• aptism - Blog 2019

There Is No Space between Belief and Baptism

I assume that you would agree that anything that is worth doing again is worth doing. Here’s what I mean. The other day, I was working on a manuscript in Word, and I forgot to save it. I ended up closing the program and losing the hours I put into it. But had I then considered that those hours were a waste of time and the manuscript had no value, I wouldn’t have re-written it.

Here’s why I bring that up. There are many people who question whether it is worth getting baptized. “It seems weird.” “I’m embarrassed.” “I don’t feel compelled to.” “If I’m saved by faith, why do I need to get baptized?”

Well, because it IS worth doing. The book of Acts testifies to baptism’s importance and value because people end up doing it twice!

Disciples Baptized Twice

Consider this story:

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

“No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

“Into what then were you baptized?” he asked them.

“Into John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-5 CSB). [1]

Now, if baptism doesn’t matter for Christians, then Paul wouldn’t have worried about baptizing them again. But baptism is meaningful;[2] it was worth doing again into Jesus’ name.

Belief and Baptism Cannot Be Separated

If we are trying to go through the Bible to separate baptism from belief to show that it is not necessary, we can’t. Just look at the passage above. Paul asked if they received the Spirit when they “believed”—because that’s when Paul teaches that you receive the Spirit (Gal. 3:2). But if we are careful readers, we will clearly see that there is no space in Paul’s mind between faith and baptism. After finding out that they believed the message but hadn’t yet received the Spirit, he asks about their baptism. This thought only makes sense if belief, baptism, and the giving of the Holy Spirit are all connected. Paul and the New Testament believers did not separate believing the message of the gospel and baptism. The one assumed the other because they often happened on the same day. But why?

Our Lord Commanded Baptism

Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, said that the verbal confession of one’s belief that Jesus rose from the dead is “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9). A person has true faith when they see the truth of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and then repent and submit their entire life to Jesus’ Lordship—the Christian is truly ready to “do what he says do and go where he says go.”

In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded that all of his disciples should be baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). So, how can we say that someone has truly believed and confessed that “Jesus is Lord” if they are unwilling to obey one of his commands? That’s why belief and baptism are never separated in the New Testament—if you believe that Jesus is Lord, you submit to his command to be baptized.

So, if you have believed the message and are ready to confess that Jesus is Lord, do not delay in signing up to talk with someone about baptism at www.mercyhillgso.com/baptism. Delayed obedience is disobedience.

-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)

[1] Interesting note: The testimony of the book of Acts is that an apostle must be present before the Spirit was given in a certain area of the world. The believers in Ephesus were the first believers in Asia and their baptism was accompanied by tongues and prophecy. Almost every time the Spirit breaks into a new part of the world, the newly baptized speak in tongues and prophesy. This is not something that happens to every believer, but God was testifying to the apostles that these people had also been accepted by God in the same way that they were (see also, Samaritans—Acts 8:14-17, Gentiles—Acts 10:44-48)

[2] There is so much more to baptism theologically than we are going to dive into now. For one, it is the God-given sign of the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood as circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic covenant (Col. 2:11-12). And secondly, it is how we physically identify with Christ in his death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4).