What is Baptism For ?
In our previous lesson, we let the bible answer the question, “What is Baptism”. And we learned from God’s word, that baptism is a burial in water.
Rom 6:3-4 told us, “Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ, have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism, in order that as Christ was raised by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
The apostle Peter said, in Acts 10:47, “Surely no one can refuse the water, for these to be baptized…”
Now in this lesson, we will deal with the question, “What is Baptism For?” There must be a purpose behind the fact that God commands us to be baptized. That’s only common sense, but what IS that purpose? What is baptism for?
One Verse will Answer the Question
We really only need one verse of scripture to answer the question, “What is baptism for”. And we’ll take a look at that verse in a moment, but I want to tell you, that along with that verse, we will look at several other verses that agree with, and further solidify God’s teaching on the matter.
What is baptism for?
Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them; Repent, and let each of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, FOR the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Did the apostle Peter answer that straightforward enough? “Let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, FOR the forgiveness of your sins!”
Now that verse of scripture is very plain. It is a straightforward statement by the apostle Peter, in response to the people who had just asked Peter the question; “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” v-37
Let me give you a little background here.
The occasion was the day of Pentecost, and Jews from neighboring areas, and even neighboring countries, had come to Jerusalem for this annual religious festival. “Pentecost” is a Greek word meaning “fifty”. It was also called “The Feast of Weeks” by the Jews. The Feast of Weeks, celebrated the completion of seven weeks, of seven days each, the celebration taking place on the next day, the fiftieth day. Pentecost is a reminder to the Jews, of the fifty days that it took Israel to reach Mt Sinai, after being released from slavery in Egypt. And it was a celebration of the arrival at Mt Sinai, which was the place where Moses received the ten commandments from God. My Sinai is called Mt Horeb, but it is the “Mountain of God”.
So here we have hundreds of thousands of Jews, gathered in Jerusalem, and when the day of Pentecost arrived, all of the apostles were in one place.
Now let’s read from Acts 2:1-5, “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven, a noise like a violent rushing of wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them “tongues” as of fire, distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began speaking in tongues, (other languages) as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven.”
You can imagine what a “stir” this would have created in Jerusalem. And you’d be right! Everyone came from all around the city, to see what was happening.
And it says in v-6, “And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered. because they were each one, hearing them speak in his own language.”
Jews from all these many different nations, who all spoke different languages, which were native to their own particular nation, were hearing the apostles speak in all these various languages. And they were bewildered! And they said in v-8, “How is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?”
This was the “Sign” from God, (please see the Post titled “Do Miracles Exist Today ? – Part 3”, concerning signs) that God Himself was guiding the apostles in what they were speaking. And Peter takes his stand with the other eleven apostles, and makes this statement to the bewildered Jews.
He said in v-16, “But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel. “And it shall be in the last days, God says, That I will pour out My Spirit upon all mankind…”
Peter then continues his explanation of what is happening here, by quoting from the book of the prophet Joel, chapter 2:28-32. After this quotation, in explanation of what was happening, listen to how forceful Peter becomes.
He says in Acts 2:22-24, “Men of Israel, listen to these words; Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God, with miracles and wonders and signs, which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know; This man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, YOU nailed to a cross, by the hands of godless men, and put Him to death!”
Wow, Peter didn’t hold anything back. These Jews were guilty of crucifying the Son of God! But Peter’s not finished… Listen to v-24
“And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in it’s power.” Though Jesus submitted to being put to death physically, so that He could shed His blood and die, for the sins of all mankind, (that’s your sins, and my sins, and everyone’s sins) death did not have the power to hold this man Jesus, in it’s grip. Jesus had the very Spirit of God within Him, and God has complete dominion over death. After all, it was God who created life, AND death! And so “God raised Him up again”.
Peter was preaching some pretty strong words, but listen to how he finishes in v-36..
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain, that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified!”
Again, all I can say is Wow! Can you imagine being told by a prophet of God, that YOU were guilty of crucifying the man, that God had made both Lord and Christ ! What would you do? About all you cpould do would be to beg for forgiveness.
V-38 says, “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles; Brethren, what shall we do?
And this is where we came in earlier, when Peter said in v-38, “Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, FOR the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy spirit.”
