUCH WATER THERE. B. It also takes going down into the water. There is a church of Bethlehem over in Israel and they have a picture of Jesus being baptized. And sure enough they had Him in the River Jordan and he was up to His waist in the water but there was John the Baptist with a seashell pouring water on Jesus head. Some people never give up, do they? Let me show you from God s Word that it takes a going down into the water. Look at Acts 8:38 where we find the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down both INTO THE WATER, both Philip and the eunuch and he baptized him. So, it takes a going down into the water. But it also takes a burial beneath the water. I read Romans chapter 6:4 earlier before the baptism. Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism unto death. It takes a burial beneath the water. You see, that baptism pool becomes a liquid tomb and we are placed beneath the water. So, A. Baptism takes water, a lot of water. B. Baptism takes going down into the water. C. It takes burial beneath the water.
4 4 And then D. Baptism takes a coming up out of the water. Let s go back to Mark chapter 1. And look at the scripture there that describes the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would say that if anyone knows how baptism ought to be done, it would be the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Mark 1:9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized in Jordan. The preposition there that is translated in the English IN could be translated INTO JORDAN Verse 10: And straightway COMING UP OUT OF THE WATER, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him. Now if Jesus came up out of the water, certainly He was down in the water. This is the way the Lord Jesus was baptized. You see, the very word baptize means immerse. It was not, first of all, a religious word. It was a household word. The Greek word baptizo means to immerse or to dip. Let me tell you how many people got on the wrong path about this thing. I m going to concise 100 years of history in about 5 minutes. It started with our Roman friends who believed their church was the only church and they said that you had to be baptized to be a Catholic and that you had to be a Catholic to get to Heaven. For a while, the Roman Catholic Church baptized by immersion. If you look in any good church history book, you ll find that all the early Christians baptized by immersion. If you go to the Catholic Cathedrals over in Europe, you will find the cathedrals that were built before the 13 th century had baptistries in them just like ours. They used to baptize by immersion. Well, that developed into a problem because if you believed you had to be baptized in order to get to Heaven and then here is a person who has been run over by a carriage or in some sort of accident and about to die if he has never been baptized they couldn t just take him somewhere and immerse him. Or perhaps a little baby born and about to die well, they couldn t immerse that child. So, they said, Well, what we will do is sprinkle the child because after all it is not the amount of water. This will be that Child s baptism. So, we will just sprinkle people in those types of circumstances. As a tradition, they changed from immersion as taught in the New Testament to sprinkling for convenience sake. Then after the Protestant Reformation came along and Martin Luther who was a Roman Catholic rebelled and began what we call the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
5 5 Do you know what a Protestant is? Well, break the word down. Protest-ant or a protestor. They protested. Martin Luther protested. He came out of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations were born. Martin Luther came out, but he kept the tradition of sprinkling and this is where the Lutherans came from. The Episcopalians came out of a division of the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church and King James of England was an Episcopalian. In 1611, King James did a wonderful thing. He said, Let s put the Bible into English. So, the Bible now is being translated into English. King James got some of the best scholars in the land, men who knew Greek to translate the Bible. So, they started writing from the Greek to the English. If you have a King James Bible, this is when that was translated. I am sorry to disappoint you who believe Paul used the King James Version of the Bible. They were doing great until they came to the Greek word baptizo. Now remember, it meant to immerse. It was just an ordinary word. A woman in that day would baptize her dishes. Two little boys out playing and one boy would dunk the other. He would say, I am going to baptize you. It didn t have anything to do with religion. In secular history, there is a man who was murdered by being baptized. That meant they drowned him. I mean, you couldn t sprinkle a man to death. It was just a common ordinary word that means to dip or immerse. So, the translators are coming along and they read in the Greek this word baptizo. Now they have a problem because if they translate this word immerse and the king practices sprinkling and he is the one who commissioned the thing to be done, then that would look pretty bad. Yet, on the other hand, if they translate this word sprinkle, anybody who knows Greek would laugh at them out of the kingdom. The Greek word for sprinkle is RAPTIZO. So, they came up with a brilliant idea. They said, We won t translate it. We ll make a new English word and a word was born the English word BAPTIZE. A new word is put into English and every time you read that word baptize in the Bible you are reading an untranslated word. You are reading a transliterated word or a word that is taken out of one language and placed into another language without being translated. If you were to take the Greek New Testament and read it and study it, there would be no doubt that the Bible method of Baptism is immersion. You ll never find anywhere a person was baptized by being sprinkled. There were some OT ceremonies where that involved sprinkling. I would not discount anything that meant to you. If you were sprinkled at some point in your life and that was a religious experience for you, I don t discount that in any way. But when Jesus baptized and when John baptized Jesus, that is when baptism by emersion began. The only way that we find any record biblically that they ever did baptize.
