You confess that you are a Christian believer. You tell others about it, and you “seem” to practice it. Or, do you really? My question today is, “Are you baptized?” If you trusted in Jesus Christ at a certain point in time, were you baptized after that point in time, so as to give a public declaration of your faith, not only to your relatives or whoever else could attend the baptism, but to the heavenly bodies as well — those who would look on — those from the bad side that would say, “Too bad! We have lost another one!” and those from the good side, that would say, “Yes, we have truly won another one, for this one has been willing to stand up and do what is right!”?
What does it mean to be baptized? The word means to be fully submersed. When we are talking about water baptism, then, it is “being immersed fully and completely in water.” With Spirit baptism, it is being immersed completely in the Holy Spirit. He will “baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and, with fire!” (Matthew 3:11) What is the fire? The fire is not the same as the Holy Spirit, as these verses make plain. But rather, the “fire” is tribulation and trouble! It is the “fire” of the “fiery furnace.” I defy you to find any Scripture that supports the notion that the “fire” here is the same as the Holy Spirit. It is not! (Read Matthew 3:10, and Matthew 3:12 — the verses that immediately precede and follow this verse, and find out what “fire” means in these verses. I think you will get the picture!)
So then, we have briefly covered three types of baptism: water baptism, Spirit baptism, and fire baptism. All of them are Scriptural. All of them are necessary if you are going to live an unadulterated Christian life. “And if children, then heirs heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:17-18) Oh, my! It is not always easy! One thing Jesus did not promise us is that it would be easy!
“Silver and gold have I none,” the apostle Peter said! (Acts 3:6) If then, the apostle Peter had no silver, and was himself fully dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ for all of his needs, how much more should we, the church, be dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ for all of our needs? And what exactly is our first need? It is our need to be obedient to him. How then did Peter “make it” without any silver and gold? He made it through the provision that was granted to him by God, who “supplied all his need richly.” Because God does meet the needs of those that are obedient to him. And Peter, as we know, was fully obedient to the Lord (save a few examples that we won’t get into here) — and it all started with his being baptized! It was Peter who said, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Have you been baptized? After believing, baptism is the NEXT step of obedience that you must take in order to fulfill what the Lord requires of you. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Scripturally speaking, baptism is second, before being taught anything else! Have you been “being discipled” for many years and yet you have not been baptized yet? Sin! It is not that baptism saves us, but rather, it is a step of obedience that we must take. And if you are not baptized, and have been given the chance to do so, you are living in disobedience.
It is simple. It couldn’t be clearer. Baptism, of course, follows conversion. Did you have saving faith when you were really baptized as an infant? Of course not. Infant baptism was something the devil invented in order to prevent real Christians from declaring their faith once they truly believed. To be sure, infant baptism has a similitude or likeness of infant dedication – similar to the way that Jesus was dedicated in the temple, when he was only eight days old (Luke 2:21-40). But Jesus was not BAPTIZED at that time – he was merely dedicated. There is a huge difference! Dedication is something that parents (or guardians) do, while baptism is something that believer himself or herself does! There is no provision in Scripture for parents or guardians baptizing their as-yet-unbelieving children! For example, in Acts 16:33, in which we read that “he and all his family were baptized”, we also see that “he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family”. They were each individual believers who were baptized.
Infant baptism misleads people into thinking they have fulfilled their obligation to be “baptized” when they have not. It is a false, counterfeit baptism. You may not like those words, but that is exactly what it is. I don’t know about you, but I do my very best to stay away from anything “counterfeit”. Did you know that dealing with “counterfeit” things in the human realm can get you into “big trouble” and even lead to “jail time”? And that is the way it is in the spiritual realm, as well. Yes, some will even do “jail time”. “Jail time” is an eternity in hell. You don’t do “jail time” because you were baptized as an infant, though. You do “jail time” because, as a result of your infant baptism, you were under the false pretext that everything was okay when it was, in fact, not okay. You thought that on account of your infant baptism, that you were saved, when in fact you never really came to put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was all a setup – a put-on by the devil, to be sure, to convince you that there was nothing more that was really needed. NOT. As for the “big trouble” part, even if you are a genuine believer, if you have not personally decided to get baptized, you have not personally obeyed the command.
Are you better than the Lord? Jesus himself said to John the Baptist, in regard to His own baptism, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). The Scriptures condemn you for adamantly refusing to get baptized as a believer. You are condemned by this very passage. You are declaring yourself to be “unrighteous” by refusing to be baptized. The decision is yours, but as for me, I would much prefer to be declared righteous!
Your former baptism has no power whatsoever. The demonic principalities were laughing when they saw you get baptized as an infant. Whatever they were doing, they were not fearing or trembling! Why fear when there is no sincere commitment of faith? And why fear the counterfeit? Jesus “made a public example” of the heavenly bodies through his obedience. And so should you, through yours. “He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them [through the cross].” (Colossians 2:15).
Not oil. Not baking soda. Not a quick dip in your pool when no one is looking. None of that. You are to be baptized (fully immersed, as is properly translated) in water! Water that is sanctified by the Lord Jesus Christ! And water that is sanctified (made holy) by the Lord Jesus Christ is none other than the water that you will be formally baptized in, in the presence of many witnesses! That comes after you have received Christ as Lord, not before! People will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ simply because you have decided to take that step of obedience and become baptized. Similarly, people are now being restricted from believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and your testimony is limited because you have not obeyed the command!
When I came to know the Lord, I made it my resolve to be obedient to everything He would tell me. That could very well cost me my life! But I would rather be obedient to the Lord, than disobedient to him! I would rather serve the Lord with a full heart, and be able to say, on that day, “Yes, Lord, I did everything that you commanded me!” than hang my head low in shame and utter disgrace because I simply refused to do what is right.
“Jesus Himself said to His followers, “Go into all the world, and preach the good news to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved but he that believes not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15-16). The condition — we admit — for being “lost” in this verse, is that “he that believes not shall be damned.” Yes, we admit that this is the case. So, then, belief is everything, and, if you happened to miss being baptized on account of it simply being impossible that you do so, you will not be lost, but still saved! For example, we think of that blessed thief on the cross — blessed, because he went to be with Jesus that same night!!! Yes, we think of him. He was surely not baptized after “coming to faith,” but, if he had had the chance, you can be sure that he gladly would have done so! (Perhaps there is a big pool in heaven for individuals such as him!!!)
Be baptized! The command has been given.