They were guilty of putting to death, the Son of God. They were dead in their sins, and everyone knew it. What could they do about it? How could they be forgiven of their gross sin? Well, Peter told them what they must do, and he tells US what we must do also. When Peter said “let each of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ..”, what is meant, is to be baptized “by the authority of Jesus Christ”. The very same man whom they crucified, had the “authority” to forgive those sins.
You might remember from the previous lesson, “What is Baptism”, that one time Jesus had told a paralytic man that his sins were forgiven. Mark 2:5 . And some scribes who were there were reasoning to themselves in their hearts; “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; Who can forgive sins but God alone?
But Jesus, knowing their hearts, said to them in v’s, 8-10, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic; Your sins are forgiven, or to say; Arise and walk? But in order that you may know, that the son of man has the authority to forgives sins; And He said to the paralytic; I say to you, Arise, take up your bed and go home”. And the paralytic man, got up, picked up his bed, and went home.
Jesus has the authority to forgive sins!
The man with the authority to forgive sins, said in Mat 28:18-19, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name (by the authority) of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe (that means to obey) ALL that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Unless you have been baptized by the authority of Jesus, you are not truly a disciple of His. Jesus said, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nation, baptizing them, by the authority of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
The apostle Mark records these words of Jesus, in Mk 16:15-16, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized, shall be saved, but he who disbelieves, shall be condemned.”
In the plain straightforward words of Jesus Christ, one must believe AND be baptized, to be saved. Why do you have to be baptized to be saved? Because you cannot be saved without being forgiven of your sins. And the very purpose of baptism, is the forgiveness of sins.
On More Set of Verses to “Cinch the Deal”
The great apostle Paul, used to be a persecutor of the church. But one day, while he was on his way to the city of Damascus, to imprison Christians, he was struck down and blinded by the appearance of Jesus Christ. And Jesus told Paul at that moment, “Arise, and go into the city of Damascus, and there it will be told you, what you must do.” Acts 22:10.
So Paul was led by the hand, into the city, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” Acts 9:9
Then God sent a disciple named Annanias, to go to Paul, that he might give Paul his sight, and to tell Paul that God had declared, “The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, (that’s Jesus Christ) and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him, to all men, of what you have seen and heard.” Acts 22:14-15.
But there was one thing lacking yet, for Paul to be that disciple who would be a witness of Jesus Christ. Paul was still in his sins. Just like the men on the day of Pentecost, who were guilty of crucifying Jesus, (Paul was no doubt among that number also) who were deep in sin, Paul was still deep in his own sins, when Annanias restored his eyesight. And something had to be done about those sins.
Here’s what Annanias, led by the Holy Spirit of God, told Paul to do. Acts 22:16, “And now, why do you delay; Arise and be baptized, and WASH AWAY YOUR SINS, calling on His name.” To call on the name of Christ, is to call on His authority! And as we pointed out, Christ has the authority to forgive sins! So Annanias told Paul, that the way to rid himself of his sins, the way to be forgiven by Jesus Christ of his sins, was to “Arise and be baptized, and WASH AWAY your sins”.
Your sins will be “washed away” when you are baptized; having first heard the word, and believed the word, and repented of your sins. Just like Peter told those guilty Jews on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized..”
Remember the story of the Ethipoian eunuch from the previous lesson? (What is Baptism?) It was in Acts 8:36 that the eunuch asked Philip the evangelist, “Look, Water, What prevents me from being baptized? and Philip answered and said; “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And the eunuch confessed his faith in Christ by saying; “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!” v-37.
It was then, that Philip commanded their chariot to stop, and v-38 says, “And they both went down into the water, both Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.” And v-39 says that the eunuch “went on his way rejoicing.” And you can imagine WHY he went on his way rejoicing. His sins had just been forgiven when he was baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ.
What is Baptism For?
Simply stated; The bible teaches us that baptism is “for the forgiveness of your sins”. Acts 2:38. In baptism, your sins are “washed away”, as you call on the authority of Jesus Christ, to forgive your sins. Acts 22:16. It is baptism, that makes one “a disciple” of Jesus. Mat 28:18. It is baptism that makes one “a Christian”. (“The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” Acts 11:26) It is in baptism, that we are “buried with Christ”, in order that we too might walk in newness of life”. Rom 6:4
I think that any honest heart will accept God’s word, and believe that baptism is FOR the forgiveness of sins. I want to thank you, from my heart, for studying God’s word, and for allowing it into your hearts. May God bless you, Jim.