6 6 So, the Bible method of baptism IS BY IMMERSION. Secondly, let s look at II. THE MEANING OF BAPTISM. Once you see the meaning, you ll understand why we are so concerned about the proper method. If you change the method you distort the meaning. What is the meaning of baptism? It is God s tremendously great object lesson to keep in our minds the gospel. Now, a lot of people don t even know what the gospel is. Some people think that the gospel is preaching hard against sin. Sometimes when a preacher preaches a hard message against different sins, someone will walk out and say, Man, he really preached the gospel today. NO, HE DIDN T! That is not the gospel. The gospel is GOOD NEWS. That is BAD NEWS. Now, it needs to be preached. I mean, it is the bad news that makes the good news good. Amen? You don t go up to someone and say, Good news. Your house is NOT on fire. You ve got to have the bad news in order to get the good news. The word gospel comes from an old English word Godspell spelling out good things and good news. And what is the gospel? Well, if you don t know, just write down somewhere I Corinthians 15: For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4. And that He was buried, and that He arose again the third day according to the scriptures. A. Baptism speaks of His sacrifice. That is the GOSPEL! Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised again the third day! That is the one message the devil doesn t want preached. He doesn t care how much you reform or how religious you are, as long as you don t hear the gospel. It is the GOSPEL that SAVES! Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation. Baptism and the gospel are linked together. The gospel is that Christ died, He was buried, He arose again. Always remember that! Now let me show you Romans 6. I will begin reading with Verse Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death. 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. Now listen to Verse 5.
7 7 5. For if we have been planted together in the LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH, we shall be also in the LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION. Baptism is the picture, the symbol of His death and His resurrection. Now is that or is that NOT important? You know that it is important. You see, the devil doesn t want the gospel portrayed. Every person who is saved should be willing to be taken to the baptistry, or to a river, or a pool (it matters not where) and they should be immersed. When they go beneath that water it pictures the burial of the Lord Jesus Christ. When they come up out of that liquid tomb, it pictures the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one thing the devil would like to have taken out of our churches are these constant reminders of the gospel. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are both reminders of the gospel. Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised, and we should be reminded of that over and over again. B. Baptism also speaks of our salvation. When a person comes publicly to be baptized, that person is in effect having a funeral to his old self. It is symbolizing that his sins are forgiven and forgotten as they are buried with Christ. I ll tell you what else it means. One of these days my body may be in that grave, but when the dear Lord Jesus comes from Heaven with a shout just as I came out of that water, I am coming out of that grave. Now friend, that is not a ritual for ritual s sake. That has meaning! So that is the meaning and I declare to you today that if you change the method you alter the meaning. That is why we stick so firmly with the Bible method of baptism. III. THE MOTIVE FOR BAPTISM. A. Baptism is not salvation, it is obedience. Why should we be baptized? I want to say this clearly the motive is not in order to be saved. Baptism, whether a spoonful or a tankful, cannot take away your sins. You are saved by GRACE THROUGH FAITH! I am not one of those who say that unless you are immersed you are not going to Heaven. Some of you may think I am narrow minded enough to only think only Baptist are going to Heaven. I ll tell you that I am more narrow-minded than that! I don t think a lot of Baptists are going to Heaven! And I think a lot of people who are not Baptists are going to Heaven. I think there are people who have not been baptized in water by immersion who are going to Heaven because SALVATION IS IN CHRIST, NOT THE CREEK. It is in Christ. The Bible says in Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Some people want to add something to that by saying it is
8 8 Christ PLUS this or Christ PLUS that. Friend, I ll tell you today. It is CHRIST PLUS NOTHING! Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. Let me give you a wonderful verse. Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. There is no other condition than that. Remember the thief on the cross? He called upon the name of Christ and Jesus said to him, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Well, he was never baptized, but he was saved. By the same token, many have been baptized who have never truly been saved. If baptism is necessary for salvation we would have to take WHOSOEVER out. We d have to change it because the man in the desert couldn t be baptized. So, we would have to change it to read, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord and is fortunate enough to be near water and is fortunate enough to have someone nearby to baptize him shall be saved. Isn t that ridiculous. Just think how many people that automatically eliminates. I am so glad that ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, ANY PERSON ever calls upon Jesus will be saved. Baptism is NOT SALVATION, but rather it is OBEDIENCE. Look in Matthew 28:19 Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. B. Baptism is not a suggestion. It is a command. Even though it is not necessary to salvation, it is necessary to obedience and obedience is necessary for fruitfulness and joy in the Christian life. Now, I doubt the salvation of a person who says, I know what Jesus says for me to do, but I m not going to do it. The Bible does say faith without works is dead. We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. Now granted, some people don t know what the Bible says about baptism, but I can t believe a true Christian who has surrendered to Jesus can know what the Bible says and they say, I m not going to do that. Jesus said, Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? So, baptism is necessary to obedience and obedience is necessary to fruitfulness and fruitfulness is necessary to joy.
9 9 But finally, today, C. Baptism speaks to other people. I have heard of several people who were saved after watching a friend or relative get baptized. There is just something about it. Not only does it preach the gospel but it speaks to the heart. Illustration: a little boy got saved in a children s worship service of a particular church and since he was saved in the children s church they sent him over to the main service for baptism. He said, What should I say to the Pastor? They said, Tell the Pastor you ve been saved and you need to be baptized. The little fellow didn t know the words of the church so he came to the Pastor and said, Pastor, I ve been saved and I need to get advertised. O, he didn t miss it by much because after we are saved, we are not to be ashamed of Jesus Christ and we publicize that by being baptized. Why was Jesus baptized? He was baptized as a prophecy to the fact that He would die on the cross. Why are we baptized? We are baptized because we believe that He did. O my dear friend, have you received Christ? Have you been saved? Have you asked Christ to forgive you of your sins and to save you? He will do that today. For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. If you have been saved, what hinders you from being baptized and joining with this church? Won t you get that settled today once and for all?