Summary: Water baptism is only a symbol of what has happened in a person’s heart!
As a church, one of our Statement of Faith is: Water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation. We also do not require water baptism for membership.
Why do we say this?
Being saved for eternity from our sins is not a matter of works! God tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.
People are not saved from their sins because of the works they have done but only by God’s grace, God’s gift, through faith. In other words, we are saved when we accept the gift of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins and following Him who was raised from the dead. Remember our chart? If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your only Savior and God, then you are still on this side of the cross destined for eternal judgment along with the devil.
If you have never done so, today is the day to believe in Jesus Christ as your only God and the only One who can save your eternal soul!
Now, if you truly believe in something with your heart, actions follow! If you truly believe in your name, wouldn’t you say, “My name is….” If you believe that 1 plus 1 is 2, when you have to pay someone $2, wouldn’t you give 2 $1 bills?
If you have truly received Jesus Christ in your heart, shouldn’t you take actions based on that belief?
God continues in Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Now, water baptism is works; should we still do them? To answer this, we must understand what water baptism is for. Our text today will help us understand, for water baptism in the New Testament started with John the Baptist. Please open your Bibles to Luke 3. Let us pray our commitment to God’s Word before reading our passage…..
Remember in Luke 1:5 God gives us a timeframe for the announcements of the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ. In Luke 2:1-2, God gives us the timeframe for the actual birth of Jesus Christ. Here in Luke 3:1-2, God gives us the timeframe for the ministry of John the Baptist who prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Based on the names listed in Luke 3:1-2, history books tell us that the ministry of John the Baptist occurred in 29AD!
We note in v2 that God spoke directly to John. And what did God tell John to do? God told John to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
What kind of baptism John was to be preach??
- of repentance for the forgiveness of sins!
Do we note anything about water from God’s instruction to John??
We need to note that the word baptism does not necessarily mean water baptism! Even in this passage in Luke, the word baptism is used twice and each has a different meaning.
The original Greek word for baptism is baptizo which means to be immersed, cleansed, overwhelmed.
And so, the message that John was preaching was for people to be immersed, cleansed, and overwhelmed with repentance; and repentance means to turn away.
What’s with the water then? You see, there was water baptism in the Jewish faith before John came to the scene!
And so John used the Jewish “Tvilah” or water baptism to prepare people for the coming Savior Messiah. The main message of John was repentance, a turning away from sins. And so in v6 we hear John stating that people are to prepare themselves for the Lord.
In v7, we note that the problem was hypocrisy; they say they believed in God but they produced “bad fruit”, their attitudes and actions were not right with God.
What were they suppose to do? John tells them in v9-14:
- share to those in need
- don’t steal
- don’t accuse falsely
And so, those who truly were seeking God wondered if John was the Messiah. Look again at v16-18…
And so, John baptized with water:
1. to prepare people for Jesus Christ the Savior Messiah.
2. to teach them the good news of the ultimate forgiveness of sins
And as people believe in Jesus Christ, what type of “baptism” will they receive? As people believe in Christ, Jesus will baptize them with God the Holy Spirit and with fire! What does this mean?
Well, what does baptism mean again? Baptism is to be immersed, cleansed, and overwhelmed with something. And so Jesus will immerse, cleanse, and overwhelm His Believers with God the Holy Spirit!