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 for a Christian, is a burial in water, and a resurrection.
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…” So then, from those two scriptures alone, you can easily see that bible baptism, in the Christian age, is a burial in water, and a resurrection.
And then there’s a passage of scripture that describes a baptism taking place, and what led up to the baptism. And that passage is Acts 8, verses 26 thru 39. So let’s go ahead and read what that passage says..
Acts 8, verse 26 and following; “And the angel of the Lord spoke unto Philip, saying; Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goes down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. (Gaza was a town in the southern most end of Palestine, and it was along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Today that area of Gaza is known as the Gaza Strip. It’s about 62 miles from Jerusalem by road) And he arose and went, and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.”
This was shortly after the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, where Jews from all the surrounding areas had come to celebrate the feast of weeks, which were the seven weeks which followed the first Sabbath after the Passover. We learn about these seven weeks, in Leviticus 25, verses 15 & 16. It’s says there; “You shall also count for yourselves, from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; There shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days, (the word “Pentecost” means “fiftieth”) You shall count fifty days, to the day after the seventh sabbath; Then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.”
So this Ethiopian was returning home from Jerusalem, where he had evidently gone to celebrate the feast of weeks. And the scripture says; “..and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said unto Philip; Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said; “Do you understand what you are reading?”
“And he said; “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this; He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not his mouth. In His humiliation, He was deprived of justice. Who can recount His descendants? For His life was removed from the earth.”
Jesus Christ didn’t receive any justice, did He? No, no one gave Him a “fair trial”. There was nothing proven against Him. Justice was taken away. And still he remained silent. Why.. Because it was God’s will. We squawk pretty loud when our justice is taken away. Maybe we need to trust God’s will a bit more.
But the Ethiopian didn’t understand that this scripture was talking about the Christ. And so he asked Philip; “..Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” And verse 35 says; “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”
So here goes Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, and most likely a driver of the chariot, traveling down this desert road, from Jerusalem to Gaza. And Philip was preaching “Jesus” to the Ethiopian. So, what do you think it means, to preach “Jesus” to someone? Well, Peter had just preached “Jesus” to the Jews on the day of Pentecost. And one of the things that Peter preached, was in Acts 2, verse 37, where Peter said; “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ!”
And I’m sure that’s one of the things that Philip preached to the Ethiopian. And Philip might have preached what was later written in Hebrews 5, verses 8 & 9, That “Although He was a Son, yet He learned obedience, from the things which He suffered, and having been made perfect.. (or “complete”) ..He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” That probably would have been a very appropriate fact to preach.
And then maybe Philip preached this fact; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) And he might have preached the words of Jesus, from Luke 13, verse 3, that say; “..unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” When you preach Jesus, to someone who doesn’t really know anything about Jesus, there’s definitely some basic fundamental facts, that simply must be preached. Otherwise, you wouldn’t BE preaching “Jesus”.
So anyhow, here they are, going down this kind of “desert” road, from Jerusalem to Gaza, (there’s probably not much of anything there to see; But verse 36 says; “As they went along the road, they came to some water; And the eunuch said, “Look! Water! (Sounds like he was surprised. Like maybe he didn’t expect to see any water) And so the Ethiopian says; “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
He didn’t say; Hey look! Let’s stop and get us a drink. Or, Hey Look! Let’s stop and fill our water jugs. But No, he doesn’t say that. Instead, he says; “Look! Water! What prevents ME from being baptized?” Well where did he get that idea from? You’re riding along, listening to Philip preach “Jesus” and all of a sudden you want to be baptized? What’s up with that?
Remember when Peter was preaching “Jesus” to the Jews, maybe just a day or two prior to this? I don’t know for sure how long ago it was, but it wasn’t very long ago. But anyway, Peter preached.. ““Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ!” Well, Acts 2, verse 37 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?”
We have sinned! Just like Romans 3:23 says; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So then Peter, still preaching “Jesus”, tells them what to do! And he says, in verse 38; ““Repent and be baptized, every one of you! In the name of Jesus Christ, (that is.. by the authority of Jesus Christ) FOR the forgiveness of your sins; And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The people were in sin, and they were convicted of it, by Peter. And wanted to know what to do about it. And Peter told them what to do. Once again, he said; “Repent and be baptized, every one of you!” Everyone who’s guilty of sin, must repent and be baptized, to get rid of the guilt of that sin! Jesus Himself commanded it, in Mark 16, verse 16, when He said; “He who has believed, and has been baptized, shall be saved; But he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” So then baptism is definitely by Christ’s authority; That’s what “in the name of Jesus Christ” means.. By His authority!
And He more or less reiterated it, in Mathew 28, verse 18 & 19, when He said; “..All authority has been given to Me, in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; (In other words, teaching them to obey ME, says Jesus) And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” So then how do you make a “disciple”? You baptize them, and you teach them to obey Christ!
So then Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch are travelling down the road, and they come upon some water, and the eunuch says; “Look! Water! What hinders ME from being baptized?” Just like the three thousand people were baptized when they heard the commands of Peter, just days earlier, the eunuch wants to know why can’t he be baptized too? Peter had preached “Jesus” and about three thousand souls were baptized, and were added to the church. And now Philip preaches “Jesus” and another soul wants to be baptized!
And in Acts 8, verse 37, Philip answers, and says to the eunuch; “If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said; I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Well, that’s open of those fundamental facts that you have to preach when you preach “Jesus”. That.. “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” So obviously the eunuch believed in Jesus, as the Christ; And he obviously believed that he needed to have his sins forgiven, “washed away” as another verse says (Acts 22:16 to be exact) And he obviously believed that it was at the point of baptism, that those sins would be forgiven; Just like Peter had preached on that day of Pentecost.
And so verse 38 says; “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; And he baptized him!” And now verse 39; “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” Another soul, added to the kingdom of Christ, “the church” of Christ, that he died for, and shed His blood for.
With just a little bit of teaching, from Philip the evangelist, the Ethiopian was able to understand what the purpose of baptism is. It’s stated so clearly in Acts 2:38, that I wouldn’t doubt if Philip, when he taught the eunuch, might not have simply quoted what Peter had said: “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you! By the authority of Jesus Christ, for the purpose of receiving the forgiveness of your sins..” I didn’t that exactly verbatim, but I quoted exactly what it means.
Simply out; Baptism is for the very purpose of receiving from God, the forgiveness of your sins. Is the water some kind of “magic water”? No, not hardly. It’s God who does the washing away of the sins, not the water. But it’s our obdeince to the commands of God, and of Jesus Christ, that brings about that forgiveness; That washing away of your sins.
Now in this lesson, we will deal with the question, “What is Baptism For?” What’s the purpose of baptism? 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!” Baptism is for the purpose, of having your sins forgiven.
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 (What shall we do about our sins?)
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, beginning on the day after the Passover. 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 also called Mt Horeb, and 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 together 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 could 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, (of your sins) 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 they knew it! But 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 one of you be baptized in the NAME of Jesus Christ..”, what he meant was.. “let each one of you 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 first being forgiven of your sins! And the very purpose of baptism, is the forgiveness of sins! (As stated so clearly in Acts 2:38)
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 what God had declared. And this was God’s declaration.. “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 able be that disciple who would be a witness of Jesus Christ. Paul was still in his sins, and he had to get rid of those 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, they needed to be forgiven.
And so here’s what Annanias (led by the Holy Spirit of God) told Paul to do, in 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 of his sins by Jesus Chrsit, 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, you then need to be baptized, to wash those sins away! Just like Peter told those guilty Jews on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized.. FOR the forgiveness of your sins.”
Remember the story of the Ethiopian 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.