Summary: Why do I need baptism? What invisible blessings do I receive at baptism? Am I living my baptism, or throwing it away?
Acts 2:36-41 THE BLESSINGS OF BAPTISM
There are certain things in life that are important to you, even though you don’t know exactly how those things work. Your car is a good example. It’s important to you, but do you know how your car works? If your dashboard lights up, indicating that there is trouble, and your car stalls – something is wrong with the electronics – would you know how to fix it your car? Our cars are important to us, but we really don’t know everything about how they work.
The same thing is true about your computer. Suddenly the screen turns blue, and the word “error” appears flashing on the screen. Would you know how to fix it? There are some things in life we depend on – cars, computers – we depend on them, even though we don’t know everything about how they work.
Baptism falls under this category. According to the Bible, it’s very important, as the well-known passage says: “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved. But whoever does not believe shall be condemned.” Baptism is so important that it is included as something that is necessary, along with faith, to be saved. In other words, there are two kinds of people – those who are baptized, and those who need to be baptized. I hope everyone here this morning has been baptized. If not, I pray that God would move you to make plans today to get baptized. It is literally a matter of eternal life and death.
But how does it work? What exactly happens at a baptism? If you were baptized 30 or 40 years ago, what difference does that make today? Today we are going to think about these things as we ponder three questions about the Sacrament of Baptism.
First of all, why do I need baptism? Why should I care if I’m not baptized, or if my child isn’t baptized? The answer can be summed up with one passage from the book of Psalms (51:5) where it says, “Surely I was a sinner at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” The Bible says that you are sinful from the time you are born – even back to the time you were conceived, you were sinful.
That’s hard for us to accept, but it is true. No matter how alive or how adorable a baby looks, that baby is sinful, and spiritually dead in the eyes of God. That little child inherits sin from his parents, and as God looks at that baby, he sees nothing spiritual going on – nothing but a little bundle of sin. The same thing is true for adults. No matter how upstanding, no matter how good a member of society someone is, that adult is still sinful in the eyes of God. And unless that sin is dealt with, unless something is done, a person with sin is lost, in this world, and eternally lost in the world to come.
Baptism can take care of the problem, which leads us to our second question – what invisible blessings do I receive at baptism? Look in Acts 2:38: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Do you see what God gives to a person when he or she is baptized? The forgiveness of sins. That’s exactly what every person needs – every baby, every adult – everyone needs the forgiveness of sins. All of that person’s sins are literally washed away – forgiven by God in heaven.
Our children’s sermon for this morning illustrates that. The water I had in that glass looked like plain water. Even after I dropped in that medicine, the water still looked like plain water. But it wasn’t – there was medicine in that water. Baptism looks like plain, ordinary water. But in that water, you find something very special, a wonderful medicine, and that is the forgiveness of sins. It is medicine for your soul, medicine you and your children need in order to be saved.
Besides that, there’s something else you receive in baptism, another “invisible blessing.” Look at the last part of verse 38 – “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the one who creates faith in a person’s heart. Before baptism, the Holy Spirit isn’t there. But after baptism, the Holy Spirit is there. Just think about that – when you see someone baptized, there is someone there that you can’t see, someone besides the parents and the baby and the sponsors and the pastor – someone else is there. According to the Bible, God the Holy Spirit is there, changing the heart of the person being baptized.