Sermon:
OPEN: South East Christian Church in Louisville, KY is a congregation of about 15,000 members. It’s so huge they have a very specialized paid staff. For example, they have a staff member in charge of something they call the “wedding department.” One Sunday, a staff member from that department was privileged to be asked to baptize a new convert. On the Sunday he was to baptize his friend, something must have unsettled him – maybe it was the size of the congregation present, or the pressure of the moment.
Whatever it was, that morning, in front of the entire congregation he took the man’s confession and then declared: “I now pronounce you….” And then stopped as he realized what he’d said. Then he smiled as he continued: “I now pronounce you… baptized!”

APPLY: We know - as Christians - that marriage is important to God. It is a sacred union of two people in the presence of God. But while God doesn’t require you to fall in love and get married - if you intend to live with someone of the opposite sex God says - you had better get married.

That man from the “wedding department” almost confused the vows from a wedding ceremony with the words he normally would have used while baptizing someone. Wedding vows are required of someone who desires to be married. But is baptism required of someone who desires to become a Christian.
In other words: Do you have to be baptized?

I. Well, what did Jesus say?
Jesus commanded His disciples to “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

What that means is: baptism is not an option for God’s people. It is commanded and expected by Jesus for all who would belong to Him.

In Mark 16:16 Jesus said “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved…”

Baptism was so important that Jesus Himself was baptized by John the Baptist at the beginning of His ministry. John didn’t feel he was qualified to baptize Jesus, but our Lord told John “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness….” (Matthew 3:15).

II. What did Peter say?
Here in Acts 2, Peter preaches the first sermon in the history of the Church. He preaches such a powerful sermon that day that he convinces the crowd of its sinfulness in crucifying Jesus, and the audience interrupts Peter & asks (vs. 37) “What shall we do?”
Peter replies: (vs. 38) “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In other words, baptism must be preceded by repentance… and the result of baptism and repentance is forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Later, in I Peter 3:21, the Apostle compared baptism to the waters of Noah’s flood “…and this water (the flood) symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection

November 21, 2014
I'm glad to see other churches showing their love for new believers by assuring their bsptisms are the humbling experience God intended rather than being concerned about their pride and what is more socially comfortable for them. We also require people to wear the one-piece plastic baptism suits (ours are light blue), and they are such a blessing for the whole church. One of the most important reasons we use them is that they help us keep pride out of the baptistry, where it has no place. Clothing is a symbol of human pride and status. There is no way to feel proud when you are standing in front of a church full of people in a simple, baggy one piece plastic suit. The suits were designed to be the most appropriate and convenient garment for us to put people in to perform the baptism procedure. There is no consideration for the vanity of the person being immersed and whether they might find it undignified or humbling to wear in front of the cute girl from Sunday school. It is a powerful reminder to them and everyone watching that they are in a position of humble obedience to God's authority through the authority of his church and are having someng done to them. They have no role in the process.
Brad Jones
December 31, 2011
Great sermon. I got some great concepts to freshen up my baptism sermon. And I''m pleased to say that 7 people, including 2 couples, came forward and were immersed. I was really inspired by the part about baptism being the "great equalizer." We require everyone we immerse to wear a simple, modest one piece white waterproof nylon baptism jumper outfit that is designed for spontaneous baptisms without prior preparations. When people ask why they have to wear the "silly plastic gown" instead of their own clothes. The church staff usually give the easy answer and say they are convenient and modest. But there is more to it than that as I explained. We also want to make sure that baptism is that equalizer and a washing away of pride God intended. It''s hard to feel better than someone after they have watched you put on a humbling gown and submit to such a humbling act of obedience and submission in front of a church full of people. That''s why we gently insist on immediate public immersion for anyone who comes forward during services, which is the large majority of our baptisms. And even the resistant are ultimately glad we put them in the jumpers and baptized them publicly. But most people aren''t resistant once they understand baptism, but are eager to humble themselves and be obedient to Gods most loving command. He couldn''t have given us a more comforting and beautiful way to display our submission to his authority. God requires us to set aside our pride and vanity when we are baptized. In return, he so lovingly meets so many of our spiritual and emotional needs, comforting our souls as no other experience can.