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Summary: Baptism is important because it is a sign on the outside of what has already happened on the inside.

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Why Is Baptism So Important?

Texts: Act 2:37-38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27

Introduction

1. Have you ever wondered why baptism is so important?

2. Baptism by itself won't save you. I once heard a Black Baptist preacher say, "You can go down a dry devil and come up a wet one!"

3. Baptism won't make you:

a. Smarter

b. Richer

c. Better Looking

4. Proposition: Baptism is important because it is a sign on the outside of what has already happened on the inside. It is a sign of:

a. Forgiveness

b. New Life

c. New Character

Transition: First of all, baptism is...

I. A Sign of Forgiveness (Acts 2:37-38).

A. To Show You Have Received

1. Peter's Holy Spirit anointed preaching had a dramatic effect on those who heard it. Luke tells us that "Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, '“Brothers, what should we do?”'

a. The response to this Spirit-inspired prophetic word was immediate. The people were "cut [pierced] to the heart."

b. For Luke, this is as it should be: the heart, the inner life, is the source of all the thoughts, motivations, intentions and plans of sinful human beings

c. No longer were they saying "What does this mean?" The Holy Spirit's message stung their consciences.

d. They recognized their guilt and spoke to Peter and to the other apostles (who were evidently still standing with him), wanting to know what they must do (Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary).

2. So Peter tells them, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

a. Peter gives two stipulations and promises two blessings. They must repent and be baptized, and they will receive the forgiveness of sin and experience the Holy Spirit.

b. As Lord, Jesus demands repentance and baptism, which is an outward expression of allegiance to him.

c. Repentance was plainly called for: it called for a complete change of heart, a spiritual about face (Bruce, NICNT: Acts, 69).

d. As Savior, he offers the unmerited gift of forgiveness (Fernando, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Acts, 106).

e. Our sin and guilt is removed as far from us as "the east is from the west" (Ps. 103:12)—an infinite distance.

f. They are not only forgiven, they are really gone, out of existence, never to be brought up against us any more (Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary).

3. Why are these conditions so important?

a. By repentance and baptism we show that we have met the conditions for receiving forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit.

b. By making repentance and baptism conditions for the reception of salvation blessings, Luke does not imply that salvation comes by merit or ritual.

c. It is not by water that we receive forgiveness, but only by the blood of Jesus.

d. Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)

In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

e. However, baptism is an outward symbol that repentance and forgiveness has already occurred.

B. Forgiveness

1. Illustration: A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. "But I don’t ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy." "But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied. "Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for." "Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman’s son. (Luis Palau, Experiencing God’s Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1984).

a. The truth of life is that we have all sinned, and therefore, need forgiveness.

b. Romans 3:23 (NLT)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

c. We can't deny it.

d. We cannot hide from it.

e. We cannot run from it.

f. We need to God's forgiveness.

2. The truth of the Gospel is that, by the Grace of God and the death of Jesus on the cross, we can receive forgiveness.

a. Romans 3:24 (NLT)

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

b. We did not earn forgiveness.

c. We cannot by forgiveness.

d. But by the Grace of God we can receive forgiveness when we ask Christ into our lives.

3. In baptism we acknowledge to the world that this is already happened.

a. It is a symbol of our surrender.

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