Summary: A message that precedes baptisms.
Last week, I talked about how God put it into Phillip’s heart to leave a great harvest revival in Samaria to go to the deserts outside Jerusalem so he could talk to one person about Jesus Christ. And I told you how Phillip went. He didn’t question God, he didn’t try to put God off, and he certainly didn’t ignore God – all of which we too often do today.
Phillip had something called ‘instant obedience’. He heard, he obeyed, and he went. The result was another heart won for salvation thru Jesus. I believe that if there were more instant obedience today, there would be a lot more Christians being made today. But there has to be a place where obedience begins. And that is what I want to talk to you about today.
I want to explain water baptism to you. First, let’s talk about …
1. IS BAPTISM REALLY NECESSARY?
There was a young man who had just graduated from Bible College and he had just taken over the position of pastor at his very first church. And he wanted everyone in town to be baptized.
One day, while walking down the street, he looked into an alley and saw the town drunk sitting on the ground, leaning up against the building. He went over to him and asked the man if he knew Jesus. The drunk looked up and said he did not. Then the pastor asked him if he wanted to get baptized. He said he’d give it a shot.
So they went to the church and got in the baptismal. The preacher put him under the water and raised him back up and asked, ‘Did you meet Jesus?’ To which the man said he didn’t. So the preacher dunked him again, this time letting him stay under a little longer. When he brought him back up, he again asked him if he had seen Jesus while he was underwater. And the man had a fearful look in his eye and said he had not seen Jesus.
So the preacher dunked him a third time and kept him down there for quite a while. When he lifted him back up, he asked him again if he had seen Jesus. The man, barely able to breath at this point, and coughing up water, said, ‘No I haven’t! Are you sure this is where you lost him?’
There are right reasons and wrong reasons to get baptized. Everything is gained if it is for the right reason, but if it is for the wrong reason, baptism becomes nothing more than a quick dip in the water, as it has nothing at all to do with Christ.
The act of water baptism (or being totally immersed in water in response to receiving salvation) is the first step of obedience in the Christian life.
We cannot overstate how important the act of baptism is, because we have been told by the Lord Jesus Himself to be baptized.
In MATTHEW 3:13-17, we see the Lord Jesus Himself coming to His cousin John to be baptized.
‘Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.
‘Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment, heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’
In MATTHEW 28:19, Jesus gave His last earthly command, saying to go and baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And by saying that, He established baptism as an eternal ordinance for His church, calling every single believer to do the same.
Today, we have what I refer to as ‘comfort zone Christianity.’ That is a Christianity that requires us to believe, but do nothing more. It is a very convenient belief, as we don’t have to get too serious about it and we certainly don’t have to overwork ourselves by actually doing anything for the kingdom of God.
Of course, the downside to this type of belief is that we end up taking Jesus and the salvation He affords us, way too lightly and it keeps us from getting very serious about Him.
And because we have this ‘hands off’ approach to Christianity, we take that same attitude towards baptism. We need to get serious about Jesus. We need to stop taking everything for granted. Did you know that, for most of the world, the simple act of getting baptized means taking a risk that you will be punished by prison or death?