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Summary: A Biblical look at what baptism is and is not: It’s a SYMBOL, NOT A SACRAMENT--FOR BELIEVERS, NOT FOR BABIES--by PLUNGING UNDER, not POURING ON--for SUBMISSION, NOT FOR SALVATION. Link inc. to formatted text, audio & video, & PowerPoint Presentation.

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Beautiful Believer’s Baptism

Acts 8:35-39

http://gbcdecatur.org/sermons/Baptism.html

I’m not saying baptism is for beautiful believers only! (how would you explain Gary?) But it’s a beautiful picture of what happened in the heart of one who trusted Christ as Savior.

The most wonderful thing that ever happens at this church doesn’t take place in that baptistery, though we’re happy to have baptized over 150 in it since we’ve been here and thousands over the years. And we can have a great crowd like we did last week, but the most wonderful thing that ever happens here doesn’t happen in this room necessarily, or even at this altar…it happens inside the human heart, when a man, woman, boy or girl accepts Jesus Christ as Savior!

Salvation is a matter of the heart, you cannot see it w/ your eyes…and so God has left us this wonderful picture…a portrait of the work of the new birth: baptism!

There’s much confusion today about baptism:

Important or unimportant?

Essential to salvation or not?

Done immediately, or wait a while?

Baptize babies, or only adults?

Pouring, sprinkling, or immersion?

All these questions can be answered dogmatically from Acts 8.

5 Bible facts regarding baptism:

1. Baptism is a symbol, not a sacrament

Sacrament=a means of receiving the grace of God

The Roman Catholic Church catechism reads: “Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, and makes us children of God.”

Another well known denomination has in its literature: “Holy Baptism is the washing of regeneration, by which the new birth is wrought. Since baptism is a means of grace for salvation, we must not delay the baptism of babies.”

What does the Bible say about that?

8:37 You have to believe w/ all your heart

Acts

2:41

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

First the receiving, then the baptism

Acts

10:47

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost…?

First the receiving, then the baptism

Acts 16

16:30

Philippian jailer… said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

(Come on, Paul, here’s your chance, it will be recorded for all eternity…)

16:31

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Later on, we find that he was baptized…

First the receiving, then the baptism

Baptism is a symbol…not a sacrament!

What does it symbolize?

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Colossians

2:12

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

(illustrate)

And, it’s symbolic not only of that event from the past, but pertains also to the new believer in the here and now…as they are dead to an old life, and are risen to walk in newness of life!

Romans

6:4

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.

Baptism is a symbol, not a sacrament.

Why do you bury someone? To kill them? Or because they’re already dead? (please don’t bury me if you’re not sure…[before 8 a.m. it can be unclear])

Why do you put a soldier in a uniform? To make him a soldier or because he IS a soldier?

Why do you put on a wedding ring? To make you become married or because you ARE married?

Why will we baptize someone today in that tank? To save them or because they HAVE BEEN saved?

What will happen up there is a symbol, not a sacrament.

2. Baptism is for believers, not for babies.

You have to believe w/ all your heart

This disqualifies infants, as they are incapable of understanding and believing.

One denomination wrote this: “Yes, we baptize babies. All historical churches do. The Roman Catholic. The Orthodox Catholic. The Lutheran/Presbyterian/Episcopals/Methodist…only the Baptists do not baptize babies, and such modern denominations which have been influenced by them.”

Acts 8 said, “IF thou believest, thou mayest…”

Now, I believe that babies and small children are SAFE, but not SAVED.

Ill.—King David’s baby / sick / David wept, fasted, prayed for it / but it died / and David cleaned up and began to eat / his servants said, why? / David said, when the baby was alive, there was still hope of it living…but now the baby is gone, and nothing I can do can bring him back…and then he said, but one day, I will go to him!

And in the wonderful character of God, the Bible teaches that any young one who dies under the age of accountability passes thru that cradle of safety directly into the arms of Jesus! And thank God for that…esp. when you think about all the precious, aborted babies which never had a chance!

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