Summary: One of the foundational doctrines of our Christian faith is the doctrine of baptism. I would like to share with you this morning that on the map to Heaven, baptism is one of the directions. I do not want you to take my word for it. I want you to listen
BAPTISM: TAKING THE PLUNGE
INTRODUCTION... Bits and Pieces, Vol. F, #41
The Rev. Billy Graham tells of a time early in his career when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Baptist church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven.”
“I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said. “You don’t even know your way to the post office.”
One of the foundational doctrines of our Christian faith is the doctrine of baptism. I would like to share with you this morning that on the map to Heaven, baptism is one of the directions. I do not want you to take my word for it. I want you to listen to the words of Jesus, Peter, and Paul on this subject.
I. THE WORDS OF JESUS CHRIST (JOHN 3:1-17)
READ JOHN 3:1-17
I would like to dig into some of these verses quite deeply this morning so that we are all on the same page when it comes to the topic of baptism. Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus. We are introduced to him in this passage as a Pharisee and one who was on the ruling council in Jerusalem. Jesus, in verse 10, calls him ’Israel’s teacher.’ We know that Nicodemus became a believer because he and Joseph of Arimathea take care of the body of Jesus after His death (John 19:38-42). It was to this learned teacher and scholar that Jesus was speaking to.
Verse 3 and the following verses give us great insight and teaching on baptism. In verse 3, Jesus declares a valuable truth. In fact He says, “I tell you the truth.” What He is about to say is a teaching from God, and we know that because Nicodemus has already stated that Jesus is a teacher sent from God. Jesus states, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” I want you to notice that Jesus’ statement is one that contains exclusionary words like ’no one’ and ’unless.’ Can someone see the kingdom of God if they are not born again? – No
Is there another way besides ’being born again’ that someone can see God? –No
I want you to see that Jesus’ statement here defines those who will be a part of the kingdom of God. They are those who are born again and only those who are born again. It is the same kind of language as in John 14:6 = “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” How do we access God? How many ways are there to God? Only one and that is Jesus. What was Nicodemus’ reaction? Did he dispute with Jesus that there are many ways into Heaven? Did he reason with Jesus that you could become a Christian by some other manner? No, his question was directed at the content of Jesus’ statement: ’What does it mean to be born again?’ Nicodemus accepts that no one sees the Kingdom of God unless ’being born again’ occurs. Well, what is being born again?
I am so glad that Nicodemus asked this question. I hope you are asking the same question. It is a question that has a definite answer. Verse 5 Jesus sates that ’being born again’ means being born of water and the Spirit. Jesus is speaking of baptism. Verse 6 further explains that this is not a physical birth in any way, but a spiritual one. Being born again means a person has been baptized and at that time they receive as a permanent deposit, the Holy Spirit of God. I do believe that The Holy Spirit works in unbelievers lives, but He there is not a permanent indwelling unless baptism takes place. Jesus states in verses 15, 16, and 17 that He is the One in whom we should put our faith. He is the One who would die for our sins. Through our faith and our baptism, we access the Promise of Eternal Life.
II. THE WORDS OF THE APOSTLE PETER (ACTS 2:36-41)
READ ACTS 2:36-41
We looked at this same passage a few weeks ago and we looked at it with regards to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Peter states that we can be assured that God made Jesus Lord over all and the Savior of mankind. This is a fact. It is a reality for all people for all time. The people listening were faced with a dilemma. Verse 37 tells us that they were cut to the heart. They asked Peter and the others there, ’What shall we do to make Jesus our Lord and accept His gift of salvation?’