Have You Been Baptized?
"And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 'Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?' And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." Acts 10:45-48 What is baptism? It's a public declaration of our identification with Jesus Christ. It's a public declaration of our faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished for us. But to understand it we first have to understand why Jesus Christ came to this earth. We are born in a sinful human nature, to sinful parents, into a sin-filled world. There is no way that a sinful person can enter heaven. It's not about behavior or “goodness.” When a man stands before a judge and is accused of murder, it will do him no good to tell the judge the good things he has done. The judge is not interested in how much money the man gave to charity, he is only interested in the sin the man has committed. And such are we when we stand before God. Our “goodness” is not the issue. Our sin is the issue. But God so loved the world that he sent his Son to take upon himself the verdict and the judgment IN OUR PLACE, and that removes the whole picture of our standing before a judge because the penalty was paid in full, in the atonement Christ made for each one who believes in him. That's why Jesus said, "You MUST be born again." We were born in a fallen human nature - and that's why we must be born again. To be born again is to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. And the way we seal the faith we have placed in him is to follow his instruction to be baptized in his name. Look at the picture baptism portrays: when one goes down into the water, it is the picture of going down into the grave. When he comes up out of the water, it is the picture of him being raised up to new life in Jesus Christ. It is the public profession of faith before men that one has died in Christ, and is raised by Christ to new life. Religions have been so adamant to fulfill this command that they baptize babies to make sure the command is fulfilled, without realizing that the ESSENTIAL element is missing, that of the profession of faith the person gives publicly that he has surrendered his life to Christ. Baptism of babies is useless therefore. A baby cannot make that choice, and no one can make that choice on behalf of the child. No one can be born again for someone else. To baptize an infant is to totally misunderstand what baptism is all about. "And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.'" Mark 16:15-16 Read the context of this passage in the Gospel of Mark chapter 16. It's the story of the resurrection of Christ, the very picture of what's being said here. Does that mean that babies go to hell? No, children cannot be required to make this choice of surrendering their lives to Jesus before they are able to understand it. The Lord is not interested in religious rituals, he is interested in the act of obedience upon understanding what one is doing. They have not reached the age of understanding, so they aren't held accountable if they're too young to make that choice. But for the new believer, he must follow the instructions of the Lord whom he has chosen to give his life to. The Scripture does not say that if he is not baptized he will be condemned, it says if he does not believe the Gospel he is condemned, because he has rejected the one who took his sin and judgment upon himself, so he remains before the judge in his sin. But a true believer in Jesus Christ will WANT to follow his instructions about baptism, which is the public confession of having surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. “Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10: 32-33